Quantum Leap – Another Mother [2.13]

Sam leaps into the divorced Linda Bruckner, and has to save her teenaged son from a random murder while also navigating the demands of motherhood.  Complicating things is the fact that Linda’s youngest child can see and hear Al, and can see Sam for who he really is.

Written by Deborah Pratt. Directed by Joseph L. Scanlon

Previous Episode:  Animal Frat Next Episode:  All-Americans

Comments:
For the second time in the series, Sam leaps into a woman, but this time the situation is completely different than we saw in What Price, Gloria? in the first season.  This time around, Sam is not only a woman but a mother.  This is actually the first time that Sam has had to deal with parenting in one of his leaps, and it’s a pretty funny and successful story.

The foibles and difficulties with the three children are of course a bit obvious, but they are played with real sincerity.  Sam has a number of good scenes with Kevin in particular, offering frank and helpful advice to the teenaged boy.  Scott Bakula plays these scenes well–it’s interesting to see him adopt the traditionally nurturing role of a mother.

All three performances from the kids are quite good, with young Troian Bellisario being particularly impressive as little Teresa.  She has quite a lot to do, actually, with the amusing though nonsensical revelation that children under five can see and hear the truth about Sam and Al.  This helps to give Dean Stockwell another dimension to play, as Al finds himself bonding to Teresa in surprising ways.

The show does quite a good job, actually, with the technology of the future being used in the leap in clever ways.  Not only does Al provide all sorts of useful information, but Sam also uses him to entertain Teresa, to gather information on Kevin in the early part of the story, and to keep an on eye on Kevin when he’s in trouble.  And of course at the end Al uses his handlink to project holograms of dinosaurs for Teresa to learn about.

Overall it’s a well done and enjoyable episode.  The only disappointment to me is that in the end Kevin doesn’t really stand up to his “friends” who are tormenting him–he just gets by with a passionate kiss from Jackie which while saving his reputation, does nothing to challenge the absurdly juvenile ideas behind the peer pressure that he is experiencing.

Cast Notes:
• Troian Bellisario plays Teresa, who later starred in Pretty Little Liars.  She’s the daughter of show creator Donald P. Bellisario and writer-producer Deborah Pratt.  Deborah Pratt played Troian Claridge in A Portrait for Troian, a couple of episodes ago.

• Olivia Burnette plays Susan.  She later plays Sam’s younger sister Katie.  She also played Marti Page, Steve Martin’s daughter, in Planes, Trains & Automobiles

• The opening narration for this episode (and only this episode) is done by Lance LeGault, who is best known for his recurring role on The A Team as Col. Decker, and his recurring role on Magnum, PI  as Col. Greene.

Who and Where is Dr. Sam Beckett?
Sam is Linda Bruckner, a divorced mother of three, in Scottsdale, Arizona, on September 30 – October 1, 1981.

What does Sam have to do?
Sam has to save Linda’s son Kevin from kidnappers and murderers who prey on children, and also to give him the ability to stand up under the peer pressure of his friends.

What do we learn about Sam Beckett?
Sam fought with his brother and sister, but his parents would bring them back under control.  At 15, Sam had trouble because he was intelligent and shy.  Also, as a child, he had many heart-to-heart conversations with his dad while playing ping-pong.

Sam knows lots of martial arts, including Judo, Karate, Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do.

What do we know about Al?
Al’s worst memory of being 15 is being busted while trying to get together with a girl.  By 15 he was apparently already used to sexual situations.

Al never had children, and never really thought about it, but bonding with Teresa makes him rethink that position.

What about the experiment?
Kids under the age of 5 exist in a natural alpha state, which explains why Teresa can see Al.  And apparently, children are so innocent that they only see the truth, so young Teresa can see Sam as he really is.

Sam doesn’t leap until Kevin has faced his friends, even though Sam has got nothing else to do that that point.  Unless really, Sam is not leaping until Teresa learns about her dinosaurs for some reason.  And somehow, Sam can feel when the leap is about to happen.

God or Time or Something
There’s no particular references to this this time around.

“Oh Boy”
The catchphrase is only heard after Sam’s ending leap, into the next episode.

Sam’s Complicated Love Life
Sam shares his view of love and sex, but he’s not involved with anyone this time around.

The Many Loves of Al Calavicci
Al was with a girl when he was 15, but was caught before they could get anywhere.

Other Observations
• This episode changes the opening narration.  Rather than a recap of sorts of the previous episode, read by Sam, there is a generic narrator summarizing the show’s premise. It’s quite overly-dramatic and hard to take seriously.  It does, however, make clear that Sam activated the experiment prematurely because of imminent funding cuts.

• That’s Call Me by Blondie playing on the stereo at the start.  Also, over the closing credits.

• The opening scene, with the kids fighting, the dog, the mess, and all the chaos is a bit cliched, but funny.

• There are lots of pop-culture references throughout this episode, with a dog called Wookie (from Star Wars), Susan’s passion for Tom Selleck and Magnum PI, and Kevin referencing Yoda, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Sesame Street, Jaws and The Twilight Zone.

• There’s a lot of funny lines from the kids.

Kevin:  Mom just reached the max gross load.
Susan:  You’re the gross load.

Also, “What’s secular undercourse?” and “Sam, me and Wookie made a painting,” both from Teresa.

• The bit where Sam and Al are trying to explain things to Teresa is pretty funny.  “Angel Sam is the doll elf,” says Al.

• Wait…are Sam’s ears pierced?  How is he wearing earrings?  We’ve clearly seen that when Sam leaps, his whole body leaps in (which is why he still see when his host is blind).  Then how is he wearing earrings?  Unless they are the “clip on” variety, but that seems strange.

• Even Al is embarrassed at the boys’ inappropriate conversation.

• The boys plays “Demons & Dragons”…which is an obvious analog to the real life “Dungeons and Dragons”.  The insult “Zero charisma” is a reference to the way that game works.  I think it was also an insult in ET – the Extra-Terrestrial, but that film hadn’t come out when this episode takes place.

• That dark van is pretty ominous, but seeing the two creeps inside takes away the tension a bit.

• Um, the class president’s date is automatically the Mardi Gras queen?  That seems like a silly system.

• Al sings Inchworm to Teresa very lovingly.

• Al is somehow able to get one of the kid’s sexual history from his handlink.  Man, I guess everything really is on the internet.

• When Al is repositioned in the simulation, he disappears in a strange sort of sparkle that I haven’t noticed before.

• Al refers to distance in kilometers.  Was that an attempt by the show to make it sound futuristic, not realizing that America was not actually going to go metric, like everyone was saying?

• There’s a clever use of the rear view mirror to show what the creeps see as Sam approaches them.

• Sam’s shirt is ripped open, and he clearly isn’t wearing a bra.  This makes sense because Sam would obviously dress as he felt comfortable, but it must have been quite the startling moment from everyone else.

• Sam can’t remember who Bruce Lee is.

• This is, I think, the first time we see Sam deliver a roundhouse kick to take out an opponent.

• Kevin and his poor double standard:  “You’re a girl, you’re supposed to be [a virgin]!”

• Right at the end of the episode, Al promises that he’ll see Teresa again someday.  I’m not aware that this idea was ever brought up again, but I guess we’ll see as the series goes on. Maybe he just went and found her in the future, when she’d be in her twenties.

Sam Leaps To
All Americans

Favorite Dialogue
I think my favorite bits are Teresa’s swooning about Tom Selleck and Magnum PI: 

The only thing that matters is that he’s sensitive, and he understands the needs of a woman.

And then, when Kevin is asking for romantic advice:

I’m eleven.  I don’t have to deal with that teen-aged mating ritual crap. 

Special thanks, by the way, to this site for the episode transcriptions.

The Best Moment
There are a few good moments of Sam connecting to the children like they are his own.  I really like it when Sam asks Al to go and sit in the van with Kevin while he’s still a prisoner, not because Al can do anything, but just because it’ll make Sam feel a little better knowing that Kevin isn’t completely alone.

Previous Episode:  Animal Frat • Next Episode:  All-Americans

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