Over the years, Larry has done some pretty heinous things to other people, but “The Black Swan” takes his antagonism a whole a new level. With his selfish behavior, Larry manages to create at least five new enemies per episode. In the real world, Larry would be a full-fledged sociopath, but life in “Curb Your Enthusiasm” is a bit more forgiving. Still, I can’t recall an episode where Larry indirectly killed anyone. In “The Black Swan,” our imperfect Larry has his hand in not one, but two deaths.
Fans have expressed disappointment with this season, saying recent episodes are too absurd. While I think absurdity sometimes comes off as lazy, it works for “Curb.” The ending of “The Bare Midriff” was completely unexpected, which was welcoming. That said, “The Black Swan” is a throwback to “Curb’s” early seasons. The story lines toy with legitimate social norms. That’s always been Larry’s forte, but he also manages to keep everything grounded in “The Black Swan” without going over the top.
While visiting his mother’s grave with his father and cousin, Larry finds the “passed away” spelt as “past away.” Apparently, his father didn’t want to pay the extra 100 bucks for the other letters. Larry, for all his misgivings, does seem to adore his family. He wants to hire a stonemason to have it fixed.
Down the street, Larry and his cousin, Andy, meet Jeff and Funkhouser at the country club. Larry instructs his table to order quickly because the slowest players have just sat down for breakfast. Larry doesn’t want to be stuck behind Norm and his group on the course. Everyone agrees, except Andy, who wants crispy onions. In the midst of some arguing, Larry gets a call from his father, causing everybody to stare. Mr. Takahashi, the owner, informs Larry that cell phones aren’t allowed in the clubhouse. He gives Larry a final warning.
While Andy is still working on his onions, Norm’s table gets up to play. Funkhouser gives Andy some grief and I think it’s the first time he’s ever cursed on this show. When the waiter drops off the bill, the audience knows Larry is going to take issue with something. This is third episode this season where tipping is used as a plot device. In “The Black Swan,” Larry doesn’t want to acknowledge the additional tip when an 18 percent tip is already included. The waiter doesn’t understand. I do. We all do.
On the course, Norm is taking forever. Larry tells him to move it along and they get into an argument. Andy just had to order those onions.
In the locker room, a member of Norm’s group confronts Larry. Norm has died, supposedly because of his argument with Larry. Norm had high blood pressure and his confrontation with Larry was all too much.
Larry: It’s not my fault that he had a heart attack.
Friend: Did you even know him?
Friend: Did you even like him — at all?
Larry: No, I thought he was a prick.
Back at Larry’s house, he, his dad, and Andy and his wife are having dinner. Larry wants to put Andy and Cassie’s daughter through college. They are floored. Larry receives a call from the stone mason. The conversation starts out pleasant but soon becomes an argument over the validity of Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter’s career. For the record, Jeter deserves all the praise. Larry was right.
The next day, the golf course is empty out of respect for Norm’s passing. Larry and the others, however, use it as opportunity to get in a round. On the 12th hole, the site of Norm’s death, Larry shanks a shot. It lands down by the pond where the swans live, including Mr. Takahashi’s prized black swan, Kyoko. While setting up his next shot, Kyoko flies at Larry like a dart. Scared out of his wits, Larry murders the swan with one of his irons. The group decides to bury the bird.
While discussing the killing in the dining room, Jeff notices two gardeners wheeling something covered down a path. Mr. Takahashi walks up to the barrel and finds the dead body of Kyoko. Within a minute, an attendant tells the table to go to Mr. Takahashi’s office.
In what is the funniest scene of the episode, Takahashi grills each member of Larry’s group. Surprisingly, nobody lets the cat out of the bag.
Unfortunately, Andy spilled the beans to his wife. After Larry refuses to pay for her to attend cosmetology school, she calls him out for being a “swan killer.” In turn, he threatens to destroy her hats (Cassie designs stupid cowboy hats) if she spreads this information. This was the scene that didn’t really work for me. Larry had already agreed to pay for their daughter’s college. Nobody would ask the same person for a nice and expensive gesture days after that person already paid them a very nice and expensive gesture. Honestly, some of the people in the world of “Curb” are worse than Larry.
Despite the accusations of “murder,” Larry attends Norm’s wake. He runs into Funkhouser and they begin to talk about each other’s parents. Larry doesn’t believe you should have to introduce everyone to everyone under certain circumstances, so Funkhouser leaves the person standing next to him out of their conversation. That person happens to be Ed, the stonemason. As Larry recounts his conversation with the stonemason about Derek Jeter, Ed hears Larry call him a “moron” and an “asshole.” Not good.
Larry shows Funkhouser a frantic email Jeff has sent him. Jeff wants to come clean about the whole swan deal. Everybody takes their seats as the wake begins. Larry’s cell phone immediately disrupts the proceedings, causing ire in Mr. Takahashi. Not wanting to get caught, Larry tosses his cell phone aside.
Larry’s cell phone is later returned by the waiter from earlier. He compliments Larry’s Blackberry, particularly the way one can easily scroll through emails. Larry thinks the waiter saw what Jeff wrote. Thus, at their next meal in the clubhouse, Larry gives the waiter a $500 additional tip as a way of saying “keep your mouth shut.”
At Norm’s burial, Mr. Takahashi compliments Larry on giving the waiter such a large tip. Takahashi has come to the conclusion that someone so “generous” would never kill his beloved black swan. Putting the past behind them, they begin to chat like old friends. Larry still needs to check out his mother’s redone headstone, so Takahashi accompanies him since the clubhouse is right down the road.
The stonemason is just finishing up when they reach the gravesite. He’s wearing one of Cassie’s silly hats. The bottom of the headstone reads: Mother of Larry, an asshole and swan killer.