Last night was the ninth season premiere of Curb Your Enthusiasm. It’s been six years since the conclusion of the previous season, which has been reflected in HBO’s promotion, proudly showcasing the comedy’s lead, Larry David, with the tagline, “He Left. He Did Nothing. He Returned.

So, what has Larry been up to in his down time? Does he still have it?

CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM SEASON 9, EPISODE 1 RECAP

The inaugural episode’s opening scenes focus squarely on Larry David, demonstrating how no matter how much time passes, he’s still as socially inept as ever. Whether he’s smashing his uncooperative shampoo bottle in the shower or neglecting to open a door for a woman, he’s still creating his own problems. Regarding the latter incident, Larry opted not to be chivalrous because he believed the woman (Julie Goldman), a lesbian with a masculine appearance, would be offended.

Larry has evidentially been working on a Broadway musical since 2011, “Fatwa!,” which his manager Jeff Greene (Jeff Garlin) happily reports has resonated well with prospective partners. Susie Green (Susie Essman) continues her antagonistic relationship with Larry, although her life has two new aspects to it: her daughter from prior seasons will soon marry a war veteran, and we later learn Susie’s begun her own business, Soaps On. (Larry jokingly expresses concern over the latter, noting PTSD could act up in a year or two when he “could start punching” in the night, and he later laughs at the enterprise’s name.)

Coincidentally, the woman who Larry frustrated earlier is named Betty, and she’s friends with Susie. The two make amends, and she even gives Larry an – in his opinion, overpriced – haircut. As the haircut proceeds, Larry and his friend Leon Black (J. B. Smoove) note how Betty looks like a groom, while her fiancé Numa (Nasim Pedrad) resembles a bride.

Soon, we’re introduced to another new face, Larry’s assistant (Carrie Brownstein), whom her previous boss, Jimmy Kimmel, foisted onto him. She draws Larry’s ire as she returns to work after two days. Her reasoning for her absence was due to her constipation, which Larry wasn’t moved by. Larry anecdotes, “I got married constipated! People do things constipated!” He sarcastically implores her to become a figurehead in this under-researched field, and he later confides to his Black how useless yet “unfireable” she is.

Larry meets up with more of his old associates, namely Cheryl David (Cheryl Hines) and Ted Danson, at a party, wherein he gets into a spat with Richard Lewis over a joke he had previously made regarding Lewis’s dead pet bird. As Larry leaves he sees Susie, with Larry mentioning that he’ll soon need to head back to New York for his musical and he’ll bring his assistant with him. Susie therefore suggests he gets a new assistant there, and she can take his current assistant.

Black, without prompting from Larry, had appointed himself to be Larry’s (temporary) assistant, answering Larry’s calls and coming with him to his Jimmy Kimmel Live! appearance. As we soon learn, he forgot to tell Larry not to make jokes at the Ayatollah’s expense.

As per the norm, everything cumulates together near the end of the episode. Larry’s discussion with Kimmel infuriated the Ayatollah, who commands a fatwa on Larry. If anyone is to see him, they’re to murder him. As Larry and Jeff horrifically watch this news unfold on TV, Susie can be seen screaming at her new assistant. Naturally, Jeff tells Larry that his musical “is dead.”

The FBI isn’t too worried for Larry’s safety, assuring him and Jeff that they’re “fine.” Larry remains skeptical and terrified, donning an unconvincing disguise as he heads outside. (Lewis quips at Larry’s expense.) Larry’s marital commentary had also inadvertently split the lesbian couple, with Numa literally hunting a disguised Larry down at a restaurant. The episode closes as Susie punches Larry as he’s showering at night.

Ultimately, this was a solid first episode. It was slower in its first half, likely due to the need to reintroduce Curb Your Enthusiasm‘s cast, but the second half was as good as one would expect. In short, the show’s grand return is pretty, pretty, pretty promising!