The Curse S1E7 Recap: Well There’s One Thing I’d Like To Stretch


Whitney and Dougie laugh as Asher looks on, confused, in The Curse S1E7, "Self-Exclusion"

The following recap contains spoilers for The Curse S1E7, “Self-Exclusion” (written by Nathan Fielder & Benny Safdie and directed by Nathan Fielder)

The Curse S1E7 opens with Nala (Hikmah Warsame) in gym class. Her nemesis/bully, Josie (Aspen Martinez), is climbing the rope, and Nala wills in a whisper for her to fall. She doesn’t. At the end of the episode, however, we return to Nala talking to a friend at recess and Josie has an accident in the background. We don’t see it, but I think she fell.

The question is not whether Nala has psychic powers, though I suppose that is a question. I don’t think there’s any chance The Curse is going to endorse the supernatural in a definitive way. Rather, it’s going to be a question of how Asher (Nathan Fielder) has continued to interrogate Nala about her tiny curse even after Abshir (Barkhad Abdi) asked him to stop. He said that an idea that gets stuck in your head can become all too real, and if the idea that she has powers is getting stuck in his daughter’s head, he’s going to be none too happy about that.

I was hoping that we’d check in with Abshir this week in the aftermath of his chiropractic assault adjustment in S1E6, but I think we can infer his relative well-being from the fact that his daughter is at school as usual and not apparently distressed about her father. It’s just another example of how The Curse will plant a seed and let it lie for multiple episodes, coming back around to harvest the fruit later.

Nala and a friend sit on a swing set

There are several examples of that kind of harvest in “Self-Exclusion.” Back in Episode 1, Asher and Whitney (Emma Stone) visited her parents for dinner, and while it was hardly commented upon, it was clear that this was a Shabbat meal. Though Asher is the one who’s Jewish, my impression was that Whitney was the one most interested in them observing Shabbat, which adds a layer to what’s going on when she tells Asher in S1E7 that she’s too busy for it and will eat his challah for breakfast. This all plays into a growing fracture between Asher and Dougie (Benny Safdie), who overhears the conversation and is offended that Asher has never invited him.

It’s also been several episodes since Asher stole security footage from the Whistling River casino (where he used to work) to give to Monica Perez (Tessa Mentus), though we did see Bill (David DeLao) giving him the cold shoulder in the hardware store last week. Now, the news story finally airs, and Whitney is upset that Asher appears in the footage, apparently laughing at the poor woman who is the subject of the piece.

Asher pats a guy on the back in footage from the casino

Monica keeps him anonymous, but that is hardly the point. The whole scandal is about the casino letting addicts gamble instead of stopping them like they’re supposed to, only to take their winnings when they’re done. Whitney’s right to be disgusted by Asher having a laugh on the tape with the fellow from the Gaming Control Board who should have been intervening, but what’s even more noteworthy is how Asher himself doesn’t see the problem.

He insists that he wasn’t laughing but merely being friendly with the agent, shocked that this guy wasn’t stepping in as he should have. But even if we’re as charitable as possible to Asher on this, buying that it wasn’t his place to do something himself and so on, it’s striking just how blind he is to the optics of it all. He stole that footage and gave it to a reporter! We have to infer that he truly can’t see how bad it looks.

And, indeed, everything about Asher points beyond a terrible awkwardness and towards a deeper problem with understanding human social interaction. That’s exemplified in how he plays back a recording of his fight with Whitney and takes notes for himself on how to do better. I have no idea if she knew he was recording that. But… probably not?

Whitney sits in a bathroom, upset

Asher’s social ineptitude is also on display during his comedy class. Jeff (Doug Montoya) goads him into attempting a joke about his small penis even though he doesn’t want to, and things go very poorly. So poorly, in fact, that Asher is kicked out of class because other students were offended, though Jeff wants him to come back in a couple of months with a new group.

I don’t know about you, but I actually didn’t think his attempted jokes were that offensive. They just weren’t funny at all, so everyone got uncomfortable. Asher’s sort of right when he yells at Jeff for making him go there in front of everyone, when he’d broached the topic privately because he wasn’t sure about doing so more publicly.

We have to have some sympathy for Asher; he literally doesn’t know how to interact with people.

Asher reflected in the mirror wall of a house in a way that distorts his face as he gets makeup applied in The Curse S1E7

There’s something similar—though meaningfully different—at play when it comes to Whitney. At one level, she lacks self-awareness, but on another, she’s manipulative and knows it even if she pushes it away from her conscious mind.

The first we see of Whitney in S1E7, she’s buying a racially insensitive statue from a mini-golf course in Albuquerque. Last week, Dougie showed her a picture of this statue on his phone, from his text exchange with Cara (Nizhonniya Austin), noting that it was really racist but really funny. And, of course, Whitney’s plan is to take this statue to Cara to present it as a gift, and we get to see her do just that.

Cara opens her door to see a racist statue, while Whitney hides around the corner, laughing

Reader, I began to feel physical pain during this sequence, as every muscle inside me clenched into what I can only describe as a full-body grimace. Whitney arrives at Cara’s house, places the statue in front of her door, and then hides around the corner, laughing to herself about what she’s doing. But it’s no wonder that Cara’s reaction is to say she’s going to call the cops.

The levels of unawareness in what Whitney does here are just breathtaking. For one thing, she only knows about this statue because Dougie showed her his text exchange with Cara, and that might well be viewed as something of a violation of privacy. But even if it’s not that, Cara doesn’t know that Whitney even knows about this thing.

Further, there is a lack of understanding with regard to the humor in Cara’s exchange with Dougie. Part of the point is that these offensive depictions of Native Americans are all over the place. Here’s one popping up randomly in the midst of dinosaurs at a putt-putt course. Cara probably doesn’t even remember this particular statue.

But then, to confront a Native American with a racist depiction of a Native American on her doorstep… I hardly have words for this. It takes an insane level of white privilege not to realize how this is bound to come across as harassment.

Cara hesitates to sign documents

I loved every second of this, to be clear, in terms of the viewing experience, but we’re not done yet as it carries forward into a thoroughly cringe-inducing exchange between Whitney and Cara about whether the latter will sign off on her art being used in Fliplanthropy.

Surprising no one (except Whitney), Cara doesn’t want to sign the release. She’s worried about how and where her art is being presented and sees right through Whitney’s whole thing. Whitney, of course, doesn’t—she’s delusional—but this is also where we see her manipulative side come out.

Whitney mentions her relationship problems with Asher and keeps saying that she and Cara are good friends, as she goes into how she was going to offer Cara a consultant position and it just would’ve been great. I think Cara continues to see through all of this, but the offer of $20,000 doesn’t feel like something she can turn down, even if she can’t be anonymous as she’d prefer. Cara is willing to take advantage of Whitney and her wealth, and she’s trying to navigate how to do that without selling out.

Whether she’s effectively done that might be in some question by the end of the episode. Cara agrees to consult and to allow her art to be used in Fliplanthropy, though she’s at pains to ask that it be seen but not mentioned. And she gets an envelope of cash.

Whitney and Paul sit in a car together

That cash came from Whitney’s father, Paul (Corbin Bernsen), and it’s completely clear that when she tells Cara that she hardly even talks to her parents, Whitney is full of it. Her parents are funding this whole thing, and even if Whitney believes that she’s breaking with them through some kind of ethical real estate venture, it’s all happening through money that they gained by exploiting poor people.

Dougie sits in his chair, filming a confessional scene with Whitney

Nathan Fielder posted an “exclusive first look” at the pilot of Fliplanthropy on YouTube this week, and it’s worth watching even as it seems a step behind how the show has developed on The Curse. The new version is set to include confessional scenes with Whitney and maybe some with Asher (though his session didn’t happen this week because Whitney went long and they ran out of time).

I’m also wondering if and when we’ll see Mark Rose (Dean Cain) again, as the Siegels seemed set to sell him a house. And I’m still wondering if Vic (Alexander Poncio) is going to pop up, worried about who tried to steal that oven he’d put out for the trash. S1E7 points back at that moment a little bit when the statue from the mini-golf course falls out of Whitney’s trunk. Maybe that’s a hint that Vic will re-enter this story soon. And, of course, I hope Abshir’s neck is doing OK.

See you next week.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

Caesar non est supra grammaticos

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *