Quantum Leap (Season 1, Ep 6): Double Identity

“This Quantum Leaping through time is a lot like a blind date. You never know who you’ll end up with.”

Sam leaps into the body of a man named Frankie, on November 8, 1965. He arrives with his pants around his ankles to a woman – with a thick New Jersey accent – telling him that he was terrific. “If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’.”

We appear to be at the wedding of a mobster boss’s wedding. The woman we met with Sam a few minutes ago appears to have some history with the mobster father. She accuses him of cheating at bocce ball, bending over and flashing a group of men a view up her skirt in the process. Our mob boss pulls her aside to talk to her. We find out she’s there to be a beautician. And that she apparently has some personal history with Mr. Mob Boss (he hits on her and she rebuffs him.) After some back and forth about how she and him are through, he grabs her by the arm, says they are not through, and then says “you’re a real piece of work, Teresa. A real piece of work.” So our leading lady of the week is named Teresa. And Sam leaped into the body of a guy who will undoubtedly be killed if the mob boss founds out he slept with Teresa.

We cut to Sam wandering around at the outdoor reception. A couple of older Italian women begin talking to him… in Italian. He smiles and nods his way through this interaction. He gets bailed out by a family member who informs him that someone wants him to meet cousins from Philadelphia… and to then sing for the wedding.

As he is pushed up on a stage, he whispers for help from Al. Al gives him the lyrics for “Volare.” Sam isn’t exactly Dean Martin. But after an initial stumble, he gets *way* too into the performance. We cut back and forth between Sam/Frankie singing, and the mob boss a good distance away talking about loss of respect. He says he wants whoever Teresa is with “singing soprano” at the moment that Frankie holds out a high note.

After he finishes singing, Sam sneaks off to have a private conversation with Al. When they meet up, Al lets Sam know that Ziggy has shut down non-essential operations in the imaging chamber. So… Al the hologram is sweating because the future does not have air conditioning. Al lets Sam know that Frankie is a hit-man. Sam freaks out.

This week, we appear to have swung back to even-keel Al and hyper-emotional Sam. I wish the two of them would play a bit more consistent in this regard. The show also continues to strain credulity inasmuch as the artificial intelligence, Ziggy, has deemed in depth research about who Sam leaps into is “non essential electrical use.” So I suspect we are going to be kept in some suspense as to why Sam is occupying Frankie.

Ziggy’s instructions for Sam are to do whatever Frankie is supposed to do until further notice. Al disappears just as he shows Sam where Frankie’s gun is located. Sam is concerned about having to use the gun.

We next see Sam asking the newly wed husband he just met advice about being married. He chides him about not taking her on a honeymoon. Then he says “if you only like her, why did you marry her?” Uh oh. It turns out Frankie had told him it would be a good thing to do. I don’t know if this is just me, but I think if I were inhabiting the persona of a mafia hit-man, I might keep my opinions to myself as much as possible.

Sam doubles down on being dumb by noticing Teresa’s beauty salon and telling the other two guys that he wants a haircut. The two guys he’s walking down the street with, as well as the women in the salon when he walks in, look at him as though he’s lost his mind.

“I had the sudden feeling that in ’65, men weren’t having their hair styled by women. At least not in South Brooklyn.”

While Sam is getting his hair shampooed, he finally learns from Teresa that Don Geno would have him killed if he know about the Frankie and Teresa dalliance. But by this point, Teresa has concluded that Frankie “has the hots” for her to such a degree that he does not care. And she says she feels the same way. Teresa says “If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin'” for the fourth time in this episode so far. I’ll keep track going forward.

While Sam is in the salon getting a haircut, several other members of the Brooklyn mafia show up outside and watch through the window – including Frankie’s father and Don Geno. Geno wants to go in and kill Sam/Frankie. But Frankie’s father tells Geno that it was his idea for Frankie to go into the salon to get a haircut in an effort to find out of Teresa would let slip who she is seeing. Geno goes in to give Sam/Frankie a shave and to verify that the story he just heard is true. Unfortunately… Geno asks him the question in Italian.

Al shows up and gives him the right words to say in Italian. Al even makes up a story about Sam having a guardian angel named Al. Geno accepts the story.

After the encounter, Frankie’s father and a couple other mafioso types discuss the fact that Frankie will have Geno’s eye on him from now until they find out who Teresa is really seeing. Sam, who apparently still has a death wish, interjects “what about the cheating that he’s doing?” Before they part ways, Frankie’s father tells him that he needs to take Nona to Bingo. She thinks he’s lucky and has not won a game in years.

We see Al and Sam alone later in that day. Al is telling a story about his Italian father, who used to “sneak him out of the orphanage” and bring him along while Al’s dad visited his girlfriend. “And one night, he brought along this extra girl and he says to me son, I think it’s about time…” Sam interrupts the story.

But I think we just learned that Al grew up in an orphanage, despite having a father. And that he father arranged for his first sexual experience? Al’s weird personal life is beginning to make more sense. Also.. WHAT?

Ziggy has decided that Sam needs to plug in a 1000 watt hairdryer at a specific address in Buffalo, NY. Thirteen minutes later, Sam needs to meet Teresa in Geno’s attic in Brooklyn. And Sam needs to “engage in whatever activities” Frankie and Teresa engaged in shortly before Sam arrived.

So Sam sends two mob guys to Buffalo to plug in the hair dryer. And he calls Teresa. He has to convince her to meet him at Don Geno’s attic. She reacts to this request about the way that one would expect. However he sweet talks her into putting her life at risk. We get our fifth “If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin'” but this time it was from Sam.

We cut to the two of them in Geno’s attic. Then we cut to Geno. He has just been informed that Frankie and Teresa were spotted climbing into his attic. He is… not happy.

We cut back to our mafia bros driving through Buffalo. The plug the hair dryer into an outlet, create a power surge, start a fire, and then we see the power go off on the street.

When we cut back to Sam/Frankie and Teresa talking in the attic. He tells her that she’s very special. Don Geno walks in on the two of them and he is holding a gun.

Meanwhile, a ripple effect is underway. The power surge in Buffalo has caused a blackout on the entire eastern seaboard. Frankie/Sam and Geno end up in a fight for Geno’s gun. As they are wrestling for the gun, Sam leaps out of Frankie’s body – directly into Don Geno’s body.

Everyone is still alive. Sam realizes that he needs to figure out a way to approve of Frankie and Teresa’s relationship, as Don Geno, in a way that the real Don Geno cannot back out of after Sam leaps away.

Sam/Geno, Teresa, and Frankie go to the Bingo game that Frankie had been expected to attend. There, in front of a priest and several bingo playing witnesses, Geno announces that Frankie and Teresa are to be married and with Don Geno’s blessing. Teresa thanks Geno and says “if I’m lyin’,” then Sam says “I’m dyin’.” Sam does not leap away.

Al appears. Ziggy blames Sam’s failure to leap on Sam not following directions down to the decimal. Sam remembers that his other task at Bingo is to help Nona win a game. As soon as the Bingo task is completed, he leaps away into the body of an older African American man.

Reaction:

This was one of the better episodes of the show to this point.

After the goofy beginning, wherein Sam is a little bit too exuberant while singing, he and Al settle into a comfortable team-up. Al’s digressions did not take away from his job performance as Sam’s assistant. He was always there when Sam needed him to be there. This is a positive change. Sam stayed pretty focused on completing the mission. This is also a positive change. Sam was pretty reckless with his mouth a few times, especially considering who he was with, but it did not pull me out of the episode altogether as that kind of thing has in earlier episodes because he did not go too far.

Al has been a total weirdo and creep for most of the run of this show to this point. But giving the audience his horrifying childhood backstory helps us to understand and humanize his quirks. I’m not ready to say I like him or that I’m sympathetic to him, yet. But we might get there. That said… I’m not quite sure how someone with Al’s personal foibles obtained the job that he has. Maybe the show will show us how that happened over the course of some more time. If Quantum Leap pulls that off, then I might end up with Al as my favorite character.

This was the first double-leap within the same story. I have some questions, though. Frankie apparently does not remember what has happened since Sam took over his body. Is that what happens for everyone who Sam occupies? I would imagine the immediate aftermath of Sam leaping away is major chaos. I also thought from an earlier episode that the leapee walks out of the time machine in the future once Sam takes over. Maybe they don’t remember any of that when they go back to their body?

This episode felt like it struck a good balance between comedy and drama. The gag line of “If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin'” played well with me. So did some of the more over-the-top mafia story cliches. I think the difference was that neither Sam nor Al totally went crazy on the job.

Historical Note: The blackout from the episode was a real event that occurred in 1965. However, as far as we know, the real event was not triggered by a hairdryer being plugged into an outlet in Buffalo.



QUOTE:

“In Geno’s attic you were better than anywhere else.”
“I was?”
“If I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’.”

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