Quantum Leap (Season 3, Ep 48): Glitter Rock

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 a 1974 British glam rocker named Tonic, and has to stop Tonic’s murder. Sam and Al narrow down the suspect list to three, and Sam’s alertness helps him to avoid the attempted stabbing that kills Tonic in real life.


via https://quantumleap.fandom.com/wiki/Glitter_Rock

Sam leaps into Jeffrey “Tonic” Mole, the lead in a KISS-inspired band in the middle of a show. Sam is lost and so fails to perform the songs one of the other band members such as Flash McGrath (played by Jon Gries) wrote, upsetting the man. Sam promises that at the next show he’ll do as he said. Sam sees a strange boy in the crowd staring at him and is a little disturbed.

Al shows up in the middle of Sam having to stop three enthusiastic fans from jumping him and is disgusted by Sam’s inhibitions. Al tells Sam that Tonic is murdered after the band’s next show, after he is stabbed by someone in the crowd also stating the killer was never caught. Sam’s mind immediately jumps to the boy. He asks Al to stay close this leap and Al heads to the kid’s apartment to find out who he is. The apartment is unhelpfully registered to “John Doe” but the kid just happens to throw his wallet so that it lands with his ID face up and Al discovers that he is Philip Silbart.

Al has three theories. one is that Phillip Silbart (Christian Hoff), who’s a teenaged fan of the band and of Tonic. whom, he alleges, is his father from a one-time backstage tyrst with his mother in the late 1950s, might actually be crazed fan who kills Sam, Flash might kill him to become the leader of the band or because his girlfriend Sandy won’t stop trying to jump Sam, and his manager Dwayne is probably embezzling money from them so calling him on it might inspire a murder attempt.

The band throws a party in Sam’s hotel room and he does his best to get through it. Early in the morning, he sees Phillip and confronts him. Phillip claims to be Tonic’s son from a one-night stand a long time ago and claims to want nothing but acknowledgement. Sam is unable to give it to him (despite their similar musical abilities and webbed finger) but Phillip sticks around anyway.

Right before the show, one of the band members cannot find his wig and has to use a different one. Then when Sam is alone in the dressing room, Sandy comes on to Sam again and Flash comes in while they’re in a compromised position (despite Sam trying ardently to push her off) and so he threatens to kill Sam. Since he is supposed to die that night, Sam is taking no chances so he requests to his manager that Flash get a different limo and that they leave out a different door and don’t tell anybody in case the killer is just in the crowd. Sam also confronts Dwayne about the embezzlement but promises to say nothing if Dwayne gives him all of his money and allows Dwayne time to try and fix the finances since he lost a lot on the stock market.

After the concert, Sam is horrified to find out that they are leaving out the original door. He sees Phillip reaching into his pocket and thinks it is a knife but Phillip shouts out “Dad!” to warn him and Sam narrowly misses being stabbed. The would-be killer is revealed to be Dwayne to silence Tonic about the embezzlement. He stole the wig earlier and dressed up as a member of the band so no one would recognize him as the killer.

Once the band and Phillip get back to the hotel and everyone mentions how much they wish they could kill Dwayne for the embezzlement, Sam thanks Phillip for his warning and asks what he was reaching for before the near-stabbing. It turns out that Phillips was going for an old picture of his mom the night that she was supposed to have slept with Tonic and conceived him.

Phillip is crushed to find out that Tonic got his nickname because on the night in question he was in a hospital from too much vodka and tonic. Sam starts to apologize for letting Phillip down but Flash gets a good look at the picture and recognizes the woman from before the concert. The probability is good that Tonic is the dad and he and Phillip bond.

Phillip announces that all he wanted to do was meet his dad and insists that he really didn’t want anything from him but Sam and Flash convince him to stick around and be a roady. Thanks to Tonic giving him his big break, Phillip goes on to later fame.


Al: “Sam, what are you doing! You’re throwing away a perfectly good fan sandwich. Ah, Sam. Sometimes you are just pitiful.”

This episode has a couple of pretty notable guest stars. 1) Peter Noone portrays the band’s embezzling manager. You might remember him as a member of the real life band “Herman’s Hermits.” I’ve got to think that playing the murderous, thieving band manager was a lot of fun for him. 2) Jon Gries. That’s right, Uncle Rico himself is the Brit rock, face-painted Flash, bandmate of Dr. Beckett’s leapee. He’s wearing face paint nearly the entire time, and speaking in a British accent, so if you don’t know, you probably won’t notice.

This episode kind of has the feel of a “Murder, She Wrote” episode, presenting various potential killers, pushing some pros and cons for each of their candidacies, before finally revealing the answer at the end. On the whole, I thought it was pretty well done.

One of my favorite scenes in the episode was Al coaching up Sam on how to act as a rock star. Sam has musical ability, but he’s more of an Art Garfunkel than a Gene Simmons. Al’s advice was to just make a fool of himself, and after a couple moments of insecurity, Sam family does that and it works out. This is now a couple of recent episodes where the writers are giving Scott Bakula an opportunity to sing and otherwise be an early 90s sex symbol for the TV audience. It’s entertaining but I’m ready for the show to move back toward more longer-term story arcs.

The fake/bad glam rock music, performed solely for the episode (I think), was entertaining. I particularly liked hearing Sam sing “I’m just a traveler” given that he is in fact a time traveler. I am also really unclear on the timeline of “glitter rock” as proposed by this episode. These “King Thunder” guys pre-date KISS being a big deal by several years. Does their survival mean that KISS is ultimately viewed as a copycat band in the QL universe? Does KISS exist at all?

This is a good episode. The ending with the father-son reunion is pretty corny, but that’s on brand for Quantum Leap, so it was fine.

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