Welcome back to Quantum Leap, Season 2. Spoilers await if you continue reading.
THE QUICK & CLEAN SUMMARY:
Sam leaps into the body of a blind pianist on February 6, 1964. Despite the new body, Sam can see and must pretend he cannot. The host’s seeing eye dog recognizes that he is someone new. Sam has to perform a piano concert for a large audience, save the life of his host’s love interest (she is slated by history to be strangled to death), and then win over his love interest’s overbearing mother.
Sam succeeds at all three. We learn the real Dr. Beckett is a gifted pianist, too. Al helps him perform by providing sheet music (that the host body does not have, need, nor use as he is blind.) Sam’s seeing eye dog stops Michelle’s death by attacking her would-be strangler. A heart-to-heart talk wins over Michelle’s mother.
THE EXTRA DUSTY REVIEW & RECAP:
Sam narrates that Quantum Leaping is always a surprise. This episode begins with Sam leaping into the body of a blind pianist. He arrives at the end of a performance to a cheering audience. Then Sam, not knowing how to play piano, does an encore performance of chopsticks. The crowd cheers.
One early problem in this episode, for Sam, is that the seeing eye dog of his host seems to know that something is up. A second early problem for Sam is that he is expected to play again the following night.
February 6, 1964
Sam is having a hard time utilizing his usual “who am I” detective tricks because he is supposed to be blind and he is accompanied by a young woman. He cannot afford to give himself away. The episode is presenting us with a conundrum. Sam’s host body is blind. However, despite being in that host body, Sam is able to see.
Sam finally drops off his female assistant. Inside a building, he talks to a security guard / police officer who tells us about work. His current job appears to be protecting the Beatles so that they can play the Ed Sullivan Show.
We see the young female assistant, from earlier, getting off a bus, removing books from some type of hidden locker, and going into what is I believe her home? Her mother catches her sneaking in and complains that the still-unnamed younger girl did not call. The younger woman then lies and says that she went out for ice cream with friends after studying. Her mother knows she is lying. She checked in with the same friends with whom the young woman is now pretending to have spent the evening. (Maybe I missed it earlier, but I feel as though I am going a long time without getting this younger woman’s name.)
The younger woman confesses. “It was just a concert.” And so begins the “it was more than just a concert guilt trip monologue.
And when you flunk your finals, it will be more than just a concert, won’t it?
And when your husband leaves you with a hungry two year old, and you don’t have a way to earn a living, it will be more than just a concert, won’t it?
And when you wake up twenty years later, and you realize you’re no longer young and good looking, because you’re tired and you’re worn out from trying to support that baby… it will be more than just a concert, won’t it?
We finally learn the younger woman’s name. Michelle. Her mother softens once Michelle apologizes but the teaching continues. The two women say together: “A fool’s dreams may be dreams but they also belong to a fool.”
Back at the apartment of Sam’s host, Al finally shows up. The seeing eye good boy sees Al and barks. That poor pupper must be having the strangest day. Al informs us that Sam is occupying the body of Andrew Ross – the Ray Charles of classical music. Ziggy lets us know that after Ross’ upcoming concert, history says that Michelle is strangled in Central Park. The dog whines at this news.
Al promises Sam that by the following night, Sam will be able to give a great performance. When he leaves, Sam’s dog digs at the floor in the spot where he disappeared.
We see a woman in Central Park walking her dog. She is a French woman we met *very briefly* outside Sam/Andrew’s apartment, earlier in the episode. Abruptly, a cord is around her neck and she screams. The sound editor seamlessly transitions her scream into the screams of tens of thousands of women demanding to see The Beatles. We find Sam in the midst of that throng. He drops the pretense of being “blind” long enough to catch a girl who fainted. Sam runs into the security guard / police officer he met briefly earlier in the episode. “Pete” is on horseback now and he is doing crowd control work with the “teeny boppers” who are excited about the floppy haired Brits’ arrival in America. Officer Pete lets Sam know – as an aside while they are talking – that the police found another body in Central Park.
The next time we see Sam, he is dining with Michelle. When their sandwiches arrive, Sam notices that the waitress forgot the mustard. He pretends that he noticed because he could not smell it. He follows that up by telling Michelle that she has a very pretty smile. He explains that statement away by saying that he can tell from the sound of her laughter. As they eat, we find out that Michelle insists on attending his concert that night. She lies to Sam by implying she has talked to her mother about meeting him. Abruptly Michelle gets up and says she will be late to class. Before she can run off, Sam asks her to set up dinner with Michelle – and her mother – “tonight” after the concert. She agrees to ask.
Back at “Sam’s” apartment, Al appears again. The seeing eye good boy, Chopin, not only barks at him – the doggo leaps at him! Al is a hologram though and the dog passes through him and remains confused.
While Sam is reading the dog food label, Michelle’s mother walks into his apartment. She observes him reading this label and says “that’s a neat trick.” She now believes he is faking his blindness. She tells him that he can “insist with this charade” of being blind but that he should not date her daughter.
Nobody is going to take my daughter from me. Nobody. Now either you stop seeing her or I expose you for the fake that you are.
Later, Sam is getting dressed for that night’s concert. Michelle comes to see him and helps him with his bow-tie. She admits to not talking to her mother. She says that her mother has told her she lacks talent and that she is not pretty enough for a man to want. [Uh, this is far from the conversation we saw with her mother earlier.] She also says something, that rings a little more true, which is that her mother has been stuck with her since her father left them and that she feels as though she owes her mother a nursing degree – since her mother has worked herself tirelessly to provide her with the opportunity.
On the stage, seeing eye dog in hand, we do not yet know how Al plans to help Sam play at this concert. Sam does not know, either. Finally, dressed in a white suit and tie, like a businessman angel, or maybe a gangster in church, Al arrives with sheet music.
It turns out that Dr. Sam Beckett is a master pianist who played Carnegie Hall at age 19. However, the real Sam needs sheet music. Al simply holds it for him. This is another one of those swiss cheese brain situations for Dr. Beckett because he did not know he could play. Al was taking a big risk, waiting until the last minute, to find out whether he would remember how to play once music was in front of him.
Michelle and her mother are backstage. Michelle’s mother is telling her that she is “too ordinary” for her blind pianist boyfriend. When this does not have its desired effect, Michelle’s mother tells her that he is not actually blind.
Sam finishes playing and he receives a standing ovation. He walks backstage and addresses Michelle’s mother. “Mrs. Stevens, what…” which confirms to Michelle that Sam’s host, Andrew Ross, is only pretending to be blind. She believes he has been lying to her. She cries and runs away.
A mass gathering of chaos reigns outside the concert hall as people have gathered in excitement for the Beatles to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. Sam runs into the Beatles as he leaves in search of Michelle. He has his glasses knocked from his face. A flashbulb, from someone taking a picture goes off in his face and renders Sam blind. Sam’s seeing eye good boy, Chopin, keeps him from accidentally walking out into traffic. Sam splashes some water on his face, from a nearby fountain, and he *still* cannot see. Ruh roh.
Sam, Al, and Chopin set out in search of Michelle in Central Park. In case you have forgotten, she is slated to be strangled at some point tonight.
We cut to Michelle standing alone in the park. She sees a man, dressed all in black, wearing a mask, with a cord in his hands. As one does in that situation, she runs. He chases. He catches her. She kicks him and gets herself free.
The seeing eye pupper makes a whining sound and decides to lead the group in a different direction. They find Michelle’s purse.
We cut back to her running straight into the arms of a tall man, not wearing a mask. Officer Pete to the rescue. However, her illusions of safety disappear once she sees that this man has blood on his hands. Officer Pete?! NOOOO! WE TRUSTED YOU!
As he is about to begin strangling her, barehanded, she screams loudly enough for Sam, Al, the dog, and anyone else within a half mile to hear.
The good guys arrive. The seeing eye good boy “guides” Officer Pete in the direction of making better decisions. He does that with his good-boy teeth. Al directs Sam to where the officer’s handcuffs are lying on the ground. The dog and the handcuffs restrain Officer Pete until help arrives.
As Officer Pete is being arrested, we see Michelle and her mother together again with Sam. Her mother says that “none of this would have happened if you’d stayed away from my daughter” and Michelle explains that Sam smelled her perfume coming off the stage – which is how he knew she was there. Sam and Michelle manage to convince Michelle’s mother that he really is blind. Overcome with either regret or a lack of comfort with being wrong, Michelle’s mom walks away from the two of them. Sam tells Michelle to go after her.
Once Michelle leaves, Sam’s vision returns. However, he has not leaped, yet. He approaches Michelle and her mother. He confronts Mrs. Stevens about her refusal to let Michelle live her own life.
You love her, Mrs. Stevens. But it’s a smothering kind of love.
They all have a heart-to-heart. Sam convinces Michelle’s mother to loosen her grip on Michelle and to live her own life a bit, too. After saving Michelle’s emotional life, as well as her physical one, Sam finally leaps.
He arrives at what appears to be a radio station in the 1950s.
♪ ♪ Wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom! ♪
This was a solid and well acted episode of Quantum Leap. The mission is straight-forward. Sam needs to save Michelle’s life and he also needs to win over her mother. The plot wrinkle is that Sam can see and then that he cannot.
Let’s talk about that wrinkle, though. Why could Sam see when his host body cannot? My best explanation as a viewer is that Sam must himself be something akin to a hologram. Unlike Al, though, Sam must be a hologram who is anchored to a host body. As a result, Sam can see when his host might not be able to see – just like Al can see, hear, etc. However, if Sam ends up in the body of someone missing an arm or a leg, he will be inhibited by that disability. In the world of Quantum Leap, a hologram can see and hear. But they cannot touch anything or pick anything up. Sam needs a host body to touch the world around him while in the past.
Let’s see if that theory holds up in future episodes.
I wonder if Chopin, the doggo, spent the rest of his life reflecting on how weird these two days were. “Human. You were someone else. For a couple of days. I was the only one who knew. It was so strange. And when you were someone else. You talked to a ghost. The ghost helped you. Also. I was a hero. I solved a crime. I stopped a murderer.”