Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Jacket” (S2, E5)

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!

Seinfeld_The_Jacket

Best Character

Justin: Jerry and George were fantastic in this episode, working with a quick wit and never missing a beat. But without Alton Benes in the mix, none of that matters or works. Alton dominated this episode and was a real force as everything moved through him for a majority of the episode. Never once did he crack up or show weakness. He was flawless.

Aaron: My Kramer streak ends at the hands of a guest star because I LOVED Lawrence Tierney as Alton Benes. There are few things I appreciate more in this life than a good grumpy fuck. Alton is grumpy as hell from the get go. The look of judgment he gives Jerry and George when they order their non alcoholic drinks is priceless and the tension and fear he creates during the rest of his scenes is pure magic. It’s a special thing to see two grown men reduced to children, but they can’t be held accountable in the face of “We had a funny guy with us in Korea. A tail gunner. They blew his brains out all over the Pacific.” Every line out of his mouth is curt and mean but colored so well that I can’t help but laugh at them. In my eyes he is the first great guest star.

Andrew: Alton Benes is so great. He’s incredibly intimidating, and you can practically feel George and Jerry’s discomfort while talking to him. Hell, I feel a little uncomfortable just writing about him. His delivery and reactions are top-notch, and I especially like the way he’s totally dismissive of Jerry and George’s attempts at idle chit-chat. My favorite one-off character so far.

Jordan: This one goes to George. He was good in every situation – from freaking out on Jerry about the cost of the jacket to the sheer panic you could see all over him when he was stuck with Elaine’s father, and even humming the song that was stuck in his head. George was panicked, angered and deceitful all in one episode and that’s the Costanza we love! Honorable mention to Elaine AND her father.

Best Storyline

Justin: Jerry and George stuck in a hotel lounge with Alton Benes may be the best storyline we have seen so far. You could feel how uncomfortable they were as every attempt to make small talk completely crashed and burned. George alone botched a quip about ice as well as blatantly lying about reading Alton’s book and then freezing when questioned about it. I loved every moment of it.

Aaron: This one felt a little disjointed in the storyline department, it kind of felt like a bunch of smaller ideas mashed together. So choosing from the story fragments I guess I’ll go with George and Jerry having to kill time with Alton. It was the most entertaining part of the show for me. A close second would be Kramer trying to get people to do him a solid with the birds.

Andrew: The Alton Benes storyline, specifically the scenes in the hotel, is the best. My favorite part is that George and Jerry talk beforehand about how awkward it will be, but the actual encounter is even worse than they imagined. Everything about this storyline is well executed.

Jordan: Going with Jerry and George’s desperate attempts to flee from having to sit with Elaine’s dad. We’ve probably all been there – forced to make small talk with someone we barely know until the person we DO know arrives. It’s uncomfortable and even moreso if the person is gruff and intimidating. I thought the entire scene was great, and loved Jerry heading to the bathroom and leaving George to fend for himself.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: There are a few issues at hand here. Should Jerry & George have waited for Elaine or could they have bailed without recourse given how bad things were? Also, should Elaine still have waited for Kramer once he surpassed his five minute promise? Finally, should Kramer have returned Jerry’s old jacket once his new one was ruined? I think George and Jerry were stuck, no matter how bad things got. It would have looked really bad and they would have been viewed as even bigger pussies if they snuck out the back door.

Aaron: If someone has a jacket/appliance/dog that they seem to no longer use any more is it acceptable to just flat out ask them for it? No absolutely not you greedy fuck. You’re not with them 24 hours a day and you have no idea how often the wear their coat or pet their dog. And if you take their dog and they get a new dog and that dog gets covered in acid or something, be a friend and give them back their original dog. Don’t say things like “too bad you gave him to me.” Strike one for asking for stuff, strike two for not giving it back when needed, strike three for pouring acid on a dog.

Andrew: There are a lot of options in this one, but I’m most curious about Elaine’s decision to help out Kramer. Jerry is smart enough to turn Kramer down, knowing full well that watching the car might make him late for the dinner. So why does Elaine say yes? It’s possible she didn’t know any better, but what if she agreed because she was hoping she would be late? Which would mean that Jerry felt obligated enough to her to show up to the dinner on time, but Elaine was OK with leaving George and Jerry out to dry. Lots of levels to unpack in that decision. (Unless she only said yes because that was most convenient to the plot, in which case forget I said anything).

Jordan: I don’t think there are any huge ones, so I’ll go with either of the two involving the jacket: When Jerry got the suede, he gave his leather to Kramer. At the end of the episode, Kramer takes the suede and lets Jerry know it’s a shame he gave him the leather jacket too – BUT DOESN’T OFFER TO GIVE IT BACK TO HIM! He’s got to give it back, right? The other issue is George’s insistence on knowing what it cost – how far should a friend pry into another friends finances and purchases before it can cause a problem?

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: There was no stated romantic relationship on display this time around but it is clear that there are still lingering issues between Elaine and Jerry. While it isn’t overt, Jerry basically takes body blows left and right and also suffers the destruction of his expensive jacket just to protect Elaine. There were many times he could have spoken up and saved himself trouble or his beloved jacket but he just sucked it up and kept it inside. The most obvious time was at the end of the episode when he could have snapped at Elaine about her dad forcing him to wear the coat but took the bullet instead. It was a good subtle story that adds layers to their complex friendship. Relationship Grade: 6/10

Aaron: Since there’s not really a relationship in play for this one, I’ll go with George’s relationship with his sanity during the scene where he needs to know how much Jerry paid for the jacket. He keeps going higher and higher in both guesses and vocal register, culminating with him leaving the room out of sheer amazement/jealousy. This coupled with his fear of going crazy over Master of The House make me surprised he didn’t end up dressed up like Henry VIII a few years earlier. Relationship Grade: Yellow/10

Andrew: I’m with Justin on the implied relationship imbalance between Jerry and Elaine. As I said earlier, he feels obligated to go to the dinner to help her out, but she ends up showing up late and leaving him alone in an uncomfortable situation. But while I enjoy thinking about the subtler implications of that, it’s not like there are a lot of relationship sparks flying in this episode. Relationship Grade: 3/10

Jordan: Nothing really happening here. Elaine made a comment about her and Jerry dating, that’s it. Relationship Grade: N/A

What Worked

Justin: Jerry & Elaine’s banter has gotten really strong very fast and it is on display in the opening scene; Kramer’s mooching ways continue to develop as he flat out asks Jerry for his old jacket; George grilling Jerry about the price of the jacket was our Classic George moment of the episode; The entire scene with George, Jerry and Alton in the lobby is aces and one of my favorite scenes is show history; Alton’s pure look of disdain throughout the scene is gold.

Aaron: Like I mentioned I loved everything with Alton and the emasculation of the men. I also thought Kramer was on fire with his whole story line with the solids. Why he’s feeding birds Ritz crackers and potentially killing them is of course both never answered and brilliant, as was the look of lust and arousal in his eyes (Randy Savage would be proud) when he saw the potential of owning Jerry’s leather jacket. The whole business with everyone trying to find out how much Jerry paid for the jacket worked well too, and Jerry had a great strut while wearing said jacket. While the story was disjointed, it did wrap up very nicely together in the end. Even Jerry’s stand up routine about hating clothes made a lot of sense to me as I hate garments and would like them all to be burned to cinders. I also felt George has started building his Georgeisms, the “Ho Ho!” he says after he thinks Jerry has paid a thousand bucks for the jacket would be heard many times from here on out.

Andrew: The plotting is really good in this episode. The bizarre jacket lining is pointed out immediately, and then pays off in an unexpected way at the end. And all four characters get involved in the main storyline of the jacket, with Elaine encouraging Jerry to buy it, George’s obsession with the price, and Kramer finagling two free coats out of the situation. The chemistry between the actors is good, the dialogue is great, and guest star Lawrence Tierney was incredible.

Jordan: George and Jerry were excellent in the awkwardness of talking with Mr. Benes while waiting for Elaine. The song being stuck in George’s head is just a little thing that everyone can relate to, especially when it’s a song we don’t particularly care for, but keep on humming it anyway. Kramer cooking up some schemes is always fun, as was his not-so-subtle hinting about getting the leather jacket from Jerry. The chemistry between everyone really was firing on all cylinders here as Elaine steals scenes anytime she’s in them, and her dad was a great capper to the episode.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: I am still not adjusted to to Jerry caring and fretting over impressing somebody or being on point for a social interaction; Jerry and George are pussies throughout here and it starts with their lame drink orders; Jerry should have spoken up about his jacket or just not worn it when it started snowing, it made him look like an idiot.

Aaron: The lack of a real main storyline, while wrapped up nicely, hurts this one a little. Again we get Elaine coming in and telling a fantastic story about her interaction with Kramer which would have been awesome to see. It’s so weird that they are consistently doing this with her. Once of those strange things I’d never noticed before. There’s two moments at the start of the show that make me cringe a little, the disgusting tie car wash that makes me want to throw a dog through my TV, and the discussion that Elaine has with some customer about her dad’s book deserving a wider audience. Is that an allusion to Seinfeld itself deserving a wider audience? Clever isn’t it? Clever? Either way weirdly and awkwardly delivered. These are small points though this one was good.

Andrew: I have no major issues with this episode. It’s light on Kramer, which is generally speaking not a good thing. There’s no real tension or drama here, and the characters don’t really do anything, they just have things happen to them. But when those things are as funny as in this episode, I’m not complaining.

Jordan: Jerry’s acting was pretty lousy here, as there were a couple moments where you could tell he had trouble keeping a straight face. We need more Kramer!!!

Key Character Debuts

Alton Benes

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “They never find anything in the back, if they had anything good in the back, they would put in the front” – Elaine

– The leather jacket with the pink lining

– George’s singing Les Miserables songs

– “What are you Bud Abbott? Why are you calling me an idiot?” – George

– Debut of Kramer’s misconception of time

– “Ya like ice?” – George

– “We had a funny guy with us in Korea. Tail gunner. They blew his brains all over the Pacifc. There’s nothing funny about that” – Alton

– “We’ll say we’re frightened…and we have to go home.” – George “Yeah that’s good. He’d clunk our heads together like Moe.” – Jerry

– “He’s in da beatchroom” – George

– Kramer owes thousands in back parking tickets

– “Ah, the lift. Like the lure of the siren song, never what it seems to be, but who among us can resist?” – Jerry

– “Pipe down, Chorus Boy” – Alton

– Alton singing the Les Miserables song while driving home

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Elaine’s parents are divorced and she is from Maryland

– A Pakistani restaurant is mentioned

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: This wasn’t much of an episode, to be honest. But it was a hell of an exhibition. Everything centered around Jerry, George and Alton being trapped in an endless hell of small talk and intimidation. We also got a large dose of character development across the board here, specifically learning about Elaine’s relationship with her father as well as the clear ties between her and Jerry that are bubbling underneath everything. Kramer was good in his short spurts too and he ends up wreaking havoc for everybody just so he can babysit some doves. I love the bar scene and it dominates this outing. I will grade as a whole, factoring in that there wasn’t much else here, but damn the majority of this was one of the greatest scenes in show history. Final Grade: 6/10

Aaron: I like this one a lot more than I thought I would, mainly on the back of Tierney’s performance. It’s in no way a classic but it made me laugh out loud a few times. (I will not use LOL(damnit)) As Justin keeps mentioning, the bar scene with Alton probably is the best scene of the series thus far. Kramer is still gleeful in the misfortune of others which I find weirdly entertaining, but then again maybe it’s just me, maybe I’m the only one who likes grumpy old men and George descending into insanity. Final Grade: 5/10

Andrew: This episode really starts tapping into the uncomfortable situation humor, which is a personal favorite of mine. Unlike last week’s episode, which I felt was a funny idea marred by poor execution, this was a funny idea executed perfectly. So even though the stuff outside the main story was underwhelming, I’ll count this one as a win overall. Also, I read recently that the jacket/lining/snow story was something that actually happened to Larry David, which makes me like it even more. Final Grade: 6/10

Final Grade:

Jordan: This one wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible either. It kind of lands right in the middle for me, as it had some good moments, but nothing we’ll remember in the long run. I do like that they are starting to hit their groove in certain areas-touching on everyday things like songs getting stuck in your head and awkward conversation rather than wild sitcom antics, but of course they will get much better at it down the road. Still, for an early episode, this is one of the better ones so far. Final Grade: 5/10

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.