Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Busboy” (S2, E3)

Welcome to Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch! On a regular basis, Justin Rozzero, Aaron George, Andrew Flanagan and Jordan Duncan will watch an episode of TV’s greatest sitcom and provide notes and grades across a number of categories. The goal is to rewatch the entire series chronologically to see what truly worked, what still holds up today, what feels just a bit dated and yada, yada, yada it will be a great time. So settle into your couch with the cushions flipped over, grab a Snapple and enjoy the ride!

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Best Character

Justin: We have waited eight episodes, but this was finally Elaine’s breakout as an equal character. For the first time, she was given a full storyline for us to dig into and she was fantastic the whole way through. Her transition from joy to anger to depression to acceptance over the course of the episode kept things chugging along perfectly. It was proof positive that she needed to take on a bigger role on this show. George and Kramer were really funny too, but Elaine stole this one.

Aaron: This one was tough for me. I was leaning Jerry, and Elaine almost took it with her final two scenes but in the end I’ve got to go with Kramer. Seeing him go on an adventure with George was fabulous and his aloofness was on full display asking the clearly distraught busboy how to say waterbed in Spanish. He’s just great in every scene and it was nice to see him a little more front and center in this episode. “It’s up to the cat now,” may go down as one of my favorite Seinfeld lines.

Andrew: After all my complaining about “whiny Jerry”, his performance in this episode is a revelation. We finally get to meet the cocky, uncaring character I remember so fondly. Not only is he unconcerned about the busboy losing his job, he teases his friends for expressing remorse. He doesn’t really have a storyline, but that’s the way I like Jerry: calmy observing the chaos around him, all the while making snide jokes at others’ expense. He is my hero and role model.

Jordan: All of our main characters give good performances, but I’m going with Jerry this time. I just loved how he just doesn’t CARE about everyone else’s struggles. From mocking Elaine and George’s fear of the busboy getting fired at the start to happily drinking his milkshake at the end as both Elaine and George are miserable, it’s a nice book end. He also had a couple lines that made me laugh out loud. I loved him flippantly stating the bus boy would probably murder his family as George was wringing his hands over it.

Best Storyline

Justin: Even though I felt Elaine gave the best performance, I enjoyed George’s quest to make amends with Antonio the most. Him and Kramer showing up at the apartment to somehow apologize and then letting the cat out and breaking the lamp was a great slow burn sequence, capped by a piece of the busted lamp crashing to the floor as they closed the door to end the scene. Following more classic Costanza paranoia, we got a nice twist ending with everything ending well for Antonio and him emotionally thanking George. And then, a twist on the twist as Antonio brawls with Eddie and ending up in a cast and jobless yet again.

Aaron: I loved Elaine going from very excited to being visited by her gentleman caller to loathing his very existence. We’ve all had a houseguest who we hate and want out of our lives. Finally a show has the balls to put it on display for us! As good as the actual busboy story was, I found I got the most enjoyment out of Elaine and Ed.

Andrew: The busboy storyline is the best, particularly the apartment visit. There’s so much packed into those scenes: the awkwardness between George and Kramer, followed by even worse awkwardness with the busboy; Kramer wanting to stick around for a glass of water; “la puerta está abierta!”; it’s a lot of quality stuff.

Jordan: We finally have a couple options and I’m going with George and the busboy, specifically the apartment visit. It was awkward, funny, unbelievable yet believable at the same time, and well played throughout. And we finally have our first “two stories come together” Seinfeld moment as the busboy gets into it with Elaine’s guy friend.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: Should George feel bad for inadvertently costing Antonio his job? Probably not. I mean, sure he could have worded things better, but at the end of the day the busboy screwed up and almost burnt down the restaurant. And even if George did feel bad, visiting him to make amends was definitely not needed. If anything, George should have spoken up and tried to save his job when the incident went down.

Aaron: If you enter a room/apartment/shower second is it your responsibility to close the door. Yes. Yes it is. And if you shrug that responsibility you are responsible for any damages, heartache or spillage that occurs because of said door? Yes. Yes you are!!! I’m mean for heaven’s sake what are we animals??? Close the goddamn door!

Andrew: Elaine had quite the dilemma: what do you do when a visitor is staying at your place and you want them to leave? Throw in the complication that you’ve only recently become romantically involved with that person (that was implied, right?), and it gets even worse. Frankly, I didn’t care for this Ed character, and I think Elaine should have kicked him to the curb. That said, I can totally envision choosing to suffer through a week of being annoyed, rather than face the uncomfortable moment of asking someone to leave.

Jordan: This one is easy to me – if you think that your joke comment was taken seriously and could result in someone being fired, then SPEAK UP! Elaine could have said something to the manager. George could have too. Instead, they fretted and felt guilty about it, just not guilty enough to act apparently.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Elaine & Eddie was the only relationship on display here and it clearly sucked. Eddie was a loser and Elaine wanted him out almost immediately. While the ending fracas was great, the relationship itself was nothing.  Relationship Grade: 1/10

Aaron: Antonio is clearly in love with his cat and this is on fine display here. The passionate love that he exudes touches me to my very core. From the lowest of lows when the cat is lost to the joyous high of his return we are shown the most beautiful type of love known to mankind. Feline love.  Relationship Grade: 100/10

Andrew: Ed sucks. I don’t know what Elaine ever saw in him. Relationship Grade: 1/10

Jordan: Elaine’s guy (I had to look up that his name was Eddie) is about all we get, and it sucks. Eddie is a bum, and Elaine is a queen. Meh. Relationship Grade: 1/10

What Worked

Justin: Jerry was really good with his taunting of George and Elaine both after the busboy gets fired and then playing the sarcastic commenter throughout the rest of the episode; Elaine finally gets her own storyline and delivers in spades; Paranoid George is the best George; George & Kramer going out on an adventure together showed off their chemistry and combined clumsiness, both spoken and physical; Kramer prolonging the visit to Antonio’s by asking for water was the most Kramer thing of the episode; Kramer & George’s phone conversation through Jerry was very good; Elaine’s manic airport planning and racing the clock was tremendous across the board; The twist at the end with Antonio’s temporary happy ending was a nice touch.

Aaron: I really dug this episode as a whole. I loved Jerry callously distancing himself from any responsibility with anything to do with the busboy. He had a snide remark for every moment and they all worked. Kramer and George played off each other very well in what I think may be their first extended scenes together. Even the scene where they are apart and are arguing through Jerry works well. Antonio the busboy has awesome body language in all of his scenes, and the escalation of his fight with Ed is the kind of thing I’ll always find funny. I LOVED LOVED LOVED Elaine’s scene where she is trying to get Ed out of her apartment on time. I’m so glad they are finally letting her branch out a little on her own and her intensity and physical humor is spot on.

Andrew: As I said earlier, unconcerned Jerry is the best Jerry. Taking the focus off of him to let the rest of the cast shine is also a good move. I’ve enjoyed Elaine up to this point, but she really breaks out here. The episode also taps into some social awkwardness, which I love, particularly George and Kramer hanging out without Jerry. Finally, tying the two main storylines together at the end is a nice touch.

Jordan: Jerry was hilarious this week with the verbal jabs over his friends laments. George was in classic Costanza mode, panicking and overreacting, and also knowing everything about toilets. Elaine was excellent in her first big episode and she showed she’s not just a straight person, she can be the funny one too. Also, she looks far better with her hair down than up! We get to see Kramer outside of Jerry’s apartment for the very first time as he goes with George to the busboy’s dingy apartment, and when he arrives he immediately asks about a waterbed.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: The mid-show comedy bit just takes you out of the show and makes you realize the stories are just playing off the stand-up; Jerry mainly existed to forward the stories along and help explain things, and I think some tighter storytelling could eliminate that and allow him to do something else instead of just commentating on the other stories; Eddie was really annoying and added no value to the episode; Eddie & Antonio’s fight felt forced and we didn’t have a reason to think Eddie was a hothead that would just pick a random fight.

Aaron:  Kramer wearing a Harley Davidson shirt pissed me off.

Andrew: While I’ve been saying nice things about Jerry’s reduced role, the other side of that coin is that he has essentially no story at all, which is not ideal. And I agree that the fight at the end felt a little “out of nowhere”.

Jordan: Eddie was pretty terrible, but I guess he’s supposed to be. I thought Kramer was good here, but a little too low key. Not a lot of major complaints, just small ones here and there. George’s winter hat that an eight year old would be embarrassed to wear gets a mention here.

Key Character Debuts

N/A

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “Where was pesto ten years ago?” – George

– “Everyone’s moving to Seattle…” – Jerry “It’s the pesto of cities.” – George

– George & Kramer leave the busboy’s door open, allowing his cat to escape and also break his lamp

– George’s knowledge of public restrooms is revealed

– Antonio subtly mentioning that he is late for his first day at his new job

Oddities & Fun Facts

– George acts heroically with putting out a fire

– George went to fat camp, where he worked as a waiter

– Kramer speaks Spanish

– Kramer is wearing a Harley Davidson t-shirt

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: There was a lot to like in this one and the main reason was that Elaine, Kramer and George were heavily involved in the main storylines. All three were great here and kept things humming right along, not leaving the dead time that has plagued some of the earlier episodes. If Jerry had something going on as well, things could have been tightened up even more. There were some classic scenes in here too with Elaine’s crazed packing and the apartment visit by George and Kramer. The only weird thing was that the crew seemingly cared about the well being of someone they screwed over. Oh, and George being heroic at the restaurant. Other than those nitpicks, this one was an early win as the show continues to improve. It isn’t all the way there yet, but we have come a long way from season one. Final Grade: 6/10

Aaron: This for me is the exact opposite of the Pony Remark. I was expecting to be let down with this one and it over delivered for me. The characters are continuing to evolve (especially Jerry) and I’m loving the expanded roles for Kramer and Elaine. Add in a crazy Latin busboy and this one is a winner for me. Final Grade: 5/10

Andrew: Much like the previous episode, we can see a lot of progress here. The screen time is split more evenly among the main characters, which is step in the right direction, and having the two storylines come together at the end makes the episode feel more polished. I like seeing them getting into the awkward interactions between strangers. There are several lines in this one that combine great writing with excellent delivery. I haven’t been able to get Kramer’s “Well, I’m not an idiot” out of my head all day. A very solid and encouraging episode. Final Grade: 6/10

Jordan: For some reason, I went into this one thinking it was lousy, and I was pleasantly surprised. It’s not an all-time classic, but it is DEFINITELY better than I remember it being. Jerry, George and Elaine seem to be firmly in place as the leads, but Kramer still floats around, as if they’re unsure of what exactly they want out of him. He was good here, and it makes you want to see him more. Maybe that was the idea. Final Grade: 6/10

Author: Place to Be Nation Staff

Place to Be Nation Staff pieces feature any number of our contributors who are multifaceted when it comes to Pop Culture expertise.