Quantum Leap (Season 3, Ep 46): Piano Man

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 Joey, a lounge singer, who has been on the run from the mob for three years since witnessing a murder committed by a mobster named Nicky. Joey disappeared and went into hiding without letting his deeply unlucky girlfriend Lorraine know the reasons why. The episode begins as she finally tracks him down, at the urging of her new boyfriend Carl, so that they can put the past behind them once and for all. From there, the murder attempts begin and are narrowly averted.

Sam finally figures out that Lorraine’s new boyfriend Carl is using her – without her knowledge – to have them followed. Carl’s real name is Nicky and he committed the murder that Sam/Joey witnessed three years earlier. During their confrontation, Lorraine is pushed, accidentally tugs on a rope holding a heavy piece of machinery, and said machinery falls on Nicky, killing him. Joey and Lorraine reunite as the episode ends.


Sam leaps into a man in the middle of a piano gig and is almost immediately accosted by a teary blonde woman that he doesn’t know and isn’t sure actually knows him. He soon discovers that she tracked him down because they had an act together and had been dating until three years ago when he up and vanishes on her. She’s engaged but her concerned fiancé wants to make sure that she has no unresolved feelings for her ex (which she does) so she tracks him down to find some closure.

Ziggy can’t find any information on Sam’s host Chuck Danner but they get a lucky break when Lorraine (Marietta DePrima) mentions that he changed his name and Sam gets her to reveal what his real name is: Joey DeNardo (leapee played by Sam Clay). He left because he witnessed one of his old friends murder another one of them (both of them having joined the mob) and if he stayed then he’d have been killed. Still trying to find his bearings, Sam absently lets the bartender at the club take his car so he can take a girl home with him but the car blows up once they start the ignition.

Now aware that whoever wants to kill Joey is hot on the trail, Sam and Lorraine flee in her car. Lorraine is revealed to be quite accident-prone and they run out of gas right when the man out to kill them is gaining on them. Fortunately, they are able to hide the car in a ditch in time and the next morning get some gas from some passing cowboys.

They bond a little over the piano and Lorraine lets her fiancé know that she’s okay. He wants her to leave when he hears about the danger that she’s in but she refuses to go until she knows that Joey is okay and the sheriff gets there. Al shows up just in time to warn Sam that Nicky’s people get to the diner before the sheriff does and so Lorraine and Sam leave again.

The car gets a flat tire and the spare is unfortunately flat as well so they take the car somewhere to buy a spare tire. Al convinces Sam that the only chance he has of surviving is to ditch Lorraine since she is causing all of their escape problems and all of her last several boyfriends died under bizarre circumstances. She refuses to leave for her own protection and so Sam has to reluctantly break her heart by telling her he doesn’t want her around.

Angrily, Lorraine returns home but Al and Sam’s relief is short-lived when they discover that though Joey lives, Lorraine soon dies. Sam steals a car to chase after her but, running out of time, hits a fork in the road. Sam ignores the probabilities to go with his gut and arrives just in time to tell the frightened Lorraine that the reason her suddenly frantic fiancé is now so obsessed with Joey is because he’s actually Nicky and has been using her to track Joey down.

Sam gets the upper hand on Nicky but Nicky manages to taunt Lorraine into coming closer and he captures her and threatens to break her neck unless Sam hands over his gun and the gun that he took from Nicky. Left with little choice, Sam does so but then Lorraine tugs on a chain and a heavy piece of machinery comes tumbling down and kills Nicky. This leaves Joey and Lorraine free to move to Hawaii and continue their act up until the present.


It’s always nice to throw back the street facing curtains, turn on the fog machine, and let the neighbors know that I’m preparing to watch Quantum Leap.

I really don’t know how I feel about this episode. I’ll work out my feelings while I react, I guess. Sam leaps into Joey to save Joey’s life. As a consequence, though, two innocent people die in the car explosion and two mobsters die in their efforts to kill Joey. Instead of one dead, as per the original timeline, we get four dead, and two of them completely innocent. Does that really set right what once went wrong? The weird thing was that Sam was weirdly comfortable with how everything played out in this episode (whether that be the piano / lounge music to getting shot in the leg, to the excessive deaths of others.)

It was pretty obvious to me that Carl was somehow tipping off the mobsters about Sam and Lorraine’s location. Every time Lorraine called Carl, the hitman showed up moments later. I also thought the gag of Lorraine being a jinx was pushed right up to the edge of being intolerable.

On the other hand, I suppose there probably are some real people out there in the world, like Lorraine, and her “condition” created the opportunity for a fun / redemptive twist ending (well, fun for everyone except Nicky.) Her bad luck ended up saving them. You can also argue that Lorraine is extremely lucky to have been saved by Dr. Sam Beckett. On the topic of Lorraine, more broadly, I’m really curious about the extent to which the QL machine is hampered by neuro-divergency. The episode never puts it that way, but we are told the reason Ziggy can’t track Lorraine’s location is that her brainwaves are not normal. She comes across, throughout the episode, as someone with severe ADHD.

The highlight of this episode for most people will probably be Scott Bakula’s singing performances. He’s definitely musically gifted and I’m sure the show was looking for an opportunity to show off that skill set.

Overall, I’ve decided that despite my complaints, I still mostly enjoyed this episode. The pacing was great, with the tension rising throughout. The action scenes were really well done (car explosion, car chases, car crashes, etc.) and probably pretty costly for the time period. Lorraine – played by Marietta DePrima – was charming in spite of whatever it was that was wrong with her. I think that performance is what really allows the episode to succeed in spite of its issues. I found myself rooting for Lorraine, in spite of Lorraine.

I’m not exactly sure what’s going on with the next leap, but Sam appears to be relocating to a brothel. He was a Chippendales dancer an episode back. Was the show catering to a demographic who felt a certain way about Scott Bakula? Perhaps so.

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