Before Season 11 of Curb Your Enthusiasm began, showrunner Jeff Schaffer told Entertainment Weekly that this season “comes full circle in one of the most satisfying ways we’ve ever had,” and stated that “everything culminates in a really, really interesting way.” Yet as “The Mormon Advantage” ended Season 11, it’s hard to not feel like after this entire season, with the blackmail, the creation of Young Larry, the Irma Kostroski (Tracey Ullman), and Leon’s (J. B. Smoove) Mary Ferguson, came to a screening halt without much of a resolution.
The most recent seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm have featured a key story to center episodes around, at least somewhat. Season 9 focused on Larry David’s Fatwa! musical, while Season 10 primarily spent time with David’s spite store in an effort to take out Mocha Joe. What Season 11 has is a bunch of smaller stories that are technically interconnected, but don’t have the same bravado as the last few seasons.
Season 11 began with the blackmail from Marcos (Marques Ray) to get his daughter Maria Sofia (Keyla Monterroso Mejia) on David’s next show. Then, the show transitions into focusing on Young Larry – but only occasionally – before finally settling on the introduction of Ullman’s Irma. It’s all one big story, but it ends up more fragmented than intended.
But even if Curb did try something new with Season 11, even if they did try to tell a bunch of smaller connected stories, none of those really pay off in “The Mormon Advantage.” Maria Sofia – Season 11’s scene-stealer – barely appears in this final episode. The making of Young Larry is almost entirely irrelevant, and Irma’s conclusion hardly even involves Larry at all. “The Mormon Advantage” also brings back Leon’s Mary Ferguson story, which has been almost entirely absent from the second half of the season, as if Schaffer and David forgot this had been part of this season’s narrative.
Beyond not giving a satisfying conclusion to this season’s arcs, “The Mormon Advantage” is a surprisingly shaggy episode of Curb. This episode basically wastes Matt Walsh as Walt Kinney, a guy who goes penis-to-penis when hugging. The purpose of this character is to essentially get Larry to step in dog poop, then leave, as if he never existed. But this episode also takes time to have Larry explain to a Mormon man (Johnno Wilson) why he should marry multiple women, spends way too much time with Alexander Vindman playing himself, and Larry’s discovery that if people are talking to him for too long, he can play the music used to play off winners going long at the Oscars to make people walk away. While that last bit is admittedly solid, like too much of this episode it feels tacked on and like it draws focus away from what the episode probably should be focusing on.
But “The Mormon Advantage” almost seems to know that audiences won’t find the conclusion satisfying, as Larry has a dream sequence where all his dreams come true. He breaks up with Irma, Marcos and Maria Sofia are kicked offset, and Young Larry adds Lily Collins to the cast. Yet again, just showing us what could’ve been doesn’t make for a satisfying ending. Besides, we know there’s no way Larry’s scheming is going to end up going well for him – it rarely does. Of course, the audience expects Larry to get his comeuppance, but we don’t even get that here. Instead, we see that Larry’s problems will continue offscreen after this episode. and like some of the later episodes this season, “The Mormon Advantage” ends on more of an ellipsis than on a period.
This isn’t all to say that “The Mormon Advantage” isn’t without its merits. The series of events that leads to Larry throwing away his shoes, then stealing shoes from the Holocaust museum reminds how great Curb can be at its best, playing with ridiculous scenarios that escalate brilliantly. This season hasn’t had enough of those types of moments, but for a few scenes in “The Mormon Advantage,” we’re reminded of what this show can be at the height of its powers.
“The Mormon Advantage” isn’t a bad episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, but it is a disappointing way to end a season that has often felt like it wasn’t sure exactly in which direction it wanted to go. Season-long arcs come to a sudden end or don’t end at all, characters like Irma Kostroski and Maria Sofia that have been great this season aren’t given a decent sendoff, and the overall narrative just doesn’t have the tightness that it likely should. Season 11 began with great promise, but “The Mormon Advantage” shows what happens when Curb Your Enthusiasm struggles to follow through on that promise.