Quantum Leap (Season 3, Ep 35): One Strobe Over the Line

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.


Sam leaps into the body of Karl, a high fashion photographer. He must prevent one of his models, Edie, from dying of a drug overdoes in three days. He learns along the way that Edie’s manager Helen is her amphetamines supplier. After he convinces Edie to stop taking the pills, Helen slips some into Edie’s coffee when Edie is looking tired during a shoot.

Sam manages to help Edie stay alive until help comes. A couple of days later, he helps Edie return to Indiana to pursue a career as a veterinarian.


Sam leaps into a photographer doing a photoshoot that involves a live lion. Oh boy.

June 15,1965

In the hubbub of the photoshoot, Sam sneaks away to see what he now looks like in a mirror. One of the women there sees him do this, calls him Karl, and says that self-obsession is positively boring. Sam pretends that he is adjusting the lighting, but falls over, just as the model asks if this will be long, telling him that her feet are killing her. Sam uses this as an excuse to call for a break and she thanks him.

Elsewhere, a man in glasses is complaining to a woman, about the model going on break, saying that she has been acting strangely for a couple of days, adding that favors for only old time’s sake can only go so far. He insists that he is not paying for reshoots before adding that maybe they should have gone with Cheryl Tiegs or Twiggy. The woman finally replies to him that Edie is fine, but is just a little tired.

After they talk, the woman finds the model, Edie, and asks how she is feeling. Edie says she is fine, but tired, and the woman replies that Edie looks like a country girl who is tired from a long day milking cows, and then she informs Edie that Byron is about two heartbeats away from calling and having her replaced by Cheryl Tiegs. The woman tells her to get out there and show some shine, and Edie replies flatly that she has been shining all day. The woman tells her that she does not know what Edie’s problem is, but gives her pills to take, to help.

Edie: Helen, I can’t take them anymore. I don’t sleep. I don’t eat. They’re really screwing me up.
Helen: In case you have forgotten, a lot of people have paid you a mountain of money to look good.

Helen proceeds to bully and butter up Edie until she relents and takes the pills.

Sam, posing as a photographer, struggles through the photoshoot before finally – abruptly – calling it finished. Byron, the advertiser paying for the shoot is initially angry that Sam is finished, but Helen intervenes and thanks Sam for saving Byron money. Byron walks around exuberantly thanking everyone. Edie, who is visibly struggling with the pills she has taken, asks Sam/Karl for a ride home and he agrees to give her one.

In Edie’s apartment, Sam carries her things in and sees her cats. As she pets them, he tells her about having two cats on the farm he grew up on. She is surprised that he grew up on a farm, too, and says she thought he grew up in Queens. Sam backtracks quickly and explains that the farm belonged to his cousin’s family and that he visited often. Edie tells Sam that she wanted the cats, to remind her of home, and after he asks if the obviously small apartment gets crowded, between her and her cats, she explains that she could afford a bigger place but is saving her money to eventually move back home and buy her father all the farm equipment he wants.

Sam again puts his foot in his mouth by displaying too much knowledge about combines, but again Edie lets it pass. She continues, saying that she also plans to use her modeling money to send her sister to college. She says her sister will be the first member of the Lansdale family to go. When Sam asks what she plans to spend on herself, she hesitantly says she has thought about going back to school to become a veterinarian. She says she wants to know how to take care of her cat, Wooster, when he’s old and gray. Then she tells the story of moving to New York. After a while of back and forth, with Sam awkwardly flirting with Edie, she tells him that if it were not for Helen, she likely would have ended up like Wooster.

Later, Sam finds Al staring at an over-sized photo of Edie. After explaining that he has to do a photo shoot the next day, Al quips that he wishes it were for Playboy. Sam chides him so Al returns to business and tells Sam his task. Al tells Sam about his host, how he is a high fashion photographer for all of the big publications, and says that all he has to do is walk around with attitude and get his assistant to set his equipment up. Sam says that maybe he should let the assistant take the pictures, also, and Al calls him crazy for missing the opportunity to work with all the girls. Sam replies that he cannot believe he is here just to do a high fashion spread. After Sam pushes Al for more information, they learn via Ziggy that Edie overdoses on a combination of pills and alcohol three days from now.

The next day at the photoshoot, Al helps Sam with the set decoration, making the explanation that he used to attend photoshoots in the 60s with a buddy who was a photographer. Sam starts gesticulating, and whispering loudly with Al, to the point that other people take notice and try to convince him to get started. Al tells him that photography in this arena is 90 percent attitude and 10 percent talent. Just then, Edie asks Sam/Karl’s opinion about a color she wants to wear, and Sam gives a very attitude-less answer about wearing blue. After she goes, with Sam clearly developing some feelings for her, Al reminds Sam to keep an eye on her. As he says this, he ogles another model as she walks by.

We get a montage of Sam at the photoshoot. He develops confidence – or false confidence built on Al’s coaching – throughout the shoot. After a while, Al notices that Edie does not look right and suggests to Sam that they take a break. As the models split up, we see Helen follow Edie with a bottle of pills.

Helen: Close your eyes and put out your hand.
Edie: Come on, you promised.
Helen: I know, but I had my fingers crossed.

Edie takes the pills as Sam and Al look on, not seeming to realize what she has just done. They finish up the photoshoot after, with Sam telling his assistant to release a bunch of caged birds, on the set, and asking the models to reach up as if to grab them.

That night, at a dinner, Sam’s host Karl is famous for his stories, so Al has to feed Sam with interesting stories for the table. Sam notices that Edie is not eating, and asks her about it. She sternly replies that she is not hungry. Al tells Sam that when someone does a lot of amphetamines, they lose their appetite. Sam is told that he has a phone call, but when he gets up to answer, he finds Helen, who had stepped away from the table a moment earlier, and she aggressively tries to kiss him after saying “ding-a-ling.”

Sam pushes her away and Helen accuses him of dumping her for Edie. Sam says he was tired the night before, and just went home to sleep. She insists that he prove that he is telling the truth by “doing it, right here, right now” and she thing throws herself at him again. As Sam kind of tries to push her off, Al walks in and sees them.

Al: This was always my favorite part of modeling, actually.

Helen finally pulls away and calls Sam a snake. She tells him to enjoy it while he can. When Sam asks what she means, Helen replies that Edie might be younger and prettier, but says she will not be for long. Helen threatens Sam/Karl by saying she will turn off Edie’s spigot of pills if he does not give her up.

Helen: You maybe she might accidentally take one too many one day.

Sam grabs her roughly and tells her to not even think about it. She laughs and when he says he is not kidding, she shouts that she is not, either.

When they return to the table, Sam tells Edie that he thinks it’s time to go. Helen snaps at him to leave her alone, quieting the table. She tries to recover, laughing, and reminding him that Edie is over 18. Sam counters by saying that he does not want her to look over 80 and says she will if she does not get some rest. Helen relents and Sam leaves with Edie.

Back at Edie’s apartment, she offers him a drink, and when he says that he doesn’t think that’s a good idea, she asks what he is talking about. When Sam tells her that he knows about the pills, Edie denies it, but Sam counters by telling her he heard about her taking them from Helen. Edie finally admits that she takes them, and wants to quit, but says that she is so tired when she wakes up in the morning that she tells herself she can get by with taking one or two.

Edie: But then it’s three or four, and then I need more to put me to sleep. But then And then I… I wake up tired again, and I have a job. And Helen says I have to get up for it or I’ll lose it. And I can’t lose this job bcause then I have to go back and…

Sam hugs her. She resists initially before accepting. He tells her that Helen is not her friend. Edie insists that she needs the pills to do the job and he tells her that she does not. He promises to help her but adds that she really has to want to beat it.

The following morning, Sam is in her apartment and he has made breakfast. She does not want to eat but he insists and says she will need to keep her strength up. A little while later, she is going through withdrawals, and begins complaining about the temperature in the apartment being too cold. He tries to give her his coat but she says it is too scratchy. Later, apparently hours later, while Sam is watching television, Edie accuses him of talking to someone.

Al appears and tells Sam that Edie is having hallucinations and that those are usually accompanied by paranoia. She insists to Sam that she heard someone in their apartment, talking with Sam about her. Al and Sam look at each other and Al speaks asking if she can hear him. Sam asks if she can hear anything and she says no. Al tells Sam that three years ago, Helen’s top model nearly died from an overdose of pills and Al says that they can both guess where the pills came from. He says Helen should be put away.

Al leaves and tells Sam that he is going to consult with Ziggy to see if they can determine the exact time that Edie OD’d.

That night, as Sam is sleeping, and keeping an eye on Edie, she begins a quiet hunt in her apartment for amphetamines. She goes through drawers and cabinets, getting increasingly loud as she does, before finally finding some pills hidden inside a dish in a kitchen cabinet. Sam appears next to her and wrestles them away from her.

[Note: This scene is super uncomfortable to watch because his efforts to overpower her, and her cries of “no” very much resemeble a sexual assault.]

When Sam finally pins Edie down to the floor, his body on hers, she kisses him. She says she wants this as Sam tells her that she does not. Edie then taunts him, asking whether he does not want to, or cannot, speculating that maybe he does not even like girls. Sam responds to this by picking her up, carrying her to her bed, throwing her on the bed, and then kissing her vigorously. He stops himself, tells her to go to sleep, and then leaves the room.

Monday morning, Edie finds Sam in her living room, and he asks if she is ready for the photo shoot. She tells him that the shoot is not until Monday, but he replies that today is Monday, and that she slept through Sunday.

During the photoshoot, Sam notes quietly to Al that Edie appears to be getting tired. Al asks him how much more he has to shoot today and Sam says there are three more locations. Al suggests that he pray for rain. Separately, Helen is pulled aside by Byron and the ad men behind the campaign, and asked if Edie is feeling okay. When she says Edie is fine, one of them men says that she does not look fine and he suggests calling a separate agency to get Cheryl Tiegs to finish the shoot. Helen promises a man named Frank that she will go and have a little pep talk with Edie.

Helen tells Edie that she looks like crap, and she says that she will not let the other woman take everything she has worked hard to get. She shoves pills into Edie’s hands. Edie tells her no and calls out to Sam/Karl asking for more coffee.

Helen: Forget about your job. Forget about helping your father and your sister. Forget about me. Just throw it all away. Be selfish. Think only about Edie. Nobody else matters. We’re just nothing.

Edie calls out again to Sam/Karl for coffee and he tells her it is coming up. Helen walks away, telling her the name “Cheryl Tiegs” as she goes. Sam brings the coffee, but when he turns his back to go get two sugars for it, Helen surreptitiously drops the amphetamines into Edie’s coffee. She drinks it, not knowing what is in it.

Later, with a live lion as part of the shoot, Edie begins acting recklessly with it, splashing it in the face with water until it becomes agitated. The lion finally has enough and pounces on a crew member and pandemonium ensues. She runs, the lion chases after her, and eventually knocks her to the ground. She manages to get away and run from it some more. As the lion has her cornered, she begins to overdose.

Al: Sam it’s happening now! Somebody must’ve slipped something into her coffee.

Sam approaches the lion with a chair and calmly backs it up using the chair legs to push at it. The lion complies. Just then, the lion’s trainer comes to take it and guide it away. Safe from the lion, Sam turns his attention to Edie just as Helen runs up.

Sam: [to Helen] You put something in her coffee, didn’t you?
Helen: No, I didn’t give her anything.
Sam: Like you didn’t give anything to Yvonne Moncrief? If Edie dies, that’s murder. And I’ll make sure that it sticks. Now, what did you give her? Come on!
Helen: I g-gave her some black beauties and some doors and fours.

Al tells Sam that’s a mix of uppers and downers. He tells Sam that she is relaxing so much that her heart is going to stop, so Sam gets her to her feet to make her walk. Sam tells crew members to call a hospital to send an ambulance. He sends everyone away and he tries to make Edie walk, to keep her heart going. He talks to her about where she wants to go, to be a vet, and she tells him she wants to go to Indiana. Edie is from Coopertown, which is not far from Elk Ridge, where Sam is from. He talks to her about her hometown. As Sam walks with her, Al gives reports to him about her likelihood of survival. The more they walk, the more that her odds go up.

Later, we see Edie leaving in an ambulance, but she is going to survive. Helen tries to tell the men at the shoot that she has other models they can use, but they all now seem disgusted with her. One by one, they all walk away from her as she pleads with them to let her find another model for the project. Eventually, she is alone with Sam/Karl and starts shouting that she she does not care and that she does not need any of them.

Helen: I created her and I can create somebody else.

As she mutters to herself about how she can do all of this again, Sam walks away and Al disappears.

Days later, Edie visits Sam at his/Karl’s apartment. He tells her that she is going to miss her plane. She tells him that she wanted to stop by and thank him for everything. As she apologizes for being stupid, he tells her that she isn’t stupid, and that she just got tired and made some bad choices. Edie walks to the door and asks if he ever goes back to Indiana to visit his cousin. She says if she ever runs into him that she will say hello.

Edie: What’s his name?
Sam: Sam. Sam Beckett.

She kisses him goodbye and then leaves. After she goes, Al tells Sam that everything with Edie works out fine. Sam replies that he already knows that because she is going home. He repeats, just a little wistfully, that she is going home just before he leaps.


Did Sam give his real life self an opportunity to meet a fashion model? Yes. Yes he did. Did he change his own timeline again? Well… we do not know. As far as I am aware, he is still eventually going to marry the character played by Terri Hatcher in season 1.

This is kind of a filler episode, but its primary guest star helps to accentuate Sam’s desire to leap home. To that extent it was pretty good. She is from his home state, from a town not far away, grew up on a farm like he did, and wants to pursue a career he is familiar with. He found “home” in an unlikely place and helped someone else leap home – even if he cannot do that for himself.

I enjoyed the guest stars. Helen was a Disney-level villain but Susan Anton managed to give her some depth that almost leaves you feeling bad for her, despite how evil she is. She managed to deliver a Helen that seems redeemable in spite of her actions. Helen needed help from a leaping Sam as much as Edie did – but Sam did not spend any time helping Helen to be a better person. It’s not beyond imaging within the episode that had Sam’s goal been different, he might have saved Edie by saving Helen. [All of that said, it’s bizarre that Helen suffers no real consequences as the episode ends. She seems to have at least one murder in her past and nearly committed a second one in the episode. It feels likely that she will do exactly what she said and just repeat her behavior.]

Marjorie Monaghan was great as Edie, too. She had a pretty meaty monologue about why she cannot give up her pills and I thought it was moving and effective.

The scene with Sam wrestling pills away from Edie was… uncomfortable. The story and the way it was filmed had a very sexual undercurrent. Sam carrying her to the bed, and then kissing her, before stopping himself… that moment was weirdly rapey. He obviously didn’t do it but the story put its toe in the water. She clearly – to the audience – did not have the capacity to consent, but she was coherent enough to make the scene confusing for Sam as to that point. As the episode ends, she asks why he did not do it, that night, and he sheepishly says he wanted to instead of assertively saying that it would have been wrong. Is that in character for Sam? I’m not sure. Season 1 Sam probably sleeps with her. Season 2 Sam maybe delivers a sermon. Season 3 Sam is missing home and seems just a touch less morally certain of himself.

Then… he kind of sets his real life self up to meet this model who is predisposed to thinking well of him. (Of course, real life Sam Beckett will have no idea who Karl is.)

My favorite scene in the episode was the lion chasing scene. It managed to combine a lot of circumstantial silliness with high stakes.

All in all, this was a pretty good episode, if not quite up to the same level that the first three episodes this season reached.

4 thoughts on “Quantum Leap (Season 3, Ep 35): One Strobe Over the Line

  1. If this ever goes up on Prime or FreeVee, I’ll definitely be watching it. Your reviews have shown me that I would have liked this show back in the day so chances are pretty good I’ll like it now 🙂

    1. I’m watching it on the Roku app for free. I assume it will end up on Peacock at some point since I think NBC is doing the reboot.

      Yeah, it’s a good one to re-watch. Even in the places where I have problems with it, I usually think the writers were trying to convey something complex, or interesting, and just misfired. So even the bad episodes or scenes have some value.

      Season 1 is pretty bad, though, but it is fortunately quite short.

      1. Yeah. It goes by fast, and I’d guess that is true in particular if you’re not trying to take super in-depth notes of what you’re watching, while you watch it.

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