“The Puerto Rican Day” was the twentieth episode of Season Nine of Seinfeld, and the 176th episode overall. This episode first aired May 7, 1998. It was written by Alec Berg, Jeff Schaffer, Spike Feresten, David Mandel, Bruce Eric Kaplan, Jennifer Crittenden, Gregg Kavet, Steve Koren, Dan O'Keefe, and Andy Robin, and was directed by Andy Ackerman.
The gang are heading back to Manhattan after leaving a Mets game early (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 down an alley, 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 infuriated 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.
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 the audience. But his attempt to be funny is undermined by a man with a laser pointer and when George makes the comment, nobody laughs because they are instead laughing at the laser.
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 stuck in the alley by oncoming traffic. 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 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 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 destroyed by the angry mob.
Late in the evening, when the parade's over, Jerry, George and Kramer see the destroyed car in dismay. 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." This is a reference to season three’s "The Parking Garage". While they're shown walking from behind, it is seen that George still has the laser dot on his waist.
Notes About Nothing
- "The Puerto Rican Day" was criticized not only for the flag-burning incident, but also for perceived negative portrayals 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. However, it later began to appear in syndication, and is featured in its entirety on the DVD set for Seinfeld’s ninth season.
- This episode, as it was the last scripted episode by the regular post-Larry David writers, before the finale (where Larry David again stepped up as writer for the first time in several seasons), had a record number of writers, totaling 10, including all the regular writers from the last seasons.
- This was the final episode written by the show's staff writers. All ten of them are credited. Jerry Seinfeld had t-shirts made up for them which read "So long, Jackass."
- (Kramer smells the smoke, turns, and sees the fire)
- KRAMER: Ooh! ¡Dios mio!
- (He grabs the flag, throws it onto the sidewalk and stomps on it)
- MAN: Hey! There's a guy burning the Puerto Rican flag!
- BOB: Who?! Who is burning the flag?!
- KRAMER: Oh, no.
- BOB: Him?!
- CEDRIC: That's not very nice.
- KRAMER: It was an accident.
- BOB: Do you know what day this is? Because I know what day this is, they know what day this is, so I was wondering if you know what day this is!
- CEDRIC: Because it's Puerto Rican Day.
- BOB: Maybe we should stomp you like you stomp the flag! What do you think of that?
- KRAMER: Now, look, I just have one thing to say to you boys. Mama!
- (Kramer runs off screaming, and the others give chase)
|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|