Enter on Jerry, George, and Elaine in Jerry’s apartment. Jerry sits on his couch, while Elaine leafs through a newspaper. George, pacing and eating a banana, tells the gang that he’s dating a professional violinist. “I just feel so hip dating a musician!” George says, “You know, I’ve always felt that I have an excellent sense of rhythm.” “Is that so,” Jerry says. George tosses the peel behind him. It misses the trash. Elaine complains that everyone in her office is better than her at chess. “How could I be dumber than that pack of idiots?” she asks. Kramer barges through the door and slips on George’s banana peel. He keels backward into the fridge. He bounces and hits his temple on the counter. The audience howls with laughter. Kramer rights himself with some effort. Blood trickles down his chin. Kramer gives a feeble grin.
Elaine spends day and night studying, but progress is slow. Thinking she’s gotten the hang of it, she challenges Jerry. He checkmates her in eight moves. “Not good?” Elaine asks. “Not good.” Jerry says. Elaine looks dejected.
While his girlfriend showers, George sees her violin lying out and picks it up. He plays the opening bars of Salut d’amour. George is a natural. He puts the fiddle down and stares at himself in the mirror in disbelief.
A still bleeding Kramer wanders around New York City. He trips and falls down the subway stairs, colliding with a woman holding sacks of potatoes. He climbs the Statue of Liberty and somehow ends up on top of the torch. He gives tourists nonsensical directions in Time Square. A group of sinister men try to grab him, but he runs away, crashing into a dumpster. It turns out they are just EMTs. “Got away from us again,” one says.
Peterman tips over Elaine’s king. “That’s checkmate, Elaine,” he says. Elaine tugs on her hair in frustration, and a chunk comes out. “You should really see a doctor,” Peterman says.
George tries to demonstrate his new ability to Jerry but only produces an awful scratching sound. What has changed? George’s girlfriend bursts into Jerry’s apartment, seizes her instrument back from George, tells him not to call. George glances at Jerry. They both shrug. Audience laughs.
George’s empty apartment. There’s commotion out of sight. George shouts, “Oh hoh! Oh hoh!” Later, George goes to a pawnshop and purchases a violin. Once again, he plays effortlessly, this time Tchaikovsky. The pawnshop owner gapes at him.
Elaine sleeps through an alarm. Elaine misses deadlines at work. Elaine collapses in front of a chess board. Still, no improvement. Elaine starts inventing fake coworkers on which she blames her many lapses.
George tells Jerry that he only can play violin immediately after masturbating. “This is huge, Jerry, huge!” George says. Jerry smirks. “Well, I wouldn’t say huge.” The audience laughs, knowing George’s shame.
Kramer, lost in Central Park at night. A few stars glitter above him. He staggers between pools of lamplight, then collapses in a homeless encampment. Seeing his injury, a homeless man lifts him to his feet. “Gotta keep going, man. Can’t go to sleep.” Kramer seems to understand, and he gives an enthusiastic ‘OK’ sign. Audience laughs.
Elaine arrives at the J. Peterman offices unkempt and unshowered. It’s almost noon. This is the nadir of her professional life. She finds her desk tidy, her inbox empty. “Nice job, Elaine,” an anonymous coworker calls from the threshold to her office. Sim-like, colleagues filter through one at a time to compliment all the good work she’s been doing.
George has become famous in a short period of time. A marquee bearing his name says “Sold Out.” Backstage, a tuxedoed George sits with Jerry. The physical toll of his new life is extraordinary. “I’m busting, Jerry, busting!” George sobs.
Elaine runs to the bathroom to splash cold water on her face. Is this some sort of dream? When she looks in the mirror, Elaine sees a second her at the adjacent sink. Elaine Two seems unperturbed and gives Elaine One a polite smile. It is unclear if this is some trick, a delusion in Elaine’s head, or something more sinister still.
Kramer attempts to cross the Brooklyn bridge. He suffers a dizzy spell midway across, and he pitches into the East River. After a brief struggle, Kramer drowns. He sinks to the bottom. He finally looks at peace.
Jerry, in his apartment over the course of an evening. He eats a bowl of cereal. He watches a Yankees game. He cleans the hairs from his comb. He windexes the windows. He reads a Superman comic. He flosses several times. Jerry sits alone at his kitchen table, his expression blank. Jerry waits for a friend to come through his door, but none do.
George has been on a concert tour of Europe for two weeks. His manager is a beautiful French woman. She tells him she finds bald violinists sexy. George calls Jerry from the American Embassy. “I’m afraid if I have sex with her, I won’t be able to play tonight,” George says, tormented. “If you pull this off,” Jerry says, “it will be your greatest act yet.” The audience laughs. After they hang up, a disembodied hand with red nail polish reaches out to caress George. Exquisite anguish crosses his face.
After speaking with George, Jerry continues to sit at his table. For a few moments, a smile lingers on his lips. He chuckles as he repeats, under his breath, “greatest act yet.” After a few more moments, his expression fades. He remains seated at his table.
Under the East River, Kramer’s corpse gets into trouble with the corpses of a few former members of the Van Buren boys. He only escapes when a rotting finger breaks off from his hand and they think he is flashing their gang sign.
The Elaines have proliferated around the J. Peterman offices. Every room Elaine enters, another Elaine sits behind the desk at work. Meanwhile, she loses match after match against Peterman. They hunch over a chess board late at night, the room smoke-filled, cigars dangling from their lips. “That’s not going to cut it, Beth” Peterman says. Aghast, Elaine realizes that she is not the original Elaine, but a duplicate named Beth. Where is the original Elaine?
A knock at Jerry’s door. Visibly relieved, he rushes to open it, but it’s just Newman. “Hello, Newman,” Jerry sneers. “Hello, Jerry,” Newman sneers right back. “Say,” Newman says, “where is everybody.” Jerry considers making a snide remark, but he doesn’t have it in him. Instead, he just says, “I don’t know” and breaks down sobbing. Newman touches Jerry’s shoulder. The two middle-aged men embrace for a long moment.
George enters his dressing room, boos and hisses following him. He throws his violin on the couch, and he returns to the threshold to shout at his hecklers. Someone throws a take-out container of lo mein at him. His manager enters, shuts the door, cleans him up and sits him on the couch. “It iz just one bad night,” she reassures him. “Ze next one will go better.” She puts a hand on his thigh. A pained George realizes that he is too weak to do what is necessary.
Peterman tells Beth that he will show her the original Elaine if she can beat him on black in the Ruy Lopez. Beth lights another cigar, her fifth. “You’re on,” she says.
Scenes of Kramer’s corpse doing physical comedy. A shark prowls nearby, and Kramer drifts nonchalantly behind a school of herring. The corpse of a sexy woman floats by, and Kramer’s jaw decomposes to flash a winning smile. Kramer’s corpse floats into a kelp forest, and the kelp rises through his eyes sockets, through his rib cage, through his pelvis.
Shirtless Jerry lies in bed with shirtless Newman. They avert eye contact, and the audience laughs. Jerry’s hand inadvertently touches Newman’s, and they look at each other. The audience falls silent. Newman grasps Jerry’s hand, and they continue to stare. They see each other’s pain, each other’s loneliness. Not sure what is allowed, Newman leans closer. Jerry leans too, and they bump foreheads. Newman kisses Jerry softly on the lips. A bass riff plays them to commercial.
Beth is checkmated one last time by Peterman. Her hair is thin, her eyes sunken. The sun is rising over the distant skyscrapers. “I need to know,” she says, “I need to know.” “That’s a shame,” Peterman says.
Night after night, George is booed off stage. He realizes that he doesn’t have the power to end his own misery. Frank and Estelle Constanza come to see him play at Carnegie Hall. “That’s my son,” Frank whispers to the stranger seated next to him, wiping a tear out of his eye. Estelle sneaks backstage to wish her Georgie luck before his performance. She enters his dressing room and sees a fully naked George attempting to masturbate. “Oh my god! Oh my god!” Estelle says. “Look!” George says, “Look at what you’ve made me!”
Beth is the only non-functioning Elaine at work. It doesn’t take long for Peterman to notice. “I think it’s time for you to go,” he says. Haggard Beth refuses to leave. “One more game, one more!”
Jerry sits alone in his apartment. He drinks a glass of orange juice. He tries to write a joke, but there is nothing to joke about. He can’t stop thinking about Newman. He stands abruptly, knocking the chair over. He rushes to the door. When he opens it, Newman is already there, about to knock. “I thought you wouldn’t come,” Jerry says.
Beth, collapsed next to the chess board. “It’s alright Beth,” Peterman says. “We’re taking you to a safe place.” Men in white shirts and pants emerge and escort her away. Just as they are leaving, another Elaine enters, recoiling at the sight of the derelict woman preceding her. She walks to the chessboard, considers it for a second, then makes a move. “Checkmate,” she says.
A fully decomposed Kramer rests at the bottom of the ocean. There is nothing more to disturb him, no more torments today. And yet, a fishing net descends. His skeletal fingers, still making the Van Buren Boys gang symbol, hook onto the lining. He is pulled to the surface. A boat hauls fish onto its deck. A fully corporeal Kramer slides out amongst wriggling cod. Horrified, Kramer examines his intact body. Japanese fishermen start shouting at the naked man spoiling their harvest.
George walks alone, his bow-tie in his fist, his violin case slung over his back. George stops along the pier, wonders what kind of God would torment him like this. In a fit of pique, George chucks his violin into the sea. Defiance flashes on George’s brow; he seems resolved to be free, to reclaim his dignity at all costs.
George turns and slips on a banana peel, falling on his back and farting in front of a passing group of nuns. George weeps as he, for the first time, apprehends the nature of his crucible. George returns to Jerry’s apartment.
The façade of a mental institution in upstate New York at night. Dogs begin to bark, lights flicking on all over the building. Beth hoists herself over the outer wall. “Freedom, freedom,” she mutters to herself as the audience laughs.
When George arrives, Elaine sits with Jerry at his kitchen table, smoking cigars. “What are you celebrating?” George asks. “Promotion,” Elaine says between cataracts of smoke. “Can I join?” George asks tentatively. Jerry offers him a cigar. George accepts. George realizes that, in this apartment, he is safe. He realizes that, in this apartment, he belongs. Naked Kramer barges in. He sees another banana peel on the ground, picks it up, and throws it demonstratively in the trash. He gestures to Jerry, “now, is that so hard?”
The gang sits smoking cigars. Kramer wears some of Jerry’s clothing, but it is far too large for him. “Say,” he says to Elaine, “I just saw you outside.” “What do you mean?” Elaine says. “That woman begging for change on the curb,” Kramer says. Kramer mimes a square with his hands like a director framing a shot. “Dead ringer,” he says. Elaine shrugs. Newman enters without knocking. Jerry rises to his feet. “Hello, Newman,” Jerry says. “Hello, Jerry,” Newman says. There is an awkward moment. Jerry, suddenly disgusted with himself, flies into a rage at Newman. “You’re not welcome!” Jerry shouts, “Get out of here!” Newman, near tears, flees back to his own home. The gang all stare at Jerry. Jerry excuses himself to the bathroom.
The three remaining members exchange confused glances. Suddenly, Kramer thinks to examine the tag on the shirt he is wearing. Sure enough, when the camera pans in, Newman’s name is spelled in all-caps. “You don’t think?” Elaine says. They all consider this for a second. “Nah,” George says. Kramer’s eyeball pops out. Elaine’s wig falls eschew, and she hastens to fix it. The bass riff kicks in, and the frame freezes.
George finds he is still able to move. He waves his hand in front of Kramer’s face. George peers out into the audience, then perceives the camera. He approaches, and with each step his expression changes. Fascination and fear vie. From up close, every blemish on his face is clear. The hard years, his life of suffering. And yet, in the final moments, we perceive George’s curiosity, his wiles. Perhaps there is still hope; he is not yet broken. George returns to his chair, and the screen fades to black.