Friday, April 27, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 4, Episode 2 - The Trip: Part II

“The Trip: Part 2”

First Script Read: July 17, 1992
Filmed: Mon-Fri, July 20-24, 1992
Aired: August 19, 1992
Nielsen rating: 10.5
Audience share: 15
Directed: Tom Cherones
Writer: Larry Charles

In "The Keys," the finale of season three, Kramer left his life and his friends behind, seeking to cure his acting bug as well as his deeper yearning for a more fulfilling life. To kick off season four, Jerry invites George to accompany him to Los Angeles where he is making an appearance on The Tonight Show. They plan to track down Kramer, as Jerry still feels bad about their argument over keeping each other's apartment keys. After Kramer is cleared of murder charges, the three friends sit on a roadside bench in the hills overlooking Los Angeles, the Hollywood sign at their backs.

JERRY: So Kramer what are you going to do?
KRAMER: Do? Do? Hey, I'm doing what I do. You know I've always done what I do. I'm doing what I do, way I've always done, and the way I'll always do it.
GEORGE: Kramer, what the hell are you talking about?
KRAMER: What do you want me to say? That things haven't worked out the way that I planned? That I'm struggling, barely able to keep my head above water? That L.A. is a cold place even in the middle of the summer? That it's a lonely place even when you’re stuck in traffic on the Hollywood Freeway? That I'm no better than the screenwriter driving a cab, the starlet turning tricks, the producer in the house he can't afford? Is that what you want me to say?
GEORGE: I'd like to hear that.
JERRY: Yeah...
KRAMER: Well, I'm not saying that! You know, things are going pretty well for me here. I met a girl...
JERRY: Kramer, she was murdered!
KRAMER: Yeah, well, you know, I wasn't looking for a long term relationship. I was on TV.
GEORGE: As a suspect in a serial killing.
KRAMER: OK, yeah, all right. You guys got to put a negative spin on everything.
GEORGE: What did they put on this tuna? Tastes like a dill. I think it's a dill.
JERRY: So you're not going to come back to New York with us?
KRAMER: No, no, I'm not ready, things are starting to happen.
GEORGE: Taste this. Is this a dill?
JERRY: No, it's tarragon. Listen Kramer, I'm sorry about that whole fight we had about you having my apartment keys and everything.
KRAMER: OK, it's forgotten.
GEORGE: Tarragon?
JERRY: Yeah.
GEORGE: Oh, you're crazy.
JERRY: Well, take it easy.
GEORGE: Yeah, take care. Stay in touch.
KRAMER: Hey, hey, whoa! Come on, give me a hug...
JERRY: Oh, no... Get out of here!
GEORGE: No! You're crushing my sandwich!

No hugging on Seinfeld, of course. What might have been a heartfelt scene is undermined by George's preoccupation with his sandwich. Partly out of guilt, but partly out of genuine concern for his friend, Jerry is a little more interested in convincing Kramer to return to New York.

Why doesn't Kramer come back? To a large extent it is stubbornness. He is not one to be talked into decisions, big or small, nor is he one to admit defeat. Throughout the whole murder suspect situation, Kramer has kept a cheery attitude. Now Jerry's pushiness only increases his resolve to stick to his decision. He is also an optimist, not about the world around him, but about his own ability to survive and thrive in that world. So he stays in Hollywood...for three more days.

Jerry and George are watching television when Kramer enters the apartment as he has many times before. He offers a quick greeting but no explanation for his return. He heads straight for Jerry's fridge where he helps himself to some sandwich toppings. George and Jerry exchange looks, but they don't press Kramer. Instead, in perhaps the most touching moment in the entire series, Jerry tosses Kramer his spare set of keys, officially welcoming his neighbor back and burying the hatchet on their dispute. Kramer smiles gently and disappears into the hall. He returns and, more comically, lobs his massive key chain at Jerry. It knocks Jerry's drink off the coffee table, and breaks the sentimental moment.

That same stubbornness that kept Kramer in Los Angeles for a little longer now prevents him from admitting failure. Jerry and even George are sensitive enough not to press him, so Kramer comfortably settles back into his old habits. 

But what happened to his yearning? Ultimately, Kramer returns to his comfort zone. As independent a character as he is, he lost without his New York social network. As the series progresses, Kramer's various friends provide various kinds of support for his schemes. He gets his coffee table book published through Elaine's publishing job, and launches a make-your-own-pizza restaurant with his friend Poppy, to name a few examples. At the end of "The Trip," we are reminded that Kramer even relies on Jerry for food. Maybe he was literally starving on his own out in Los Angeles. In season eight's "The Betrayal," better known as "The Backwards Episode," we see from the origin of Jerry and Kramer's relationship that their friendship was founded on Jerry giving Kramer free food.

Surprisingly, then, Kramer is the most helpless of the four characters. He is the most childish, for his stubbornness, for his inability to care for himself, and for his unwillingness to play by the conventions of adulthood that Jerry, George, and Elaine so strongly subscribe to.

In "The Keys," Elaine mutters to herself, "I gotta get some new friends." But she is equally unable to break free from the quartet, a problem explored in season eight's "The Bizarro Jerry" and elsewhere in the series. They are all stuck to each other. Kramer cannot survive alone. None of them can face the world alone. They are each other's relief from the world's insanity. They release their stresses and neuroses to each other, through sarcasm as well as brutal honesty. Their ability to share nothingness is what gets them through the day, and their ability to laugh at each other's misfortunes is what distracts them from their own desperate yearnings. Even Kramer cannot escape the comfort of that nest.

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