Welcome back to my episode by episode recap and reaction to Quantum Leap. Spoilers ahead for the current episode.
THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:
Sam leaps into the body of Linda, a single recently divorced mother of three. His mission is to prevent the disappearance and murder of her oldest son, Kevin.
Sam discovers that the youngest daughter can see and hear Al. They convince her that he is an angel. This new find allows Al to help with the mission more directly than he would, ordinarily. Al finds out along the way that he likes children more than he would have thought. Sam keeps tabs on Kevin but not well enough. Kevin is kidnapped shortly after a mean prank by Kevin’s friends sends him storming out of a friend’s house, alone, at night. However, Sam and Al are successful in staging a rescue operation.
When Kevin stands up to his friends the day after his kidnapping, Sam leaps away.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP AND REACTION:
NEW INTRO NARRATION!!!
Theorizing that one could time-travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett led an elite group of scientists into the desert to develop a top secret project known as Quantum Leap. Pressured to prove his theories or lose funding, Dr. Beckett prematurely stepped into the project accelerator… and vanished.
He awoke to find himself in the past suffering from partial amnesia and facing a mirror image that was not his own. Fortunately contact with his own time was maintained through brainwave transmissions with Al, the project observer, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Dr. Beckett can see and hear.
Trapped in the past, Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, putting things right that once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home.
Though I distinctly remember the show’s intro narrator as female, this narration sequence was done by a man. He’s got a voice that belongs in John Wayne movies, IMO. In any case, this is so much better than Sam narrating.
Sam is in a kitchen wearing a woman’s clothing. Children are arguing over a Queen t-shirt. A dog is barking. “Sam” appears to be in the midst of cooking on a stove. A radio is playing. A small girl tugs on Sam’s shirt to tell him that the dog, Wookie, ate the head off of her doll. Wookie then pulls a plate of food off the counter and down onto floor. The boy who has been arguing with the girl over the T-shirt gets the shirt from her. She kicks him. The two turn to Sam to complain about each other, calling him “Mom.”
“I’m a mommy.” – Sam
The two arguing children continue to play tug-of-war with the T-shirt. Wookie, the good boy, eats the spilled food off the floor. Sam sees “his” reflection in a small mirror on the fridge. He narrates about remembering fighting his siblings and how his parents brought them back under control. Abrupltly, then, Sam yells “QUIET!” at the arguing kids who have now torn the T-shirt. They respond accordingly. Sam unplugs the radio. The older boy is shocked. Sam announced that the t-shirt does not belong to anyone.
Boy: Wow, mom just reached max gross load.
Girl: You’re the gross load.
Suddenly, the little girl asks “where’s my mommy?” The older children tell her “she’s right in front of you” which causes the little girl to say “that’s not my mommy, that’s a man.”
The little girl hides behind the older boy and says she wants her mommy. Sam tries to laugh about it but the little girl gets scared and runs into the other room. Sam asks the older daughter to go check on her sister. The boy talks about the effect of parents yelling at their impressionable children. Sam tells him, “go to school.” However, the boy points out that he has not eaten breakfast yet so Sam makes him toast. The boy apologizes for fighting with his sister and tells Sam/his mom that he knows that the divorce has been hard on him/her. He also says that the bimbo his dad ran off with is punishment enough. The older teenage boy tells Sam/his mom to think about herself. He also says he is proud of Sam for getting “her” real estate license.
The older daughter returns to the other room. She tells Sam that the younger daughter is claiming that their mother is a strange man dressed in her mother’s clothes.
Older Boy: Residual flashbacks from your hippie days, Mom.
The older girl convinces the younger girl to come out and look again, but she still thinks that their mother is a man.
Little Girl: That’s not my mommy that’s a man. And so is the guy in the yucky shirt.
Al: This is my favorite shirt!
Sam tries to get the older girl to talk to the younger girl again, but she replies that she is only 11 and that she will not have a psych degree for another fifteen years. The two older kids leave for school. The older daughter reminds Sam about carpooling the Girl Scouts and that she has a a fitting for her soccer uniform that afternoon. The boy argues to Sam that his swim meet is also that afternoon and that Sam has to be there. The boy tells Sam that he should wear a dress to the house he’s showing later. Then he leaves.
Al: Ziggy says that kids under five exist in a natural alpha state and that’s how come she can see me.
Sam wonders why she can see him and Al talks about little kids being pure of heart.
Sam writes down everything he has to do that day so that he doesn’t forget anything. Al tells Sam that the little girl, Teresa, only sees the truth. Obviously that’s a problem because a man is pretending to be her mom. Al tells Sam that they’ll have to talk to her.
Teresa comes back into the room and asks “where’s my mommy?” Al kneels down and tells her that her mother had to go away for a while, but will be back soon. Sam introduces himself and Al to Teresa, and he tells her that “everyone is going to pretend that I am your mommy” for the next couple of days. She asks why. nd Al has to consult Ziggy. He tells her it’s to help her big brother Kevin win his swim meet. Teresa asks Al if he and Sam are angels. Al says “yes” while Sam says “no”. Al then holds out his hand for Teresa to touch. Her hand goes right through. She then joyfully runs through Al’s body. They promise her that her mother will come back after they help her brother. Teresa asks Sam to fix her doll and she asks Al to read her a story. Sam says that Al can read her a story, but she wil have to hold the book and turn the pages herself. The adorable little girl says “that’s a good deal” and agrees. Al sends her to pick out a book.
After Teresa leaves the room, Sam asks Al why he is really there. Al says that he didn’t want to say it in front of Teresa, but sometime in the next twenty-four hours, Kevin (the older brother) is going to run away from home and disappear off the face of the earth.
Al: Six months later, his bloodied clothes were found in an abandoned van. They never found his body, Sam, and his mother never allowed the case to be closed.
While Al is saying this, the audience sees the murder van crossing the state line into Arizona.
[<sarcasm>Yay, a light-hearted episode of Quantum Leap.</sarcasm>]
Later, Sam has changed clothes for his house showing. He asks Al why he would leap into a mother. Al explains that the father is having a mid-life crisis. Sam does not know how he can keep tabs on Kevin and keep up with his single mother responsibilities. Al tells Sam to calm down so that he does not hyperventilate and that nobody ever said it was going to be easy to be a mother. He tells Sam he has to figure out why his fifteen-year-old son is going to run away. Sam asks Al, “what’s the worst thing you can remember about being fifteen?”
Al tells him about being with a girl and almost getting caught by her parents. Sam says that Kevin running away most likely has nothing to do with sex. Sam says that while he cannot follow Kevin around, Al can. Al protests for some reason. As Sam is talking to Al, the maid comes through front door opens behind him. She asks Sam if someone named Al is coming over for dinner.
Al apparently decided to follow Kevin around after all. Kevin and some other students are sitting together. Some of the other guys are giving Kevin a hard time about trying “to score” with a girl named Jackie, who is sitting not too far away reading a book. Kevin tells them that he and Jackie are friends. One of the other guys says “Jackie Arnett is friendly with anyone who says hello,” which Kevin calls out as a lie. They make fun of him for defending her honor. Al is watching all of this and is impressed with Kevin. Al is also giving one of the other boys the stink eye. Then said boy calls her a strumpet and challenges Kevin to score with her. The challenge includes returning with proof. Al says that he senses a set-up. We see one of the boys walk over and start talking to Jackie once Al leaves to find Sam.
Back at their home, Sam tells Al that he’s not going to help a fifteen-year-old learn how to seduce a girl. Al argues that Sam doesn’t have a choice. Al says that Kevin is inexperienced and Sam replies that he is supposed to be inexperienced at fifteen. Al tells Sam that Kevin is genuinely interested in Jackie, but that his buddies are setting him up for a fall. Al believes that this is what leads to Kevin running away. Sam says he is not going to help Kevin to have sexual intercourse.
Teresa is standing in the doorway and asks Sam and Al what sexual intercourse is. Al begins to explain when Sam intervenes and says that it’s time to get ready for dinner. While Sam is helping Teresa wash up, he suggests to Al that they teach Kevin about romance instead. Al asks what kind of acceptance that will bring Kevin with his friends and Sam says that it will bring him honor.
Al: These demons are on a quest and it isn’t for honor.
Sam looks in the oven and sees that he has burned dinner. Sam tells Teresa that they should go pick up her siblings and go out for dinner. Teresa wants pizza.
We see the murder van again driving down the road and entering Scottsdale.
Later, Sam and the kids pull up at the house. Susan runs to the door and Sam calls her back to get her books and uniform from the car.
Susan: Mom, I’m gonna miss Magnum.
Sam breaks the rules of time travel and spoilers and tells her that it will run for 8 more years. He then tells Susan to take Teresa upstairs to wash the ice cream off of her face.
Kevin has been silently sitting inside the car this entire time. Sam asks if he’s okay and Kevin says yes. Sam follows him into the garage and past the ping pong table. He offers to play a game with Kevin. The boy is surprised noting that his mother hates ping pong. Sam insists, so they play.
Sam tells Kevin that when his dad wanted to talk, it usually took place over a ping pong table. Kevin asks Sam what he wants to talk about. Sam says he can tell something is bothering him, and asks if Kevin is too cool to talk to his mom. Kevin says it’s just “guy stuff.” Sam says that he might know more about girls than Kevin thinks. They awkwardly and with increasing discomfort discuss talking to girls. Teresa suddenly appears, covered in paint, as is the family dog. Sam goes inside with Teresa to clean her up.
We cut back to the murder van following a school bus. Two kids get off the bus. There are two men in the murder van who seem pleased to see the kids alone. Abruptly a station wagon pulls over and the kids get in.
Later, at Jackie’s house, Kevin’s “friends” want Jackie to help them mess with Kevin. They tell her that it is an initiation. Jackie says that this sounds mean. They tell her that Kevin will think that this is funny. The ringleader boy says that as class president, whoever he takes to the upcoming school dance will be crowned queen. Jackie agrees to go along with their plan because she had already told her mom about going and being Queen. The boys decide to invite Kevin over to Jackie’s house that night.
Susan is watching “Magnum, P.I.” While we watch a shirtless Magnum do pushups, the narrates that he has been hired to “play games” with his client’s sister. Kevin comes in. He asks her what she sees “in that geek.”
Susan: What, are you blind? The man is terminally gorgeous.
After some more Tom Selleck banter, Kevin awkwardly asks his little sister what a boy would have to do to get her attention if he liked her. Susan replies that she is eleven. “I don’t have to deal with that teenage mating ritual crap.” Then she meanly says that a boy who likes her wouldn’t be the school joke.
Kevin turns off the TV. Susan goes to watch TV at her friend’s house. Kevin is about to leave when Sam, carrying Teresa, walks in and tells him he wants Kevin to stay at home tonight. Kevin protests but Sam refuses to let him go. Kevin goes to his room. Upstairs, he climbs out his bedroom window. Sam does not hear because Kevin leaves the stereo on. Kevin then rides away on his bicycle.
The murder van is now on their street and it follows Kevin.
Sam attempts to put Teresa to bed. She insists that he sing her a song. Angel Al appears and sings while Sam goes to Kevin’s room to turn off the stereo. Teresa goes right to sleep. [The man has a soothing singing voice.] Sam meets Al in the hall. Al starts talking about having never wanted to have a child before, but Sam interrupts him to let him know that Kevin is gone. Al looks up Jackie’s address on the computery-thing he carries around. Sam plans to go and find Kevin. Since Al is only a hologram, Sam states that Susan needs to come back home from next door. He also says he will call Rafaella over to watch the girls.
Good news! Kevin made it to Jackie’s house alive.
At her house, Kevin and Jackie are sitting together on her couch. He tells her that it was nice of her to invite him over. Jackie tells him that they don’t have to be nice or talk. “We can just get started.” Kevin asks about her parents. She says that they’re out with friends playing bridge and won’t be back any time soon. She moves closer to him and touches his leg. He asks why she is doing this. Jackie asks him “does it matter.” He says that it matters to him.
Kevin: Not that you wouldn’t like me if you got to know me better.
She tells him to take his clothes off while she puts another tape in. I guess “it doesn’t matter” all that much to young Kevin because he starts unbuttoning his shirt.
Jackie puts on a slower song and then lies down on the floor near the fireplace. The two of them start kissing. Jackie asks him if he is a virgin, and Kevin says that he is. Once he says this, his friends run into the room – they had apparently been hiding in the next room over – and they laugh at Kevin. Jackie starts to laugh but stops when she sees that Kevin did not find this to be funny like they told her he would. He flees the house and rides away on his bike. Jackie is now upset and she yells for Kevin to come back. Kevin passes the van on his bike and it ominously begins to follow him.
Jackie is angry with Kevin’s friends saying that he was supposed to find the whole thing funny. Sam goes into Jackie’s house, and Jackie tells him that Kevin left on his bike. Al appears and tells Sam where Kevin’s bike was found. Sam leaves in an effort catch up with him. Al stays behind to talk trash to Kevin’s friends.
Friend: With a mother like that, I’d be a virgin, too.
Al: You are a virgin, pimple puss. And you will be for another six years.
No luck finding Kevin before he’s captured. The murder van is leaving town. The two men have Kevin in the back, tied up. Sam and Al are in the station wagon. Al tries to pinpoint Kevin’s location with the handheld computer. They find Kevin’s bike on the side of the road. Al tracks Kevin down, and tells Sam he’s in a van up ahead of them. Al urges Sam to drive faster. Sam finally spots the van ahead, and asks Al to go and check on Kevin. Al replies that he will not be able to do anything but he goes.
Kevin tied up with duct tape but he is trying to escape. Al appears in the back of the van. The murdery guy riding shotgun in the van gets out of his seat and starts crawling toward Kevin. Sam catches up with them and starts honking. The murdery-crawling guy goes back to the front seat. Sam after a couple attempts manages to run the van off the road and into the ditch. The murder van driver sees a woman (Sam) in the rearview mirror getting out of the car and he smiles. Sam has his eyes and attention on the van driver so the other guy manages to sneak up behind him and pin his arms behind his back. The driver rips open Sam’s shirt. Sam turns into a ninja warrior and fights free of the two men. He knocks them down with a couple of punches. Al explains to a surprised Sam that he knows judo, karate, muay thai, and tae kwon do. One of the men gets up and is now holding a large knife. Sam deals with him by kicking him in the face. With the two men lying unconscious on the ground, Sam rescues Kevin from the back of the van. Kevin explains to Sam/his mom that he wasn’t running away. Sam says that he knows. They hug. Outside of the van, Kevin sees the two men lying on the ground.
Kevin: Mom! How?!
Sam: Girls Scouts.
The next day, as Susan gets up from breakfast, she tells him that she’s glad he’s okay. After Susan leaves for school, Sam sits next to Kevin at the table and says he has a pretty good idea of what happened at Jackie’s house. Kevin reluctantly talks about it. He tells Sam that his friends found out he’s a virgin, and now they’re going to blab about it to everyone at school. Sam tells Kevin that he was a virgin at sixteen. Sam explains that there should be a special reason to lose one’s virginity and that being in love is the best reason. Kevin says that he never thought about it that way. Sam says that before that time comes, there are other things to talk about. He then tells Kevin he should just give himself some time. Kevin is apparently going to school the morning after he was almost murdered. Before leaving, he gives “Mom” a hug and thanks Sam. Sam tells him to have a good day.
After Kevin leaves, Al tells Sam that was nicely done. Sam asks Al “why haven’t I leaped” and Al replies that it’s because he’s been having so much fun with Teresa.
You’ll probably leap as soon as Kevin confronts his friends.
At school, Kevin’s friends watch as he enters the cafeteria. He walks past Jackie. She gets up to talk to him, apologizes, and says she understands if he doesn’t want to speak to her. She also says that she’d really like to be his date to the dance. Kevin agrees and jokes that he will as long as she does not wear heels. Kevin’s friends, who seems like truly terrible people, shout to the cafeteria about Kevin being a virgin. Jackie responds by saying, “You’ve got to be kidding,” and then she gives Kevin a big ole kiss in front of everyone. The other students cheer.
Back at home, Al is using the handheld computer to show Teresa holographic pictures of dinosaurs. Teresa successfully identifies several dinosaurs. Sam senses that he is about to leap. Al tells Teresa that her mommy is coming back. She asks Al if he can stay. He tells her that he can’t. She says she doesn’t want him to go. Al says he doesn’t want to go and then he promises to come back someday. He puts his hand up and Teresa puts her hand through his one more time. Sam leaps.
Man, there was a lot happening in this episode.
New narration to start the episode! Excellent.
We find out that little kids can see and hear Al and that they are not fooled by Sam! (To be honest, I’m not sure the “pure of heart” explanation was satisfying.)
The show retconned Sam’s fighting ability! Excellent. (It always bothered me that he punched a guy out, while a woman, in Season 1.)
Major character growth for Al. He wants kids?!
Magnum P.I.? Sam was apparently a fan because he was very quick to let Susan know how many seasons the show ran.
On top of that, the story was well-written. Children were believably horrible to each other. And the murder van just added this ominous element to the entire episode and the payoff was great. I hope that when Kevin’s real mom returns, she is just a little ticked off at Sam (though obviously grateful in general) that Kevin went to school the day after he was kidnapped and nearly murdered. (If not… I mean, what kind of messaging was TV giving to Gen-X kids? “Yeah, sure, you almost died. But you didn’t. So shake it off.”)
Should we assume that Sam dealt with those murderers in some way? Or did this QL endeavor just lead to some other kid being murdered? I guess we will never know. But I am bothered by that.
The three primary child actors for this episode were really good. After looking up their bios, apparently a lot of other people must have agreed.
Troian Bellisario played the teeny tiny adorable Teresa. She is the daughter of QL producer Donald Bellisario. I think her name might have been the inspiration for a character name / episode title we saw this season. She is probably best known now for playing Spencer Hastings in Pretty Little Liars.
Susan was played by Olivia Burnette. You might remember her from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles or as Dorothy Jane in The Torkelsons. Most recently, she played a recurring homeless woman character on Sons of Anarchy. [I probably just added “The Torkelsons” to my future watch-list, btw.]
Kevin was played by Michael Stoyanov. He is probably most well known for playing Anthony Russo on Blossom.
Overall, this was an intense episode but it might be my favorite of the series so far.