Seinfeld: The PTBN Series Rewatch – “The Secret Code” (S7, E7)

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!


Best Character

JT: I thought Peterman owned this one the whole through. Kramer had some peak moments, specifically cracking George’s secret, but Peterman was fantastic in every scene. The way he completely ignored George’s disgust and trudged on as best buds was impressive. I also loved how he saw right through George’s lies every time but never judged him for them. What an amazing man. Three bulls indeed.

Aaron: Silky smooth and pleasing to the senses, with a diamond smile and a jaw that peaks like a jackhammer. J Peterman is the perfect accessory to any Asian food run or bedside vigil.

Andrew: I’ll go with Peterman. I’m always a sucker for a character acting like they’re in a different show than everyone else, and Peterman’s dead serious, 40s adventurer bit works especially well for me. I enjoy the way he ignores all social cues of discomfort, and I love how effortlessly he swats away George’s attempts to make up excuses. This is Peterman at his best.

Jordan: I’m giving it to Kramer. He was good with the fire stuff, but I LOVE his interrogation of George and his unique ability to immediately guess George’s secret code. “You’re a portly fellow” makes me laugh every time. Driving the truck at the end was the cherry on top, especially with him taking out the fireman by sliding down the pole. The look of joy on his face when he realizes what he’s about to do is something we all long for in life -to achieve our dreams.

Jason: Kramer takes it by a landslide here. On all accounts he was magnificent. From trying to pitch new routes to the fire department, to trying to figure out George’s ATM code and all topped off with him driving the back of the fire truck. No worries at all when Kramer’s got the caboose.

Best Storyline

JT: I will go with the Peterman & Costanza bromance. It led to the biggest laughs and their chemistry was really good with George desperately doing all he could to escape while Peterman kept pulling him in closer. It had a real Planes, Trains & Automobiles feel to it.

Aaron: George getting left behind by Elaine and Jerry to not only have dinner with Peterman but being thrust into an overnight adventure culminating with George killing an old woman. Peterman clearly has a soft spot for our devious and balding friend as he instantly forgives lies and uses George as the rock that he is in no way designed to be.

Andrew: Again, I think the Secret Code was easily the best storyline. It’s a brilliant set-up and punch line: Jerry trying to come up with life-threatening situations where George would be forced to reveal his ATM code is funny on its own, so that when George actually finds himself in such a situation, the payoff is even better. Having Peterman write up the whole incident in his catalogue is just icing on the cake.

Jordan: The secret code was good. It’s very typical of George to not want Susan to know, or anyone for that matter. George confessing to Peterman’s mom on her deathbed, Kramer grilling him and basically figuring it out, and then George not using it at the end were all solid scenes.

Jason: The title plot worked every which way and tied in together with everything, so that’s the clear choice here.

Ethical Dilemma of the Week

JT: Is it douchey to bail on your friends when they are doing you a solid and joining you for dinner with your boss? And then also leave your friend hanging at a wake for your boss’s mom. Yes, those are awful things to do. However, they are also justified when the friends you are bailing on are pieces of shit that would do the same to you.

Aaron: What’s the deal with Police scanners? Why do people lose their lives to these things? There are communities where people have DOZENS of these devices and spend their day lurking in the background of law enforcement. This guy I know has at least ten scanners (and zero girlfriends) and their all tuned to various frequencies. He’s got one on the cops, another on the Native police department he even bought a special one that could pick up the public transit people talking! He then takes the recordings to the public transit guys and uploads the audio to a site where other people fucking download it! Like why is a guy from Germany downloading audio from the Montreal subway system??? Do we not have enough forms of entertainment in our modern world that we need to cling to old recordings of the bus drivers telling me to “Speak French! We’re in Quebec!” This guy makes me so mad. He’s also a diehard Washington Capitals fan. He has like six or seven Washington Capitals tattoos (and a confederate flag, but he says it’s cause he likes rebellion). His car is the God damn Washington Capitals mobile. He’s got the socks, the underwear…EVERYTHING. I’m torn because the Capitals winning the Stanley Cup would be the greatest moment of his life but at the same time I don’t was them to validate his obsession. Am I the bad guy here?

Andrew: Should Jerry feel responsible for burning down Leaping Larry’s store? Nah. I gotta think storing an open container of paint thinner next to exposed wiring is against the fire code. Larry’s got to take that one up with his contractor.

Jordan: Is it really that weird that George doesn’t want people knowing his secret code? It’s not something I generally let people know. “Hi, I’m Jordan, my pin number is 1234, nice to meet you!” Jerry should lay off!

Jason: When you’re married, should your spouse have access to your bank card code? Absolutely! George hasn’t said “yes” yet, so Susan needs to back off.

Relationship Scale (Scale 1-10)

JT: Peterman and Costanza is a story for the ages. It really did remind me of John Candy and Steve Martin and it totally felt inspired by the interactions between the two, with Peterman just ignoring all the tells that George couldn’t stand being near him but kept plugging away regardless. Perhaps Peterman is more lonely than he comes across? Time will tell. Relationship Grade: 3 (Bulls)/10

Aaron: Fred step off you forgetful fuck. If you can’t remember the beauty that is Elaine you should probably be castrated. Relationship Grade:1/10

Andrew: I can identify with Elaine feeling drawn against her will toward someone who shows no interest in her, and Jerry’s “God … doesn’t really want anyone to get together” theory rings true. Relationship Grade: But that’s so sick/10

Jordan: Fred is a loser and Elaine is really slumming it this time around. If I ever meet her, I will claim I have no idea who she is. Then I’ll tell her all about my mom’s pills. Then? SPONGES. Relationship Grade: 0/10

Jason: Elaine and Fred are very unstable together. Mainly because Fred is a pile of shit. Susan continues to have George by the balls… and ATM card. Peterman and George are quite the dynamic duo. Relationship Grade: Cocoa Bean/10

What Worked:

JT: Not giving up an ATM code is an odd choice but George digging his heels and going way over the top with it is perfect Costanza; Fred is awful but I do like how Elaine can’t deal with him not remembering her; Kramer and a scanner is a very inspired combo; Jerry not having enough energy to explain what Kramer is up to; The reveal of Larry having the prosthetic right as Jerry’s foot fell asleep was a great moment; Munjamba gets me every time; “The Three Bulls” also gets me each and every time; I love Peterman doggedly keeping he dinner alive even when it is whittled down to George; George’s face smacking the window when Peterman makes the hard left turn; “Jacopo” and “Shake off the dew, my friend.”; The Bosco scene is pretty epic as is Kramer systematically breaking down George to determine the code; Peterman thinking Bosco was his mother’s lover; George failing twice to come up with a good lie; Kramer’s firehouse fantasy coming true played out greatly; I love that Peterman can always tell when George is lying; The final scene with the Peterman catalogue is fantastic

Aaron: Detective Kramer was in fine form breaking down George’s secret code. He gets just close enough to the truth to rattle Costanza and his depiction of George being weak and spineless is so astute that George can’t even deny it. Kramer getting to live out his lifelong dream of driving the back of a fire truck is made only the sweeter by his friends screaming at him from the street. I love how Peterman only sees through George’s lies. George, the professional liar, can’t get one by the guy. On top of it Peterman is just so gracious in the face of deception. Comedy gig? He understands and has no hard feelings. Women’s conference? Good luck! Men’s conference? He doesn’t believe that for a minute. He’s a beacon of courtesy until George murders his mother then he uses his immense resources to bring George down in the most poetic way possible. Jerry is sarcastically great, Elaine is fun and the old time fire chief railing against hotheads always busts me up.

Andrew: Again, I really enjoyed Peterman in this one, whether he’s doing a boring dinner monologue, abducting George in his haste to see his dying mother, or puzzling over her dying words. And he has some classic lines, especially “the three bulls.” I love the idea behind Elaine being attracted to Fred only because he can’t remember her. Kramer trying to guess George’s code is a classic.

Jordan: Time to give some love to Peterman. He was fantastic throughout this one, as he shrugs off Elaine bailing, then Jerry and embraces George as his new pal. I love that he just flat out tells George he is a liar, but is fooled by everyone else. His scathing write up of George in the catalog is awesome too – “His name was Costanza. He killed my mother.” Kramer’s fireman escapades are a lot of fun as I already stated, but I liked him going to the station and the chief telling him he’s not the first youngster to come in with better plans. I like to imagine 50-60 people a day marching in with maps and routes. Elaine getting worked up over Fred not knowing her was an interesting story, as she only had interest in him because he had no interest in her. His recalling of the tic tac toe game was pretty funny. Peterman’s mom stating Bosco over and over was good for a chuckle.

Jason: Jerry referencing Chemical Bank and his code being Jor-El were both tremendous. Kramer’s childhood dream of driving the back of a fire truck. Kramer being baffled by hearing the route the fireman are taking over the scanner. George comparing bank codes to menstrual cycles. George’s J. Crew gag after meeting Peterman. JP’s boss leather jacket; “the three bulls.” Jerry bailing on Peterman by saying he has a set; “George, we dine.” George trying to switch the subject to sports after listening to Peterman blab. Jerry sitting at home in sweats and eating popcorn. Peterman’s Burma name drop. Jerry’s logic that Elaine is attracted to Fred because he can’t remember anything about her. Peterman waking up George by slapping him on the knees. George yapping to Momma P about his code issues with Susan. Momma P yelling Bosco and then dropping dead. Kramer trying to figure out George’s code; “You’re a portly fellow. A bit long in the waistline.” George running away when he figures out Kramer is about to guess his code. Elaine skipping out on Momma P’s funeral. Kramer sliding down the pole and landing on DeSoto; “I drive the back of the truck.” Kramer lighting up when he figures out he has his chance to drive the fire truck. Fred blabbing on about his mother to Elaine. The funeral home and Leapin’ Larrry’s being on the same block. Kramer saying hi to people while driving the truck. Jerry listening to the scanner; “That’s a shame.” Peterman trying to figure out what Bosco means. Peterman yelling at George to say what his code is. The Rogue’s Wallet description being about George; ” Short, devious, balding, his name was Costanza. He killed my mother.”

What Didn’t Work

JT: Not giving up an ATM code seems like an odd hill to die on; Who crosses their legs under a table?; Fred is a real weirdo and frustrating to even watch in limited action; Who leaves paint thinner next to exposed wiring?; Why didn’t the guy in the ATM just take off his shirt and coat?

Aaron: What’s Susan’s problem? Let the man have his secret code. Sure it’s the definition of selfishness but the man can have one thing to himself! Also if George didn’t want Peterman to know he killed his mom why didn’t he just give him the numbers instead of the letters?

Andrew: I wish Elaine’s storyline had been funnier. As I mentioned, I love the idea behind it, but they never really got a laugh out loud moment out of it. Jerry’s “my foot keeps falling asleep” plot felt a little clunky, especially in comparison to the George/Peterman stuff. And Kramer’s storyline is just OK, with the traffic/fireman aspirations seeming a little tacked on, even if it does tie in well with the other storylines in the end.

Jordan: Jerry’s leg falling asleep seemed like a huge stretch and ultimately meant nothing. Also, am I crazy or do ATM codes only come in number form? If I can change it to a word, THE GAME HAS CHANGED BABY. Nobody will figure out my code is T-BONE.

Jason: Fred sucks, big time! What a miserable man. He needs some series help. *Paging Dr. Wille*  Susan continues to blow my mind at how much of a control freak maniac she is. She is the absolute worst. Not giving your fiance your bank card code is one thing, but when a man is in danger of burning to death, you better cough up that code. Typical Costanza. What careless paint crew leaves an open can of flammable liquid on the floor unattended?

Key Character Debuts

– Leaping Larry

Iconic Moments, Running Themes & Memorable Quotes

– “George, you’re gonna marry this woman. Most likely.” – Jerry

– “Why does everything have to be ‘us’? Is there no ‘me’ left? Why can’t there be some things just for me? Is that so selfish?” – George “Actually, that’s the definition of selfish.” – George

– “My foot fell asleep.” – Jerry “You’re lucky, at least you got something to do.” – Fred

– “The bathroom door. I remember someone had played tic-tac-toe on it, and the X’s won; they went diagonally from the top left to the bottom right.” – Fred

– “When I was a kid, all I ever dreamed of was steering the back of that big hook and ladder.” – Kramer “You’re lucky they let you drive a car.” – Jerry

– “Well I’m sure you have secrets from me. I don’t know anything about your cycles.” – George “My cycles?” – Susan “Yeah, I never know what’s going on there.” – George

– “I just came from Leapin’ Larry’s. Making fun of crippled people, is that what you’ve sunk to?” – Kramer “I didn’t do it on purpose, my foot fell asleep.” – Jerry “Oh, oh your foot fell asleep.” – Kramer “Ya know, the guy has one leg and he still calls himself Leapin’ Larry, you’d think he had a sense of humor about it.” – Jerry “Well, you just joked yourself right out of that commercial, didn’t you, munjamba?” – Kramer

– “I don’t even know Peterman. How the hell am I gonna relax? I’m gonna have to be on all night. I don’t like being on, Jerry, I would much rather be off.” – George “Trust me, you’re off.” – Jerry

– “Oh, Elaine just called, she won’t be joining us. Not to worry, I’ll tell the maitre’d it’ll just be the three bulls.” – Peterman

– “You see what’s going on here? You’re attracted to him because he can’t remember anything about you.” – Jerry “I am? But that’s so sick.” – Elaine “That’s God’s plan. He doesn’t really want anyone to get together.” – Jerry

– “Shake off the dew, my friend.” – Peterman

– “Oh, alright. Yeah. Uh, let’s see. Um, well, we can throw out birthdays immediately. That’s too obvious. And no numbers for you, you’re a word man. Alright, let’s go deeper. Uh, what kind of man are you? Well, you’re weak, spineless, a man of temptations, but what tempts you?” – Kramer “Huh?” – George “You’re a portly fellow, a bit long in the waistband. So what’s your pleasure? Is it the salty snacks you crave? No no no no no, yours is a sweet tooth.” – Kramer “Get out of here.” – George “Oh you may stray, but you’ll always return to your dark master, the cocoa bean.” – Kramer “I’m leaving.” – George “No, and only the purest syrup nectar can satisfy you!” – Kramer “I gotta go.” – George “If you could you’d guzzle it by the gallon! Ovaltine! Hershey’s!” – Kramer “Shut up!” – George “Nestle’s Quik!” – Kramer “Shut up!” – George

– “You know George, growing up as a boy in Costa Rica, I heard a rumor that momma had taken a lover. Perhaps Bosco was this man’s name.” – Peterman

– “Yeah, we straightened it out, all is forgiven.” – Jerry “Well, you know the important thing is that you learned something.” – Kramer “No I didn’t.” – Jerry

– “The Rogue’s Wallet. That’s where he kept his card, his dirty little secret. Short, devious, balding. his name was Costanza. He killed my mother.” – George

Oddities & Fun Facts

– The football Jerry was likely watching was the Giants vs. Redskins from October 29, 1995 as it occurred on a Sunday night. However, the Giants never quite had a fourth and inches play that mattered, which is what is going on when Jerry is watching. The Redskins had one early and the game and the Giants had one at the end but that was meaningless as it was the last play of the game.

Overall Grade (Scale 1-10)

JT: I enjoyed this one more than I expected and it held up pretty well. A lot of that hinged on Peterman’s interactions with George but Jerry had some real good one liners in here too. The Kramer stuff at the end could have come across as absurd and corny but the way they wove the story it actually made quite a bit of scene and didn’t seem as farcical as it could have. Elaine and Fred was kind of blah and the fact that Jerry would keep crossing his legs despite his issues kind of drag this down, but there were a lot of laughs here and the dialogue was fantastic throughout most of it. Jacopo for the win! Final Grade: 7/10

Aaron: A fun, solid episode that got me worked up about police scanners, but also popped me whenever Peterman opened his mouth. Final Grade: 7/10

Andrew: I’ve got a soft spot for this one, as it’s the first great Peterman performance, and there are a ton of lines I’ve enjoyed quoting over the years. But apart from that storyline, it’s a pretty unspectacular episode, which lowers the grade a bit. But we’ll always have “Bosco”. Final Grade: 8/10

Jordan: This one was fine. It wasn’t an all timer, but they can’t all be. At this point, when we don’t hit a home run, I’m expecting a solid double or triple and this one hit that mark. The Elaine stuff was OK, could have been better, and Jerry didn’t really have anything interesting going on, but George and Peterman carried the load. Kramer’s interrogation scene bumps it up a full point. Final Grade: 7/10

Jason: This was another solid episode from the great stretch that we’re in. Peterman was as incredible as was Kramer. Kramer driving the fire truck is a pretty iconic moment in the series and holds up as very funny. Not a bad way to follow up last week’s episode. Final Grade: 7/10