Quantum Leap – Her Charm [2.15]

Sam leaps into FBI Agent Peter Langly, tasked with protecting witness Dana Berrenger from murder at the hands of a vindictive criminal. Because of suspicions that the criminal has an source inside the FBI, Sam improvises his own plan to save Dana, but the danger still persists.  Eventually, Sam and Dana realize that the traitor is actually Langly, his own host. Nonetheless, Sam is able to save Dana from both the criminal and from Langly himself.

Teleplay by Deborah Pratt and Donald P. Bellisario.  Story by Paul M. Belous & Robert Wolterstorff and Deborah Pratt & Donald P. Bellisario. Directed by Christopher T. Welch

Previous Episode:  All-AmericansNext Episode:  Freedom

Her Charm is a real mixed bag of an episode.  The plot works quite well and makes good use of the series’ format.  I like the way history keeps adjusting as Sam strives to keep Dana alive, succeeding in the moment but with the danger still persisting in the long run.  The action sequences are credible and the twist with Sam’s host being one of the villains is quite an effective one.  It’s surprising to see Sam so open with Dana about some of his secrets (that he’s not Peter, that he has an invisible friend helping him), but maybe that will all just feed into a later understanding that Peter is crazy or something, helping to make sense out of why he helps her in one moment, but still needs to be restrained.

I also enjoy the little personal connection that the episode has for Sam.  We see him make use of his real-life knowledge to try to hide Dana out at a cabin he visited in his youth, giving him the opportunity to talk about developing the theories that helped to shape his life’s work with one of his mentors.  When that mentor shows up at the close of the story, it’s cool to see Sam try to quickly tell the Professor who he is.  Actually, considering that the Professor and Dana go on to be married, one could imagine that maybe he came to suspect who Sam was, given that Dana would probably tell him all about her experiences.

Actually, you could also assume that in the revised history, Sam knew Dana, as his mentor’s girlfriend and later wife!

But, where the episode fails is in its attempt to build romantic tension into Sam and Dana’s relationship. The idea of romantic tension is fine, but it needed a more consistent development.  I like Teri Austen as Dana and a lot of her snarky dialogue, but there’s no discernible reason why Sam would suddenly be so overwhelmed with the desire to kiss her that he’d get into a physical relationship.  The idea that he’d do this in the middle of the situations they are trying to survive is just implausible.

It all ends up feeling forced and shoved into the scenes, like someone decided late in the game that they wanted to try to build to the big moment where she discovers the matchbook, but failed to notice that it wasn’t consistent with the rest of the script.  One more turn around the typewriter to smooth it all out would not have gone amiss.

Cast Notes:
• Teri Austen, who plays Dana Berrenger, was a regular on Knot’s Landing.

• Stanley Brock plays FBI Agent Greg Richardson.  He was someone named Bruno Bender in a handful of Barney Miller episodes.

• John Snyder appears here as Nick.  He was also in two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (The Masterpiece Society and The Enemy) as two different characters, and also appeared in a weird little film I once saw called Roadside Prophets. 

Who and Where is Dr. Sam Beckett?
Sam is Peter Langly, an FBI agent in Boston and the Berkshires, on September 26-27, 1973.

What does Sam have to do?
Sam has to save Dana from being murdered by Nick Kochifos, as well as from being harmed by Peter Langly himself.

What do we learn about Sam Beckett?

Sam lived in Boston, going through four years in MIT in two years, and becoming the youngest person to graduate Suma cum Laude.

Sam would regular stay in a cabin in the Berkshires, which  was owned by Professor LoNigro.  They went there together and it was there that they came up came up with the string theory of quantum leaping.  The last time Sam had been to the cabin was probably the summer of 1973

What do we know about Al?
There’s nothing new here.

What about the experiment?
Al talks about being a hologram, tuned into the mesons…” before Sam cuts him off.

God or Time or Something
Andy sort of jokes with his brother Nicky that God doesn’t want the woman hit, since she has survived twice

“Oh Boy”
The catchphrase is only heard in the teaser for the next episode, which is actually Double Identity from the first season.

Sam’s Complicated Love Life
Sam is attracted to Dana Berrenger, and kisses her.

The Many Loves of Al Calavicci
Al thinks that Dana is beautiful.

Other Observations
• Sam leaps in ringing a doorbell, which is a cute idea.

• The opening action scene is good.  The gunshots provide a good shock.  There’s fun slow motion and funky music.  And Nick uses an uzi!  He also fires into the windows of random houses–he really is a maniac.

• That FBI boss, Greg Richardson, is quite the jerk, which is obviously setting him up as the suspect for being the traitor.

• In the truck, Dana gets really annoying in her panic–and then puts herself of a gun toting maniac when she opens the back.  It seems a little absurd, even if her plan actually works.

• Sam, in his irritation, quotes the Honeymooners – “to the moon”.

• It’s a nice moment when Sam apologizes for whatever Peter Langly has done.  “For any and all past mistreatments, Mr. Peter Langly would like to say, ‘I’m sorry.'”

• Dana is sometimes really irritating, but she also has some funny lines in her complaining.  “You brought me up here to a cabin to get murdered without electricity?  If I don’t freeze to death first,” and “Seems all your professor friend had in his larder were little hairy fish.”  She kind of reminds me of Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane a bit.

• I like it when Sam gives Dana his gun after she’s been complaining about him getting out of the car.  “When they hit me on the head, shoot ’em.”  And it’s cute when he fumbles with the gun and falls in the lake protecting it.  It’s a nice piece of physical comedy.

• Dana’s romantic dialogue just before the big twist is a little cringworthy:  “I wanna love someone so much that the thought of living without him would be too much to bear. I wanna breathe him. I want the scent of him to make me smile. I wanna look into his eyes and know that I’m alive.”  Ugh.

• I gotta say, Sam and Dana lucked out that Andy was so reasonable about everything in the end.  You’d think Sam and Dana would be in just as much danger as before, now that they’ve killed Nick.

• This is the second time that Sam has killed someone (after the events of Honeymoon Express). 

Sam Leaps To
Double Identity, from back in Season 1.

Favorite Dialogue
Andy, Nick’s companion (and possibly brother, unless he is just speaking familiarly) has a number of good lines.  One of my favorite is when Nick calls him an old women.  Andy has a nice reply:

Old women get old because they’re smart.

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

The Best Moment
It’s probably when Dana is lamenting about her life choices, while they are driving.  She talks about doing her civic duty with the hopes that it will means something, but has to face the reality that Nick got acquitted and she may very die as a result.  Sam even gets to empathize with the weight of always having to pretend to be someone else.  It’s simply written but nicely played.

Previous Episode:  All-Americans • Next Episode:  Freedom


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