Sunday, May 27, 2012

SEINFELD - Season 4, Episode 20 - The Junior Mint

“The Junior Mint”

First Script Read: Friday, February 19, 1993
Filmed: February 23, 1993
Aired: 9:30 pm, Thursday, March 18, 1993
Nielsen rating: 18.6
Audience share:  29 share (26 million)
Directed: Tom Cherones
Writer: Andy Robin (This is the first of many scripts written by Robin, who worked on the show from season four through the finale, and collaborated with Jerry Seinfeld to write the animated feature film Bee Movie)

Things don't get much darker, and the gang doesn't get much shallower than in this episode.

Let's start with Elaine. Her attraction to Roy, the struggling (and, after Elaine broke up with him, literally starving) artist is almost completely based on superficial qualities:

ELAINE: Remember Roy, the artist?
JERRY: Right, the triangle guy.
ELAINE: Exactly, the triangle guy.
JERRY: Yeah, you liked him. What happened with him?
ELAINE: Yeah, I did. He was very talented. He was just a little too...
JERRY: Artsy?
ELAINE: He was a fat, starving artist, you know. That's very rare. Anyway, he's in the hospital. He's having surgery and I feel like should go visit him.

Elaine, not up for the awkwardness of seeing her ex alone, convinces Jerry to go with her and pretend to be her current boyfriend. Hilarity ensues when, upon discovering Roy is now thin, Elaine wants to abort the fake-boyfriend idea but Jerry, for his own amusement, keeps up the charade. She appears to be on track to get back together with Roy, until Roy begins his recuperation, scarfing down an entire plate of spaghetti in front of the turned-off Elaine.

I'd estimate Elaine's Dating Index for Roy, based on the xGBDI I came up with in my post on "The Fix Up," as follows:
75% - looks
15% - occupation
10% - personality
Actually it's a lot closer to the Male xGBDI, based on George in "The Fix Up," another supporting piece for the "Elaine is just one of the guys" thesis. Elaine can be just as superficial as her bald, male friend.

George, meanwhile, discovers $1900 in a forgotten savings account. He looks for an exciting way to "make a big score." When Elaine announces that Roy's prognosis is negative (um... by negative, she means positive...positive for a mysterious internal cavity infection...which is a negative thing...but you know what she means...), George decides to buy Roy's art, musing, "You know, if the guy dies, the art could really be worth something." He thus puts himself in the position of rooting for Elaine's friend to die. Ultimately, he is unapologetically disappointed when he hears Roy is getting better. "Where's the luck?" he moans. "There's no luck! $1900 down the drain!"

Jerry and Kramer briefly believe they might be the cause of Roy's mysterious infection. It's a reasonable concern, considering, while watching the surgery, they accidentally dropped a Junior Mint into Roy's body cavity. Kramer is normally the more compassionate of the pair, but he stops Jerry from calling the hospital to confess the candy incident:

JERRY: We gotta confess.
KRAMER: Really?
KRAMER: We could be tried for murder.
JERRY: I can't have this on my conscience. We're like Leopold and Loeb!
KRAMER: You're not gonna say anything, you got that?
JERRY: I'm telling and you can't stop me!
KRAMER: You're not!!!

Jerry does resist for a while, but eventually he makes the call. Fortunately, Roy gets better. His doctor's final comments even suggest the Junior Mint might've helped stop the infection. I have no medical evidence to back me up," the doctor says gravely, "but something happened during the operation that staved off that infection. Something beyond science. Something perhaps...from above." Jerry and Kramer never tell anyone their secret besides George, who perhaps used the insider knowledge of the Junior Mint's presence next to internal organs when he bet on Roy's death.

Frankly, I think the writer, Andy Robin, got Jerry and Kramer's characters backwards a bit in this episode. I think Kramer would have been the first one to give in to his conscience. Perhaps Kramer's brush with a murder arrest at the beginning of the season ("The Trip: Parts I and II") made him more afraid of the legal system, but he was comically nonchalant about his arrest in those episodes, rightly convinced his innocence would be quickly revealed. Kramer is more likely to feel sorry for pain he inflicted on others, while Jerry tends to seek his own well-being over anyone else's. Jerry is a man who, in this same episode, made out with a woman whose name he had forgotten. Yup! It's the Mulva/Delores episode. Say what you will about Robin's characterization of Jerry and Kramer, but his first episode is a gem.

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