As they are watching TV in Jerry's apartment, Jerry and Elaine flip through the channels, stumbling upon the soft-core pornography channel. Upon the realization that neither of them has had sexual relations in a while they start toying with the idea of sleeping together. They refer to their friendship as "this" and sexual intercourse as "that". However, as they do not wish to ruin their friendship, they establish a set of ground rules. Happy with their agreement, they make their way to the bedroom. The next day, Jerry has lunch with George, and makes him aware of his situation with Elaine. George remains skeptical, even after Jerry explains the rules system to him. George is proven right when Jerry and Elaine get into an argument over the second rule: "spending the night." Jerry eventually does not spend the night, leaving their agreement on shaky terms.
With Elaine's birthday coming up Jerry has to decide on what to get her. Since they are not in a relationship but they are still having sex he feels that the symbolism of the gift needs to be carefully thought out. He looks for a gift with George but is unable to think of anything, though he vaguely remembers her saying "something about a bench". Elaine is unhappy with the eventual gift: $182 in cash. When Kramer gives Elaine the bench she was looking for, for which she is much more grateful, she and Jerry talk over their agreement. They decide to start dating; when Kramer sees them again and asks what they are up to, Jerry notes that they now do "this, that and the other", "the other" being their newly reformed intimate relationship as a couple.
- Larry David was nominated for an Emmy award in the Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series category for this episode. It's another script in which the plot is reportedly cribbed from incidents in his life. It was also a dig at the network - NBC execs were keen to see Jerry and Elaine get together.
- "The Deal" also marks the first appearance of Elaine's roommate Tina, who had been mentioned in earlier episodes. Siobhan Fallon was cast in the role; she would reprise the character two more times: in season three's "The Truth" and in the season five finale "The Opposite".
- Jerry is right: the DC Comics superhero Aquaman is often depicted on land.
- This episode ends with Jerry and Elaine as a couple, but in the subsequent episode, they are just friends, and no explanation is given. Jerry later tells his parents in "The Pen" that it didn't work out and they decided to just be friends again.
- Kramer remarked at the end of the episode: "Boy, I really liked you two better when you weren't a couple." It was a not-so-subtle jab at NBC. Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David were against the idea of Jerry and Elaine being in a 'will-they, won't-they' relationship similar to Sam & Diane of Cheers, something NBC insisted upon frequently. This plotline was dropped with little explanation, with Jerry & Elaine remaining just friends for the rest of the series.
- For this episode's quotes, see The Deal/Quotes.
|Season Two Episodes|
|The Ex-Girlfriend | The Pony Remark | The Jacket | The Phone Message | The Apartment | The Statue | The Revenge | The Heart Attack | The Deal | The Baby Shower | The Chinese Restaurant | The Busboy|