Directed by: Chris Ruppenthal
Written by: Tommy Thompson
Leap Date: August 4, 1961
Original Air Date: April 3, 1991
This time: Sam leaps into a man blowing out a lot of birthday candles. Some women in lingerie approach him to offer congratulations. He is Gilbert LaBonte, proprietor of the LaBonte Sewing and Quilting Academy, a front for prostitution. A man named Jake Dorleac enters looking for one of the girls. Dorleac runs a finishing school and one of the girls ran off. They refuse to accommodate, and he storms out.
One of the girls, Gina, ran off at the sight of Dorleac but feels better and gets back to work. Al arrives and says that she will die at some point that night after being kidnapped. It turns out that Gina is not a prostitute, she is the cousin of Marsha, an older worker and Gilbert’s girlfriend. Gina just needed a place to stay.
Needing to keep Gina safe, and having few ways to keep guys away, Sam gives everyone the night off. All the girls except Marsha and Gina go out for a night on the town.
Doleac is parked outside waiting for an opportunity. He sneaks into Gina’s room and tries to convince her to come back before beating her. Sam confronts Dorleac who runs off. Gina refuses to tell the sheriff anything, so Sam accompanies him to Dorleac’s hotel. It turns out that Dorleac is not only Gina’s headmaster, but he is also her husband. Their hands are tied.
Dorleac comes to take Gina away the next morning, but Sam manufactures evidence of Doleac in a compromising position. He leaves as do Gina and Marsha to start a new life. Sam leaps …
… into a glam rocker.
Stop talking to yourself: For the second time there is no voiceover by Sam.
Only Sam can see and hear: Of course, Al rushes down to see what Sam got himself into. Before taking time to examine the premises, he tells Sam the name of the establishment. After telling Sam they do not know what he is there to do, he is shooed out.
Mirror images that were not his own: Now this is just odd. There is a distinct musical cue for Sam when he sees himself in a reflected surface. Here we get it when Sam looks at an oil painting of LaBonte. Fortunately, we get a proper mirror shot later.
Something or someone: After taking care of Dorleac, Sam gets to stick around for a good while; long enough for the girls to get changed and Al to give exposition.
It’s a science project: Gina will not press charges and LeBonte’s reputation precludes him being perceived as credible, Sam has to think of something else to take care of Dorleac.
Let’s up the rating: This episode takes place in a house of ill repute. Even their out on the town outfits are sexy.
One more time: “What’s going on, Al?” “Oh that’s easy. These guys are her to get …”
Sam being inquisitive and Al taking things a little too literally.
The Rainbow Treknection: Dan Butler plays the villain Dorleac here and played the antagonist Steth (along with Tom Paris, technically) in Vis A Vis.
Trivial Matters: One of the women is played by Lauren Tom. You probably would not recognize her on sight, but she is the voice of Amy Wong on Futurama.
Put right what once went wrong: “This is the LaBonte Sewing and Quilting Academy. You have graduation photos at your school. We have graduation photos at ours.” Let us get the big gripe of the episode out of the way. There are concerns that Sam does not know when Gina will be kidnapped. Too bad they do not have a hologram that can keep an eye on her and yell to Sam when someone tries to approach. It is an entirely obvious solution and surprising that they do not try it. Then again it would be a short show.
And what a good show it is. Who would have thought that an episode based around a bordello would be such great family viewing? Well adult family viewing.
Quantum Leap is at their best when they do not overcomplicate the plot and allow characters time to breathe. We have a nice simple structure with enough revelations to not make things oversimplistic. The final act is fantastic with Sam finding out how to get Dorleac into a corner he cannot get out of. We get plot bits at regular intervals, but they never take over. Plus, there are some fun scenes such as when some guys come in for a fun time and Sam must cool their jets. The entire round of ‘99 Bottles of Beer’ does not do it but the threat of charades does.
Rita Taggart plays the older Marsha very well. She sees that there is no future with Gilbert. Her scene with Georgia Emelin’s Gina is great. Work comes up but these are just two women discussing life. Marsha does her best but there is little that can be done on the floor in front of everyone. Speaking of Emelin, she has a good innocence but a strength that shows through as well. There are just some things she cannot do but Sam gives her the liberty to start anew.
Special praise must also go to the old lady with a gun. That is not a euphemism, Minnie Summers’ Lindey gets to threaten some sailors with a shotgun, prepares gumbo, treats a sick stomach and gets in on the action to scheme Dorleac. Speaking of whom, Dan Butler has a good calm as Dorleac but that is soon betrayed by a ruthless underside. Even when duped he keeps his head up high.
If you can avoid the huge glaring plot hole this is a good hour to enjoy.