Thursday, August 29, 2013

Episode 30 - The Subway

The Plot:  This episode has one of the best silent scenes in television history.  More about that later.  The episode centers around Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer starting out together on the platform and then all four embarking on separate and very different adventures within the New York subway system. Jerry has to go to Coney Island to get his car out of the impound lot. George is on his way to a job interview. Elaine is on her way to be the best man in a lesbian wedding. Kramer is on his way to court to sweet-talk his way out of a number of traffic violations. One by one, each situation takes an interesting twist.

On the way to Coney Island, Jerry keeps falling asleep on the passengers next to him, annoying all of them.  Finally, after one final nap, Jerry awakes to find himself all alone in his seat and a rather overweight naked individual on the seat across from him.  Turns out the guys is too comfortable with his naked body and after some playful banter, he decides to accompany Jerry to Coney Island and go on the rides with him.

George meets an attractive woman who clearly looks like she is much wealthier than he is.  She starts to innocently flirt with George who immediately abandons his job interview to follow the woman off the subway.  The next scene finds the two of them checking into a hotel room.  George disrobes and lays back on the bed.  The woman emerges from the bedroom in a negligee and after handcuffing him to the bed, proceeds to rob him.  When she discovers that he only has eight dollars in his wallet, she takes not only the cash, but his Moe Ginsburg suit and the rest of his clothes, leaving him handcuffed to the bed.

Elaine, on her way to the wedding, takes the one train that has the power go out.  In the dark and cramped train, she starts to imagine that someone is rubbing up against her leg and someone is standing too close.  Finally giving in to her claustrophobia she hurls a string of expletives in her head that would make a sailor proud.  She also ends up standing next to a woman who strikes up a conversation.  After a while, the other woman deadpans how she hasn’t spoken to a soul on the subway for 35 years, and the first time she does, it’s the best man at a lesbian wedding.

Kramer, overhears two guys on his subway train discussing a horse that is running that afternoon.  The duo talk about what a longshot the horse is, but then go through a whole litany of reasons why the horse will win (he’s got the bugboy on him).  Kramer skips court to stop at the OTB office to bet on the race.  When the horse comes in a winner, Kramer makes a bundle.  On his way back to the subway, a rather unsavory character follows him, knowing he’s got a wad of cash in his pockets.  The guy chases Kramer onto and through the subway cars and is about to rob him when an undercover policeman steps in to save the day. 

The great scene is all of them getting off the first subway to transfer to their various other trains.  All four of them are standing on the platform staring at one another.  Clearly showing how self absorbed they are, they stare at one another for a good 5 seconds and then each just walks away without saying anything to any of the others.   

Fun Facts:
  • Julia Louis-Dreyfus was very pregnant at the end of Season 3.  In this episode, she is carrying a large wedding gift in every scene to hide her baby bump.
  • A great scene has Kramer trying to squeeze himself into a seat with an extremely overweight individual.  If you look behind him, there are plenty of empty seats.
  • The OTB shop where Kramer places his bet is the same OTB parlor that Elaine uses as her fake phone number in a future episode.

Favorite Quote:   One from each of the subway riders:

George:  I get the feeling when lesbians are looking at me, they're thinking: "That's why I'm not heterosexual".

Elaine: No, no, no, you don't understand! I'm not a lesbian! I hate men, but I'm not a lesbian!

Naked fat guy: I'm not ashamed of my body.
Jerry: That's your problem, you should be.

Kramer: Oh, this baby loves the slop, loves it, eats it up. Eats the slop. Born in the slop. His father was a mudda'.
Guy at OTB: His father was a mudda'?
Kramer: His mother was a mudda'.
Guy: His mother was a mudda'?
Kramer: What did I just say?

Favorite Scene:   Having been stuck on a cramped and dark (and smelly) New York subway car when it stopped on the tracks, I have a special place in my heart for Elaine’s blow up on the train: 

Elaine (in her mind): Oh, this is great. This is what I need, just what I need.  Ok, take it easy I'm sure it's nothing. Probably rats on the track, we're stopping for rats. God, it's so crowded. How can there be so many people? This guy really smells, doesn't anyone use deodorant in the city? What is so hard, you take the cap off, you roll it on. What's that? I feel something rubbing against me. Disgusting animals, these people should be in a cage. We are in a cage. What if I miss the wedding? I got the ring. What'll they do? You can't get married without the ring. Oh, I can't breath, I feel faint. Take it easy, it'll start moving soon. Think about the people on the concentration camps, what they went through. And hostages, what would you do if you were a hostage? Think about that. This is nothing. No, it's not nothing, it's something. It's a nightmare! Help me! Move it! Com'on move this fu(beep) thing!! Why isn't it moving?!? What can go wrong with a train!?! It's on tracks, there's no traffic! How can a train get stuck. Step on the gas!! What could it be? You'd think the conductor would explain it to us? 'I'm sorry there's a delay we'll be moving in 5 minutes'!! I wanna hear a voice. What's that on my leg?!!

The Lesson:  Each one of the character’s excursions for the day contains a valuable lesson for startups, but since I’m less than 20% of the way through this exercise, I’m going to hold onto some of them in case I need them later on.  So, the most relevant lesson from this episode comes from George.  I’ve noted more than once already how important it is for startups to maintain laser like focus on the task necessary to launch, build and grow their companies.  Entrepreneurs face countless distractions throughout their day.  Family commitments, friends, personal pet projects, all of these can cause a founder to lose focus and ultimately miss an important milestone for the company.  To be clear, I’m not saying that the business can become all consuming.  You have to carve out time in your day, week and month to visit with all of these important elements of life (I am not arguing that you ignore family or friends).  But when you have committed time to your business, you need to be focused on the tasks at hand.  George hasn’t had a job in months and is on his second interview for a job he desires.  Despite being so close to achieving his stated goal, he lets a pretty woman distract him from the end game.  Not only does he not get the job, he loses all the cash he has and his most productive asset (his Moe Ginsberg suit).  Unfortunately, entrepreneurs being distracted by the business equivalent of a pretty woman and losing their job and their key assets is a common story in the startup world.  Don’t be George.  Stay focused on what’s important.

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