Original Air Date: February 23, 1993
Written by: Richard C. Okie
Directed by: Harvey Laidman
Leap Date: October 8, 1956
This time: Sam leaps into a costumed character on the hood of a car in the middle of a race. After a recap of Deliver us From Evil, the race is over with the car Sam mounted the hood ornaments of losing. The driver is Jerry, and the event was a fraternal initiation. The leader of the fraternity, Mike Hammond, is not happy with the race being ruined. Sam is Arnold Watkins, and he has been trying to stop the races since the finish line is perilously near a cliff. A pummeling is broken up by a cop who forwards everyone’s name to the Dean of Discipline.
An exhausted Sam goes to his room to find Al. Other than telling Sam about the need to calm down Arnold in the waiting Room, there is not much to go on. Originally, Arnold and Jerry died. They are interrupted by Jack, Arnold’s roommate. Jack is pledging the organization and got a call from Mike suggesting that Sam’s stunt put the process in jeopardy.
Jerry is grateful for Arnold saving his life, so much that he published an article. Mike and the brothers are furious as their fraternity is on probation. Mike’s girlfriend, Dawn Taylor, is taken in by a real-life superhero and shakes Sam’s hand right before leaping out …
… and Alia leaping in. As Sam and Jerry leave, and Mike ponders a way to get rid of Arnold without getting the organization permanently disbarred. With Zoe’s urging, Alia suggests public embarrassment.
Sam wants to meet with ‘Dawn’ to stop the potentially fatal antics and the two have a moment, almost touching before a pile of books is knocked over. Sam agrees to help with a biology midterm if she stops the races. As Sam gets ready for the date, Jack helps with a bow tie before he is off to an initiation which may or may not involve a race. Sam puts on part of the costume and is off. Alia is ready to seduce him, but Zoey tells her that Arnold is off to save Jack.
As Sam intercedes, Al mentions that Jack survives. As Sam admonishes Al by name, Alia figures out the situation. Zoey squeals in delight as Sam runs off. Later with Al, they realize that Arnold has to stop putting his life in danger but that is easier said than done. Al works with Dr. Beeks while Sam meanders back to his room as Zoey and Lothos consult on a fate worse than death for Sam.
Al has a heart to heart with Arnold in the Waiting Room. Arnold is traumatized over the loss of his parents who were shot when he was at a young age and feels responsible, but Al disavows him of that notion.
In the library, Alia publicly tells Mike that she and Arnold were involved with the getaway and are involved romantically. Mike challenges Sam to a race as a confused Sam confronts Alia. The touch and Sam figures it out. Alia is fearful about being found out, but Sam believes that if they are in physical contact at leap out, they can leap together. The only problem is if Alia leaps out early, the plan will not work.
At the race, as Zoey informs Alia that Mike turns out pretty crappy after college, Sam wagers future races for his win. The race goes fairly well until Al tells Sam that the brakes are cut. The two jump out of the car and embrace as they leap …
… into solitary confinement at a women’s prison. They are threatened with another stay in that situation unless one of them confesses to the murder of Carol Benning.
Fact check: Arnold marvels at the handlink since computers at the time would take up rooms.
Stop talking to yourself: Ever in touch with the minds of people of all ages, Sam feels that college is wasted on the young. Yeah, four years to study and have fun would be great for forty-year-olds!
Only Sam can see and hear: Zoey is at the library when Sam and Alia make their plan, unbeknownst to either party. Sam keeps Al out of the loop about Alia for reasons not adequately explained to the viewer.
Mirror images that were not his own: The face Sam sees in the mirror does not meet his expectations for what the Midnight Marauder would look like. Later, Alia sees Dawn in the mirror as she gets ready for her date. Both are capped off when Sam and Alia touch and briefly turn into their leapees.
Brush with history: Alia mentions the word Macho which was a Spanish saying but did not really spread until close to the mid-seventies.
Something or someone: It takes Sam a while to figure out why he does not leap after initially saving Arnold and Jerry. He stumbles onto stopping the races which is not entirely wrong.
It’s a science project: Sam finds out the intricacies of falling off a cliff in a speeding car.
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow: Al consults with Dr. Beeks as he consoles Arnold. Why Dr. Beeks, the staff psychologist who is there for that specific job, could not console Arnold is an exercise for the viewer.
Let’s up the rating: When Jack open a girlie magazine, Al is curious. Not to be outdone, Zoey considers frat boys her favorite subject.
One more time: “Why would you wanna pledge a fraternity that's full of idiots in the first place?” “Full of what?” “You said the wrong thing, Sam. His dad was a Chi Kappa Delta idiot, and his granddad, and his great-granddad was a founding idiot.”
Sam talking with Jack about the virtues of virtues of Chi Kappa Theta and Al belatedly correcting Sam.
The Rainbow Treknection: Not a trek production but almost immediately after playing Jerry, Michael Manasseri would play Wyatt Donnelly on a series based on, and named after, the film Weird Science.
Trivial Matters: The Evil Leaper concept was intended to be a one-off episode until one of the one of the writers chose to continue that story thread and Bellisario gave his blessing.
When a cop busts up the pummeling, he asks Sam is he is related to Joe McCarthy.
Al refers to Captain Goodie Two Shoes since they could not afford the rights to Captain America. In a clear case of the Equal Time Doctrine, Superman also gets a name check.
The Studebaker is mentioned. Derisively but mentioned nonetheless. That company did not do well financially and by the leap date was close to being out of business.
Jack is able to tie a bow tie. Your humble rewatcher learned how to do that years ago though it was through the Tube of You.
The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club gets a name check when Sam puts on a leather jacket. It is Al who makes the mention as they were still young at the leap date. Al also name drops Marlon Brando, though James Dean might be a better meta reference.
There is a rare production error. As Sam pulls up to the starting line, Al is in the back seat but a few moments later, he is not, and we do not hear a sound effect.
Put right what once went wrong: “Did I hear that right? Lothos. It’s him.” “It can’t be.” One of the reasons why Deliver us From Evil worked so well was that you could take all the Evil Leaper material out of it and still have a good episode. That trend continues here.
Quantum Leap has done college stunts before. We have had Sam on the other side of the line but here he is kind of on a one-man crusade to stop the idiocy. As much as Sam is the driving force of the series, here he is a little less in control with Arnold needing a talking to. We do not see people in the Waiting Room a lot, but that trend has reversed itself this season with this being our fourth visit this season and fifth overall. For a show that can leave the leapee out on a limb, here he is front and center. Tristan Tait has great scenes and chemistry with Dean Stockwell. With Sam needs to keep Al in the dark, this gives Al something to do. In an episode with so many things going on, they are the emotional core reminding us of what the show is about.
We have a delightful cast of characters filling out the roster. Michael Manasseri and Paul Scherrer have what can charitably be described as minor roles but do them well as Jerry and Jack respectively. Jerry is stereotypical nerdy but there is a friendliness to him. His publishing of the events causes plot to happen, but Manasseri has a youthful excitement to him. Scherrer has more a line to walk as a jerk roommate and a friend to Arnold. He is described as a bully/jerk but has a moment in their room. In another world, these two could be friends.
Niel Patrick Harris past Dougie Howser but before his career turning role in Harold and Kumar go to White Castle is Mike. The role does not really suit him and wears thin as the hour goes on. He is just too friendly to be this sort of an antagonist. It is a struggle to find a role that he would not be good at, but this appears to be that one. He has played villains, specifically the Lee Harvey Oswald in the musical Assassins but here it does not work though it is great to see him on my screen.
That about covers it … oh wait, there is an Evil Leaper here, too.
Deliver us From Evil took its sweet time introducing Alia, but here she leaps in before we are a third of the way through. We do not know how much time passed on her end, but she is back aboard the Evil Train. She initially goes along with Zoey but tries to break away. We hear Alia’s upset feelings with her program and how she privately longs to break free. Her scene with Sam shows the only two people on the planet (that we know of) who can empathize with each other. If there is a weakness it is that this plot gets short shrift with Alia quickly going along with Sam’s half-baked plan. It is better than the assuredness of leaping again with her project, but it is still fifty-fifty. It says a great deal that Sam would jeopardize his safety too. Renee Coleman and Carolyn Seymour are great in their returns as Zoey and Alia
Once again, we have movement without things moving too much too fast. Zoey is ever present and Lothos has a means of forcing a leap with Alia. Also, Alia must do more than simply kill Sam. The stakes are higher, and Sam risks it all to save her.
Richard C. Okie did a fantastic job of writing a very well-crafted story and Harvey Laidman has some great shots. On top of the car races, there are clever shots where Sam and Alia do not touch. Best still is in the library with a Conveniently Tall Stack of Books, the top of which references Mars, as in ‘Men are From …’ It feels very organic and works. The hour is not perfect. Sam’s plan is pretty shotty and by not being able to talk to Ziggy (for reasons …) they cannot run it by Ziggy. Plus, where is Dr. Beeks in all this? She is name dropped by Al but is not on the scene to help counsel Arnold. For some reason, Al has to do it despite prior mentions of her working with those in the Waiting Room. Her omission is part of an ongoing theme and simply sloppy. Prior episodes worked it into the plot but here there is no explanation why the trained psychologist is not working with Arnold except for the fact she is not in the main cast.
Of course, Sam does not know if their plan worked but we do since the leap out effect is blue and not red, though it starts out like that. The effect is well done as is Sam ‘morphing’ into his next leapee. We could get into more detail, but that is what next week is for.