Original Air Date: May 1, 1991
Story by : Bill Bigelow & Donald P. Bellisario & Deborah Pratt
Teleplay by : Deborah Pratt
Directed by: Michael Watkins
Leap Date: May 12, 1971
This time: Sam leaps into the electric chair. This episode lasting longer than two minutes, the governor calls ordering a forty-eight hour stay of execution of Jesus Ortega, the man Sam leapt into. This does not sit well with one of the witnesses in attendance, Theodore Moody, Moody talks about this as a sign of weakness for the governor and by total coincidence, he is running for that office.
As Sam is escorted back to his cell, Moody is fuming about the situation, though mainly focusing on his chances for the election. He finds out from his goons that there is an appeal. Though absent some sort of technicality, the order should stand. There is evidence, eyewitnesses; the case is pretty solid. Moody sends his goons to get more information. Why he waited to do so until he after yelled at his goons is an exercise for the viewer.
Al arrives with not a whole lot of additional information though while Jesus did admit to a robbery, he claims innocence for the murder charge. He meets his lawyer, Tearsa LaRita. Fun fact 1: LaRita works for Moody. Fun fact 2: Moody does not know she is helping Jesus. It would appear that the ballistics report was inconclusive and that the bullet that killed the victim did not entirely match the one Jesus had, though Moody did not let a little detail like that prevent him from presenting it as a perfect match. In talking to his accomplice, Sam finds out that there was a discrepancy with the time the witnesses swore to and that the only friendly witness has disappeared.
Moody finds out that there is a mole in his office but does not suspect LaRita though he does order her to vet the entire staff. While visiting Sam they cannot do much without more concrete evidence or the missing witness. Sam discovers that there should be a bullet in the scene of the crime, a church. Al can detect where the bullet is but he will need LaRita at the church to do it. Sam asks her to go there, and Al finds the bullet and, with the help of a child, passes it to LaRita.
With the bullet found, Sam is confident that they will reopen the case and prove his innocence. He does not leap, and Al says that the bullet matches the gun and conclusively proves the guilt. LaRita confronts Sam and Moody walks in. Figuring out who the insider is, he is ready to disbar and fire LaRita after Sam gets executed.
Being strapped in, Al asks Sam to confess to the murder, but that he did it alone, meaning that his accomplice can go free (or rather just face a charge for robbing the poor box of a church, but that is better than robbery and murder.) He also says, with some help from Al, that Moody bribed the witness to leave the state. LaRita calls to confirm. Moody is disbarred and LaRita becomes a famed attorney. Sam leaps …
… into a wrestling ring. He is tagged in and his rather large opponent has some fun.
Stop talking to yourself: Sam weighs getting off on a technicality against going back to that electric chair.
Only Sam can see and hear: Al tries to calm a justifiably excited Sam telling him that sometimes they have problems finding him though the throughs of time.
Mirror images that were not his own: After being escorted to his cell by a literal good cop and bad cop, Sam see’s Jesus Ortega in the mirror.
It’s a science project: Ziggy is able to reconfigure Al’s handlink to detect a bullet in the church. Pretty neat trick when you consider that he is a hologram and merely projecting light.
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow: It seems that in 1999, Ortega fainted thinking he was dead. For a guy who was just on the electric chair this is entirely reasonable.
Let’s up the rating: Al has a thing for LaRita. Yeah, an episode revolving around an execution and political corruption does not have a ton of woman dancing around in bikinis for some reason.
One more time: “You can’t just throw a bucket of water on his head and say ‘You’re not dead. You’re just twenty-five years in the future.’”
Al describing the difficulties of working with Ortega in the Waiting Room.
The Rainbow Treknection: Moody is played by James Sloyan and after playing Alidar Jarok, Dr. Mora Pol, Jo’Bril and K’Mtar, is no stranger to Trek.
Trivial Matters: Realizing he is about to be electrocuted, Sam utters “Oh God!” instead of the titular phrase of this rewatch.
Dr. Beeks gets a namecheck.
Put right what once went wrong: “An appeal? What kind of appeal can an illiterate Cuban write?” Sidelining your lead actor is almost entirely unheard of. Sam cannot do much since he is on death row meaning that outside his cell, the attorney’s office and the execution chamber are pretty much the only places he can go. Not only does it work it is pure genius.
The most obvious side effect is that Bakula is not the star of this episode, Al is. Stockwell usually fills in the blanks and exposits to the audience (which, to be fair, he does this week) but here, he is crucial to making this episode work. He is able to warn LaRita through Sam and the scene in the church is very well crafted. LaRita kind of hangs around when Al finds the evidence and then finds a way to get the information to her. He also comes through in the end where he realizes that Sam is there to save his accomplice. In a show that can easily sideline Al, this time he is front and center.
Not that Bakula is able to shrug it off or take an episode easy. Quite the opposite. Being in an electric chair ready to go is jarring and fuels a lot of rage. He expresses it to both Al and LaRita. It is to their credit that they are understanding at his mania. It may seem a bit over the top, but it is justified and effective.
Jenny Gao is strong as LaRita. She is a double agent but is willing to help another Latino achieve freedom. She is rightfully pissed at the end when the evidence proves Jesus guilty. We have seen Sloyan with some great nuance on Star Trek from the sympathetic but pushy when he needs to be Mora Pol to the last-minute villain Jo’Bril but that is not really on display here. This time, he is the villain and while he does have menace, he is not able to do much beyond that though he does spit out some threats with venom. I am still a fan of his but if I’m looking for a dose of his acting regimen, I’ll more likely jump to Trek before I watch this.
The episode is a joy to watch. I do not usually comment on the score, but the tense moments at the beginning of the episode are brilliantly punctuated by Vernon Brunch. There are some brief pauses and Brunch has some good notes from the wind instruments upping the tension. The melodies echo through the rest of the episode. Deborah Pratt crafted another fantastic script based on a story by herself, Donald J. Bellisario and Bill Bigelow. Michael Watkins let the actors do their job and put everything together perfectly.