Eagles, Meet Elaine: The ‘Seinfeld’ ‘Desperado’ Episode
Like most late-series Seinfeld episodes, “The Checks” is packed with a dizzying amount of plot: Jerry receiving 12-cent royalty payments from a Japanese TV show, Kramer letting some tourists sleep in his massive chest of drawers, cult leaders using carpet cleaning as a front.
But Season Eight’s seventh episode — which originally aired in November 1996 — will be forever beloved for one hilarious detail: Elaine’s pretentious new boyfriend, Brett, being visibly shaken to his core by the smooth strains of the Eagles’ 1973 tune “Desperado.”
The legend begins at a party scene, where Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) attempts to connect with Brett (James Patrick Stuart) on the finer points of Karl Farbman-designed furniture. Recognizing Don Henley’s plaintive vocal from the stereo, he freezes, dropping the banter altogether: “After the song, babe,” Brett says — and Elaine swoons in response to his emotionally sensitivity.
How wonderful, she obviously thinks, to let himself be outwardly moved my music. But his behavior soon appears obsessive, even possessive. Later, while they're making out in his car, the song appears once more. (When is “Desperado” not on the radio?) And Brett is no longer concerned with romance.
Elaine tries to lighten the mood: “Oh, phew. For a minute there, I thought it was like that urban legend about the guy with the hook who’s hanging on the fender.” But Brett needs — no, demands — full concentration to get his Eagles fix: “Could you just not talk for one minute?”
The episode’s writers — Steve O'Donnell, Tom Gammill and Max Pross — got a lot of mileage from Eagles jokes. Later, when Elaine tries to workshop her music/relationship problem with Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld), she notes, “He is just in his own world when he hears that song. It's like, I’m sitting there in the car, and he’s...out riding fences.”
The solution is to secure her own couple song with Brett — redirecting some of that “Desperado” passion. Naturally, she picks another Eagles classic: “Witchy Woman.” Elaine jumps at her opportunity when the song plays on his car stereo, but Brett immediately kills the vibe and switches off the tune. “What are you doing?” she asks. “That's 'Witchy Woman.’ That could be our song.”
“‘Witchy Woman’ is okay for you,” he responds. “But I've already got a song.” Even her follow-up request to “share” “Desperado” falls flat: “No,” he says. “It’s mine.”
We can’t blame Brett for being controlling over such a great tune — after all, we once ranked it No. 7 on our Eagles Top 10 list. But music, my guy, is made for sharing.
If only he could have come to his senses.
Watch a 'Desperado' Scene From 'Seinfeld' Episode 'The Checks'