The Gymnast (Seinfeld)
|Episode no.||Season 6
|Directed by||Andy Ackerman|
|Written by||Alec Berg & Jeff Schaffer|
|Original air date||November 3, 1994|
"The Gymnast" is the 92nd episode of Seinfeld. This was the sixth episode for the sixth season. It aired on November 3, 1994, during a special "Blackout Thursday" night on NBC, in which all shows in the Must See TV line-up, except this one, featured a fictional New York City blackout (e.g., Friends episode "The One with the Blackout").
Jerry dates Katya, a Romanian former gymnast whom Jerry says won a silver medal at the 1984 Olympics, (although if this were confirmed, she would also have won a gold medal as Romanian women took the team title in Los Angeles). Kramer encourages him to have sex with her, since she is probably very "flexible." Jerry can only think of a conversation involving deposed dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu.
George is given another shot with Lindsay (Jessica Hecht), whom he met while trying to join a book club to read Breakfast at Tiffany's ("The Couch"); according to George, she finds his stupidity "charming."
Jerry and Kramer find out about one of George's odd bathroom habits: whenever he goes into the "office" he takes off his shirt so as to feel "no encumbrances." Jerry talks about how George is better with the mothers of his girlfriends than with the girlfriends themselves.
Kramer goes to Mr. Pitt's office to retrieve a 3-D autostereogram painting that Elaine took to frame. Kramer leaves early as he feels intense pain which turns out to be a kidney stone. Mr. Pitt becomes obsessed with finding the "spaceship" image in the 3-D painting. In place of Mr. Pitt, Elaine goes to a merger meeting between Morgan Springs and Poland Creek, but starts a dispute because of the suggested name "Moland" Springs.
At Lindsay's mother's house, George impresses Mrs. Enright with his gentlemanly demeanor, until he is caught by her eating a partially eaten chocolate éclair out of the trash can. George assures Jerry that the pastry was clean and "on top", but Jerry says George has crossed the border between man and bum by eating trash. George explains his point of view in a phone call and gets another chance with Lindsay.
Kramer brings Jerry a videotape of the 1984 Olympics and Jerry decides to go for it with Katya. Later, Jerry tells Elaine of his disappointment with the sexual tryst (there was nothing gymnastic about it), and she tells him he is now committed to dating Katya for at least three more weeks.
At the street, George buys a cup of coffee but he does not like it and throws it away, accidentally splashing a nearby automobile. The driver gets upset and demands George to clean the windshield; he is then spotted cleaning the windshield by Lindsay's mother, who is now convinced that he is a bum. George has to apologize once more and gets another opportunity with Lindsay.
Since it was Kramer's idea, Jerry wants Kramer to come along to the circus with Katya and him to watch the performance of Katya's friend Misha. However, Kramer is afraid of clowns (see "The Opera"). At the circus's restroom, Kramer finally passes the kidney stone, but he screams so loudly that he makes Misha, the tightrope walker, fall from the high wire.
Katya tells Jerry about a Romanian legend of "the comedian" – a man with great libido – and breaks up with him because he was not the otherworldly "sensual experience" she expected.
At Lindsay's mother's place there is a small party, and in the bathroom they have placed a 3-D painting which is "mesmerizing." George goes into the bathroom, but then forgets to put his shirt back on and walks out of the bathroom topless, which shocks all the other party guests and pretty much ends his relationship with Lindsay.
Mr. Pitt has lost three days trying to see the image in the 3-D painting. He now sees it right before going to an important meeting discussing the merger. Elaine, who has her hands covered in ink from a broken pen, breaks the picture and snaps her boss from the trance. However, she spills ink on him and he goes to the meeting with a painted mustache, making him look like Adolf Hitler. Aside from the visual humor, the scene alludes to Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1939 through the juxtaposition of the imagery and the bottled water brand name.[clarification needed]
Barbara Ching writes about Jerry's and Katya's expectations:
Expecting especially exciting maneuvers from this exotic contortionist, he is disappointed by the banality of their encounter. Although he intends to break off their relationship, she beats him to the punch line. She invokes what she calls the Romanian ideal of the comedian, a man so virile that no other can compare. "You may make people laugh, Jerry Seinfeld," she says, "but you are no comedian." The comedian, in other words, embodies a procreative life force that Jerry negates. The laughter he provokes leads to nothing but a one-night stand.
Dr. Michael Dunne writes in his essay "Seinfeld as Intertextual Comedy" (his episode-numbering system appears in parentheses):
Elaine's boss, Mr. Pitt, ends the episode called "The Gymnast" (6006) looking like Adolph [sic] Hitler addressing a Nazi rally. Pitt is admittedly wearing Austrian-looking clothes (because he had earlier hoped to go horseback riding in the park), and he has a thick black mustache on his upper lip (because he accidentally touched himself with ink-stained fingers), but Mr. Pitt is nothing like Hitler in any significant way. The intertextual joke is purely physical, and it requires little knowledge of history or politics. In fact, the less one knows about the Second World War, the funnier the joke is. Funny or not, however, it is apparent that the writers, Alec Berg and Jeff Schaffer, intended to communicate with their audience intertextually through this image.
David Sims of The A.V. Club gave the episode an A- and wrote, "This is one of those Seinfeld episodes that disguises just how callous Jerry is being towards a woman through script innuendo..." Sims added, among other observations, "George's plot feeds in nicely from last week, which was like a prelude to the imbecility on show this week. He inexplicably keeps getting chances with Lindsay despite ridiculous behavior like eating out of the trash and looking like a squeegee man, as if his ability to explain his way out of situations is messing with the universe's attempts to end the relationship."
- Ching, Barbara (2006). "They Laughed Unhappily Ever After". In David Lavery and Sara Lewis Dunne. Seinfeld, Master of Its Domain: Revisiting Television's Greatest Sitcom. New York: Continuum. p. 65. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
- Dunne, Michael (2006). "Seinfeld as Intertextual Comedy". In David Lavery and Sara Lewis Dunne. Seinfeld, Master of Its Domain: Revisiting Television's Greatest Sitcom. New York: Continuum. p. 54.
- Sims, David (May 19, 2011). "The Couch / The Gymnast". The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 20, 2012.