Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Truth” (S3, E2)

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_Truth]_(1991)_4

Best Character

Justin: Elaine was really good here but didn’t quite crack the top spot for me. That spot again goes to George, who I thought was great in just about every scene he was in. His coffee shop breakup speech was epic, his mumbling explanation to Jerry was great and his cowering sucking up to Patrice at he hospital followed by his complete and utter defeat at the end was magnificently well played. I am worried that we will start taking George for granted as we move along because he set the bar so high out of the gate that he has some work to do to remind us just how perfect he is.

Aaron: Do you prefer a strong start or a strong finish? I’ve got to go with the finish here, especially when it involves tribal music, yabalas and sambusa and a make out session on a windshield. I guess I had totally shortchanged how much I love Kramer in the early episodes of this series. Generally when I’m asked who I like best I always say George, but Kramer has really been killing it for me here. I wasn’t sure where he was going with the weak scene with Jerry about the taxes, but he won me over with “Yeah, it’s a windshield.” I love that we get to go off with Kramer on his own little adventure in this one and the scenes at the end with Tina are all fantastic. The physical stuff is great and not just the broad stuff like the African sex dance, something as subtle (for him) as leaving the room when George says he broke up with Patrice is perfect. As long as they keep making him weirder and weirder I’m going to keep giving him the wins here.

Andrew: No one stood out as a clear winner in this one, but Kramer was my favorite. He probably could have won with his semi-nude sexy-times dance alone, but he was good from start to finish, bringing both the physical comedy (edging out of the room when Jerry threatens to kill him), and the line delivery (“No, I like to strain the sauce”). It’s good to see him taking on a bigger role.

Jordan: I’m giving this one to Elaine. Jerry didn’t really do anything of note for me and George was just OK. Kramer would be a nice choice too, as I liked some of the quirkiness he showed, and even some that was mentioned (being charitable to the victims of Krakatoa), but Elaine played well off everyone this time around. We’ve known for a while she hates her roommate and we got to see some of that, she’s awkward around Kramer after he sees her naked, she calls George cheap then later demands he chip in on the cab. She was just the perfect compliment to everyone else this time around. And she didn’t dress like a grandmother! Everything’s coming up Benes!

Best Storyline

Justin: As much as I loved George in this episode, I thought his storyline was a bit blah. Part of that was due to Patrice being unlikeable in anyway and part was that it didn’t feel all too believable. Jerry’s had potential but was really just background noise to kill time and fuel George’s story. So, that leaves us with Kramer, Elaine and Tina, a storyline that was a very worthy recipient of this award. Kramer and Tina worked really well together and Elaine suffering through their obnoxious affection is something we have all had to experience at some point in our lives. I also love that nothing wrapped up at the end, with Kramer and Tina still banging on the couch while Elaine sulked to her room.

Aaron: Elaine’s conflict with Kramer and Tina dating is easily the choice here for me. Tina has already been introduced as someone who is weird enough for Kramer to date and the pacing with which they rolled this story out was great. We get the hints about the weird tribal make out stuff, then the awkwardness of Kramer seing Elaine naked and finally we see the couple in all their glory. It was fun and strange and much more lighthearted than Jerry’s whining about his taxes.

Andrew: I also found Kramer’s storyline line to be the most entertaining. I think they really nailed the frustration one feels when having to put up with a roommate’s significant other. When your roommate is annoying you, it’s at least partly your fault for choosing to live with them; when it’s some random person the roommate is shacking up with, it feels so much more unjust. I also liked that they teased Elaine telling off Kramer and Tina, only to have her to back off, and let their comeuppance be self-induced. In the words of a great American, “That’s perfect irony! That is interesting writing!”

Jordan: I didn’t dig the whole “George is honest and sends a woman to an institution” story that much, so I’m going with Kramer dating Elaine’s roommate. It made for fun dynamics between Kramer and Elaine, which is a combo we really haven’t seen yet. Kramer walking in on Elaine naked led to a funny exchange, with Elaine asking why he would walk into someone’s bedroom and Kramer explaining he thought it was a closet – but not offering up why he would walk into a closet. His willingness to strip naked in Jerry’s apartment, with Jerry there, was also funny. It also just fits that Kramer would make African food. Who’s up for some yambalas and sambusa?

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

Justin: Should George have held off on breaking up with Patrice until Jerry’s issues were settled? Once he offered to handle such an important matter for Jerry, it would have been nice of him to see it through. Even though Patrice pushed him into torching their bridge, he initiated the breakup first. He should have suppressed that rage, got Jerry in the clear and then lit the flame.

Aaron: Should you tell someone “The Truth,” if they ask? I think a lot of people say that they want the truth, but let’s face it I don’t think anyone really does. People often mistake being honest for having not an ounce of tact. So there probably was a nicer way for George to tell Patrice that she’s pretentious without screaming it at her in the restaurant. George mistook honestly for being an asshole. I’m glad he did.

Andrew: Is it OK to give to charity as part of an attempt to get laid? On the one hand, charity ought to be a selfless act, not something you to do impress people. On the other hand, the poor Krakatoans don’t care why you’re giving the money, they just want some relief from that volcano. I’m going to give Jerry a pass on this one.

Jordan: Do you really visit someone who’s in a mental institution to see if they have your tax papers? I’m sorry, a depression clinic. Let the poor lady get better! And for that matter, why doesn’t Jerry keep copies of anything? For some reason, I feel as if this is an ethical dilemma many of us will not have to deal with in our lives.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

Justin: Kramer and Tina are damn near perfect for each other, completely whacked out and ignorant to the feelings around them. They seem really happy together with their jungle dancing, African food and couch sex. I wish they would have stuck together longer because the interaction was really good and could have led to some continued high level annoyance for Elaine. Relationship Grade: 8/10

Aaron: Patrice, while probably insane, seems pretty out of George’s league until she puts on those giant earrings. She descends lower when she adds the chopsticks. By the time she’s dragging him to poetry readings in a burnt out building near the harbor you’re starting to wonder why George is with her. Kramer and Tina clearly have some sort of psycho-sexual thing going on. In fact, I researched like a ton of “films” and I don’t recall a woman ever being as turned on as Tina after that African food. The bizarre lovemaking that followed must have been some intense, weird shit that deserves to be made into its own “film.” Relationship Grade: George & Patrice 3/10, Kramer & Tina Sex/10

Andrew: Kramer and Tina are probably my favorite couple so far. In fact, I’m concerned that I might be attracted to Kramer. He’s a “sexually-depraved miscreant, seeking to gratify only his most basic and immediate urges” …and I dig it. Relationship Grade: 8/10

Jordan: I’ll skip George and Patrice, and focus on Kramer and Tina. They clearly enjoy each others company. They share African food together, enjoy unique music, have similar taste in coffee tables, and of course they like to do it on the floor. This is maybe the healthiest relationship we’ve seen in the history of the show so far. Relationship Grade: 8/10

What Worked

Justin: Elaine feels stronger right out of the gate; Kramer is clearly in a more primary role as well, being focused on in a storyline; Jerry’s explanation about George’s accountant girlfriend was funny and well delivered; Watching George trying to wriggle out a relationship for the first time was great and his breakup speech was amazing, just torching Patrice on his way out of it and then not being able to let her leave without paying for part of the bill was the bow on the gift of a scene; George then having to explain to Jerry that he broke up with her was really good too, especially with Kramer slipping out of the apartment; Elaine torturing George by teasing telling him the truth was about the worst thing someone could do to him and it was glorious; Kramer’s towel dance was great; Jerry and George talking to Patrice like she was five years old was good too.

Aaron: I thought George had a strong episode. His freak out at Patrice was epic and you could truly feel the frustration he must have felt dating her. I’m always a fan when we get to see Elaine go off and do stuff with the other characters, and her chemistry with Kramer was a fine display here. Her reaction to the state of the kitchen when she comes home to the “loving” couple is spot on. All the stuff with telling the truth was great too, from George asking for it and immediately regretting the decision to Elaine not having the guts to tell Kramer and Tina what she thought. A great way to handle an interesting topic.

Andrew: I liked most of the performances in this one. As I’ve probably made clear at this point, I thought Kramer was excellent, George was as strong as we’ve come to expect, and Elaine was quite good, especially her banter with Jerry and Kramer. I like that we’re back to referencing Jerry and Elaine dating, without any mention of their recent reuniting, although that must have been frustrating for viewers at the time. I really liked the use of plot devices, like Jerry and Elaine pointing out the invisibility of the coffee table before it was Kramer and Tina’s downfall, or bookending George’s breakup with scenes of Jerry explaining how important it is that Patrice help him out with his taxes.

Jordan: We learn that on Jerry’s first date with Elaine, Kramer barged in and asked Jerry to donate to a volcano relief fund, which gives us a nice bit of history to the characters. Elaine is actually dressed like someone less than 50 years old for once! I totally sided with George in his take downof Patrice – who pronounces paper mache that way? For that matter, why was she using chopsticks in her hair and wearing that dress? I’m surprised she wasn’t calling herself Donna Chang! As I mentioned earlier, Kramer and Elaine getting paired together in an episode is new and fun, and Kramer dancing in Elaine’s apartment was some good physical comedy. George being shocked that people think he’s cheap is great, especially a few scenes after asking Patrice to leave four dollars at Monk’s. I liked Jerry and George discussing the perks of being in a mental institution – wearing slippers, people visiting and word association? Tuberculosis!

What Didn’t Work

Justin: Jerry’s over the top attempts at long bits can be a little boring, specifically his speech about the Krakatoans; He also was fighting back laughter more than once in this one, which feels like regression for him; Having Patrice sent to a mental institution felt a little over-the-top for what is usually a reality based sitcom; Patrice was super annoying, even if that was the goal and I was sad to see George end up back with her.

Aaron: I think Jerry had a rough time with this one. I felt at times they were paying him by the word as he seemed to say ten lines when one would suffice. Hard to say if it’s the writing or the actor who is completely wooden. Either way, his story, and subsequently the whole episode, suffered for it. I hate, hate, hate dialogue that is clearly exposition. So when I heard ” Kramer dating your roommate, it’s funny,” I cringed a thousand cringes. It’s so weird with Jerry; one minute he’s fine with the” that’s not good,” business by the phone, but the next scene he’s awful while speaking about the “Krakatoans.” It’s so uneven you’d think it was filmed years apart. There was some pretty cookie cutter editing in the first scene with Kramer and Jerry that was pretty off-putting, not that I’m in any way an expert but I think it messed up some of the timing. The other guys here have mentioned this a bunch but this was the breaking point for me with whiny Jerry. Just buck up man. The comedy sessions were pretty intrusive as well.

Andrew: I wasn’t crazy about Jerry’s performance. He’s just not great at conveying human emotions like “anxiety” or “concern”, and this episode didn’t play to his strengths. I also think the overall execution could have been better; I liked a lot of the ideas (the roommate’s boyfriend angle, the invisible coffee table), but thought they could have had more impact than they did. As I’ve said before, this felt like a “less than the sum of its parts” episode. And on a completely different note: the fact that the “tribal” music featured animal noises so prominently was a tad racist, no?

Jordan: Patrice was really annoying, and I know she was probably supposed to be, but still, it’s not great to watch. I didn’t really care for the main storyline of the episode – George sending a woman to a mental institution and Jerry needing her to do his taxes? I thought the whole coffee table thing felt tacked on, and Kramer in the sling and bandaged up at the end seemed like something you’d see on Family Matters rather than Seinfeld. This may not seem like a lot in type, but when the major storyline is something that didn’t work, it is.

Key Character Debuts

N/A

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “Thomas Carlisle. 1864.” – Patrice “Tommy C…” – George

– “You come barging in here, asking me to contribute money to a volcano relief fund for Krakatoa…” – Jerry “It was supposed to erupt!” – Kramer

– “Have you ever been through an audit? It’s hell…the financial equivalent of a complete rectal examination!” – Jerry

– “When I was working, I spent baby!” – George

– George uses “BABY!” for the first time

– “I’ve driven women to lesbianism before, but never a mental institution…” – George

– “My friend Bob Sacamano had shock treatments but his synapses were so large, it had no affect.” – Kramer

– “I’m incapable of guile…” – George “He’s never guiled.” – Jerry

– “That’s Karma.” – Elaine “No that’s Kramer” – Jerry

Oddities & Fun Facts

– Jerry’s designer mullet is growing in

– Kramer doesn’t pay taxes

– Jerry mentions that Kramer has no income

– The scatting in the theme music is already gone

– Jerry has a cousin named Douglas, who had a mental breakdown over a lack of soda

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

Justin: The dialogue and running gags are progressing at a rapid rate, with jokes coming faster and crisper. I think that has to do with comfort all around, both with the actors getting to know their characters and their comfort with each other. It was great having multiple scenes where all four were together and interacting. I thought all four did good work here, especially George and Elaine. I am thrilled to see Kramer getting a lot more rub too, being included in main storylines and feeling like one of the gang as opposed to the weirdo neighbor. I thought this was a solid episode but one that never kicked it into that next gear. It felt safe, staying close to home and working off dialogue as opposed to building into something manic. And that is perfectly fine at times, especially now that the show can thrive if the storylines sag thanks to the improved chemistry, dialogue and character development. Final Grade: 5/10

Aaron: I would have gone middle of the road on this one as I loved some parts but Jerry and his story bring this one down to below average for me. It’s a shame because Kramer, George and Elaine are all pretty excellent. Tax cheat Jerry is just too dominant in this one. Final Grade: 4/10

Andrew: There were plenty of individuals moments in this episode that I enjoyed, but it doesn’t really hang together as an overall episode. Those are the hardest episodes to grade, I think: I laughed a bunch, and don’t have any major complaints, but still feel let down, somehow. You can tell the show is getting better, but we haven’t reached peak Seinfeld yet. Final Grade: 5/10

Jordan: This wasn’t a BAD episode, it was just kind of there and it suffers from coming after the excellent season premiere, which had all time classic lines and moments. I really didn’t care for the main storyline a whole lot, but we have gotten to a point in the show where the characters are strong enough to carry things even when the story itself is flat. The subplot of Elaine getting annoyed with Kramer was much better than the mental institution story, and if it was the main focus of the show, the episode may have been better. Definitely a step down from the Season 3 premiere, but not so far down that I dislike it-it’s just one I’m not clamoring to watch again anytime soon.  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.