|Episode no.||Season 7
|Directed by||Andy Ackerman|
|Written by||Larry David|
|Original air date||May 16, 1996|
"The Invitations" is the 24th and final episode of the seventh season of Seinfeld and the 134th overall episode. It originally aired on May 16, 1996, and is notable as being the last episode written by co-creator Larry David before he left the series at the end of this season. He did return, however, to write the series finale in 1998. This episode was directed by Andy Ackerman.
George and Susan go shopping for wedding invitations and George decides to buy the cheapest brand in the store. As they run into Kramer, he calls Susan "Lily", much to Susan's surprise and annoyance. Kramer later tells Jerry that a bank will offer anyone $100 if they are not greeted with a "hello" by a teller when they enter the building.
Jerry and Elaine realize that once George gets married it will be just the three of them. At night, Elaine admits that she is also leaving the group. In a dream sequence, Jerry and Kramer argue about inventing a periscope for use in an automobile, until Jerry is jarred back to reality by almost getting hit by a car and is saved by a woman named Jeannie Steinman (Janeane Garofalo).
Meanwhile, George tells Susan that Elaine wants to be an usher at their wedding, but Susan says no, saying that there will be no female ushers. She also says Kramer is no longer an usher since he called her "Lily". George warns Susan that if she won't let them be ushers, the two will be devastated. Susan tells George that she doesn't care.
The next day, George tells Elaine and Kramer the news. Jerry tells them about Jeannie. George admits that he didn't want to be with Susan after they got engaged, and that he needs to find a way to get out of the marriage without confronting Susan. Elaine suggests smoking in front of Susan, since Susan hates smoking. This doesn't work, as the smoking makes George sick and Susan is not convinced. Kramer suggests a prenuptial agreement. When George requests it, Susan laughs out loud at him because he doesn't have any money and that she makes more than he does; George realizes he is stuck with the situation. Kramer goes to the bank. Upon being greeted with the word "hey" instead of "hello", he asks to see the manager (played by Stephen Root).
Meanwhile, George and Susan receive a box of invitations. George leaves, and Susan begins licking the envelopes, commenting "Ugh! Awful!" Jerry, however, goes to the bar, only to run into Jeannie again and proposes marriage to her.
Meanwhile, Susan keeps licking the envelopes, gets sick and passes out. George goes to the bar and celebrates Jerry and Jeannie's engagement. Jerry and Jeannie go to Monk's Cafe. George returns to his apartment to find that Susan has collapsed. At Jerry's apartment, Jerry tells Kramer that he doesn't think that Jeannie is his type, and he regrets the proposal. Kramer says that he got only $20, not $100, from the bank. George calls and says that he took Susan to the hospital.
At the hospital, George, Jerry, Kramer and Elaine are informed that Susan has died from licking the envelopes (which contained toxic glue). George and the others seem unaffected by her death; Elaine, Jerry, and Kramer show some sympathy for George (with Kramer blurting "Poor Lily"). The tables have turned for Jerry since he is now engaged and George, with the death of Susan, isn't. George then casually suggests that the group go out for coffee, to which Jerry yells out to him "We had a pact!", much like how George said to him during the season.
George goes back to his apartment and tries to call Marisa Tomei to have a date with him after the funeral, but she hangs up on him.
The episode's ending received a very mixed public reaction, and generated many letters to publications such as TV Guide regarding the tastelessness of Susan's demise, and the characters' indifference. Seinfeld mocked the backlash in the first scenes of "The Foundation", the following season's opener, in which Jerry and George visit Susan's grave. The two show emotion only when they start remembering the death of Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Heidi Swedberg, who played Susan, has stated she enjoyed the fact her character was killed off and had no problem with it, adding in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that fans of the show liked that the main characters were not nice people who "express the things the rest of us think but don't want to admit." For months after the episode's broadcast, fans recognizing her on the street expressed frustration and resentment regarding her character's fate. Similarly, Jason Alexander claims that fans of the George character turned on him only twice: once because of Susan's death, and again due to George eating an éclair out of a trash can in the episode "The Gymnast".
Larry David later said, with a winky smile, "I saw this show recently, and I can't believe that I killed this girl."
Commenting on the public's anger surrounding Susan's death, Alexander later said, "I think the coldest moment ever played on a television show was the reaction of George and his friends to the death of his fiancée. If it was funny, it was the ruler, and it was unquestionably funny. Wrong and rude and dangerous—but funny."
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, a confessed fan of the show, long portrayed on Seinfeld by the voice of Larry David, filmed scenes for a guest appearance in this episode, but none of the footage made it to air. However, the Season Seven DVD release indicates that the scenes were cut simply for time, and that Steinbrenner and the producers of the show hold no grudge.
This episode was temporarily pulled from syndication in the wake of the 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States. The episode returned to syndication in the summer of 2002.
This is the last episode to feature Larry David as executive producer. He later returned to write the two-part finale and continued to voice the character of George Steinbrenner for the remainder of the series. It's also the last episode to open with Jerry performing his famous stand-up comedy until the finale in 1998.
- TV Guide December 5-11, 2005. pg.16.
- Seinfeld: Volume 6 - The Complete 7th Season. Inside Look. "The Invitations"
- extras to DVD 7 - inside looks 07
- extras to DVD 7 - inside looks 07