Because Larry David’s world is certainly one full of judging, slights, and winners and losers, each week during Season 9 of Curb Your Enthusiasm we will be applying a keen eye to all of the show’s social chaos to effectively answer this question: Who won the week? We’ll also be handing out a few other stray awards, much as we did while ranking every episode of the series. Let’s get started with Sunday night’s episode, “A Disturbance in the Kitchen.”
The fatwa handed down against Larry three episodes ago has given Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Season 9 an overarching story line—although, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been time to address petty grievances. In Sunday night’s episode, there are a few things that get under Larry’s skin: His food is delayed at a restaurant because of a “disturbance in the kitchen,” with none of the staff willing to offer more specific information; he argues a ticket in court after giving what a policeman (Damon Wayans Jr.) perceives to be an overly aggressive beep (“A beep is not a beep!”); he also can’t find his sunglasses, and he wishes Susie would help look for them with as much vigor as she was looking for her “little sister,” a less fortunate child she and Jeff took in who had ran away.
But the fatwa takes center stage in “A Disturbance in the Kitchen”—and maybe comes to an end as a Curb plotline. As the episode begins, the fatwa is still ruining Larry’s existence: He’s still having to disguise himself in public as Buck Dancer, and, worse, his friends are canceling poker night and golf to avoid hanging out with a marked man. How can Larry get his life back on track?
That’s where this week’s winner comes in. In an inevitable cameo, Larry consults with Salman Rushdie, who steals the show. He rips off Larry’s Buck Dancer wig and tells him to man up before offering him some unexpected insights. “Stop this, and fatwa sex will follow: the best sex there is,” he tells Larry. The Satanic Verses author explains that Larry’s newfound fatwa fame comes with two perks: He can sleep with previously unattainable women, who are attracted to the dangerous predicament of his fatwa—“It’s not exactly you. It’s the fatwa wrapped around you, like a kind of sexy pixie dust”—and he can avoid any social engagements by using the fatwa as an excuse. In truth, Larry seems more excited about skipping events than the fatwa sex. (Recall “The Special Section” in Season 3, when Larry uses the death of his mother to get out of going to a bat mitzvah.)
Still, when Larry and Salman—which is not pronounced “Salmon,” even though Larry repeatedly pronounces it that way—head to a restaurant as the “fatwa boys,” Elizabeth Banks buys Larry a drink. Rushdie’s the ultimate fatwa wingman, and, when he leaves Larry to his new romance, he is effortlessly cool about it.
I never knew Salman Rushdie had this much swagger.
The chaos that closes the episode is, of course, mostly Larry’s doing. He accidentally damages the police car of the same cop who previously gave him a ticket. Then, after Larry and Elizabeth Banks flee the scene of the crime, the cop tracks them down to a restaurant. Larry gives her a story to tell the cop to cover up his guilt, but her performance of the lie is miserable—and Larry’s ensuing arrest causes, once more, a disturbance in the kitchen.
Where is Rushdie in all this? Sadly, offscreen; he fades into the ether after Larry picks up Elizabeth Banks, like a mystical British Indian Mystery. It’s safe to assume he’s either skipping something as mundane as a niece’s piano recital, having great fatwa sex, or both.
Best Larryism: “Mm, yeah, the ‘fuck it’ philosophy. It’s a tough one. I’ve tried it with orthotics. It didn’t really work very well.”
Worst Car Endorsement: Tesla, a company that apparently hasn’t figured out the subtle nuances of the car horn.
Best Non–Salman Rushdie Cameo: Elizabeth Banks, who plays a hilariously vapid version of herself. Her episode highlight: When Susie grieves over her missing little sister and Banks repeatedly compares it to the death of her cat, Mr. Noodle. “Well, with all due respect, I mean, that cat was my child. And this girl, I mean, it sounds like you kind of barely know her.”
Worst Nickname: L-vid. Larry’s bothered by the fact that his ex-wife, Cheryl, is calling Ted Danson “T” for short. He never got a pet name during their marriage! Larry suggests that L-vid would’ve been a good nickname. It’s not.
Come back next week as Bryan Cranston makes his Curb debut as Larry’s therapist. That should go well.
Disclosure: HBO is an initial investor in The Ringer.