Original Air Date: January 22, 1992
Written by: Paul Brown
Directed by: Christopher Hibler
Leap Date: February 1, 1985
This time: Sam leaps into reporter Dylan Powell. Cameraman Ross Taylor gives him the microphone so that he can report about the latest Chinatown murder. Sam fumbles through the report despite being fed information from the studio. San Francisco Police Chief Collins is keeping the details quiet. The Chief’s mood is not helped by the fact that the killer keeps calling Dylan.
Ross heads out to find another way into the crime scene while Sam meets local psychic, Tamlyn Matsuda. She was invited by the police to examine the scene. While Sam and Ross are outside the window, Tamlyn tells the details of the murder: the victim was relaxing after a night out when the killer burst in.
At Tamlyn’s apartment, Al arrives and tells Sam that Tamlyn will be the next victim in two weeks. They are interrupted when Tamlyn asks Sam his preference for tea but uses his given name, not Dylan. The two bond and Tamlyn invites Sam to look at mug shots the next morning, to the chagrin of Collins. She gets a feeling from a guy named Tony Beche Though there is no way to tie him to the murder, it is apparently enough to get Collins on the case.
Sam and Tamlyn grow closer. She confides one of her first visions being that of her mother after being told she passed away. During this conversation, Tamyln see’s Sam in the mirror for who he really is. Despite Al’s protestations, Sam tells Tamlyn about Project Quantum Leap but Tamlyn has some of the information herself. The two have a night of kissing, shopping, talking and things of the more adult variety.
Al interrupts their morning to tell Sam where to find Tony. Sam catches Tony but does not leap. Tamlyn is still the next victim! Tony is a copycat, the real one is still running free. At the studio, Ross wonders what was so important that Sam missed his birthday. The killer calls saying that he will kill Tamlyn. Sam takes her to the site hoping to lure out the killer.
Tamlyn can feel the killer in the area but not pinpoint a location. Ross arrives to catch everything on tape. Sam is off to investigate leaving Tamlyn with Ross. A concerned Tamlyn is comforted by Ross while she gets visions of Ross being the killer. Sam and Al figure out that Ross is the killer and confront him on top of a building. The first murder was an accident but propelled their careers forward. Now, Tamlyn is coming between them. Ross falls to his death. Tamlyn and Sam hug. Sam leaps …
… into a ghost town. Accused of murdering three brothers, a lone gunman challenges Sam to a showdown.
Fact check: There was no string of Chinatown murders and the police generally do not ask for help from psychic consultants, though that last bit was the premise for a show.
Stop talking to yourself: If you are a fan of Bakula doing a voiceover you will not like this. Sam does all his dialogue on camera.
Only Sam can see and hear: Ever the skeptic, Al doubts Tamlyn’s psychic abilities. Also, he does not want Sam to get involved with her.
Mirror images that were not his own: After Ross goes off on his own to find out more but before meeting Tamlyn, Sam sees the beleaguered and close to retirement Dylan Powell in a mirror.
Something or someone: Telling someone about his true nature might prevent Sam from ever leaping again for reasons not entirely explained to the viewer.
It’s a science project: Sam and Ross are parked outside the apartment recording Tamlyn as she exposits about the murder. For some reason, Collins does not notice despite the red light on the camera and a good view of the window. The window is closed but not only can Sam hear, the camera can pick up everything.
Let’s up the rating: Sam and Tamlyn are totally hitting on each other from the moment they meet. Their dialogue is laced with innuendo even before they go to her place.
One more time: “You sure I’m all right?” “I’ve got a good feeling about it.”
Sam and Tamlyn not even trying to hide their flirting.
The Rainbow Treknection: Tamlyn Tomita plays a psychic who can see visions of murder and will go on to play Commodore Oh, a Romulan with visions of a murderous future in Star Trek: Picard. This is the first major actor in both Quantum Leap and the modern Trek shows.
Trivial Matters: Usually when Al goes away, he steps through the imaging chamber door. Here he vanishes leaving us to wonder where exactly he went. Later he uses one hand to appear since the other is clearly in frame and is not near the handlink.
Put right what once went wrong: “What do you do, some kind of psychic or something?” “Yes. You must be one, too.” Let’s start off with the good. Tamlyn Tomita owns this. She has a huge range of emotions in this episode and is more than just a damsel in distress. While there is a cringing scene early on where she relives the murder, she has great chemistry with Bakula. You could cut the romantic tension with a knife. As great as those scenes are there is real emotion when she talks about her first vision.
The directing by Christopher Hibler is strong as well. There is stuff in the script he just had to film, and he did that well. The camera zooms in on Dylan in the mirror and then pulls back to reveal Sam all without a hand moving in the frame. This being a murder story there are reenactments in black and white along with some action scenes accompanied by an eighties era soundtrack.
The writing moves things along but does not really do well. There is a two week gap that we go through in a montage which works for other shows but not Quantum leap. More than a couple of days is pushing it and here it exists only for Sam and Tamlyn to have a fling. Ziggy cannot figure out who the murderer is in that time for some reason. The way it is presented that time jump could easily be glossed over. There are way too many plot holes for this to work and some are just there for the sake of being there. It is nice to let Sam have a break every now and then, but this is pushing it.
Kent Williams and James Handy are workable as Collins and Ross respectively, though the later takes on an entirely different personality in the end. Also, the ending does not really work as Al does not let us know what happens. We know Tamlyn lives but are Dylan and Tamlyn together? It would be nice to know especially since they can add in a line but no such luck.
There is a great performance and neat tricks, but this is not recommended.