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Rob Cesternino and Akiva Wienerkur continue their journey to watch every Seinfeld episode as they discuss Season 5, Episode 12, “The Stall.”
Rob Cesternino and Akiva Wienerkur packed their tuna and salmon salad sandwiches as they attempt to reach the Seinfeld summit that is “The Finale”. This week, they breakdown “The Stall”, which first aired February 3, 1994 as part of season five, and was written by the great Larry Charles, who noted in an interview that he always seems to be involved with bathroom humor.
There was of course a bit of Seinfeld news for Akiva to share this week. Jamie Gertz, who plays Jane in this episode, just celebrated her 50th birthday. With Scene It and Tweet of the Week a thing of the past, the guys jump right into the recap.
Jerry’s opening standup is a bit about whales that Rob noted had nothing to do with this episode. The episode opens with Elaine in the bathroom stall at the movies, where there is no toilet paper. When she asks the woman next to her for some, the lady replies she can’t spare a square, leading to an argument between the two.
When Elaine gets back to her seat with her new boyfriend Tony, she explains what happened to her. He’s mostly interested in why she didn’t bring him his popcorn. Meanwhile the woman who refused the toilet paper gets to her seat, and she happens to be Jerry’s new girlfriend. Jerry mostly blows off her side of the story, since he’s more interested in the artificial flavor of the popcorn.
The next day, Jerry is on his computer when Kramer comes in to ask to use his phone in his bedroom. Jerry jokes to not call a 976 number, but Kramer actually is calling one of them. Elaine is there talking about her bathroom experience at the movie, and Jerry quickly tries to cover up for Jane. She notes that she’ll never forget her “flinty” voice, which troubles Jerry since they are all going on a double date that weekend. When Elaine picks up the phone, she hears Kramer talking dirty with the phone sex lady, claiming his name is Andre. Jerry thought the phone sex lady’s voice sounded familiar.
Jerry and Elaine are driving, and she reminds him to defrost his freezer. Rob wondered why she cared about this. While talking about her new boyfriend, Jerry refers to him as hunky Tony, accusing her of dating a “mimbo”. They then both joke about how George has a nonsexual crush on Tony.
At the diner, George is staring starry eyed at Tony while he tells a story about telling someone to “step off”. George comes up with their next extreme outing, and recommends bowling, while Tony counters with rock climbing, and they should go “manana”. George says he has to have a boil lanced manana, but when Kramer agrees to go, George also says he’s “down”, and he’ll even make sandwiches.
Back at Jerry’s, Elaine makes fun of George for thinking he can rock climb, while Jerry calls George Tony’s sidekick. George is fine being the sidekick because Tony is so cool. He admonishes Kramer for cutting in on his day with Tony, which causes Kramer to tell George he’s in love with Tony. When Kramer answers the phone, he thinks he recognizes Jane’s voice from somewhere.
In the next scene, Kramer and George are on the side of a cliff. Kramer is breezing around yodeling, while George is clutching the side for his life. Tony, who is below them climbing up, asks George to secure the rope then throw him a sandwich. George doesn’t get the first part done right, and Tony goes falling. Akiva thought you’d have to assume Tony was dead at this point.
While eating pizza with Jane at his apartment, she won’t share a napkin with him. When Elaine buzzes up he quickly decides to give her many pieces of gum to help disguise her voice. After she leaves, Elaine comments on the gum, to which Jerry says it’s embarrassing and might have to break up with her. When Kramer and George sheepishly show up, they divulge that Tony fell off the cliff. Elaine only wants to know if there was damage to his face, then runs out to see him in the hospital.
Later on at Tony’s, Elaine asks how his face will heal, but nothing else. Rob pointed out that Tony is a bit of a Puddy type. Akiva agreed they are similar, but Tony is a bit more “fratty”. When George stops by, Tony tells him to “step off”, with Elaine reiterating he step off, shoving him out the door.
Back at Jerry’s, Jerry tells Jane it’s too bad they can’t go out with Elaine and Tony after Tony’s accident. Kramer comes in and instantly recognizes Jane’s voice, as it’s “tattooed in his brain”. As he leaves, Jane asks to split a cab uptown, and Kramer says a line he used when talking on the 976 line, “what about the driver?”. When she leaves, Kramer tells Jerry that Jane is Erica the phone sex lady, but Jerry thinks it’s crazy.
At the diner, Elaine explains that Tony’s bandages will come off soon, and finally admits that she is only into him for his looks. They notice Kramer over at another table, waiting to finally meet up with Erica the phone sex lady. When Jane walks in, Jerry confronts her, calling her Erica. She says she sells paper goods, and calls him a jerk. Rob thought it was ironic that her cover story is selling paper products, when she is a toilet paper hoarder.
Elaine asks Jane for a tissue since she’s been crying, but Jane says she can’t spare it, so Elaine puts the pieces together that Jane is the toilet paper hoarder. When Jane excuses herself to the bathroom, Elaine runs up ahead to remove all the rolls from the bathroom, then hides in one of the stalls. Rob questioned how she could have accomplished this when Jane was literally a few seconds behind her. When Jane notices the toilet paper is out, Elaine gleefully says she can’t spare a square and runs out with all the rolls in her arms.
When Jane comes out, she stops at the table to tell Jerry not to call her again, then whispers to Kramer, “you either”, revealing that she is in fact Erica. The closing standup is a bit about how skydiving is not a sport, and what is the point of wearing a helmet.
In ranking the episode, Akiva thought it was the best of season five, so he ranked it at 18. Rob disagreed, even though he thought it was quite solid. In 2015, Elaine would get a text that could get her to the hospital for Tony. Also, there would be no 976 calls nowadays.
As always, they wrap the episode with a few emails. Dan last week proposed he would donate a dollar for every minute over an hour and ten minutes to charity, and after last week, they are up 13 dollars. He suggested they pick a Seinfeld related charity, and Rob and Akiva were thinking something like food and clothing for the homeless. He also asked which aspect of the episode was least plausible. From the list he suggested, Rob and Akiva thought the idea of Jane/Erica meeting Kramer anywhere is absurd.
After expressing his love for the Tony character, Craig asked if either had called a phone sex line, to which both gave an emphatic no. Amir wondered why Kramer would need to use Jerry’s phone for the 976 call. Akiva pointed out that Kramer is always a mooch off of Jerry, so why not make him pay for it. Amir also noted that Jane refusing to give the toilet paper is completely implausible. Lastly, he pointed out how the Tony character is the most “Hammer time” thing in the series, and wanted to nominate “step off” as the podcast catch phrase.
Finally, Johnny De Silveira said this is one of only two episodes where Jerry uses the computer. He also asked what is the most extreme sport either had done. Akiva answered doubles tennis as a joke, but actually went zip lining, while Rob has done some cliff diving.
Tune in next week as the guys will recap “The Dinner Party”. Send in your questions by emailing [email protected]
Special Thanks to Mike Moore for this week’s episode recap