Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Opposite” (S5, E22)

Welcome to Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch! On a regular basis, JT Rozzero, Aaron George, Andrew Flanagan, Jordan Duncan and Jason Greenhouse 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

JT: Shit, everyone. George probably edges everyone else out for the way he dove into the opposite plan with such conviction, but Kramer spitting coffee on Regis and Kathie Lee, Elaine falling apart and Jerry fulfilling his role as Even Steven all nailed it as well. The Core Four closes out their greatest season on a strong note.

Aaron: I don’t see any possible scenario where it’s not George. From the moment he makes the beach sound depressing he OWNS this episode. The montage of his opposition to all instincts is sensational, old George wouldn’t admit to being unemployed, turn down sex or politely suffer as a man cuts him off on the road. Baseball is dead to me but I would wager his impassioned tear down of George Steinbrenner spoke directly to many long suffering Yankee fans.

Andrew: I thought it would be George for sure, but I have to go with Elaine. It was the way she turned on George when he jokingly suggested she move in with his parents that sealed it for me. That forehead tap was right up there with one of Frank’s. And the rest of her performance was just as good: sheepishly admitting she went back for the Jujyfruits (and popcorn), gleefully throwing the money out the window, the horror when she realizes she is becoming George. Everyone is great here, but Elaine remains my favorite.

Jordan: George is so incredible here, but everyone put in a great effort. Jerry becoming Even Steven and not worrying about anything that happens to him is really fun, as is Elaine’s spiral into Costanza territory. Kramer is great with Regis and Kathie Lee, but George is on another level here.

Jason: Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle … Costanza? George all the way here, baby! Ignoring every urge towards common sense and good judgement he’s ever had gave us one of the best performances from him in the series so far.

Best Storyline 

JT: The opposite stuff as it pretty much eats up the whole episode. It was a great redemption story for George, the man who has been tortured for five season, and watching him finally reach these levels of success was so entertaining. Plus, Big Stein arrives as a part of it.

Aaron: The opposite and all of its terrible, terrible repercussions.

Andrew: The Opposite is a brilliant idea, and one my personal favorites, which makes it hard to believe I had forgotten Jerry came up it. Even if he’s just messing with George, he’s the first to put it into words. It’s really fun to see how well it all turns out for George, especially when he’s telling off the punks in the movie theater. And yet, I think I like Jerry’s “Even Steven” status even more. The complete confidence he gets from knowing things will work out for him is really funny, and seems like a pretty alright way to live.

Jordan: I was going to say Jerry’s Even Steven here to be contrarian, but I did the opposite and went with the crowd. The opposite story is great from start to finish, from talking to a woman to telling his parents he loves them. Everything’s coming up George!

Jason: The opposite stuff for sure. Watching the tides turn between George and Elaine and Jerry breaking even was magical.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: Even though he was sick, I think it would have been just fine for Lippman to shake the Japanese fellow’s hand. Sometimes you gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette and this was one case where you risk getting someone sick to close a mega business deal. Wipe your hand on your coat, press the flesh and seal the deal.

Aaron: Is Salmon really the opposite of Tuna? Jerry makes a strong argument regarding the direction one travels in relation of the stream but can a fish really be the opposite of another fish? Tuna is tiny, lives underwater and is eaten by everyone . We need something huge that lives above water and is eaten by no one. That settles it: the rhinoceros is the official opposite of tuna.

Andrew: Is it OK to gloat when you’re doing well, and your friend isn’t? Considering how much crap George gets from Elaine, he’s probably entitled to relish the moment a bit. But it’s still not a good look. Act like you’ve been there before, George.

Jordan: Which is worse, buzzing up a jewel thief or letting Jehovah’s Witnesses into your building? I know the jewel thief probably took more monetary value from the people in Elaine’s building, but the JW’s stole something that you can never get back: Their time. Shame on you, Elaine.

Jason: If someone you’re dating gets in a car accident, is grabbing a snack before heading to the hospital OK?

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: Oh, Rachel. The one that got away? Possibly. She has had a hell of a run and is the most consistent significant other to date. Even though Jake had every right to be upset, he is such a pussy about it, it is hard to really get behind him on the issue. Suck it up, bro. Relationship Grade: End of the Road/10

Aaron: I’m all for the series bringing people back but I would pay to see Jake Jarmell mauled and eaten by a rhinoceros. The initial horn shot would pierce his chest and allow him to live just long enough to see the giant’s mighty foot implode his face. In a fitting end, the cleaning lady, who recently lost her job at Pendant Publishing would be called in to mop up the mess before being mounted by George next to Jarmell’s carcass. Everything’s working out for this guy. Relationship Grade: 0/10

Andrew: I understand Jake being offended about the Jujyfruit incident, but I don’t think he had to be so dramatic about it. He sucks. Victoria and George are off to a really good start, though. Relationship Grade: Broke Even/10

Jordan: Jerry and Rachel come to such an abrupt end, it’s a shame. She was only around for a while, but she really gave us some big moments. Jerry may be Even Steven and someone else will come along, but will they make out with him during Schindler’s List? Will they mock George’s shrunken wang? Rachel was a keeper, and Jerry missed the boat here. Relationship Grade: SHE RETWEETED US/10

Jason: Poor Jake. He gets banged up and Elaine stops from Jujyfruits before going to see him in the hospital. Sad to see Rachel go as she was one of my favorite Jerry girlfriends. Veronica is way out of George’s league. At least the old George. Relationship Grade: Tuna on Toast/ 10

What Worked:

JT: Nice payoff with Elaine finally getting her long await promotion and callback to Jake Jarmell and the coffee table book; I also love how George is finally throwing in the towel after two seasons of pure frustration; The Tuna/Salmon bit is one of my all time favorite lines; The initial discovery of the opposite idea was brilliant and well executed; Kramer going on a book tour was a tremendous idea and Jerry’s mention of the puffy shirt made me laugh; Watching George evolve into the Opposite Man was glorious, and him resisting the apartment visit is something very few men could have pulled off; Pretty funny that Jake had to leave a message with the movie theater attendant in the pre-cell phone days; Jake slowly piecing together that Elaine bought candy after learning of his injury was also well developed; The Regis & Kathy Lee scene was top notch, including the random kiss from the K-Man; Kathie Lee yelling about Kramer spitting on her “Kathie Lee Casual” always makes me laugh; Elaines $20 test was great and George finding it was perfect; Kramer reuniting with the Cigar Store Indian is another great callback; George’s job interview was amazing; I have enjoyed Rachel’s run but Jerry’s non plussed reaction to getting dumped kept the story chugging along beautifully; The Even Steven stuff is just such great writing; The scene where George moves out is so tremendous and a great counter to the scene where he moved in; The closing scene is a perfect wrap on the season

Aaron: I already praised George to the high heavens but this is a pretty great outing for everyone. Kramer is wonderful wearing his slick suit with a lovely ascot; no wonder Kathy Lee Gifford accepted his kiss straight on the mouth. His nonsensical spit take on America’s favorite morning show was stellar, his nonsensical reactions to Lippman’s sneezing were sublime. Jerry is his at his sarcastic best and Elaine’s slow descent into madness is still a pleasure to watch. Season five gets a lot of love here as we’re treated to callbacks of the Puffy Shirt, sweet, sweet Rachel, The Cigar Store Indian, Jake Fucking Jarmell and even the return of Tina. Throughout the entire rewatch we’ve been extremely hard of the costuming but whoever dressed Elaine as a female George in the final scene deserves some sliced meat delivered to their house. The writing is wonderful, tight and brings out the best in all the performers.

Andrew: I never get tired of watching George do the opposite of his instincts. It just gets better and better, culminating with him telling off George Steinbrenner, which is one of the best ideas in an episode full of great ones. Elaine’s parallel fall from grace is great too, and Jerry’s growing conviction that everything will even out for him is top notch. The Regis and Kathie Lee scene is a classic, and still holds up really well, especially when Kramer goes a little overboard on the kiss. Frank and Estelle are always a joy to see, and pack a lot of greatness into a brief appearance. Elaine’s old roommate Tina still sucks, but I enjoyed the callback.

Jordan: The contrast of George seeing great success while Elaine failed miserably was a fun dynamic, and Jerry being totally unaffected by both was the cherry on top. George stumbling upon the opposite is a real goldmine, and I’m kind of bummed it was the season finale, as I feel this could have been a nice three episode arc. George is just incredible throughout with telling the cleaning lady story during a job interview and in the best part, letting George Steinbrenner have it. Meanwhile, Elaine just can’t do anything right, and it’s all because of Jujyfruits. I don’t know why, but I think even the choice of candy is funny, does anyone REALLY like Jujyfruits that much? Kramer is awesome as a background story with his coffee table book finally taking off, and he’s terrific on Regis and Kathie Lee, wearing the ascot. I love him talking to the crowd, “You kids don’t go out and try that! You stay in school!” Elaine is adorable throughout, and Jake doesn’t deserve her. Jerry is at his best when he just doesn’t have any care whatsoever about other people, and he almost seemed to take joy in Elaine failing.

Jason: Elaine looked amazing the entire episode, even in her denim and hoodie number at the end. Pendant merging with Matsushimi was a great subplot that helped Kramer get his book published and the payoff at the end with Lippman forgetting his handkerchief. George ordering the opposite of his usual lunch. Jerry’s tuna and salmon bit. GOOD FOR THE TUNA! George introducing himself to Veronica. “My name is George, I’m unemployed and live with my parents.” George not losing his shit in traffic, bitching at the goons at the movie and declining to go upstairs with Veronica were excellent George opposite tactics. Jerry being Even Steven. Jerry’s Puffy Shirt reference. Kramer’s swank blue suit when he goes on Regis and Kathie Lee. Kramer spitting water all over Kathie Lee. The return of Tina was excellent in helping push Elaine’s downward spiral. Veronica having an Uncle who works for the Yankees. George referencing, “The Red Dot” and “The Revenge” while being interviewed by the Yankees. His rant to Steinbrenner that gets him hired. Jerry showing no emotion when Rachel gives him the boot.  SHE’LL BE COMING AROUND THE MOUNTAIN… The list off everything Elaine has done wrong, causing her eviction. George swinging his hat around.  THE NEW YORK YANKEES! Elaine squeezing George’s cheeks after his line about her moving in with his parents. Franks, ‘You be nice!” followed by smacking George in the forehead. George’s “opposite” line he feeds to his parents about loving them. Elaine eating Jujyfruits before Lippman meets with the Matsushimi guys. The Matsushi guys being offended when Lippman refusing to shake their hands. GREETINGS AND SALUTATIONS! George working with Don Mattingly on his batting stance.

What Didn’t Work

JT: Who are Jerry’s random friends?; The $20 test result was faulty because Jerry already possessed the found $20, he was just unaware of it; Ugh, Tina GTFO; Farewell Rachel, you will be missed; Just shake his hand Lippman, who cares!

Aaron: Jerry’s strange collection of friends at the poker game was weird. I wasn’t aware he had other friends. I’m also not a huge fan of cocky George’s speech about fixing Don Mattingly’s batting stance. When he gets to that sing-songy level it crosses the line of believability for me. Being big and overacting can work really well so long as it’s honest, it just lost the honesty for me there.

Andrew: I get that he was just in an accident, but Jake Jarmel needs to settle down a bit.

Jordan: I feel like Rachel deserved a better write off, and I thought the Lippman sneezing stuff was ridiculous. He was so over the top with it early on, I thought his character was going to die and that’s how Elaine would lose out.

Jason: Kathie Lee’s dress was brutal. Tina and the damn water bottle.

Key Character Debuts

– Yankee Stadium

– George Steinbrenner

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “Why did it all turn out like this for me? I had so much promise. I was personable, I was bright. Oh, maybe not academically speaking, but … I was perceptive. I always know when someone’s uncomfortable at a party. It became very clear to me sitting out there today, that every decision I’ve ever made, in my entire life, has been wrong. My life is the opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have, in every of life, be it something to wear, something to eat … It’s all been wrong.” – George

– “You know chicken salad is not the opposite of tuna, salmon is the opposite of tuna, ‘cos salmon swim against the current, and the tuna swim with it.” – Jerry “Good for the tuna.” – George

– “Elaine, bald men, with no jobs, and no money, who live with their parents, don’t approach strange women.” – George “Well here’s your chance to try the opposite. Instead of tuna salad and being intimidated by women, chicken salad and going right up to them.” – Jerry “Yeah, I should do the opposite, I should.” – George “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.” – Jerry “Yes, I will do the opposite. I used to sit here and do nothing, and regret it for the rest of the day, so now I will do the opposite, and I will do something!” – George

– “My name is George. I’m unemployed and I live with my parents.” – George “I’m Victoria. Hi.” – Victoria

– “You know who you are? Even Steven.” – Kramer

– “Who are you, George Costanza?” – Victoria “I’m the opposite of every guy you’ve ever met.” – George

– “If you got into a car accident, I can guarantee you I wouldn’t stop for Jujyfruit!” – Jake

– “You know, when I’m skiing, Kramer, I’m trying not to kill myself, and you’re writing books!” – Regis “Yeah, well, now you kids don’t go out and try that. You stay in school!” – Kramer

– “You know you could’ve thrown a pencil out the window and seen if that came back.” – Jerry

– “Yes. And listen to this, listen to this; her uncle works for the Yankees and he’s gonna get me a job interview. A front office kind of thing. Assistant to the travelling secretary. A job with the New York Yankees! This has been the dream of my life ever since I was a child, and it’s all happening because I’m completely ignoring every urge towards common sense and good judgment I’ve ever had. This is no longer just some crazy notion. Jerry, this is my religion.” – George “So I guess your Messiah would be the Anti-Christ.” – Jerry

– “Wow, that’s quite a honk! Get yourself some vitamin C with rose hips and bioflavenoids.” – Kramer

– “Well, I wish I could say the same, but I must say, with all due respect, I find it very hard to see the logic behind some of the moves you have made with this fine organization. In the past twenty years you have caused myself, and the city of New York, a good deal of distress, as we have watched you take our beloved Yankees and reduced them to a laughing stock, all for the glorification of your massive ego!” – George “Hire this man!” – Steinbrenner

– “I’ll tell you what the big advantage of homosexuality is. If you’re going out with someone your size, right there you double your wardrobe.” – Jerry “I suppose…” – Rachel “Oh, come on, that’s a huge feature. When they approach a new recruit, I’m sure that’s one of the big selling points.” – Jerry

– “Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle … Costanza?” – Jerry

– “I gotta be out by the end of the month.” – Elaine “Well, you could move in with my parents.” – George “Was that the … opposite … of what you were going to say, or was that just instinct?” – Elaine “Instinct.” – George “Stick … with the opposite.” – Elaine

– “Don’t get in trouble with the Yankees. You be nice.” – Frank

– “Because they’re Jujyfruit. I like them. I didn’t know it would start a chain reaction that would lead to the end of Pendant Publishing.” – Elaine

– “Do you know what’s going on here? Can’t you see what’s happened? I’ve become George.” – Elaine “Don’t say that.” – Jerry “It’s true. I’m George! I’m George!” – Elaine

– “Greetings, people. Greetings. Greetings and salutations. What a beautiful day for a ball game. Let’s play two!” – George

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Actor French Stewart plays the movie theater attendant

– George finally moves out of his parents’ house

– Elaine is unemployed with the closing of Pendant Publishing, where she has worked for all five seasons

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: Man, what a season and what a finale. This is easily the best season to date with classic after classic being delivered week after week. And we finish on a super high note. This episode had it all, paying off years worth of build within its tightly woven walls. George finally catching breaks and Elaine completely going to shit was a perfect way to mix things up and there is just enough tease at the end, with George’s opposite order becoming his new usual, that makes you think it could all quickly unravel again for Costanza. The Even Steven stuff was well done and Kramer’s side gig with the coffee table book tour gave use extra laughs along the way. It has been a magnificent season, arguably one of the greatest seasons of sitcom television in history, and while I am sad to see it go, I am excited to see what season six has in store. Perfection. Final Grade: 0/10 (Opposite Scale)

Aaron: This was one of the best episodes I’ve rewatched to date. Everyone was awesome and we get a convergence of a couple of season long storylines. George doing the opposite is classic stuff as is Kramer’s rapid rise and fall in the world of publishing. I didn’t even get to selfish Elaine’s need for popcorn and JUJY Fruits that superseded her boyfriend’s potential death. So much good stuff here. I loved this one. Final Grade: 10/10

Andrew: It’s amazing when an episode comes together like this. Some unique and fun plot ideas, excellent dialogue, and excellent performances made this episode a lot of fun to watch. What more can you ask for? Final Grade: 10/10 

Jordan: I mean, it’s just awesome. I hate to call a Seinfeld episode perfect, because there are so many great ones in the shows run and you generally want to reserve that for a small handful, but this entire season has episodes that I was really looking for reasons to just NOT give it a 10. Incredible season, incredible finale. I’m not looking for reasons to lower the rating this time. A well deserved perfect 10. Final Grade: 10/10

Jason: We have wrapped up Season Five and what a ride this was. This episode holds up so good.  Everything ties in perfectly with very little to complain about. Great payoffs with some stuff and character development with other things, leaving us with lots to look forward to heading into the next season. This has been the best season so far. Spoiler alert: it only gets better! See everyone in Season Six! Final Grade: 10/10

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.