Original Air Date: October 26, 1990
Written by: Chris Ruppenthal
Directed by: Joe Napolitano
Leap Date: October 31, 1964
This time: Sam leaps into a man with candlelight reading a book from 1879. Wondering exactly when he is, he looks around the house and, on a stairway landing, is accosted by two spooky figures causing him to tumble down the stairs.
They are Stevie, his assistant and Mary, his fiancée. He is Joshua Rey, occult author extraordinaire. They rouse him but soon Stevie has to leave. Mary has a talk with Sam about killing off a character in an upcoming work. Apparently, there is not much for the story or character without that happening.
A man named Tully is working on one of the upstairs windows. Sam goes to talk with him, noting a goat at the foot of the ladder. Soon, Tully falls to his death. In recounting things to Sheriff Masters, there is problem since there are not any goats in the area. Al shows up and says that Mary is found dead that night in their house. Sam/Josh was the prime suspect, but Sam will not do that. Mary was the only other person at the house and is Al’s prime suspect.
Town gossip Dorothy comes over for a visit and is attacked by a deadly pet snake when alone in the kitchen. Mary is spooked as is Sam, especially when the typewriter upstairs is seemingly updating a manuscript with the deaths. Al confronts Sam about Mary being the killer and Mary overhears leading her to confront Sam. A skull flies off a shelf and Mary has a seizure.
Sam and Al go to Mary’s house to find evidence one way or the other but run into the suspicious Sheriff Masters. Both suspect the other but neither has proof, though Masters does glance at Al’s general direction at times.
Driving home, a freak accident with a car following him, a cat, a goat and Stevie result in Sam swerving off the road. In the aftermath, Sam cannot find the goat or the cat. Stevie explains that his car stalled, and he was stranded, though that does not explain why he put on a pumpkin mask to flag down a passing driver.
Suspecting something afoot, Sam goes to the hospital only to find a crashed police cruiser on the way there with Masters dead. Back at his house, Sam finds the Sheriff’s truck outside along with Stevie telling him that Masters and Mary are inside. Dismissing Stevie, Sam enters to rescue Mary. Masters enters but Sam grabs his wrist, at which point he transforms in Al who says “Baaa!” Sam has already figured out something was going on, but all the pieces come together when Real Al comes through the imaging chamber door. Fake Al does not like someone putting right what he put wrong and reaches out to choke Sam. At Real Al’s urging, Sam returns the favor …
… and wakes up at the bottom of the staircase. Mary and Stevie comfort Sam while Real Al says that Sam is there to save Tully at which point Sam rushes up and does so, though the goat is nowhere to be found. Sam leaps ...
… onto a bus as Miss Sugar Belle.
Fact check & Brush with history: Assistant Stevie’s last name is King. His car sometimes has a mind of its own. He is interested in psychokinesis and has a dog named Cujo. That last bit is odd since the novel was not inspired by a pet.
Stop talking to yourself: Sam finds that leaping leaves him kind of like being a scarecrow. Later, Sam tries to piece the clues together but comes up short.
Mirror images that were not his own: After getting the wits knocked out of him, Sam sees Joshua Rey in the mirror. This being in Sam’s head, we do not get the audio jingle.
Something or someone: Although he saves Tully, Sam gets to hang around long enough to find the identity of his assistant.
It’s a science project: Brilliant scientist Doctor Sam Beckett believes that a person with epilepsy can have a form of psychokinesis. Right ….
One more time: “Just look at her eyes.” “Maybe she’s wearing contact lenses. Maybe she’s a great poker player. I knew a once you could look him in the eye and couldn’t tell whether he had four of a kind or busted flush.”
Sam and Fake Al arguing superficially about Mary’s innocence.
Trivial Matter: The notion of someone who would put wrong what once went right will come up later.
Put right what once went wrong: “One of these days, I’m going to write the scariest book in the whole wide world except then nobody would probably buy it.” Lat season had a Halloween episode that quickly became my least favorite hours of the series. Even with that low bar to clear, this is a strong episode that has all the trappings of a good spooky tale. Murders, mysteriously appearing animals. Flying skulls. A creepy sheriff.
Dean Stockwell has a chance to shine in this. You can tell that there is something off with some subtle clues. There is no effect for the door or handlink and the costume is different. It is more than that as Stockwell rarely looks down at the handlink and is forceful that Mary is the killer. It is enough to tell you that something is going on but not nearly enough to outright cry foul. As much as this is Bakula’s series to shine, Stockwell does fantastic work here. After the proverbial mask is pulled off his face in the end the effects help sell the menace, but Fake Al gets really creepy. Evil Devil is not a common role for actors but Stockwell goes there and excels. Having Al be the villain (even Fake Al) is genius. The best thing is that on repat viewing it stands up as you can see more of Al being just a bit off.
The writing is excellent even with a couple deaths thrown in there though the script does give us glimpses of them before they die so that they can have an effect on us. There is not a lot of time, but Tully and Dorothy’s deaths do sting a bit mainly because we know them a bit. Mary, Stevie and Masters are all handled well, too. There are trappings of late eighties horror soundtrack but they work.
A huge step up from the prior horror episode and a great hour for whatever season of the year.