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Recap / Seinfeld S 9 E 23 The Finale

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Part one

Jerry and George have finally struck a deal with NBC to produce their pilot, Jerry, as a series and will be leaving New York City for California to begin work. Jerry is given use of NBC's private jet as a courtesy and he, George, Elaine, and Kramer decide to go to Paris for "one last hurrah". On the plane, George and Elaine argue over the quality of the plane and what Elaine considers an "effeminate" way in which George sits in the jet, while Kramer is still trying to get water out of his ears from a trip to the beach he made earlier in the day.


Kramer's desperation to get the water out of his ears causes him to jump up and down on the plane and, as a result, he stumbles and falls into the cockpit, which causes the pilots to lose control. While the plane is nosediving, the four prepare for death. George, momentarily feeling the need to confess, reveals he cheated in "The Contest," and Elaine begins to tell Jerry that she always loved him; but the plane steadies itself and they make a safe emergency landing in the small town of Latham, Massachusetts.

While waiting for the plane to be repaired, they witness an overweight man (John Pinette) getting carjacked at gunpoint. Instead of helping him, they crack jokes about his size while Kramer films it all on his camcorder, then proceed to walk away. The victim notices this and tells the reporting officer, who arrests them on a duty to rescue violation that requires bystanders to help out in such a situation. Because this is the first case implementing this law, the prosecutor wants to find out everything he can about Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer in order to win. Jerry and his friends don't have any choice but to call on Jackie Chiles to represent them for the upcoming trial.


Part two

The second part starts with people associated with the main characters packing for the trial. Jerry's parents, George's parents, Newman, Uncle Leo, J. Peterman, David Puddy, Mickey, Kenny Bania, Susan's parents, the rabbi from Elaine's building, the pool guy, George Steinbrenner and Keith Hernandez are among those shown. Chiles mounts the defense that the witnesses are only exaggerating to settle scores with the four and that the four did not want to get shot by the criminal, and that the carjacker is free to "laugh and lie".

A lengthy trial ensues, presided over by Judge Arthur Vandelay. George considers this to be a good sign, as Arthur Vandelay was one of the many fake names he used for himself and phony companies he claimed to have worked for. In addition to the officer who arrested them and the carjacking victim, many of the four's former acquaintances — including Marla Penny, the low-talker, Donald Sanger, Babu Bhatt, Yev Kassem (the Soup Nazi), George Steinbrenner and Dr. Wexler from "The Invitations" — are called as character witnesses against them. They tell alternate versions of what really happened, and many of their "Enemies" believe that. In addition, many others from New York have made the trip to watch the trial in the courtroom.


Despite the effort of George's mother to try to convince Judge Vandelay to reduce the punishment, the jury finds Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer guilty of doing nothing and they are each sentenced to one year in a state prison.

In the final scene before the credits, the four main characters sit in a jail cell. Kramer is finally able to get the water out of his ears after days of trying. Jerry begins a conversation about George's shirt buttons, using lines from the first episode. George then wonders if they have had that conversation before.

Elaine's minor storyline

Throughout the first half of the episode, Elaine tries to get hold of her friend Jill. First, she can't get any reception with her cell phone on the street. Then, Jerry interrupts her with news of the pilot pickup and Elaine hangs up on Jill to take the call. Jerry then scolds her for, first, trying to rush the call before they all leave for Paris and, next, for thinking about calling from the plane. Finally, Elaine decides that she's going to use her one phone call from prison to call Jill, saying that the prison call is the "king of calls".


In the final scene of the series, Jerry is wearing an orange jumpsuit, and performing a stand-up routine of prison-related jokes to an audience of fellow prisoners (including Kramer and George; Elaine is not seen as she is in a women's prison). No one is laughing, except for the studio audience and Kramer. As he is then yanked off the stage, he says to his audience, "Hey, you've been great. See you in the cafeteria."

The finale shows example of the following tropes:

  • Artistic License – Law: Oh so much. For starters, Good Samaritan laws do not work that way. They're to ensure someone who helps an obviously ill or injured person cannot be sued later for unintentional injury or death, as is the case in Massachusetts. Even the compulsory Good Samaritan laws (more properly known as Duty to rescue laws) only apply to people who are injured or ill, not being threatened by a mugger (the arresting officer actually states "within reason", stopping a mugging is hardly reasonable). (Note that in some places they may do so, but "within reason" would just be calling 911.) If anything, the Seinfeld cast should have been commended for getting pictorial evidence of the crime. Not to mention the punishment for violating a (compulsory) Good Samaritan law is a small fine ($100-$300) with no jail time, and, as already explained, stopping a mugging is not covered by any real Good Samaritan law. And, regardless of how the Good Samaritan law itself is written, bringing in dozens of "character witnesses" to recount every misdeed the defendants have ever committed to discredit them is incredibly illegal under U.S. law - character witnesses are only legal if the defence cites their client's character, which is clearly not the case. The writers probably knew this and simply exaggerated the idea and played it for laughs. And even then, the police officer that arrested them was on site the entire time, and did so by watching the entire robbery, doing absolutely nothing about it, then arrest four bystanders/witnesses to a violent crime with video evidence, for not doing his job, even with a completely fictional representation and gross exaggeration of actual laws. And on top of this, no effort is made to catch the mugger/car jacker.
    • Moreso, the majority of the things people testify about were either (a) Untrue, like Mr. Pitt claiming Elaine tried to kill him, (b) Genuine mistakes or misunderstandings on the gangs part with no deliberate malice on their part, or (c) Even if they were done deliberately, weren't illegal.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The four ends up in jail but at least they got just one-year sentence. So they probably won't stay in there for much long.
  • Book-Ends:
    • Jerry and George's last conversation before going to prison is about the placement of his shirt buttons, the same conversation they had at the very beginning of the pilot. The supposed implication being that they've finally run out of things to talk about and had to start over.
    • The final scene shows Kramer loudly laughing it up at Jerry's dying act, as he did in the season's first episode, "The Butter Shave".
  • Continuity Cavalcade: Every person the cast has wronged over the years comes back to give testimony against them... not that this is even legal in US law.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: "YOU HAD TO HOP ON THE PLANE!"
  • For Want of a Nail: Had Kramer not gone to the beach and gotten water in his ears, the four of them would have made it to Paris and never ended up in prison.
  • One Phone Call: Discussed in the holding cell.
  • Slut-Shaming: A drugstore owner testifies about Elaine buying the store's entire supply of contraceptive sponges—"The kind for sex!"—causing the courtroom to gasp in shock and disgust. Aside from the grossly inappropriate intrusion into her personal life, the fact that Elaine was actually being responsible in preventing an unwanted pregnancy escapes their notice.
    • The entire gang technically gets this when Marla testifies about the events of "The Contest".
  • You Bastard!: The finale received a lot of criticism that it seemed like Larry David was lecturing the audience that they were wrong to be finding these people funny for nine years.


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