Original Air Date: January 15, 1992
Written by: Bobby Duncan
Directed by: Bob Hulme
Leap Date: June 11, 1964
This time: Sam leaps into a naval cadet on the track, though he does not get the baton as much as he is plowed over. The drill sergeant/coach is not amused and sends the guys in for training while privately and politely telling Sam that things need to improve before facing their longtime rivals. Sam has leapt into Tommy York, who has a 4.0 GPA, is valedictorian and dating the admiral’s daughter.
Sam gets a ride into town for a date, but it turns out he is meeting a fellow cadet, Phillip. The two are trying to take care of a naval gang called The Chain. Al arrives and says that Phillip was kicked out of the academy due to homosexuality. There is a letter written by Tommy expressing support for Phillip, but Al says that in two days, Phillip will be found hung in his print shop.
Cadet Ronnie Chambers accuses Sam/Tommy of being homosexual. Admiral Spencer has a discussion with the two in which Sam counterclaims that Ronnie is beating up civilians. Admiral Spencer promises a full investigation but is forced to put Sam on restrictions until the investigation is concluded. That does not stop Ronnie and the other members of The Chain from creating a tribunal of their own, outright forcing Sam to leave, though not until after the track meet, of course. They have Tommy’s letter and can put together a pretty convincing argument.
Chambers presents the letter to Admiral Spencer who has no choice but to confine Sam to quarters. He is visited by the Coach who offers to let Sam confront The Chain, who felt like the locker room was a good place to meet for reasons not explained to the viewer. Sam talks the gang out of it while accusing Ronnie of being homosexual. The gang disbands but Al says that Phillip is still hung.
Sam sneaks out of his room while Al checks in on Phillip. It turns out Phillip staged the scene and will commit suicide to make the point. They both convince Phillip to not go through with it though not before the coach comes out. Ronnie drops out so as not have to deal with the situation any longer. Sam leaps …
… into reporter Dylan Powell. Cameraman Ross Taylor gives him the microphone so that he can report about the latest Chinatown murder.
Stop talking to yourself: Dressed in full naval duds, Sam is confident he is not a hippie. Also, word about his sexuality spreads fast.
Only Sam can see and hear: Ever the navy man, Al tells Sam that the naval academy is not exactly like being in the Navy itself.
Mirror images that were not his own: Decked out in full uniform, Sam sees Tommy York in the locker room mirror.
Something or someone: Sam does not leap after saving Phillip though he sticks around long enough to see Ronnie drop out and for Al to exposit at the track meet which Sam leaps out of as he gets a quick start both literally and figuratively.
Let’s up the rating: Karen Spencer, the Admiral’s daughter tells Sam/Tommy that she isn’t trying to be too forward, but he could be a little more aggressive with their relationship.
One more time: “I will not lie, cheat or steal. Unless I need to pass algebra.”
Ronnie reciting one of the rules he decides to modify.
Trivial Matters: Usually we see Al step back to exit the imaging chamber. Here, the door opens behind him, which is a neat change.
Sam’s leap into Vietnam last season is referenced after Al accuses him of never being in the military.
Put right what once went wrong: “I know about the guilt. The shame. The fear. I spent my whole life that way, wondering why I had to be different.” With this subject matter, this episode needs to set up someone for Sam to have an argument with. They cannot use a fellow cadet nor someone of higher rank, so they use Al. The same guy who is supportive of all minorities and expressed empathy for those in bad situations on multiple occasions. The writers try and cover it up with military honor, but it falls flat as does Al suggesting what Tommy’s sexuality is. At the final moment Sam says that it does not matter. Sam and Al arguing are some of the core foundations of this show and their disagreements can be profound but this one is just there for the sake of being there.
The rest of the writing is solid with the treatment of someone who is suspect. John Finn plays the admiral role well, being fair to both parties but following the guidelines. He has to impose a punishment, but you never got the sense that he was not being fair. Even when he recites the reason for the regulations it is not clear that he supports them. John Roselius is great as the Coach. He is supportive to Sam and has the authority to quiet things down as needed. He starts off as a Drill Sergeant but quickly becomes an advocate.
Phillip and Ronnie are two sides of the argument. They both show up at the start and we do even get a scene with Ronnie being friendly early on, thought that quickly turns on a dime. He is the face of The Chain, the antagonist who leaves when he is declawed. Phillip is trying to make a statement but is fighting an uphill battle. In their first meeting Phillip wonders if he will still have support and gains some advocates by the end. Unfortunately, his is given the short end of the stick since he is not in the academy anymore. His scenes are brief but are played well.
This could have been a great episode reminding us of a not too distant intolerant past and they only had to soften Al’s stance a bit toa accomplish their ultimate goal.