Original Air Date: October 30, 1991
Written by: Beverly Bridges
Directed by: Michael Zinberg
Leap Date: June 20, 1980
This time: Sam leaps into a hospital bed. It becomes clear that he is a woman as an officer, Shumway, wants to ask ‘her’ some questions. Sam bemoans being a woman ‘again,’ prompting Shumway to ask if she has been raped before. Shumway asks more questions of Katie, Sam’s leapee, but there are few details. Thankfully, Katie’s sister, Libby is there. The perpetrator is Kevin, one with a prominent reputation in the community. Sam presses charges.
At home, Sam has the support of his parents, but Libby points out that it will be an uphill battle. Al arrives and says that Kevin was not charged in the original history. At the District Attorney’s office, Shumway introduces Sam to Nancy Hudson who takes the case but tells Sam that it will not be an easy conviction.
At dinner in a local establishment, they read the horribly biased article and get all sorts of nasty looks along with outright accusations to blame Katie. As the trial gets ready to start, Sam is worried that he will have to testify. Al looks into helping Katie to open up and also looking into some other notes from a therapist Katie confided in months later.
First on the stand is Paula, Kevin’s fiancé. She testifies to an argument earlier on the night in question but not that Kevin hit her. The next witness is Kevin himself, who testifies that he had sex with Katie but that it was entirely consensual. He claims that she tripped over a rock to explain the injuries but that does not cover everything. Hudson calls Sam to testify but Sam is not ready. At Al’s suggestion, he faints but that will only last for the day. He tasks Al with finding a way to get Katie to talk directly to Sam in the Imaging Chamber. Thankfully, they do figure out a way to do so as Katie tells the court what happened.
We smash cut to Kevin being found not guilty. The press has questions and Hudson is sorry for the family as well, but Sam does not want to move on, provoking memories from Hudson. That night, Kevin approaches Sam and again tries to be abusive, though Sam is prepared. The commotion brings the family who sees the aftermath and is willing to press further charges. Sam leaps …
… into a space shuttle cockpit counting down to launch.
Stop talking to yourself: It does look hopeless without Katie to testify but the big draw here is not Sam’s monologue, it is Katie’s in which she provides the firsthand account of a very horrible event.
Only Sam can see and hear: I takes Al longer than usual to get to Sam because Katie was fairly traumatized and that was before leaping out. Dr. Beeks is putting in overtime.
Mirror images that were not his own: After being asked if this happened before, Sam gets a good look at a somewhat battered Katie McBain. We get a good five shots of Katie in the mirror before she testifies.
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow: Al and Ziggy find out how to get Katie to speak to Sam in the trial, though if takes enough electricity to power St. Louis for a month.
One more time: “You talk like I’m the one on trial here.” “You are.” “But he’s the rapist.” “Not according to him and not according to the people of this town and the jury will come from people in this town.”
Sam and Nancy discussing the uphill battle.
Trivial Matter: In a nice touch, Sam is not battered in the start of the episode., though Kate is. We will see her more often in this episode as things progress, but she does heal as you would expect through the normal passage of time. Though in the climactic fight, Sam does retain bruising.
Put right what once went wrong: “This happens to people in movies, not my sister.” This was written before Hallmark Movies were a thing when after school specials and “Very Special Episodes” were. If not for a few dings this is an episode I would be very tempted to call required viewing.
Deborah Pratt became one of my favorite writers a while ago, but Beverly Bridges makes a mark for herself here. There are a lot of things that work in this here especially with selling the feeling of small towns. Word spreads fast and this is before the internet. We see the family being seated in the back of a restaurant and we hear a couple guys taking Kevin’s side shortly thereafter. Even outside of that, we have the church firing Katie from Sunday School and an asshole who calls the family at home. The Detective and District Attorney have fantastic banter. The trial is the highlight of all this but that does not even start until almost the halfway mark.
Credit also goes to regular director Mark Zinberg for getting amazing performances out of the cast. This is uncomfortable material that happens all too often when you least suspect, but the actors know the weight that they carry. Shots are well executed but the pacing works as well, particularly with the parties exiting the court right after Katie testifies. There’s no need to go through anything else, we get Kevin loudly celebrating his victory in the hallway.
Matthew Seeehan plays Kevin as a total asshole, coming to the hospital to check on Katie after the incident, trying to bribe her with jewelry and going so far as playing the victim with the charge being on his permanent record. Eugene Lee is great as Shumway playing him with a calm understanding yet being able to support a victim. He offers his fishing rod as collateral to Penny Peyser’s Hudson who wonders what she will do with it. We also learn that Hudson is a victim herself which explains why she took up a case that she knew would be difficult to win, an issue for a District Attorney. Arthur Rosenberg does not have much to do beyond being a supportive father, but Nancy Leneham is able to add some dimensions offering cookies and milk when there is little more to do, though Sam takes it as a reconciliatory show of support. Amy Ryan’s Libby is not too involved but is a good sister who is crucial in the opening scene, particularly as the one Katie calls for help. The script has all these great little moments that add to the realism and help the characters be more than the sum of their parts.
Cheryl Pollack steals the show as Katie. Early on we see Katie a lot in mirror shots to help put a face to the cause. When she goes into a monologue, it feels nature and we are accustomed to her. Normally the leapee is seen in the mirror and then forgotten about, to the point where staff members frequently use them for a cameo. Here, she has multiple appearances including addressing the audience directly. Her firsthand account of the brutal event is raw, and she has enough emotion to not oversell it. The camera slowly zooms in and Bakula’s voice fades as she bares her soul.
It is not all perfect. Not that Kevin is undeserving but having him get beaten in the end perpetuates the myth that you can solve problems with violence. While Katie’s parents were supportive here that is not always the case but that is a matter for another time and does not distract from an otherwise stellar hour.