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 a bounty hunter, Gorden, cuffed to a female fugitive, Diane. She allegedly stole a million dollars and he is bringing her in to face justice. However through numerous tricks and escapes played by Diane on Sam, he comes to understand that she is more or less innocent, and that the money she stole was the repay the defrauded former customers of her former boss.
The former boss, and the sheriff on his payroll, eventually capture Diane, and learn the whereabouts of the stolen money, but Sam rescues her just before they are set to murder her. Ultimately the two bad guys are prosecuted and Diane, with encouragement from Sam, begins a career as a bounty hunter.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP:
June 18, 1976: Sam leaps into bountyhunter Gordon O’Reilly, a man in a phone booth hand-cuffed to a beautiful woman. She cries out that she needs help and that Sam is her ex-husband who beats her and two good Samaritans come to her aid. She doesn’t want to involve the sheriff Sheriff Michaels (Cliff Bemis), however, and implores them to get the key to the handcuffs. They reach in the wrong pocket, however, and discover that Sam is actually a bounty hunter who’s in the process of transporting three-time escape fugitive Diane Frost (Jane Sibbett) to jail. Al announces that, according to Ziggy’s information gathered of the original history of events, Diane will kill Sam, as she did Gordon, his leapee, while escaping from his custody, and then be killed trying to escape justice herself.
Sam and Diane get on a bus but the driver saw the altercation and warns Sam that one false move and he’ll throw him off the bus. Diane causes all sorts of trouble and tries to escape repeatedly, ultimately starting a fight between the hapless Sam and the man sitting across the aisle and the pair are stranded in the middle of nowhere at night.
Al is being no help because while Ziggy says there is a 99.9% chance that she is guilty, Diane looks a lot like Al’s fifth wife Maxine whom Al divorced after being 99.9% sure she was cheating on him. He was wrong then, and he thinks Ziggy is wrong now. After Diane attacks him some more and they both fall into some manure, Sam ties her up tightly and they wait out the night and the storm in a barn.
The pair attempt to hitchhike in the morning but do not have much luck. Diane claims the handcuffs are freaking people out and so Sam takes them off. A car stops and Diane gets in, quickly telling the driver to leave Sam behind. Al shows up to diagnose Sam and Diane as having belligerent sexual tension like he and Maxine used to have. He is more helpful when he says that Diane was booted from the car just around the corner for smelling like manure and Sam catches up to her again.
They get a motel room so that the pair can take a shower and they wait for the Sheriff Michaels to show up. Diane explains that she did steal a million dollars worth of checks but it was for a good cause. Her employer, a one Rodney Owens (Ken Marshall), was swindling the elderly out of their life savings (including Diane’s mother) and so she’s trying to return the money. Sam isn’t sure that he believes her. He and Diane make out and then Diane sneaks out the bathroom window. Sam quickly catches her but she forces him to handcuff himself to the railing at gunpoint. The gun turns out to be a fake that Diane shoplifted and just as Diane is secretly paying the owner of the motel back, Sam catches up to her.
The sheriff then arrives, and Sam is glad to see the back of her. Al warns him that Diane is still going to die and, so, Sam chases after the sheriff’s car. Al centers on Diane and discovers that the Sheriff Michaels is corrupt and in the pocket of Diane’s former employer Owens. They make her take them to the train tracks where she hid the money. Diane tries again to escape but when the sheriff threatens to kill her mother, she gives them the money. Sam arrives and jumps on Rodney just as he is about to shoot Diane. A brief fight breaks out and Diane holds her own.
When it’s over, Diane threatens to shoot Sam if he tries to take the money and he promises he’s not after that. She decides to trust him and they mail all the investors their money back before Diane turns herself into state jail where the charges are dropped and the corrupt sheriff is prosecuted. Sam jokes that Diane should become a bounty hunter and she becomes one of the best in the business.
Quantum Leap gives us a Sam & Diane romance/bicker-fest/comedy worthy of Cheers.
The selling point of this episode is Jane Sibbett’s performance as the aforementioned Diane. She delivered an Olympic-level performance of jump rope with the hot-crazy line for an entire episode and kept me invested in the outcome until the end. The role included a lot of physicality, too, from fist fights to a seduction of the prudish Sam, and she did a credible job of selling all of it. The charismatic Sibbett carried what would otherwise have not been a weak episode to a relatively satisfying conclusion.
You probably remember Jane Sibbett from her role as Carol (Ross’s ex-wife) on Friends. You might also remember her from Herman’s Head. She’s really good as Diane and is easily the best part of an otherwise weird, thin story. If the Quantum Leap team had decided to give Diane a spinoff show about her future career as a bounty hunter, I’d probably watch and review it.
My biggest gripe with the episode was the strangeness around Diane’s alleged resemblance to Al’s fifth wife, Maxine. Al talks about the resemblance constantly throughout the episode. I assume that resemblance is included to provide the justification for Al’s unusual and unwavering belief in Diane’s innocence. Sam is usually the person in their dynamic duo who does not trust Ziggy, but in this case, they needed Sam to distrust Diane instead (to build on their chemistry/tension.) As a result, the “Ziggy is wrong” role fell to Al. The switch was not executed very smoothly. If the show is going to give Al a positive emotional connection to the female guest star, then shouldn’t Al also have had mixed feelings about Sam hooking up with said guest star? Shouldn’t Sam have had mixed feelings about hooking up with someone who apparently is a dead ringer for Al’s ex-wife? None of that ever gets addressed, and frankly it was weird that it wasn’t.
A Hunting We Will Go also felt like it was about 5 minutes short of its necessary runtime, so there were a LOT of scenes featuring Sam and Diane together while a blues guitar and harmonica played in the background. I guess the music was so that the audience kept in mind that there is sexual tension between the two characters and that they are in the South somewhere? It started to get on my nerves after a while.
All in all, though, this A Hunting We Will Go was entertaining. The more you enjoy the “bickering couple falls for each other” romance arc, the more you’ll like this one. I am looking forward to the next episode quite a lot. As episode ends, Sam leaps to a person who seems to be seconds from execution via the electric chair. Rather than the traditional “oh boy” we get an earnest “oh, God” instead.