“You ask me here to have lunch, tell me you slept with Elaine, and then say you’re not in the mood for details? Now you listen to me. I want details, and I want them right now. I don’t have a job. I have no place to go. You’re not in the mood? Well you get in the mood!” - George
For two short seasons, Seinfeld managed to keep Jerry and Elaine away from each other in blatant disregard for every prevailing sitcom notion and trend of the era. But the network wanted them too. Luckily, Larry David had an event to draw upon from his past where he attempted to maintain a physical relationship with a former girl friend without the entanglements of the emotional relationship. And that formed the basis for what was the second season finale. And based on the first two seasons’ ratings, Larry didn’t think the show would continue for a third which is why he didn’t care how this episode ended (It ends with Jerry and Elaine still involved in their deal). When it got picked up for a third season they planned to just continue with Jerry and Elaine together. But as Jerry toured the country doing his act, the response he got from fans was overwhelmingly negative to the relationship so it was dropped without explanation at the start of the fall season.
The episode begins with Jerry and Elaine flipping channels in Jerry’s apartment. Elaine flips to an adult film which leads to the two discussing their lack of a sex life. There’s a period of awkward silence where they both know what they’re thinking but they’re not sure how to broach the subject. “Things pop into your head,” he starts. “Things occur to me from time to time,” Elaine responds.
So they discuss the pros and cons of an arrangement, in very much the same way I imagine professional agents discuss contracts with their clients’ employers. That aspect of this scene was debated on the set with some of the producers wanting the scene to be more intimate with Jerry and Elaine seated closer together, but David pointed out that this is not an intimate scene, it’s a contract signing.
In order to maintain the friendship Jerry and Elaine establish a set of parameters: No calling the next day and spending the night is optional. And with that they retire to the bedroom (we never see them in there). The next morning Jerry is pouring two glasses of OJ when Kramer comes in. Kramer wants to know what’s taking Jerry so long to get the paper when a pants-less Elaine comes out of the bedroom. Kramer does a double take, Jerry shrugs, and Kramer sheepishly smiles his way out of the apartment.
Next, Jerry has lunch with George. “What’s the deal with Aquaman? Could he go on the land or was he restricted to water?” I could go for a 30 minute show of George just asking these kinds of questions. In the course of the conversation, Jerry drops in a casual, “So I slept with Elaine last night.” George removes his glasses. “I need oxygen! I need some oxygen!” Jerry doesn’t want to give details which leads to George’s rant posted at the top of the page. I think Jerry really knows when they have a real great line written because you can see it in his expression when it’s being recited by one of the other characters. He doesn’t have the best poker face.
When Jerry explains the deal, George laughs himself out of the booth. “Where are you living? Are you here? Are you on this planet? It’s impossible. It can’t be done.”
Inevitably there are problems. At Elaine’s, Jerry doesn’t want to spend the night. Elaine is a little upset in a very passive aggressive manner: “My house, my option.” Then Jerry tries to kiss Elaine, a violation of the rules.
Jerry has to pick out a birthday gift for Elaine, but now he’s in the delicate position of finding a gift that’s not quite boyfriend but more than friend. “I think she mentioned something about a bench.” George points out a variety of items but Jerry has an issue with all of them. He ends up giving her $182. “Who are you, my uncle?” His card is even worse than the gift. Kramer comes in and has a gift for Elaine; the bench she wanted. When Kramer finds out what Jerry got her he laughs. “Cash…that’s like something her uncle would give her.”
Jerry wants to forget the whole deal and go back to being friends. But Elaine can’t do that. She wants this, that AND the other. It appears that the two are heading for a break up. But after a phone call…
…Kramer comes into Jerry’s apartment and asks for the paper. Pants-less Elaine comes out with the paper. Kramer asks what they’re going to do for the day. Elaine and Jerry coyly respond with “This, that, and the other.”
“Boy, I really liked the two of you much better when you weren’t a couple,” Kramer says, walking out.