The Bottle Deposit
|"The Bottle Deposit"|
|Directed by||Andy Ackerman|
|Written by||Gregg Kavet & Andy Robin|
|Original air date||May 2, 1996|
|Running time||42 minutes|
"The Bottle Deposit" is a two-part episode, and the 131st and 132nd episode and 21st and 22nd episode of the seventh season of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. It aired on May 2, 1996. This was originally an hour-long episode, but it was split into two parts for syndication.
Since he will be out of town, Mr. Peterman wants Elaine to bid for him on a set of golf clubs owned by John F. Kennedy at an auction. He tells her he is willing to go as high as $10,000 for the clubs. Jerry thinks he hears a strange clunking noise in his car and asks Kramer and Newman, who had previously borrowed the car, about it, but they don't know anything. Newman learns that bottles and cans can be refunded for 10 cents in Michigan (as opposed to 5 cents in New York and many other states), but Kramer tells him it's impossible to gain a profit from depositing the bottles in Michigan due to the total gas, tollbooth and truck rental fees that would compile during the trip, noting his own failed attempts because he "couldn't crunch the numbers." Newman becomes obsessed with finding a way to make such a scheme work.
Meanwhile, Mr. Wilhelm is scolding George for needing to have orders repeated to him. While walking down a hallway, Mr. Wilhelm begins talking of a big project for him to do. Just at that point, Wilhelm enters the bathroom. George waits outside for a short while, but then decides to go in. When he enters, he finds that Wilhelm, who had thought George had followed him inside, had been explaining the details of the project, thinking George was there. Not wanting him to think he wasn't paying attention, George pretends he heard everything. He later asks Jerry what to do and Jerry tells him to ask Wilhelm a follow-up question.
Jerry then takes Elaine to the auction, where they bump into Sue Ellen Mischke, the bra-less "Oh Henry!" candy bar heiress, who taunts them: "Come to catch a glimpse of high society?". During the bidding, they start a bidding war over JFK's clubs, and Elaine ends up paying $20,000, twice what she was authorized by Peterman to spend. Jerry again hears a loud clunking noise while dropping Elaine off. Elaine decides to leave the clubs in Jerry's car and pick them up later. As he starts to leave, smoke begins billowing out from under the hood and Jerry finds out that Kramer and Newman had left some groceries in his car engine.
He visits Tony (Brad Garrett), a mechanic who is obsessed with car care. George tries to use Jerry's suggestion at work the next day, and Wilhelm unknowingly drops a hint: to get started, he first has to go to payroll. There, the clerk gives George a hard time because he's not being specific enough about "the project." The clerk calls Wilhelm to verify George's claims, but doesn't drop George any further hints.
Meanwhile, Newman, who has spent days trying to calculate a profit to the deposit scheme, realizes that there will be a surge of mail the week before Mother's Day (the "mother of all mail days") to be sorted in Saginaw, Michigan. He tells Kramer that he signed up for a mail truck that would carry spillover mail from the other four main trucks, leaving plenty of space left over in theirs for bottles and cans to refund in Michigan. Kramer realizes that by avoiding truck rental fees, Newman has found a loophole and they set off collecting cans and bottles around the city.
Wilhelm visits George to see how he is doing with the project. George informs him that he went down to payroll and Wilhelm asks if he is going downtown then. When asked if "going downtown is really necessary for the project", Wilhelm tells George that he has to go downtown, and mentions the Petula Clark song 'Downtown.' Thinking it's another clue, George and Jerry try to decipher it, but to no avail. George considers coming clean and admitting to Wilhelm that he has no idea what the project is. Jerry goes home and finds a message from Tony saying he needs to talk to him at the Auto Shop. Elaine calls shortly after and wants to pick up Peterman's golf clubs. Jerry tells her he left them in the car at the mechanic's, so they decide to meet up there.
Tony wants to make a lot of changes to the car, but Jerry doesn't want to spend so much money. He asks Tony if he could just have it back so he can take his business elsewhere. Tony is disappointed, but tells him he'll bring the car out front for him. Elaine arrives and meets Jerry to pick up the clubs just in time to see Tony driving away with Jerry's car.
Mr. Wilhelm is delighted with the job George did on the project; however, George has no idea what he did or how he did it. Unknowingly to George, Mr. Wilhelm had forgotten to take his medication and did it himself, which would explain his compliment (he did the same thing with the gardener at home).
While riding in the mail truck with Newman, a surprised Kramer suddenly spots Jerry's stolen car on an Ohio highway and alerts Jerry by using a mobile phone that he brought along. Newman and Kramer quickly argue whether to deliver their mail and empty bottles to Saginaw, Michigan as they had planned, or to pursue Jerry's stolen car as it exits the highway in Ohio, to which Kramer agrees.
George is sent to a mental hospital by Steinbrenner, due to George's "report". At the mental hospital, George bumps into Deena, (from "The Gum"), who believes George is finally getting the help he needs.
While still chasing Jerry's car, Kramer dumps their empty bottles to make the truck move faster and soon after, dumps Newman. Newman then finds a farmer's house, complete with his proverbial daughter. As Kramer continues his chase, Tony throws all of the JFK golfclubs at him, and Kramer is soon forced to give up the chase when the van gives out from the damage the clubs caused to it. Newman violates the farmer's only rule, to keep his hands off his daughter, and he and Kramer run away while being shot at. The daughter stops her father, but calls Newman "Norman" as she professes her love for him and bids him goodbye. Peterman's golf clubs (a valuable collectors' item) are returned (albeit in a bent and battered state), but not Jerry's car. Elaine gives the bent golf clubs to Mr. Peterman, who mistakes it being in a battered state by thinking Kennedy was an angry golfer.
- This is Larry David's last voice over while still working as a writer for the show, in which he voiced George Steinbrenner, although he would continue to voice Steinbrenner for all of his future appearances until the end of the show.
- This is the first Seinfeld episode to depict one of the main characters using a cell phone.
- The farmer's daughter's cry of "Goodbye, Norman! Goodbye!" at the end of the episode was not originally scripted. Actress Karen Lynn Scott forgot that Wayne Knight's character was called Newman and accidentally called him "Norman", but the goof actually made the scene funnier, so it was kept in. Newman's first name was never revealed during the series. The actress's mistake and director Andy Ackerman's comments on why it was left in can be found on the Season 7 DVD's extra features.