SpongeBob is first seen getting money from Quincy, the bank teller who works at the bank SpongeBob goes to. He gives SpongeBob his money, but SpongeBob is very picky on what money to give Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy.
Quincy and the customers are annoyed by this after a while, and, soon, Quincy kicks him out of the bank. SpongeBob is later shown at a card store. He is there to buy Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy cards. He opens a pack and finds four cards that he thinks are valuable, but the store clerk tells him they are worthless and that there is one valuable card called the number-54 card. There are only five of them in existence.
SpongeBob frantically attempts to buy as many packs as possible to find the card but is unsuccessful. With only one pack left in the store, SpongeBob reveals that he has no more money. Patrick, who was originally going to buy a counting book, gives up on counting because he felt it was too hard and decides to buy what Spongebob is having, so the clerk gives him the last card that, coincidentally, ends up containing card number 54. Ironically, the pack was filled with the 5 in existence. Patrick asks SpongeBob if it's a good card, SpongeBob is shocked at it and tells him it's the best card in existence. Patrick starts rubbing his teeth with the card stating how it certainly does the job right. SpongeBob yells at him for doing the act and Patrick says he's just practicing good hygiene. SpongeBob goes into a rant about how valuable the card is, but Patrick isn't paying attention, and SpongeBob's lecture is just going through one ear and out the other with him. SpongeBob finishes asking if Patrick understands, Patrick ignorantly says yes, walks away, and starts picking his teeth with it some more.
SpongeBob follows Patrick home, trying to protect the card from Patrick's carelessness. (Nearly falling to his death in a fire pit from a construction beam, mud from the bus hitting a mud puddle, and walking into Goo Lagoon) When they get home, Patrick grabs his key to his house and SpongeBob freaks out and asks where the card is. He freaks out more when he asks if Patrick put it in his pocket, then starts crying in fear it would get bent up. Patrick tells SpongeBob to calm down because he doesn't even believe in pockets. He just keeps everything he may need in his backflaps. He pulls the card out of his back pocket, and it is seen with stink coming out of it. Patrick says to SpongeBob he could keep the card because he seems so fond of it after all, and SpongeBob is seen crying in the corner. SpongeBob becomes happy, because Patrick would give up his most valuable possession, and Patrick, of course, says he could have the card, and SpongeBob says he's the best friend ever and hugs him. Patrick asks if he could have the card for just one day or at least the rest of the evening. SpongeBob says sure doubtfully. He uses the card to unlock his house (after his landlord changed the lock again), which makes it bend: the card has its top cleaned off from Patrick cleaning the grill with it. And it caught on fire from Patrick rubbing a coral on it to make it catch on fire so he can light the grill. Patrick spits on it so he can burn the fire out.
After Patrick finishes the burgers, he gives SpongeBob one, he takes it, and he sees the card is attached to the card by melted cheese that was all over the sandwich, which destroys its talking feature. He then wipes his face with it. The day comes to an end, so Patrick keeps his promise and gives the card to SpongeBob. SpongeBob whines over the Mermaid Man gets ruined and breaking and turning into a dust black and begins crying, and when Patrick asks what is wrong, he says that card was a very rare one, and he just destroyed it. Patrick says he'll get it some day, but SpongeBob explains that he bought the last pack. Meaning that there were no more packs left in all of Bikini Bottom until the new shipment comes (judging by his crying, the shipment must take a long time). Patrick then reveals that he has several other copies of card 54 that were also in the pack he bought and gives the four other cards to SpongeBob, who is happy. But then, he has to use one of them because he locked himself out of his house again.
Shower In A Can!
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This episode is number 19 in Tom Kenny's Top 20 on iTunes. His description says:
"As a collector of weird old stuff - records, comic strips, anything Popeye - I like how this episode gets into the fanatical mindset of hardcore collectors. The desire to possess that 'certain item' and then to keep it in 'mint-plus' condition can take over the mind. And the sight of a non-collector handling 'the grail' improperly ..."
This is the second episode in which SpongeBob is a neat freak, while Patrick is very dirty and careless about filth. The first is "The Battle of Bikini Bottom."
How Patrick destroyed the card:
he picks his teeth with the card
puts the card in the folds of his back fat
wrinkles the card by trying to open his house
cleans his grill by scraping it with the card
catches the card on fire, spits on the card
uses it as a plate
wipes his face with it like a napkin
Patrick tells SpongeBob in this episode, "You can't always expect my usual brand of stupidity.," implying that Patrick is aware that he is stupid. However, it was most likely intended as a one-shot joke with no further meaning.
This episode has some similarity to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, where SpongeBob (Charlie) is searching through card packs (chocolate bars) to find the rare card (golden ticket).
Patrick saying "I don't even believe in pockets" is a possible reference to Wayside School is Falling Down, where a hobo says "I don't believe in socks."
Patrick jumps from construction site and lands in fire, as seen in American Reality show Fear Factor.
All of the five rare cards were in the same pack but had no other cards while the other packs had more than five cards.
When Patrick shows SpongeBob the four #54 cards, the second one he is holding does not show a giant fist punching Barnacle Boy.
Patrick says he does not believe in pockets, but at the end of the episode, the other four talking cards are pulled out of his pocket.
Patrick says he has a landlord, but in "Home Sweet Pineapple," he says he built his home, but it is unknown which tale is true. Patrick could have put his house up for sale, and he rented the house.
On DVD releases of this episode, when SpongeBob says "Dear Neptune!" while freaking out about Patrick possibly putting the #54 card in his pocket, the closed captions say "Damn, Neptune!" due to an error.
In the opening shot of the inside of the bank, Norma appears after Frankie Billy, but when the fish tell SpongeBob to hurry up, Charlie appears where she was. He is not in the opening shot.
Technically speaking, there are six of the #54 cards, not five; there are the five that were in the pack, and the one on display.