Welcome back to my episode-by-episode recap of and reaction to Quantum Leap. The spoilers ahead are only through this episode. I provide a short summary at the top, a long and much more thorough recap below that, and a reaction section at the bottom.
My previous episode recaps can be found HERE.
THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:
Sam leaps into Philip Dumont. Philip is on a cruise ship and working with an eleven year old girl named Jennifer to win back Jennifer’s older sister Catherine and stop her wedding to the nefarious felon Vinnie the Viper the following day. Catherine is marrying Vinnie in large part at her father’s behest because Vinnie offered to buy her father’s failing company out of its debt.
Sam struggles to find opportunities to talk with Catherine. He arranges a tango with her, in full view of her soon-to-be husband, and during the tango arranges another midnight meeting with her on the cruise ship’s swimming pool. At the second meeting, he tells her her happiness matters as much as her obligation to her family. After the meeting, Vinnie’s goon ties Sam up and attempts to murder him by tossing him into the cruise ship’s garbage on its exit path into the ocean. Sam manages to escape and climb out but not in time to interrupt the wedding. Fortunately, Catherine interrupts the wedding herself. Sam shows up after she has done so, covered in trash, and reports that Vinnie tried to murder him. A small fight ensues wherein Sam and Catherine’s father subdue Vinnie and his goon. Catherine and Sam kiss, despite his horrible smell, and Sam leaps away.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP AND REACTION:
[I’m going to start thinking really hard about my life and whether I may have ever unknowingly interacted with Dr. Sam Beckett.]
Sam leaps into someone on a boat. He looks out the window and sees the Statue of Liberty. There is a bouquet of flowers in the room with a note attached.
“I have not yet begun to fight.” – J
Standing next to the door, and muttering about John Paul Jones, the door into the room bursts open, hitting Sam, and knocking him into the wall. The woman who burst in kisses him vigorously then slaps him.
Woman: Why the h*** are you here?
Sam: Oooh, boy.
June 3, 1954
The woman is talking quickly and is obviously overwhelmed with emotion. She tells him he was supposed to be dead though she knew it was not true. She then asks him why he did not come home and Sam does not know how to answer. She tells him that one day, she got a letter saying he was swept away while on Bora Bora and stranded on some island. She knew it was not true. She calls him Philip and asks if he thinks that she still loves him then she says she does not before he can answer. She says she will get married tomorrow, that there is nothing he can do to stop her, and then she tells him to get out of her room. Sam interjects that he believes this is his room. She says she will escort herself out.
Suddenly we hear knocking on the door. She identifies the voice as belonging to her father. She tells Sam/Philip to do something. She hides herself in Philip’s closet. Sam opens the door, just as the woman’s father tries to knock him down, thus causing him to topple onto the floor. Philip’s last name must be Dumont because the woman’s father continues to refer to him that way. He asks why he is on the boat and Sam suggests that it is a coincidence. The woman’s father bemoans that Philip married his daughter and then left her, and he bemoans the psychiatrist’s bills caused after Philip ran away. He warns Sam/Philip not to show one hair of himself in and around the wedding or else. He demonstrates the or else by punching Sam in the face and knocking him to the floor. While Sam is on the floor, another person opens the door to his room and hits him with the door upon entering.
The person entering the room is carrying flowers. He tells Sam, who is lying on the ground, that Miss Farrington refused to accept the flowers so the concierge suggested sending them back to his room. Her father now know Sam/Philip’s presence on the boat is not a coincidence and he challenges Sam to a fist fight. Al appears. He tells Sam that he needs to prevent Catherine from marrying Vinnie the Viper. Sam repeats that name out loud and outrages Catherine’s father. Al tells Sam that Vincent Loggia has a habit of using people as cement additives. Sam suggests to Catherine’s father that Vincent might not be as reputable as he believes and the father retorts.
Why? Because he is willing to Farrington Nautical and help pull it out of the red?
Sam convinces the flower carriers to return the flowers to Catherine. He tells her father that they are a token of his wish for her to have a happy life. He further promises not to interfere in the wedding.
Sam: You have my solemn word of honor.
Father: Honor? You have no honor. You’re not Harvard.
After everyone appears to leave, Al explains to Sam that when Philip was marooned at sea, Catherine’s father convinced her that Philip was dead and then he had their marriage annulled. They hear knocking. Sam quietly approaches the door to his room. He carefully opens it so that he cannot be knocked over by it. Nobody is there. Then Sam realizes the knocking is from Catherine in the closet. He opens the door and she tumbles out.
Catherine is hyperventilating. Sam advises her to take long slow breathes and she says that she cannot because the dress is too tight . Al leers at Catherine and advises Sam to unbutton her dress. He bemoans his inability to help. Catherine asks Sam who he was talking to after her father left and he tells her that he has a bad habit of talking to himself. She asks Sam why he is there. Al tells Sam that originally Philip is unable to break up the wedding and commits suicide. Catherine was unable to get over his suicide and dies of a broken heart two years later.
Instead of waiting for an explanation for why he is there, Catherine tells Sam that he is too late. She advises him to jump off the ship and swim back to New York.
Al: Maybe that’s exactly what the poor devil did.
Al: He committed suicide by jumping off the ship.
Sam: Oh, come on, Al. People don’t jump off a ship for unrequited love.
Al: No. But for true love…
Sam: True love?
Al: Yeah. I mean, it only happens once in a lifetime and you have to be lucky.
Sam asks Al he he would know and then immediately apologizes saying that. He says given the number of attempts to find true love, Al must have lucked out at least once. Al says that he had true love for one brief moment. Sam asks if Al forgot to get her number and Al says, no, he married her. Sam asks, if she was so perfect, why Al is no longer married and Al sidesteps the question saying it’s not important.
Sam agrees to help stop the wedding. His plan is to tell the Farringtons about Vinnie’s underworld dealings. He thinks this will get the wedding called off, allowing him to leap out, and then allowing Philip to leap back in so that he can win over his own true love himself. Al says that his instincts tell him that all of this will not be that simple.
Someone else knocks at the door. A young woman, in her early teens, I think, enters the room. She is wearing sunglasses, a long coat, and a fedora. She reports that everything is going according to plan. Al tells Sam that this must be Catherine’s little sister Jennifer. Jennifer reports to Sam that Catherine is in her room, miserable and confused. She also tells him that she overheard Vinnie the Viper talking to someone and telling him that if Sam/Philip takes one step toward Cate he would have Philip chopped into little pieces and fed to the fishes. Al suggests to Sam that maybe Philip did not commit suicide after all.
Sam suggests that maybe this is not a good idea. He asks the sister, if Catherine loves him, why she slapped him. While Al says that means she loves him, the sister says that he is the only person who can get her that impassioned.
Jennifer: Falling in love with you was the only thing she ever did right in her life.
She begs him to talk to Catherine again and Sam reluctantly agrees. She hugs him and tells him how glad she is that he is there. Sam sends her out. After she leaves, Al tells him that Ziggy says there is a 96% chance that his mission is to get Vinnie the Viper out of Catherine’s life without simultaneously ending Philip’s life. Al suggests to Sam that Catherine is still in love with Philip. He tells Sam that he needs to convince her that Philip is still in love with her. She has to be convinced, according to Al, so that she will believe him when he gives the low-down on Vinnie. Al then leaves to go and get said low down.
Catherine’s father and sister, Vinnie, Vinnie’s father, and another man are all in a room together. Catherine is in an adjacent room asking everyone to leave her alone. Vinnie’s father is bemoaning the lack of respect and Vinnie assures everyone that he will have a long talk with Catherine after their wedding. Vinnie approaches Catherine’s door.
Vinnie: Fair Catherine. We await you like the day awaits the sun. Besides, if you don’t come out I’m tearing the door down.
Vinnie: [furiously slams his hand on the door] Get the h*** out here!
Sister: That will make her rush right into your arms.
Catherine’s father intervenes and tells a story of how Marian, Catherine’s mother, did practically the same thing the night before their wedding. Vinnie tells Weathers (Catherine’s father) that they are sitting down for dinner in seven minutes and that he expects he and his women there, and in control. In a threatening tone, he asks him if they understand each other.
After Vinnie and his father leave, Weathers comes back in. Marian, his wife, asks him how they can be doing this to their little Cate.
Weathers: Doing what?
Sister: Feeding her to the Romans.
Weathers: It’s lions and we’re not feeding her to the lions. It’s a wedding.
Catherine comes out and asks if they are gone. Her sister says, other than the smell, yes they are gone. Catherine tells her father that she does not believe she can go through with the wedding. he says she is a Farrington and therefore she can go through with anything. Catherine continues, saying she does not think she’s in love with Vinnie and her father replies saying that marriage is not only about love. He sends Jennifer and his wife out of the room so that he can talk alone with Catherine.
Alone, he asks if Catherine likes Vincent and tells her that Vincent likes her before awaiting a reply. Catherine replies that Vincent likes that she is blonde and speaks English. Her father tells her that the family business is about to go under and Vincent has offered to buy them out.
Catherine: Is that why he’s the first man you’ve ever approved of?
Her father tells her Vincent will take care of her and that with the sale of the company he will be able to continue taking care of her mother and Jenny the way that he did Catherine as a girl. She says that she wants Jenny to have the same opportunities that she did. However, she really believes that she should love the person she marries.
Weathers: Like Philip? I remember that week after week you cried and there was nothing I could do to take the hurt away.
Weathers tells Catherine that she will learn to love Vincent. She seems to accept this and goes to get ready for dinner. Alone, her father seems to struggle with what he has just done.
Sam is dressed up and sitting alone when Al appears. Sam tells Al that Catherine refused to talk to him. He then describes the numerous ways he has tried to talk to her and the numerous ways in which she has rebuffed him. Jenny has acquired Sam a key to the midnight pool, though Sam does not believe that Catherine will meet him there. Al asks Sam how he can be completely intimate with someone in a room full of people?
In a large dining hall, we see a man singing to the gathered crowd that includes the wedding rehearsal party. Sam pulls the singer aside and requests that he play a tango. He then marches over to Catherine and pulls her into a dance. Vincent and another man are staring daggers at Sam while Catherine is telling him, as they dance, that she has nothin to say to him.
Vincent tells his friend that he will kill Sam/Philip and asks the friend to give him a gun. The friend says that he cannot give him a gun, especially in the open where the are located. Sam tells Catherine to meet him in the first class pool at midnight and tells her that Jenny has a key. She agrees to meet him if he agrees, in turn, to leave her alone after.
Sam dances himself off the dance floor, alone, and is met by Vincent and his friend. Vinnie the Viper tells Sam that the dance just cost him his life. He orders him to go outside. On the edge of the boat, the three men discuss shooting Sam and Sam in turns requests that they talk instead. Vinnie tells him that he does not want Catherine confused by stuff from her past and Sam replies that he merely wants to be certain that Catherine is not confused about her present.
Vinnie: Why does that sound like you’re not gonna go away?
Sam: Because, maybe, I can’t.
Vinnie makes Sam an offer. He stays out of the way of Catherine and her entire family or he dies.
Sam: It sounds like you’re making me an offer I can’t refuse.
Vinnie: An offer you can’t refuse? I like that.
Sam tells Vinnie that Catherine is the only one who can tell him to go away and Vinnie decides to go ahead and kill Sam right away. Just then, though, the ship’s Captain appears and Sam asks him for a tour of the bridge. The Captain knows that Philip is a sailor and asks him about his adventure in Bora Bora and Sam offers to plot him the course in the bridge. He tells Vinnie and his goon good night and parts ways. Vinnie tells his good to follow them.
On the bridge, Sam tells the Captain that Vinnie is a three times convicted felon. He further tells the Captain the Vinnie plans to kill him. He asks the Captain to get a cable of the police records to prove his claims. The captain agrees but states his suspicious that this is a ruse to prevent Vinnie from marrying his ex-wife. They put that aside quickly, once agreed, and Sam is forced to explain how he survived Bora Bora.
Later, at the swimming pool, Catherine has not arrived. Sam is nervous that she will not show up. Al is complaining about the amount of trash that the ship is putting out into the ocean. He is very upset about the poisoning of the ocean. Someone knocks on the door.
Jennifer enters and tells him that he is not ready. She asks where his trunks are and he tells her that he could not find them. She retrieves swimming trunks for him from a closet. Jennifer advises Sam, when Catherine arrives, to not even look at her.
Jenny: Just tell her your side of the story and then leave.
On her way out of the room, she advises him to wear the blue trunks because he looks smashing in blue.
Back in Catherine’s room, Jennifer is advising her older sister to get in the pool, swim a few laps, and let Sam/Philip say whatever he has to say. She tells Catherine that when two people are in love they at least deserve the opportunity to say goodbye.
Catherine: What do you know, you’re only eleven.
Jennifer: I’m young Cate, not stupid.
Jennifer is insistent that hearing what Philip has to say is the only way Cate can get him out of her system. This seems to resonate with her older sister.
Down at the pool, Sam and Catherine discover together that the pool has no water in it. Catherine asks why tonight should be any different than the rest of their relationship. Sam asks her if she loves Vincent and when she evades the question, he tells her that he cannot let her marry someone she is not in love with. She tells him that she wishes she could go back in time and be more comfortable with his lack of affluence when they first married. She says, though, that she cannot go back. She tells him she has obligations to her family and Sam tells her that while she should always love her family, the obligation does not extend to being unhappy. Catherine tells Sam/Philip that she loved him more than anyone else in her whole life, she kisses him, but then she says it is too late.
Catherine: I don’t love you anymore Philip. I cannot afford to.
She runs away and Sam chases her. In the hallway, Vinnie’s henchman stop Sam and points a pistol at him.
On the day of the wedding, Catherine is frantically getting ready. Jenny is also dressed and cannot find Sam/Philip anywhere. She has been looking for an hour. Marian, their mother, explains that Sam/Philip probably just wanted to be alone and that it is hard to give up someone you love even if you know giving them up is best. She also lets slip that when she was getting married, she experienced a similar situation with a young man named Teddy. She loved Teddy and her own father did not approve. She tells Catherine and Jennifer that she does not regret marrying their father at all but she will also never forget the look on Teddy’s face the night they said goodbye.
She tells them to freshen up and that she will be right back. After Marian leaves, Jennifer asks her older sister if she can marry Philip herself when she is older and Catherine tells her that she hopes Jennifer marries whomever her heart desires.
In the next scene, we find Sam shirtless and hanging by his arms off the ground. Sam tells Vinnie that if protecting Catherine from him is a crime, he will eventually have to kill everyone she loves. Vinnie agrees that he cannot kill everyone but states that he can kill Sam. He then cuts the rope from which Sam is suspended and watches him fall down into the garbage on the ship. Vinnie’s henchman pushes a button which begins to dump the trash from the ship and into the water.
Al appears. He tells Sam that by the year 200, there will be 18 billion tons of trash in the ocean and that does not include China. Sam is preoccupied with his situation in the garbage. Al advises him to pile up trash high on one side of the bin he is trapped in so that he can stand on it and grab a grate to pull himself out. Sam says that he cannot move his arms and Al tells him that he has to move them. Sam tries. He tells Al that it’s too high.
The wedding ceremony is beginning. We cut back and forth as the ceremony is starting and Sam is trying to climb out. In desperation, Sam asks Al to throw him a rope and is reminded that Al is a hologram. Jennifer is at the ceremony looking around and quite concerned. In the trash, Al directs Sam toward some lower hanging chains as we see trash begin dumping into the ocean. Sam cannot grab the chain on his first try. Al notices an umbrella in the garbage. He advises Sam to use that to hook onto the chain and pull himself up. Sam succeeds in getting the umbrella handle onto the chain. However, his weight breaks the chain loose and Sam only barely avoids falling out of the ship and into the water. He grabs the portion of the chain that broke loose and begins pulling himself up again, hoping his weight does not pull the rest of the chain free from the wall.
Inside at the wedding ceremony, the officiant asks the couple if they promise to love, honor, and care for one another for as long as they both shall live. The officiant asks for objections and Al gives one. Of course, nobody hears. Al calls for Sam and we do not see him. Suddenly Catherine pulls off her veil and says “wait.” She tells Vincent she does not love him. Her father says that if she does not want to marry him, he will not attempt to change her mind. Vincent – in a very De Niro type of way – tells him that this is a big mistake.
Sam arrives. He says it’s not a mistake and he asks the Captain to arrest Vinnie for attempted murder. The Captain says that he will have to confine both men to their quarters until he can determine what happened. Vinnie states that he will not be confined anywhere and a fist fight ensues. Sam takes out one guy and Weathers Farrington takes out another.
Catherine runs over to Sam, tells him that he smells horrible, and then she kisses him. Al tells him that Philip and Catherine end up having six kids. He also tells him that Jenny eventually writes a murder mystery about his time in Bora Bora and that the book becomes a runaway best-seller. Sam and Jenny make enough money to keep the family going until the cruise business makes a comeback in the 1970s.
As Catherine is kissing Sam, Jennifer says “Don’t you just love happy endings” and Sam leaps away. He arrives in the body of a woman.
Sam: Oh no no no no. Not the heels. Not a woman again! Oh boy.
This episode of Quantum Leap fell probably most strongly into the comedy sub-genre. It’s a strength and a weakness of the show, IMO, that week to week it might be a comedy, drama, sci-fi, or action/adventure show. The strength is that it gives the writers a lot of room to work but the weakness is losing itself. For the most part, I felt like the writers in this episode did a good job of providing us a comedy while still giving us a Quantum Leap episode.
Scott Bakula got to do more physical comedy than usual. The “hit by the door” gag at the start of the episode went on *just* long enough but not too long. I also liked the callback at the end of the episode to Weathers being a boxing champion. (It actually meant something when he punched Sam in the face to start the episode.)
The plot of the episode felt like something you might see in present day on the Hallmark Network. Catherine is going to marry a villain for the good of the family. A plucky younger sister works with her older sister’s underdog one true love to stop the wedding. The father character inexplicably comes around to the right side of things – after being on the wrong side all episode – at the episode climax. We even find out that everything works out for the family’s finances, too. It’s cheesy but it’s fine.
The main thing I took from this episode is that it teased us about Al’s backstory. He had one true love and for reasons he did not want to get into, he lost her. There is no way we do not revisit that story again. I’m intrigued. The character of Al has gone from odious, to interesting, to the heart of the show. Every layer we peel back on the guy, the better he gets. The writers have managed to do that for him without removing his warts.
My primary gripe about the episode is that it teased events in Bora Bora without telling us really what happened. I want to know more about Philip.