Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Suicide” (S3, E12)

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: This was a real toss up between the Big Four. Elaine’s slow descent into hunger-induced madness was really well played, capped by her gnawing on the coffee cake in the hospital room. George started slow but peaked big time at the end when he was harassing the psychic in the hospital room. Kramer’s pep talks about coma etiquette and freaking out on Martin about his vacuum were awesome. Jerry was a steady force throughout, trying to fight off his attraction to Gina out of respect for Martin, all while defending his manhood at every turn. If I have to choose, I will go Kramer because his scenes made me laugh out loud the most but this was a tight race across the board.

Aaron: Kramer squeaks this one out barely over hunger-crazed Elaine. He just wants his damn vacuum back and his moral ambiguity towards Martin’s coma tread the line beautifully between lovable and malicious. It really is a testament to his character and Michael Richards’ performance that he can suggest that Gina (as well as all Martin’s possessions) are fair game after a mere 24 hours and we can still say we love the man. He’s just the right level of mean.

Andrew: I had some trouble with this one. They all have their moments, including Newman in his debut, but no one really dominated the episode. I’ll go with Jerry as the best, partly because he gets the most screen time, but also because had some really good lines (“I will show you The Stooges”). I also liked when he tried to pay George to take out his trash. It had never struck me before, but that’s a weird, random impulse for Jerry to indulge, and the way he and George took it so seriously made me laugh. The throwaway gag of him leaving the bag at Kramer’s doorstep was solid too.

Jordan: For most of the episode, I was ready to give this one to Jerry. He was solid throughout, but then we had the scene with George in the delivery room. My vote switched…and then we had the final scene with Kramer telling about his trip and Jerry reacting by repeatedly smacking George. It was a back and forth race, but Jerry takes it. Jerry is at his absolute best when he is condescending, careless and mostly just an oblivious (or not so oblivious) jerk. He constantly ridiculed George throughout this one, he was more concerned about whether he should get a robe or not while Martin lay dying, and while the guy was in a coma, he was hooking up with the guys hot girlfriend! There is no way that Costanza is the best seller at the Jerk Store, it’s gotta be Jerry!

Best Storyline

Justin: The Gina/Martin/Jerry love triangle was good, but I am going with George’s paranormal journey because it was a perfect summation of what George is about. He goes out on a limb to make himself happy, gets dragged into paranoia by a psychic, gives up his vacation and then it all backfires at the end when the trip was awesome. Add in the hospital scene and this storyline takes the prize for me.

Aaron: I didn’t love the suicide story so I’ll go with Elaine having to fast for her ulcer test. Her slow descent into madness was great and the climax with her eating a Drake’s coffee cake like a zombie would have come off as cheesy in a lesser actor’s hands. I like that they finally gave Elaine somewhat of a main story to play off and her having to restart the fast is a wonderful cap to the episode.

Andrew: The coma storyline was the best, in no small part because it includes the first appearance of Newman (not counting his off-screen debut in “The Revenge”). His petty antagonism with Jerry is off to a solid start. Gina’s telenovela-style passion was delightful, and the story leads to some memorable climactic scenes.

Jordan: I liked George’s story in the episode, because it was a story that ONLY George could have. Elaine’s story was fun, but you could have Kramer fall victim to hunger-bred insanity and it would work well. The coma story was OK, but again, Kramer could have dated Gina in place of Jerry and it would be just as believable. You could even do a story where Elaine dates Martin while Gina is in the coma, and Jerry is hungry. Any combination works. But could any of the characters pull off a storyline where they freak out because they think they may contract lupus while on vacation because a smoking, pregnant psychic said he shouldn’t go? Not a chance. That’s a story reserved for George Costanza.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: Should you bang a chick if her boyfriend is in a coma? Depends how friendly you are with the boyfriend. Or how scared you are of him. Martin seemed like a real badass that frightened Jerry and while Gina was hot, she was kind of a bitch with her constantly goading Jerry about his manhood. Jerry should have hit it and then dumped her and sent Kramer to pull Martin’s plug. It felt like we were watching the internal struggle between Paranoid, Whiny Jerry and No Soul, Cool Jerry throughout. Worlds are colliding!

Aaron: We could debate Kramer’s 24 hour rule ad nausea but I think a fairer point/accusation would be: who does Jerry think he is hitting on a woman directly in front of her boyfriend? He has absolutely no shame and basically flaunts the fact that he wants to bang this chick while Martin walks into the hallway. Now I’m not going to go as far as to say that Jerry caused the suicide attempt, but I think he could have at least had the class and dignity to hit on her behind his back and at the VERY least pursue a quiet affair in which Martin is cuckolded in the eyes of the world (apartment building) but not in the eyes that have to look at himself in the mirror every morning.

Andrew: What happens to a person’s stuff when they go into a coma? It’s akin to the awkward dividing of possessions after someone dies, with the added complication that they might wake up and want their stuff back. Kramer’s 24-hour rule seems a bit aggressive, but he would have been totally in the right to take his vacuum back; it’s not like it was a gift, he just let the guy borrow it. And I wouldn’t fault Jerry for dating Gina, since she and Martin were practically broken up before the coma.

Jordan: While dating a person who has a significant other in a coma may be a bigger issue, it’s definitely not something you see happen all that often, so here’s the real problem: Why did Jerry openly flirt with Gina right in Martin’s face? Especially if he’s so terrified of him! I’m not going to condone Jerry putting the moves on Gina under any circumstances, but dude, at least wait until Martin’s not around. Show him a LITTLE respect and hit on her when he’s nowhere to be found-possibly when he’s buying another hideous hat. Guys, don’t trust Jerome Seinfeld around your woman!

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Gina is hot and her relationship with Jerry is quite steamy and hot. She is a seductress, wanting to make out with Jerry on top of her boyfriend while he is in a coma. She is also kind of a bitch. Tap it, Jerry and don’t worry about the rest. She will be moving to the Village with Martin soon enough anyway. Relationship Grade: 5/10

Aaron: Gina and Martin are fucked up. She REALLY wants Jerry to make out with her over Martin’s comatose body. She can tell Jerry she wants him all she wants but it’s clear that she’s in some sort of power war with Martin. A war that can only be won with affairs and potentially rage fucking each other on the corpse of an animal. It’s weird. Relationship Grade: 5/10

Andrew: Jerry and Gina seems the kind of relationship that starts out intense and passionate, and then fizzles out once the drama is gone. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Kramer and a nude Elle MacPherson, on the other hand? I’ll ‘ship for that all day long. Relationship Grade: 7/10

Jordan: Gina and Jerry may be hot and heavy, but the real story here is Gina and Martin. Her creepy desire to make out with Jerry ON Martin’s prone body is the first major alarm bell. Then later at Jerry’s apartment, she is all flirty and kissing him, then immediately asks what he will do if Martin wakes up. Clearly this woman is sick. It’s something I would like PTBN resident Steve Wille to discuss at length. Relationship Grade: 4/10

What Worked

Justin: Jerry leaving his trash outside Kramer’s door was random and made me laugh; Jerry hemming and hawing about getting his robe before checking on Martin was a good bit; The coma etiquette discussion was good and unique, including Kramer’s standard for how long they have to get out of it; George and the Psychic was a good scene, especially since George is exactly the type to get roped in by this and he was tortured when he got thrown out due to Elaine without finding out why his trip is a bad idea; The Stooges bit cracked me up; Starving, hallucinating Elaine was well done as was Kramer yelling at Martin about his vacuum cleaner; Kramer and Newman show off their instant chemistry; Newman being a smarmy gossip hound that caves for treats was a strong debut; The climactic hospital scene was great, between George harassing the psychic and the Martin/Jerry brawl; Classic George in the end, bailing on his trip, which ended up being awesome for Kramer, which is also Classic Kramer.

Aaron: George going to the psychic was a strong bit and his building fear/paranoia about his trip to the Cayman islands was great character work. Great character work perfectly played off by Kramer having the time of his life on said islands (Although the same can’t be said for the jellyfish). Cheap George demanding two dollars to take out Jerry’s trash was a funny little bit that I enjoyed more than I should have, and I love him going back to worrying about Lupus. Hallucinatory Elaine is always fun and Kramer shaking down Martin while comatose were great bits at the hospital. Wayne Knight is a tremendous addition as Newman and he nails the character in the very first scene he’s in.

Andrew: I thought the dramatic progression was well done. Elaine’s progressively crazed hunger, George’s anxiety over the psychic’s vague warning, and Jerry’s fear of Martin, all building to an entertaining climax. It felt like a more complete story than the previous episode. The introduction of the Newman/Jerry feud was nice to see. There are also some nice continuity elements: Elaine’s continuing inability to not confront people about their behavior, George’s employment issues, and even a callback to “The Nose Job”.

Jordan: I love whenever Jerry trashes George, and we got plenty of that here – mocking him for taking a vacation when he has no job and saying he’s a little paranormal. Kramer taking in the garbage was funny. I thought Gina was really nice looking which is one thing that’s surprised me on the rewatch so far – the ladies Jerry dates haven’t been all that attractive. Gina is a huge step up from Laura in the pilot episode. The back and forth with Gina about getting a robe was fun. I love George asking, “Is it lupus?!?!” Elaine’s psychosis from lack of food is terrific. George barging in on the psychic and hitting her up for info on his vacation while she’s in labor was great. And of course, NEWMAN.

What Didn’t Work

Justin: George going to the Cayman Islands without having income is an odd George move; Gina is hot, but she is a bit of a weirdo, constantly threatening Jerry’s manhood.

Aaron: I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate Jerry’s flirting in this one. He just comes off as so obnoxious and fake that it stretches the believability of the show at this point when they portray him as a ladies’ man. I’m sure this will improve over time but it’s just dreadful here. It’s weird that I can get behind Kramer for telling Jerry to bang her after 24 hours, but I find Jerry to be repulsive even though he’s way more respectful to Martin than Kramer is. I felt Elaine’s rant at the pregnant psychic was shoehorned in. Not that I disagree with what she’s saying (the woman is repugnant) but why isn’t she the least bit upset about the woman smoking in front of her little girl as well? I guess it’s ok to poison them if they’re already popped out? Elaine is clearly one of the writer’s avatars in this scene and it’s ridiculously transparent as the smoking never came back into play in any way.

Andrew: Some of these references just don’t work for me. A lot of them, like Sunny von Bülow, I assume seemed less dated at the time, but others take me right out of the show. “The silver dollars and the pizza dough over the eyes”? What the hell is Jerry referencing there? It’s way too specific to be something he made up, but I can’t figure it out. That one is going to haunt me.

Jordan: WAIT A MINUTE, BACK THINGS UP…let’s revisit the psychic visit. The psychic mentions Pauline and George mentions his brother impregnating a woman named Pauline. GEORGE. MENTIONS. HIS.BROTHER. HIS BROTHER? My entire world is caving in! Everything I know is a lie! Who is this mysterious Costanza brother? Why will we never see him? Why do the parents never mention him? Is he dead? For all of my adult life, I have been comfortable with the knowledge that George is an only child, and then this throwaway line shatters that once sacred belief. Thanks a lot you stupid psychic!

Key Character Debuts

Newman

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “Have you ever fasted?” – Elaine “Once, I didn’t have dinner until nine o’clock…that was pretty rough!” – Jerry

– “I’ve had a lot of other paranormal stuff happen to me!” – George “You’re a little paranormal” – Jerry

– “Psychics, vacations, how about you get a job?” – Jerry

– “What kind of a man are you?” – Gina “I’m a man who respects a good coma.” – Jerry

– “Lupus? Is it lupus?” – George

– “What will you do if Martin wakes up? Run away like a mouse?” – Gina “No, more like the Three Stooges at the end of a movie” – Jerry

– “Hello Newman.” – Jerry

– “I don’t care much for the beach… I freckle…” – Newman

Oddities & Fun Facts

– We see Kramer’s apartment door from the hallway view for the first time

– Jerry notes that both of George’s parents are bald

– Kramer brings up Dr. Kavorkian as a news topic of the day

– George mentions having a brother

– “Hello, Newman” count: 1

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: I will say I was very pleasantly surprised with this one. I wasn’t sure what to expect so I was prepared for another solid double, a good episode with some laughs but nothing that stands out. I was wrong. I really liked this one a lot. It was smart, crisp and all wove together tremendously. I liked Jerry a lot here with his quick witted responses to Gina busting his balls constantly and Kramer was really funny too. This worked so well because each character was placed in scenarios that made perfect sense. Basically, the absolute definition of each character was on display here, especially George. This was all so George. After a disappointing last outing, I thought they bounced back very strongly here. Final Grade: 7/10

Aaron: This one had some good stuff, particularly all of Kramer’s bits about the “land rush” but Jerry just killed it for me. The writing felt a little forced for me here too; the smoking, the Drake’s coffee cake, it all just felt like they were trying to cram a bunch of random ideas into one episode. Sometimes it works, sometimes it falls flat. Final Grade: 4/10

Andrew: This one was really entertaining for me. I enjoyed the scenes that have become familiar as clip show staples, especially the big climax in the hospital when Martin wakes up. And I got some laughs from a few things that I hadn’t noticed before, like George and Jerry’s battle of wills over taking out the trash. The overall story arc felt more fully baked than in the previous episode, and every character had a solid performance. I wouldn’t call this a classic, but it was a satisfying watch. Final Grade: 7/10

Jordan: Liked it, didn’t love it. I think the George story was really funny, but everything else had some flaws. Elaine’s hunger was funny but didn’t seem to have enough meat to it. Kramer was good when he was around, but didn’t have a real purpose. And Jerry’s story provided some laughs, but were they enough to shake off the creepiness of Gina desperately wanting Jerry to seduce her in front of her lifeless love Martin? I don’t think so, plus Jerry was better interacting with George than Gina here. However, we got the debut of Newman who immediately feels like he’s a part of the show. I’ll grade this one right in the middle. Final Grade: 5/10

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