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The Strong Box

This article is about the 1998 TV episode of Seinfeld. For other uses, see [[Strong-box (disambiguation)#REDIRECTmw:Help:Magic words#Other
This page is a soft redirect.Strong box]].
"The Strongbox"
Seinfeld episode
Episode no. Season 9
Episode 14
Directed by Andy Ackerman
Teleplay by Dan O'Keefe
Story by Dan O'Keefe & Billy Kimball
Production code 914
Original air date February 5, 1998
Guest actors
Season 9 episodes
List of Seinfeld episodes

"The Strongbox" is the 170th episode of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld. This was the 14th episode for the ninth and final season. It aired on February 5, 1998.


George tries to break up with his girlfriend, Maura (Alex Kapp Horner), but she will not agree to. Jerry has purchased cuff links worn by Jerry Lewis in Cinderfella. He plans to use them as a conversation starter with Lewis when he goes to an upcoming roast at the Friar's Club. George insists that all he needs as a conversation starter is the fact that they share the same name. Elaine's new boyfriend puzzles and intrigues her with his secretive behavior. Jerry jokingly suggests that perhaps he is a super-hero concealing his secret identity. The exterior of the apartment of Elaine's secretive new boyfriend is actually located in Manhattan's East Village at 4 St. Mark's Place. Neighborhood landmarks like Trash and Vaudeville and the St. Mark's Hotel can be seen in the shot.

With burglaries occurring in the building, Kramer has obtained a strongbox to hold his valuables. He needs to find a place to hide his key, a place that no one knows except himself. His first place, Jerry's drawer, doesn't work, because Jerry opens it within moments.

George lays out all of the reasons that they should be officially broken up. Maura still doesn't agree "to turn the key":

Maura: I refuse to give up on this relationship. It's like... launching missiles from a submarine. Both of us have to turn our keys.
George: Well, then, I am gonna have to ask you to turn your key.
Maura: (assertive) I'm sorry, George, I can't do that.
George: Turn your key, Maura. Turn your key![1]

Elaine gives up on her mystery man when, on the street, he avoids a woman whom Elaine deduces is his wife. She returns to Jerry's apartment to find that his intercom is broken. So she shouts to him from the street, about the mystery man, while she waits for the opportunity to get into his building. Jerry inspects his intercom, only to find Kramer's strongbox key hidden inside. Kramer hides his key again, this time in one of Jerry's shirt pockets. Jerry finds the key again when he puts on the shirt, in order to go down to let George in. While downstairs, a neighbor, Phil (Louis Mustillo), asks to be let in. Jerry politely denies him entry, explaining that there have been burglaries and he does not recognize him. Elaine goes to the mystery man's shabby apartment and discovers he is poor and on welfare. The woman he ran from is his welfare caseworker. Jerry discovers that Phil does in fact live in his building, and to add more discomfort to Jerry, he also lives right next door to Kramer.

Elaine tells Jerry about Glenn being poor, and they suggest that she could just pay him off to get out of the relationship. However, this plan backfires when she discovers how much she means to Glenn. George decides that cheating on Maura might be his ticket out. Kramer lets Phil keep his parrot in the hallway. Kramer also hides his key at Phil's. Jerry needs his cufflinks for the roast, only to find out that Kramer has locked them in his strongbox. The key to the strongbox was hidden in the parrot's food dish, only now the parrot is dead (because he choked on Kramer's key) and buried in a pet cemetery. The Godfather Part II is referenced here when Jerry accuses Kramer of Fredo's death; to which Kramer exclaims that "Fredo was weak and stupid! He shouldn't've eaten that key!!". George tries getting caught with the other woman, Loretta (Illeana Douglas), but both women agree that they can work through this incident with George. Elaine discovers that Glenn is, in fact, married as well as poor. Kramer and Jerry go to the pet cemetery to exhume the key, his neighbor catches only Jerry. George asks what's in the cooler (strongbox) as he easily opens it up.

Kramer: Oh. Well, would you look at that. I guess I forgot to lock it.
Jerry: You mean it was open? We desecrated a pet cemetery for nothing?
Kramer: Well, this is one for the books, huh, Jerry? Reeeally one for the books![1]


Critical reception

David Sims of The A.V. Club writes that this is one of many episodes which contribute to a "decline of Elaine" story arc: "Everything about Elaine's behavior here is beautifully awful: She doesn't care if [Glenn is] married, but is eager to dump him once she realizes he's broke, and sets about bribing him into a breakup by outfitting his apartment so she won't feel so bad when she dumps him. Then, of course, as a final cosmic joke, it turns out he is married. Even George doesn't have luck this bad at this point." Sims adds that the dead parrot subplot is "abject farce."[2]

Siyumhaseinfeld writes, "This funny episode doesn't make the Top 50, but it still has such greats as the scene of Jerry and George making fun of the Green Lantern and Lassie #3. Overall, nice ep... This 22 minute episode felt like it was about an hour and a half. Some parts were slow, other were slower, and then still some were slowest. But on that note, there were some funny parts, mainly to do with the key or the strongbox. That's the only thing that kept it from not being in the bottom Top 25."[3] Paul Arras called The Strongbox
characteristic of Seinfeld's Late Period. Some of the episodes, especially the weaker ones, are so wild and scattered in their stories that they defy a simple description. That's not to say The Strongbox doesn't have its fair share of funny moments - they just don't come together as well as most classic Seinfeld episodes... The episode feels more like a bunch of distinct jokes cobbled together in the writer's room. Even when [it's] about nothing Seinfeld is best when it does a lot with that nothingness.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 O'Keefe, Dan (February 5, 1998). "Episode 170 - The Strongbox". Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  2. Sims, David (March 22, 2012). "The Strongbox (season 9, episode 14; originally aired 2/5/98)". The A.V. Club. Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  3. Adam. "Episode 14: The Strongbox". Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  4. Arras, Paul (2012). "SEINFELD - Season 9, Episode 14 - The Strongbox". Watching the 90s: Television and Film Notes and Musings. Retrieved April 11, 2013. 

External links