The Puerto Rican Day
|"The Puerto Rican Day"|
|Episode no.||Season 9
|Directed by||Andy Ackerman|
|Written by||Alec Berg, Jennifer Crittenden, Spike Feresten, Bruce Eric Kaplan, Gregg Kavet, Steve Koren, David Mandel, Dan O'Keefe, Andy Robin, Jeff Schaffer|
|Original air date||May 7, 1998|
"The Puerto Rican Day" is the 176th episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. It aired on May 7, 1998, and was the 20th episode of the ninth and final season. It was the show's second-highest-rated episode of all time, with 38.8 million viewers, only behind the series finale. The episode aired one week before the two-part clip show and the two-part series finale aired. Because of controversy surrounding a scene in which Cosmo Kramer accidentally burns and then stomps on the Puerto Rican flag, NBC was forced to apologize and had it banned from airing on the network again. Also, it was not initially part of the syndicated package. In the summer of 2002, the episode started to appear with the flag-burning sequence intact.
This episode of Seinfeld has more writer credits (ten) than any other episode. As co-creator Larry David was returning to write the finale, this was the final episode for the active "after Larry David" writing staff and thus was a group effort.
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The gang are heading back to Manhattan after leaving a Mets game early in order to beat the traffic, but run into trouble with a driver in a maroon Volkswagen Golf. In the car, George boasts about the clever comment ("That's gotta hurt!") he recently made during a pivotal moment in a new film about the Hindenburg disaster titled Blimp.
As they approach Fifth Avenue, traffic is blocked by the annual Puerto Rican Day Parade. They almost find a way out, headed the wrong way down a one-way side street, but are blocked by their nemesis in the maroon Golf, whose driver refuses to let them cross over.
Elaine gets out of the car, worried about not being able to arrive home for her Sunday night "weekend wind-down" routine, which includes watching 60 Minutes. She starts walking only to find the traffic move again. She gets into a taxi (where she is oddly irritated by the sight of a dog with its ear flipped inside out), only to find the traffic immediately stop. Then, she leaves the taxi, only to find the traffic immediately moving again. She jumps back into the taxi.
George also leaves the car when he sees that the film Blimp is playing in a nearby theater, and he wants to repeat his funny comment for a new audience. But his attempt to be funny is undermined by a man with a laser pointer. When George makes the comment, nobody laughs because they are instead laughing at the laser. George berates the man, who then promptly shines the laser upon him.
Jerry and Kramer are finally allowed to take their shortcut when Jerry is forced to make an apologetic wave to the maroon Golf driver. As they pass by the Golf, Jerry calls the driver a "jackass", only to find himself blocked by oncoming traffic, including the taxi Elaine is in. The maroon Golf driver laughs and won't let him back up again.
A frustrated George then returns to the car, only to find the red dot of the laser pointer appearing all over parts of his body. A panicked George can't see the man holding the laser and worries he will go blind if it touches his eye.
Seeking an alternative way home, Elaine tries to find a way out by walking underneath the viewing stands. In a send up of The Poseidon Adventure, Elaine becomes the leader of a group of similarly distressed people trying to find their way out. She ultimately, however, leads them to a dead end where they have to scream for help to the people above.
Kramer, meanwhile, becomes desperate for a restroom and spots an apartment for sale across the street. To gain access to its restroom, he poses as H.E. Pennypacker, a wealthy industrialist, philanthropist, and bicyclist interested in the property. While there he sees the Mets game (they had left early) on the apartment's television. He excitedly tells Jerry, who also leaves the car and enters the apartment to watch, posing under his alias Kel Varnsen.
George thinks he spots the laser guy and plans a sneak attack, grabbing and breaking what he thinks is the laser pointer only to discover it is a pen. Back outside, Kramer accidentally sets the Puerto Rican flag on fire with a sparkler ("Dios mio!") and a mob of people, led by Bob and Cedric (in their third and final appearance), attacks him. He runs back into the apartment.
George also enters the apartment, as Art Vandelay, to wash the ink from his hands. Jerry then realizes that all three of them are in the apartment and nobody is watching the car. They look out the window to find it getting attacked by the angry mob. George then tells Jerry that the Mets lost, with Jerry sarcastically quipping "I love a parade!"
Later that night, when the parade's finally over, Jerry, George and Kramer see the car having been, somehow, stuck into a stairwell. Elaine arrives, her clothes and hair filthy with food. Then the maroon Golf driver passes by and calls Jerry a "jackass". Defeated, the gang starts walking home and Jerry says "remember where we parked", making reference to the season three episode "The Parking Garage". While they're shown walking from behind, it is seen that George (unbeknownst to him) still has the laser dot on his lower backside.
"The Puerto Rican Day" was criticized not only for the flag-burning incident, but also for the negative portrayal of Puerto Ricans, such as the scene where an angry mob of parade-goers damages Jerry's car, and Kramer later utters, "It's like this every day in Puerto Rico!" The episode sparked angry letters, protests outside NBC's Rockefeller Center in New York, and complaints from Puerto Rican activists. NBC formally apologized for the episode, and later pulled it from summer repeats.