The Summer of Seinfeld: ‘The Rye’

By: Alex Correa

Episode Information

Title: The Rye

Season: 7

Episode: 11 (Episode 121 of the series)

Air Date: January 4, 1996

Written by: Carol Leifer

Watch the full episode here.

What’s the Deal with this Episode?

Each week our gang of New Yorkers were put into and then got out of (well, sometimes) uncomfortable situations. Here is the episode recap of their exploits.

As with most George-centric episodes, the crux of the plot revolves around his extreme neurosis and predominant desire to make every aspect of his life as stress-free as possible. Unfortunately for George, being trapped in a wedding engagement that he can’t back out of, his life is set to Hard Mode. To what lengths will he go to rectify his problem? Better yet, to what depths will he drag his friends in this bizarre scheme? The answers reveal themselves hilariously, if a bit grimly, and not without lasting repercussions that essentially decide their ultimate fate.

The Costanza-Ross union. Looks like fun.

The Costanza-Ross union. Looks like fun.

Unsurprisingly, George’s parents are a difficult pair in social situations, most especially in a dinner setting with Susan (George’s fiance) and her parents. Here’s where it gets interesting because Susan’s parents are every bit as unhinged and socially hostile as Frank and Estelle. With an alcoholic mother and a father with deeply buried homosexual inclinations (All canon, albeit rarely acknowledged. See here), Susan is turning out to bring her own bit of baggage into the Costanza/Ross union. After the dinner inevitably goes awry George discovers that his father, in a fit of spite, took back the gift that they had brought with them. A marble rye from Schnitzer’s Bakery. The rye immediately transforms into George’s metaphor for an ideal, stress-free marriage.

Now the mission is simple: get the rye back into his in-laws’ place without them noticing. The players: Jerry, Kramer and a horse named Rusty.

Only Elaine is exempt from this scheme, and the main plot, due to her season 7 quest of finding the sponge-worthiest guy. The man this time around is John Jermaine, a talented saxophone player who, Elaine is convinced will make it big and bring her along with him. Just one problem: he doesn’t really like to do everything. Yes, this episode’s subplot is fraught with enough sexual innuendo to make a nineties audience blush. Ultimately, John decides to add a new number to his repertoire but is left with a case of lockjaw during a major audition. This is par for course for Elaine in terms of relationships in her pre-Puddy days.

It’s Really Just Something You Say

Endlessly repeatable and immediately recognizable, here is were we discuss the episode quotes to remember.

George: Did anybody see Firestorm?

Mr. Ross: Firestorm, that’s a hell of a picture.

George: Yeah.

Mr. Ross: Remember when they had the helicopter land on top of that car —

Frank: Hey! Hey! Come on! Come on! I haven’t seen it yet.

Mr. Ross: It doesn’t have anything to do with the plot!

Frank: Still! Still! I like to go in fresh!

The perfect line to deliver for anyone who doesn’t like hearing spoilers or possible spoilers. It’s an iron clad excuse for getting out of almost any conversational setting. But be careful using it as most of the charm is in the awkward Frank Costanza delivery.

Kramer: Rusty! Rusty!!

Toronto’s mounted police force remains a quaint and unique tradition for the city that everyone (motorists excluded) still enjoy seeing. The smell, on the other hand… A horse is a majestic and beautiful animal that’s served humanity since the outset of civilization. Without them, there are no cowboys, John Wayne, no Ben-Hur chariot race and no My Little Ponies. But when those ass apples start to drop, it’s another story entirely. Once that smell starts to sting the nostrils, it begs the question: “What’s the point of a mounted police force in 2013?” Either way, placing the blame on Rusty is a sure way to alleviate the fetid stench of a horse-made colon cannonball.

Beefaroni is not part of a healthy horse's diet.

Beefaroni is not part of a healthy horse’s diet.

Elaine: What if he tells John? Then John’s gonna think that I think that we’re hot and heavy. I don’t want John thinking that I’m hot and heavy if he’s not hot and heavy.

Jerry: Oh.

Elaine: I’m trying to get a little squirrel to come over to me here. I don’t wanna make any big, sudden movements. I’ll frighten him away.

It’s refreshing to hear a woman go through the same struggles as men do.

You Know Who I Ran Into Today?

Aside from its hall of fame main cast, Seinfeld had an amazing gallery of side characters. Each episode has a favourite worth talking about.

Who would have guessed that sweet old lady who played Happy Gilmore’s grandmother could also play the cantankerous old hag that drove Jerry past his limit? Frances Bay‘s performance as the bullheaded comic foil was so memorable that she would return later during the most pivotal and controversial episode – the court scene in the series finale. The mugging did seem a bit out of place and even out of character for the usually apathetic Jerry who’s more apt to say “Ah, that’s a shame” than “Shut up, you old bag!”. In any case, later writers would be remiss if they didn’t at least acknowledge this scene in the final episode where the gang are supposed to be facing the consequences of their own actions.

Yada Yada Yada

Every classic episode has at least one element that has become part of the cultural lexicon somehow. Here is where we discuss those random elements.

The schemer, the failure: Costanza

The schemer, the failure: Costanza

Marble Rye: Google search “marble rye” and check the first result. (For those too lazy to do so, here). The fact that a type of bread dating back to the Middle Ages is more relevant as part of Seinfeld lore than it is for being food speaks volumes. The image of George Costanza holding the rye triumphantly on a fishing line is an image forever ingrained in the most memorable moments of television history.  It encapsulates George’s character perfectly, from his deviousness to his inability to succeed. The marble rye reached new fame in the public eye and it was all thanks to this episode.

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