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"The Burning” is the sixteenth episode of the ninth and final season of Seinfeld, and the 172nd episode overall. This episode first aired on March 19, 1998. It was written by Jennifer Crittenden and directed by Andy Ackerman.

Plot

Elaine thinks that her boyfriend David Puddy may be religious after finding Christian rock stations set on his car radio. At the coffee shop, George laments to Jerry about losing respect at a project meeting with a poorly received joke. Jerry suggests that George use the Vegas showmanship trick of leaving the room after a comedic high note. Elaine tells George and Jerry about Puddy's car radio. George suggests altering his radio presets as a test. Elaine later finds Puddy has switched the stations back to Christian rock.

Jerry's girlfriend Sophie calls him with the "it's me" greeting, but he does not recognize her voice. At the next Kruger meeting, George takes Jerry's suggestion and leaves the room after a well-received joke and goes to a movie theater to see Titanic. Kramer and Mickey Abbott get an acting gig playing sick for medical students and are assigned gonorrhea and bacterial meningitis, respectively. Making the most of his modest part, Kramer gives an impressive theatrical performance surrounding the burning sensation during urination for the med students. When Sophie uses the unwelcome "it's me" greeting on Jerry's answering machine, George suggests he return the favor when he calls back. Sophie does not recognize Jerry's voice. Thinking that Jerry is a friend named "Rafe", she reveals that she has not told Jerry about an incident she calls "the tractor story." George and Jerry speculate on what the tractor story may be. George thinks she may have lost her thumbs in an accident and had her big toes grafted on in their place.

Puddy confirms that he is religious and doesn't care that Elaine is not, because he is "not the one going to Hell." Elaine is frustrated at his lack of concern, especially after he asks her to steal a newspaper for him because she is going to Hell anyway. Elaine and Puddy seek the advice of a priest about their relationship. The priest informs them that they're both going to Hell for premarital sex, much to Elaine's delight.

George's showmanship backfires when Mr. Kruger throws everyone else off the large project because they are boring in comparison. George has to do all the actual work on the project as Kruger constantly makes excuses and goofs off. Kramer is concerned about being typecast when the hospital wants him to perform gonorrhea again the next week, due to his stellar performance. Jerry sees a scar on Sophie's leg and assumes it was from a tractor accident. Kramer is attacked by Mickey after trying to take over Mickey's assigned role of cirrhosis of the liver. Sophie tries to tell Jerry the tractor story, but he tells her that he already knows about it. Kramer and Mickey enter, still arguing about being given (the role of) gonorrhea, and Sophie tells them her tractor story. She says she got gonorrhea from riding a tractor in her bathing suit. Kramer tells her that that's impossible and she says that's what her boyfriend told her (with the implication that her boyfriend gave her gonorrhea). After hearing that, Jerry leaves the relationship on a comedic high note. George tries to get Mr. Kruger to work. Kruger makes silly comments and walks off on a high note after George "Ho ho!"s, leaving George with a mountain of paperwork.

Notes About Nothing

  • This episode is dedicated to the memory of Lloyd Bridges, who died on March 10, 1998. Bridges played Izzy Mandelbaum in "The English Patient" and "The Blood".
  • "The tractor story" is an homage to the Happy Days episode "Fonzie the Substitute" which similarly has its comedic climax when a troubled young woman reveals she thought she got pregnant by necking in a bathing suit.
Season Nine Episodes
The Butter Shave | The Voice | The Serenity Now | The Blood | The Junk Mail | The Merv Griffin Show | The Slicer | The Betrayal | The Apology | The Strike | The Dealership | The Reverse Peephole | The Cartoon | The Strong Box | The Wizard | The Burning | The Bookstore | The Frogger | The Maid | The Puerto Rican Day | The Chronicle | The Finale, Part 1 | The Finale, Part 2
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