Original Air Date: November 30, 1990
Story by : Nick Harding & Paul Brown
Teleplay by : Randy Holland & Paul Brown
Directed by: James Whitmore, Jr.
Leap Date: September 1, 1958
This time: Sam leaps into a biker gang and soon careens off the road. One member, Mad Dog, is pretty pissed off and wants to rough up Sam, but the leader, Dillon, orders him not to, though there is some influence from Dillon’s girl, Becky. Mad Dog still damages Sam’s bike.
Sam makes it to a local diner named Ernie’s. There, Becky finds that Dillon does not appreciate her poetry. The proprietor, Ernie, hears that Dillon is a Korean Veteran and talks about his son, Darryl, who is due to come back, but with the war finished over five years ago, pretty much all he has is optimism. Sam goes to clean himself off and Al tells him that Becky will be stabbed to death in twenty-four hours.
Sam has a moment with Becky. Her mother is dead, and her dad is a deadbeat. Her wanderlust led her to Dillon. The gang shows up and despite some light pleading from Sam, Becky goes off with them. Ernie watches as Sam repairs his bike also mentioning that he is holding out hope for Darryl to come back. Al says that his remains will be returned in two years and Ernie will die two months later.
At a stop, Dillon plans to steal Ernie’s bike. Becky objects but that turns Dillon on. As he begins to plan, Sam shows up and Becky rides off with him. They stay the night above Ernie’s garage and discover that Ernie has been keeping birthday and holiday presents for his son. Sam tries to talk Becky out of the gang, but she has none of it.
At Al’s suggestion, Sam goes to local author Jack Kerouac, a hero of Becky’s. Sam tries to get him to convince Becky to not stay with the gang, but an inebriated Kerouac finds that against all he believes in.
Back at Ernie’s to rendezvous with Becky, Sam finds the gang beat him to it. They parade Darryl’s bike, make a mess and beat up Ernie. A fight ensues with Sam emerging victorious and the cops coming to arrest the gang. Ernie needs some help at the diner and Sam, with an assist from Kerouac, convince Becky to stay. Sam leaps …
… into a man helping someone into their boxers.
Fact check & Brush with History: Sam meets famed beatnik novelist Jack Kerouac. Though he could have had a cabin in California at this time he would eventually go to Florida.
Stop talking to yourself: Dr. Sam Beckett, brilliant physicist, defender of minorities, looks down on bikers.
Only Sam can see and hear: Al’s first car was a bike so he is able to get Sam back on the road.
Mirror images that were not his own: While gathering his wits, Sam sees Shane "Funny Bone" Thomas in the bike’s mirror.
It’s a science project: Sam is able to service the bike unassisted.
Let’s up the rating: Sam helps out serving food at Ernie’s, gets catcalls at being the new waitress and gets a smack on the ass.
One more time: “There’s nothing to it. Your rear brake is with your foot over there, here’s your front brake, throttle, there’s your clutch over there, there’s your gear shift, one down, three up, neutral’s between one and two, you kickstart it with this thing, pchounk, only when it’s in neutral and get it washed.”
Al’s crash course on biking.
Trivial Matters: Diedrich Bader is Dillon in this episode before he was on The Drew Carey Show, American Housewife or the voice of Batman.
Teddy Wilson played Jimmy in Pool House Blues. Evidently, they liked him because he is Ernie in this episode.
The title is a reference to the cinema classic Rebel Without a Cause.
Put right what once went wrong: “Not exactly Brando, but you kind of look like a wild one.” I am not sure who the writer on staff is that is a fan of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, but it gave us a fun hour.
The gang is a fun group to hang out with in smaller intervals. They gave Ernie some good business and were only moderately jerks. Dillon has leadership qualities keeping everyone under control and letting in new members. He does not freak out when he discovers that Sam drew a caricature of Becky. Mad Dog is a solid asshole, and the script gives him ammunition to hate Sam. All in all it feels like a rough and tumble biker gang that goes just far enough.
Becky plays her wanderlust well. She is eighteen but does not know what she wants to do with her life. Like a lot of young Americans, she found solace in a poet and wanted to explore. It takes her icon to bring her back down. She had a great scene with Sam explaining why she was looking for something. Kerouac is only there for two scenes on opposite ends of the sober spectrum, but he loves his work and takes responsibility for his influence.
Ernie ties everything together. The emotional center of the show, you can see him gravitating to Becky and the two gel. He will turn out to be the mentor she needs, with Kerouac helping on occasion. He plays an entirely different character than before, but he leaves everything on the film. This is not a show that can recycle guest stars, though sci-fi shows can get away with a bit more due to prosthetics (Vaughn Armstrong, James Solyan, Wayne Alexander) but I was thrilled to see him on screen again in a very entertaining and fun hour with a lot of fun moments. There was no weak link in the cast.