Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Stranded” (S2, E9)

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: Jerry is my choice here. George was close with his super neurotic behavior almost costing him his shot at nailing his coworker and his ongoing war with the drug store, but Jerry did all of the heavy lifting in this one. His attempts at small talk and banter throughout the episode was great, especially at the end when they are stalling time until Kramer comes. He was also really good in his interactions with Steve and Patty the Hooker. Jerry was really the glue of this one, weaving throughout all of the storylines and acting as the key cog in their progression. I thought this was one of Jerry’s best outings top to bottom.

Aaron: No clear standout for me here so I’ll go with the person who had, for my money, the best moment of the show and that’s Elaine. “Maybe the dingo ate your baby?” was the perfect response to the woman going on and on about her damn fiancé. Extra points as well for putting up with the guy obsessed with peanuts without plunging her hand through her skull. She was consistently excellent in this one and her war against anyone wearing fur showed signs of that Benes venom we’ll see in the later episodes.

Andrew: Everyone has their moments, but Jerry was the best overall. The whiny Jerry we have been complaining about all this time doesn’t show his face in this one. He goes through some tough situations (making awkward small talk, stranded in a house where he’s not welcome, reminiscing about a night in jail), but rather than the mopey, woe-is-me behavior from early in the series, Jerry endures it all with a calm demeanor and some gallows humor. He’s come a long way.

Jordan: I thought about giving it to Elaine, just for the quote of the night, but I’ll give it to Jerry instead. Everyone around him is acting outrageous and he plays the straight man really well here. Whether it’s George furious over medicine ingredients or being shorted $10, dull party guests or Patty the Prostitute, Jerry delivers pretty strongly here.

Best Storyline

Justin: There was a lot going on here but it definitely felt more like a season one outing in that there may have been too many little things happening and it didn’t lead to a real satisfying conclusion, instead it just felt like the clock ran out on them. With that said, watching Jerry and Elaine navigate and attempt to leave the party was the highlight to me. Between their signals and clear boredom, they were pretty much scheming a way as soon as they walked in. Things got even more dire when George bailed early, leaving them to find a way home from this foreign place. We also got an all time memorable line from Elaine as well as manically entertaining performance from Michael Chiklis.

Aaron: Man George really wanted to get that ten dollars back didn’t he? A strange bookend to the episode ends up working quite well. You’ve got to believe that at some point Larry David was standing in a drug store chastising an uncaring clerk for his proper change. These interactions are kind of what the show is based on and the ensuing theft and arrest are clearly a sign of legal and social justice at work.

Andrew: I felt that the party itself was the best part of this episode. Jerry predicting the awful small talk (“you came all the way out here for this?”), and then having his predictions come true, was a nice touch. My favorite part was Jerry, without hesitation, telling George to take the car, and then being unable to explain himself to Elaine. Sex will make a man do strange things, even if he’s not the one having it.

Jordan: I mean…was there an actual storyline here? It seemed like a bunch of scenes put together for no cohesive reason. So I guess I’ll go with the party and the boredom that poor Jerry and Elaine struggled with, and who can blame them, specifically Elaine? Getting stuck talking to a guy who is eager to discuss George Washington Carver? I’d be patting my head so hard that I’d knock myself unconscious!

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: There were a couple of options in this episode, but I will roll with the most obvious: was George right to abandon his friends for the chance to nail his coworker? Yes, absolutely. You don’t even think twice on that one. The only hesitation there should have been was due to Elaine being involved, but Jerry took the hit there and let George drive towards the goal line like a good friend should. Sure, he left his friends stranded in the middle of Long Island at a party where they knew nobody and had no way home, but his coworker was attractive and was as blatant as could be about his chances to score. No blame assigned here.

Aaron: Fur? For or against? I guess if you’re killing the animal for fur when you can go to the store and buy clothes not made from murder I’m against it. I’m certainly not going to begrudge the native people of the 1600s for having the audacity to not want to walk around naked. I feel we’re in a better place today though. So again: against. With one small caveat. If a bear comes in my house and threatens my family and I wrestle said bear down with my bare hands and kill it, you’re damn right I’m going to wear his fur like it’s the trophy that it is. I’ve earned that fur, and if I want wear it, make love on it or parade around my city as though I’m king of the bears it’s my business. IT’S MY FUR!!

Andrew: What should you do when someone shows up at your place unannounced? Not calling ahead was kind of a dick move on Steve’s part, but after the incident at the party, Jerry had to let him slide on that one. Even so, I can’t imagine how leaving him alone in his apartment was the right move. His “plans” with George appear to have consisted entirely of pharmacy shopping, so it’s not like he couldn’t have cancelled. Even if we factor in the lack of smart phones and instant communication, there had to be a way to let George know; Jerry could have brought Steve along to the pharmacy, for example. Jerry obviously owed the guy a favor, but I don’t see how that required giving a stranger the run of the place. Jerry got what he deserved for that decision.

Jordan: Do you have the right to call out a stranger for wearing fur if you eat fish? I’ve gotta take the side of the lady in fur here – Elaine was out of line. For starters, your morals should not dictacte the decisions of others, and Elaine doesn’t even know the woman! More than that, if you feel that strongly about animals, it should be uniform across the board, not just the ones you think can feel pain. Stop eating fish or be branded a hypocrite, Elaine!

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Surprisingly enough, we again don’t have much going on here. George and his new fur-loving fuck buddy come closest, but we don’t really get to see much of them together, so it is tough to lay a grade down. Speaking of lay, she seemed to be pretty easy, basically tossing herself on George’s bed so she either has very low self esteem after her divorce or just likes short, stocky bald men. Either way, we didn’t get much of a positive impression of her in her brief appearances Relationship Grade: 2/10

Aaron: George is going to be completely and utterly emasculated by Eva, and while that may please him on some level, the groveling and constant abuse he’s going to get from this fur-monger will not make up for any revenge sex plans he may have for her. Relationship Grade: 3/10

Andrew: Not much to work with here. George’s excitement at finding out a woman is interested in him quickly turns to frustration at how difficult it is to maintain the relationship afterwards. There’s some decent laughs in that, but it doesn’t help the grade much. Relationship Grade: 3/10

Jordan: Well, George found someone willing to sleep with him. And that counts for something I guess. Relationship Grade: 1/10

What Worked

Justin: The dissection of the medicine ingredients and George’s anger and feud with the cashier ring very true even to this day; The awkward conversations at the party were great, specifically the George Washington Carver peanut guy who was completely oblivious to just how boring he really was; Jerry is a great wingman for selflessly sacrificing his ride home without having to be asked twice; Kramer busting into the house and delivering his great explanation of trying to find the house and then nonchalantly mentioning his broken convertible top was good stuff; Steve is campy early, weird for a bit and then a real piece of shit by the end, but Chiklis was effective in the role and one of our most memorable cameo characters early on; Kramer and Steve boozing on the couch and ordering hookers is very non-Seinfeld type of fun

Aaron: Jerry’s whole business with being a comedian at that party was pretty great. I can imagine every comedian has been in a spot where someone asks them where they get their material, or tell them that THEY are the funny one. Not to mention the fact that’s he’s treated like basically a slightly higher rate clown by the women who saw him at the club. Comedians must have loved this episode. George’s dilemma dealing with sleeping with a co-worker is also very true to life, and who wants to have these little chit chats every time you need to go to the bathroom. Vic Mackey had a few good moments as well especially in the scenes with Kramer. The tie in at the end where George and Jerry are arrested and Elaine is angry with the fur is a tight little piece of writing. Good stuff.

Andrew: The bad party small talk was great. I especially liked the woman who realizes Jerry is a comic, says “Oh, I think I’ve seen you”, and then turns away. Brutal. The woman who keeps saying “fiancé” is a bit over the top, but Elaine’s response makes it all worth it. The awkwardness of being stranded at the house was easy to relate to, as is having to wait on an unreliable friend for a ride. All four characters have their moments in this episode, which is good to see.

Jordan: “MAYBE A DINGO ATE YOUR BABY.” This line was so out of nowhere and hilarious. The party itself was effective in showing just how boring it can be when you’re at a social gathering and you don’t know anyone. George Washington Carver guy was so dull and yet you could tell he thought he was being deep and interesting. Kramer was good when we saw him, as always. And I liked George’s attempt to get his $10 back by stealing medicine, only to be busted IMMEDIATELY. Jerry shows us a glimpse of how little he cares about others by following it up with asking if he could still buy the medicine or of it was evidence.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: George’s confidence and blending in with his work friends early at the party seems odd; The fiancé woman is super annoying and I am surprised Elaine didn’t just shove her out of the chair for being so lame; Steve’s wife kind of mean trying to run Jerry & Elaine out of the house, when you throw a party you have to be prepared for all houseguest scenarios; Many of the minor characters are very over the top in a traditional sitcom way and that has been a running issue since the show debuted

Aaron: While the Commish was good in some moments he was quite uneven throughout, and his party shirt nearly gave me a seizure. The scene where Jerry and Elaine are still at the party at two in the morning, while entertaining in the fact that they need to make up conversation is ultimately marred by the weird faux-shout which sounds one thousand percent fake. Far too little Kramer in this one as well. Aaaaaaaaaand: what’s the deal with the old whore in the red dress? What happened to the standards at 555-LOVE? Two thoughts on this baseball gloved faced prostitute. One: how is she only charging fifty dollars? Two: what did The Thing do to her for fifty dollars. Either way it’s unsettling and wrong and no.

Andrew: I wasn’t crazy about the plot pacing; as Justin said earlier, it feels like there’s too much going on, and it just runs out of steam at the end. You’d think two characters getting arrested would make for a more exciting climax, but they proved us wrong. Jerry deciding to leave a stranger alone in his apartment is always going to bother me. It’s out of character for him, and I can’t imagine anyone doing this in the real world.

Jordan: This episode seemed really cheaply made. Rewatch the drug store scene and notice how bare the scenery is, then the really choppy editing with George and the cashier. Seems like they were in a hurry to get this one done, and it shows. I also do not like it when George has friends and appears to be a normal human being – this is not the Costanza I love. He should be the one complaining about going to a party, not dragging his friends along. I thought Steve was a total weirdo, and it just seemed to take a REALLY strange turn when he showed up at Jerry’s apartment. Overall, this whole thing felt very sitcom-y.

Key Character Debuts

N/A

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– George gets incorrect change when he pays a cashier

– Jerry again tries to set up signals to bail him out tricky social situations

– “Maybe the dingo ate your baby!” – Elaine

– Jerry calls back to The Jacket and Alton Benes at the hotel: “Pendant. Those bastards!”

– Kramer tells Steve the story about the doves, another callback to The Jacket

– Patty is a cheap hooker, only charging somewhere in the vicinity for $50

Oddities & Fun Facts

– In the show’s original run, this episode did not air until mid-way through season three

– Michael Chiklis portrays Steve the party host

– Jerry mentions that he is 36 years old

– Elaine claims to be a vegetarian that occasionally eats fish

– Kramer claims to have a girlfriend in the building next door

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: There some good moments in here but overall this didn’t really feel like Seinfeld. It was a bit too mean spirited thanks to Steve and it hit on some topics we don’t usually associate with this show. I liked George’s feud with the drug store and wish that was more of a focus here as I felt there could have been more Costanza scheming involved. Many parts of the party scene were really true to life and stood out as the highlights of the episode to me. Once they returned to Manhattan and Steve showed up at Jerry’s apartment, things went south and kind of sputtered to the finish. The idea that Kramer keeps screwing everyone over continued here as well, as he gets Jerry and Elaine sick and then costs Jerry cash to pay Patty after Steve bails. We got some flashes of the great dialogue that would carry the show in later years but still too much standard sitcom fare and camp weighed this one down for me. Final Grade: 4/10

Aaron: When the first thing I saw in the episode was a marquee that said: “I need more sex,” I felt we were in for a good one. I think while the writing is very tight and solid the difference between this one and a similar episode in say three seasons would be that the guest star would be hilarious as opposed to just there, and you’d get more confidence and swagger from both the main four and the writers to let them just go out there and do their thing. This is by no means a bad episode, but understand I’m giving a whole extra point for the dingo. Final Grade: 4/10

Andrew: Apparently this episode was didn’t air until season three, because Larry David wasn’t satisfied with it, and I can see why. It often feels like a season one episode, and not in a good way. That said, I have a lot of fond memories from this episode: the dingo line, Kramer’s belated appearance at the party, and crazy Chiklis. And all four main characters are good in the same episode, which certainly didn’t happen much early in the series. This is a mediocre episode overall, with enough bright spots to leave a positive impression. Final Grade: 4/10

Jordan: This is a bad episode disguised as a good one. It’s got Costanza being Costanza at the drug store, it’s got a classic line from Elaine, it’s got Jerry being the straight man and Kramer acting quirky…but it’s all a sham. Larry David wanted this one shelved, and I don’t blame him. I said earlier, it seems to be random scenes just put together with no real story to it, which is the total opposite of what Seinfeld is known for. Still, it provides a couple of laughs, so at least even when it’s bad, the show can still be funny. Final Grade: 3/10

Author: JT Rozzero

JT Rozzero is a cohost of the Place to Be podcast and original member of the legendary Moliseum Video. He enjoys all sports. The only thing he hates more than traffic and customer service is people. He is a proud Svenjolly and has had a sinus infection since October 2013. Send Justin an email