Sam leaps into Frankie La Palma, a mob hit-man who is having an affair with Teresa, the girlfriend of his “Godfather,” Geno. Al reveals a complicated plan to try to bring Sam back home, but this is spoiled when the Godfather discovers Frankie & Teresa’s relationship. Surprisingly, Sam leaps from Frankie to Geno, and must find a way to ensure that Frankie and Teresa can live happily together without suffering from Geno’s jealousy.
In spite of its somewhat risque subject matter, Double Identity is probably the best episode of Quantum Leap so far. It’s got lots of tense and funny scenes and some good character work. It offers a few new insights into our main characters and overall holds attention through, and does all this in what you’d have to call a “normal” episode of Quantum Leap. In other words, this is an episode that doesn’t have anything in particular to do with either Sam or Al’s backstories, and is really just about the lives of the guest cast (speaking of whom, Terri Garber as Teresa is quite good in her part).
One of my favorite parts of the episode is just how much Sam is a “fish out of water” in the opening scenes. He’s completely confused about who he is, where he is, and how to navigate his circumstances. Seeing him struggle with singing, and singing in Italian no less, is a particular treat. It’s the best sequence we’ve had so far in terms of highlighting how awkward and stressful leaping can be.
Of course, there is something odd about the episode, and that’s the fact that Sam does a double leap. He did this in Genesis and I know there is at least one more occasion the future, but in these cases each of the leaps were completely separate–different time frames, different locations, and different situations. Here, Sam leaps from one person to another in the exact same time and place. It’s interesting as it makes the whole idea that Sam’s movements are being guided by an Intelligence intent on accomplishing specific objectives seems all the more obvious. On top of that, it also offers what turned out to be a unique opportunity to see what happens to the people Sam leaps into after he leaves.
Some other good touches include an inventive “mirror effect” sequence with the boys walking down the street, and a touching moment when Teresa talks about how all men lie to her. So generally speaking, pretty good stuff.
• Michael Genovese plays Don Geno Frascotti. He was a Desk Sergeant in the first holodeck episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation and also appeared in an episode of Deep Space Nine. He reappears in the last episode of Quantum Leap as Mr. Collins, and he was a recurring police officer on The Flash from the 1990’s.
• Joe Santos plays Tony La Palma. He was Lt. Dennis Becker in lots and lots of episodes of The Rockford Files.
• Nick Cassavetes plays Primo. He’s the son of John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands, and is a film director as well as an actor. He directed the oddball movie She’s so Lovely with Sean Penn and John Travolta, the only example of his work that I’ve seen.
• Mark Margolis, who plays Adriano, was Jimmy in a bunch of episodes of The Equalizer, and played a scientist in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, A Matter of Perspective.
Nick Cassavetes and Mark Margolis were both in sequels to Delta Force, with Margolis appearing in Part II and Cassavetes co-leading the team in Part III.
• John Hostetter plays Burt. He was John, the stage manager on the show-within-a-show on Murphy Brown, and also showed up in the 1990’s version of The Flash.
Who and Where is Dr. Sam Beckett?
Sam is Francesco “Frankie” La Palma, from November 8-9, 1965 in New York City (and in particular, South Brooklyn).
What does Sam have to do?
It seems Sam has to find a way for Frankie and Teresa to be together legitimately, and then also allow Nonna to have a win at bingo!
What do we learn about Sam Beckett?
Sam talks about how he is ten years old at the time of this leap, and mentions that he would have been in 4th grade, sitting behind Marcia Green. However, later episodes reveal quite explicitly that Sam’s birthday is in 1953, not 1955, which would make Sam 12 at the time of this leap, not 10. The continuity problems are easily explained, however, by Sam’s faulty memory.
Sam knows the stars.
What do we know about Al?
Al is fluent in Italian and talks about having Italian heritage, though his last name is still not revealed.
When Vietnam is mentioned, Al replies, “Don’t remind me,” but he doesn’t elaborate.
Al mentions being snuck out of an orphanage that he was living in when he was still young by his dad and his girlfriend. It’s implied that Al lost his virginity to a girl that his dad brought along, but this is not stated explicitly.
What about the experiment?
The Imaging Chamber is normally air-conditioned, but Ziggy (who is referred to as “he” once again) has shut down all non-essential systems.
Ziggy has instituted a “Retrieval Program” to bring Sam home. This involves having arrange for a 1000 Watt hair dryer to be plugged into a certain home in Buffalo while Sam is engaged in whatever he was doing at the moment of his arrival. Why any of this is goes unexaplained.
God or Time or Something
Sam says, somewhat angrily, “Look, God or time or whoever the hell it is leaping me around from one year to another is gonna do it again as soon as I change whatever happened in Frankie’s life in ’65, or someone around him, right?” Later, he realizes that “whoever is bouncing him around in time” isn’t going to let him get away without doing whatever he was intended to do.
For the first time since the first episode, Sam says the line. Specically, he says,”Oh boy, I’m supposed to speak Italian.”
Sam’s Complicated Love Life
Sam leaps into two men during this episode who are both involved with Teresa. Specifically, as Frankie, he is heavily involved with her and would probably have slept with her if they’d not been interrupted by Don Geno.
The Many Loves of Al Calavicci
Al talks about a girl named Hannah Gretz whom he took “into the cloak room” when he was in 4th grade.
• There are lots of other funny bits here. For example, Nonna smacking Segundo at the wedding, or everyone at bingo assuming that Don Geno is about to kill Frankie and Teresa.
• Also, when Primo gives away the fact that his fiance is pregnant,
• And I also thought it was cute when Sam looks like he’s trying to “prepare himself” to leap at the end.
• Some good dialogue as well, like when Same looks in the mirror and says, “Whatever I’m hear to improve, it wasn’t Frankie’s looks,”
• And I like his line at the hair-dressers: “This is nice. Round and full. And bee-hivey.”
• And I’ve got to appreciate the use of the word “floparoonies” in the script.
• On the negative side, that power station setting isn’t very plausible.
Well, for sure, the most iconic line from this episode is, “If I’m lyin’, I’m dyin’.” But my favorite is when Don Geno says to Frankie’s father:
Swearing on Primo and Angela’s firstborn touches me, Tony. It’s very Sicilian.
The Best Moment
Well, even though I found Sam singing at the wedding reception pretty funny, the best scene is all the business between Sam and Don Geno in the barber shop. Sam, being forced to share information he does not know in a language he doesn’t speak, all with a razor held to his throat. That pretty tense, but it’s also pretty funny. .