1.4: The Robbery
Spurred on by the robbery of his apartment, Jerry looks for another place to live. But George wants the same place. Elaine wants Jerry’s place, or George’s place. Anywhere is better than hers.
This episode is probably the best of a micro first season. Whilst there is only one plot thread again, each of Jerry, George and Elaine have a vested interest in it. And Kramer is the instigator of events, so it’s a fairly even hand. There’s also no closing stand-up, which makes the closing scene is more memorable.
The star character turn this time is George, and Alexander relishes the chance to play up Costanza’s neurotic selfishness. Having found a prospective apartment for Jerry, he instantly decides he wants it for himself and becomes a whiny baby over it while professing he doesn’t want it if Jerry does. This culminates in a coin flipping (Jerry: You didn’t call, “No interference”!) and then a paper/scissors/stone game as decider. A few seasons down the line, and I doubt that George would have got to the point where neither he nor Jerry took it but gave it to someone else; he would have finagled it so that it was his in the end (and then something terribly wrong with it would have been revealed). George is definitely evolving at this point; the most remarkable thing about him is that he seems a perfectly competent estate agent.
Jerry’s anal side is to the fore as he instructs Elaine on his house rules while he is away (“No soft cheeses of any kind!”), as is his winningly blasé attitude to authority figures (he cracks wise to the policeman taking notes on the robbery). We also get to see his response to crises; he’s pissed at Kramer for leaving the door open (thus allowing the thieves access to the apartment) but he’s also stoic and not fixated (he’s a glass half full kind of guy).
We find out that Elaine has an annoying roommate who “starts rehearsing tonight on Carousel”, but more than her frustration over this, her most identifiable trait this episode is an unabashed mercenary attitude to whichever apartment she can grab. Her haggling with Jerry over his couch is amusing too (she gets a lower price but ends the episode couch-less).
Some good material for Kramer, with Richards making his first slide entrance and displaying an endearing lack of awareness and diligence (he intended to leave Jerry’s apartment for only a few seconds, but got distracted by a TV soap). His arbitrary fixations, requiring little logic or proof, come into play too, as he decides that their English neighbour is responsible for the theft. Jerry’s good natured put-downs of Cosmo’s quirkiness are quickly becoming a highlight.
The ending is a well drawn together too; a sign of things to come. With the trio of Elaine, George and Jerry all losing out, they sit on a couch at the housewarming of the couple who did take the apartment, commiserating. As per the misanthropic theme of the series, they cannot muster the goodwill to be genuinely happy for them so they lie.
Kramer: I got caught up watching a soap opera – The Bold and the Beautiful.
Kramer: I made a mistake.
Elaine: These things happen.
Kramer: I’m human.
Jerry: In your way.
Talking to the police officer about his stolen answering machine:
Jerry: Boy, I hate the idea of somebody out there returning my calls.
Officer: What do you mean?
Jerry: It’s a joke.
Officer: I see.
Discussing the Englishman who lives down the hall:
Kramer: The last couple of days he’s been acting very strange. I think he’s avoiding me.
Jerry: Hard to imagine.
Kramer’s attempt to ensnare the Englishman:
Kramer: I said, “Oh, by the way, I know about the stuff”.
Elaine: What did he say?
Kramer: “What stuff?”
And the completely insincere congratulations at the housewarming:
George: We’re really glad for you.
Elaine: Couldn’t be happier.
Jerry: It’s wonderful.