With only three episodes left, and the introduction of Irma Kostroski (Tracey Ullman) last week, Curb Your Enthusiasm is trying to set all the pieces up for the end of the season with “What Have I Done?” Rarely do episodes feel like they’re getting their plot in order as much as “What Have I Done?” does in the episode’s final moments. While most episodes usually give some catharsis to Larry’s antics, the end of this week’s episode seems more like an ellipsis for what is to come.
Season 11 is an odd season for Curb Your Enthusiasm. While we’ve had episodes like “Angel Muffin” that focuses primarily on the success of Young Larry, this season has often kept the creation of Larry’s newest show on the back burner. The show has come up in almost every episode, yet it’s clearly not the focal point of the season that it once seemed like it was going to be. In hindsight, this sort of makes sense, as we’ve seen Larry create new entertainment projects over the course of a season, and if the season did focus on the creation of Young Larry, the show could be accused of going back to that well.
Season 11 is more interested in the casting of Maria Sofia, whose involvement of Young Larry will either make or break the show. The focus of this season all along hasn’t been Young Larry, it’s been the shadow of Maria Sofia that looms over Larry, and the blackmail that will doom his latest project. Yet what’s so strange about Season 11 is that up until last week’s “Irma Kostroski,” it seem as though Curb Your Enthusiasm didn’t know this was the case. With the introduction of Kostroski, it’s as if the show finally knew how to wrap up this story, as opposed to the season leading up to this moment.
For Larry, Kostroski is a means to an end. She smells like pickles and is always talking about her gas, but Larry must get close to her in order to change the city ordinance that would make Maria Sofia’s blackmail moot. By the end of “What Have I Done?,” Larry has started a relationship with Irma, been her first lover in over a decade, won over Irma’s daughter Diedre (Madeline Wise), and now has Irma living in his house. There’s no real conclusion to “What Have I Done?” because it’s clearly setting up the last two episodes of the season, and while that’s fine, it’s strange for an episode to not have many of its threads pay off.
The same could be said about Jeff (Jeff Garlin) cheating on Susie (Susie Green) with the head of Hulu’s assistant Carly (Liz Carey). There’s a whole story about Jeff using a different body wash in order to hide the smell of Carly from Susie, and the purchasing of said body wash leads to Larry getting in an argument over line protocol at a convenience store. But all of this is mostly irrelevant, since, by the end of the episode, Susie finds Jeff’s secret cellphone, leading her to discover that Jeff is cheating on her once more. Yet again, this thread is more like setup for what is to come instead of wrapping up in any substantial way.
“What Have I Done?” also is packed with moments of Larry just unintentionally being a creator of chaos. After Leon (J. B. Smoove) saves Larry money on a plumber (Horatio Sanz, in a role that could’ve been played by literally anyone), Larry decides to start a business called House Husband. If some type of repair seems like it costs too much, Leon will head over to that person’s house and convince the repairman to knock it off. Leon admits he “knows a little bit about everything, and a lot of nothing,” so naturally, every repair that Leon has “helped out” with ends up going horribly wrong. At its best, this story is a great way to give Leon something to do this season, but ultimately, with his repair help leading to Irma falling down her stairs and moving into Larry’s house, it’s yet another thread that serves primarily to set up what is to come.
But in addition to this chaos, “What Have I Done?” has Larry with a lot of energy and no one to really focus it on. For example, when he is invited to Diedre’s vow renewal ceremony, he is told the party starts an hour earlier than it does. Instead of leaving and coming back, he becomes a guest without a host, exploring Diedre’s house like a child. He messes with the thermostat, touches basically everything in sight, and even spins around in a chair until it makes him dizzy. While watching Larry on her security cameras, Diedre says she hopes he wears himself out, and by just letting Larry do what he wants without any sort of obstacle in his way, it’s like watching a kid try to entertain himself.
In a way, Larry as a guest without a host is symbolic of “What Have I Done?” as a whole. We are Diedre watching Larry run around, looking at himself under a magnifying glass, wondering what the hell he’s doing and what the purpose of any of this is. Sure, “What Have I Done?” has its moments, like watching Larry and Leon discuss if Larry’s actions at the convenience store were racist or not, or watching Ullman make a bruschetta-like meal out of every scene she’s in, but mostly, we’re just keeping an eye on Larry until he wears himself out.