Welcome back to my episode-by-episode recap of and reaction to Quantum Leap. The spoilers ahead are only through this episode.
THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:
Sam leaps into the body of HS QB Eddie Vega. He has to prevent his best friend, and fellow star American football player, Chuey, from throwing their city championship game because the decision to do so costs him scholarship offers to play football in college. Chuey is planning to throw the game to pay his mom’s past-due debt.
Sam gets Chuey to play by threatening to throw away his own scholarship opportunities. After they win the game, and fail to pay Chuey’s mom’s debts, Sam solves this problem by playing match-maker with his host’s single dad and Chuey’s single mother – who both clearly love each other already. The two single parents decide to get married and Sam leaps away.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP AND REACTION:
The intro narration is the same as last week… except now we have a female narrator.
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.
Sam has leaped directly into the middle of a football game. We got a couple of “oh boys” from Sam as large padded men from the other team chase him while he holds the football.
September 6, 1962
Sam, under duress, throws a wobbly pass down the field for the game winning touchdown.
Al: Sam, that pass was like a $10 hooker. It wasn’t pretty but it got the job done.
Sam is occupying the body of Eddie Vega, a high school football player. It appears to be a team ritual to pound on Eddie Vega’s shoulder pads to celebrate a win. Sam gets pummeled after the win – even by his coach in the locker room.
After the game, Sam is with his friend Chuey at a party while we hear “Big Girls Don’t Cry” playing in the background. A girl approaches Sam/Eddie for a cola. After initially trying to open it with his hands, his friend Chuey hands him a bottle opener. [Apparently twist-off cola bottle lids were not in use back in 1962.] Sam/Eddie’s father is running the food truck in front of which Sam/Eddie is standing. After the girl leaves, Eddie’s father advises Sam/Eddie to avoid girls like that until after he graduates medical school. Chuey’s mother approaches as he asks Mr. Vega why they could not have girls like that during school, too. He cuts off abruptly at the sight of his mom. When she arrives, Mr. Vega informs all of them that scouts attended the game from as far away as Texas. She is unhappy about the possibility of the boys going to school so far away. Chuey says that they will go where they both have a scholarship.
Sam breaks the tension by asking what Mr. Vega is cooking. Chuey’s mother says that it’s menudo.
Sam: The pop group?
Chuey’s mother is confused. Al appears and explains to Sam that menudo is a soup. Sam agrees to go get something from the kitchen so that he and Al can talk. He finds out that Al disappeared after the game so that he could gawk at a cheerleader with big beautiful pomelos. Sam understands that pomelo means grapefuit and realizes to his surprise that he can speak Spanish.
Al then explains the mission and gives a lot of background information about everyone important to this particular Leap. Eddie gets a football scholarship to UCLA. Eddie’s mother died in childbirth. Chuey’s mother was the best-friend of Eddie’s late mother. Chuey’s mother gave birth to Chuey three days after she crossed the Rio Grande and arrived in El Paso, Texas. Chuey believes his father died in an accident, in Mexico, before he was born. The two men discuss why an immigrant would go to so much trouble to have a child in the United States. Sam points out that her efforts pay off because Chuey is going to get a scholarship, graduate from college, become a doctor… then Al interrupts him. Chuey does not get a scholarship to college because he throws the high school city championship game.
Sam’s mission is to prevent his host body’s best friend from throwing a football game.
Sam sits alone at the party and Chuey approaches him to find out why. Sam tells him that he has a feeling they will lose the game. Chuey chides him for feeling that way and gives away no intention on his part to throw the game.
At the party, Mr. (Manuel) Vega flirts with Chuey’s mother, Celia. He tells her that he plans to buy a restaurant whose owner just died at the beginning of the year when he has saved enough to do so. She teases him that nobody will eat somewhere that someone died. He retorts that someone has probably died in the house where she lives and he denies it. She gest up to get food and his young daughter Maria asks him why he is smiling.
Sam is once again by himself talking to Al. Al asks Sam why is not out there “acting my age.” Al says he will always feel sixteen in his heart because a lot of good things happened to him when he was sixteen. Sam speculates to Al that he lost his virginity at sixteen and Al is discombobulated by Sam thinking it would take him so long to lose his virginity. Sam tells Al that he doubts Chuey would throw the game. Al insists that this is what happens but tells Sam that the reason why is “locked in the human heart.”
Inside the house, Celia is getting food. A man named Ruben enters the house. She protests his presence there. We find out that she has been borrowing a lot of money from Ruben to pay her rent. She cries and says she does not have the money. He stands close to her and tells her that she has other ways to pay him. He tries to kiss her and she says “por favor.” She pushes him away and offers to give him a check. Incensed, he grabs her by the hair and tells her that he wants the money by noon tomorrow. She pleads with him that she will get paid money she is owed this week and agrees to let him, uh, take payment from her in other ways if she is not paid.
Chuey calls out for his mom and asks what is taking her so long. He enters the kitchen. Ruben and Celia have moved apart. He asks Ruben if he bet on his team. Sam follows him inside, too. Ruben says that he won $1,000 on them. Ruben then tells Chuey to let him know if anyone on his team gets injured during the week. Sam protests and says Chuey cannot do that because it would endanger his scholarship opportunities. Ruben leaves but at the door – in the presence of the boys – he tells Celia that she has until Friday and that he expects delivery one way or another.
Chuey asks her what he meant by that and she says that Ruben had asked her to mend shirts for him and she told him that she cannot do it until next week. Sam sees through the lie through Chuey does not. Sam narrates that sometimes in a leap gets gets a feeling in the pit of his stomach that works as a guide more effectively than Ziggy’s data banks. Sam uses this feeling in his stomach to confront Ruben privately before he can leave. Sam tells Ruben to steer clear of Chuey and his mother. After a stare down, Ruben laughs and tells “Eddie” that he has grown up and that he now talks like a man. He ominously then tells Sam that he hopes he is ready to be treated like a man, too.
Sam tries to get through practice, learn the plays, and lead calisthenics. He does the last to the tune of La Bamba. Sam is ordered to run laps, by his coach, for doing the calisthenics to music.
While Sam is out running, Ruben approaches Chuey in the locker room. Ruben tells Chuey that his mother is not getting paid by her employers. He tells Ruben that she never told him about the problem. Reuben advises Chuey not to complain to the authorities because his mother is in the country illegally. He then apologizes to Chuey about the fact he will have to kick he and his mother out of their house because of how much money she owes him. Chuey suggests that Ruben bet on his team to win. Ruben tells him that he only bets on sure things and that losing is the sure thing. He says if the team loses, he will call the debts even and that he will even throw in a few months rent-free.
After the conversation ends, Sam enters the locker room. He tells Ruben that he thought he told him to stay away from Chuey and his mother. He and Ruben end up in a huge fight that knocks over some lockers. The coach hears and runs in. He asks who Ruben is. Chuey makes up a story about how Ruben and Eddie/Sam are fighting because they like the same girl. The coach asks if Ruben likes teenagers or if Eddie likes other women. He throws Ruben out of the room and threatens him if he ever comes back into the locker room. He then complains to his star players about how they might have injured themselves and he threatens to suspend Eddie and Chuey if he ever catches them at something like this again. When the coach and Ruben are both gone, Sam confronts Chuey. Chuey advises him not to throw the ball in his direction during the championship game.
The next thing that happens is the big game. As far as we know Sam does not have a plan. On the first play, Chuey feigns an injury. We then see a montage of passes from Sam to his wide receivers that are dropped. Al arrives when Sam’s Jaguars are trailing 14-9, with only 23 seconds remaining. Al advises Sam to quit. Sam tells the coach he cannot go back into the game. Chuey witnesses this and tells his friend that he cannot quit. He gets up and re-enters the game and tells Sam/Eddie not to throw him the ball. Al then says that throwing him the ball is exactly what he has to do.
Ruben sees the two boys re-enter the game and looks concerned. Sam calls a play for Chuey. Sam throws the ball to Chuey and draws a defensive pass interference call. As a result, Sam’s Jaguars get to run one more play. The Jaguars run a play action fake off a fullback dive and Sam completes a pass to Chuey to win the game. Ruben is furious.
Sam is at the afterparty and has not leaped yet. Ruben shows up and his men begin removing Celia and Chuey’s things from her renthouse. Manuel – Sam/Eddie’s dad – offers to pay whatever it is that she owes. She refuses and says that he needs the money for the restaurant he plans to be. He tells her the restaurant can wait. Al chimes in to Sam that the restaurant is going to make Manuel a millionaire and that he should not put it off. Sam then suggests to everyone that Chuey moves into his room and Celia moves in with his father.
Chuey: You cannot talk about my mamma like that.
Sam: I can if she’s my momma too.
After a second to think about it, Chuey gets on board. Manuel says that it’s a good idea. Celia likes the idea, too. She wants to marry Manuel. We find out that Celia and Manuel go on to have four more kids together. Ruben threatens to call immigration and Sam tells Chuey that once their parents get married, she will automatically become a citizen, too.
Al advises Sam to “do it” and we learn that he means pound Ruben on the shoulders and yell “roar Jaguars” as is the football team tradition.
Sam leaps while doing this.
We got the female narrator intro for the first time in this episode. Nice!
After the extra intensity of “Another Mother” it was a nice relief to have a somewhat lighter episode where the primary challenge has dipped all the way down to gambling debts, sex for debt repayment, homelessness, and deportation. But hey, at least we’re doing it while listening to La Bamba?
Actually, outside of the icky scene between Ruben and Celia in the kitchen, this episode did feel lighter. I think that was probably because Al was so calm and cheerful throughout. The audience mood (me) feels like it mirror’s Al’s reaction to whatever is going on. If Al is calm, so am I. He was calm throughout. When Al is panicking in a murder van (such as was the cast last episode) then I panic, too. In addition to a calm Al, the upbeat music aided the feeling of “lightness” to what is otherwise a dark episode if you look only at the description of the circumstances. Who is going to feel the weight of an episode while listening to Tequila by The Champs? Not I. Not I.
Overall I enjoyed the episode. There was a serious problem. Most of the characters were realistic and reacted that way. Sam solved the problem believably. The story pacing was great.
My biggest gripe with this episode is that Sam became a successful imitation of a Quarterback getting good college offers in the span of a day or two. Did Dr. Beckett play football growing up? If so, it was not mentioned. Either way, I liked the gutsy fake handoff on the goal line. Nice catch by Chuey, too.