Quantum Leap – The Boogieman [3.5]

Sam leaps into horror novelist Joshua Rey, and finds himself frustratingly unable to prevent a series of mysterious deaths from happening around his home on Halloween in 1964. Sam becomes convinced that there is a murderer at work, with evidence pointing to his fiancee, who also displays psychic abilities. In the end the culprit is revealed to be Al, who has been replaced by an imposter. Sam faces his enemy, who insinuates that he is the devil. In the end, returns to near the start of his leap, with the whole experience seeming to have been a nightmare–except that it contained accurate knowledge about the future. This time, Sam is able to prevent the firsts of the deaths, completing the leap.

Written by Chris Ruppenthal . Directed by Joe Napolitano

Previous Episode: One Strobe Over the Line • Next Episode: Miss Deep South

This is definitely not a “normal” episode of Quantum Leap–it takes place on Halloween, it aired near Halloween, and the whole thing has got a “Halloween special” kind of vibe. As such it’s got kind of a “Horror-lite” vibe with the various creepy deaths, and the overt implications of supernatural events going on. It also manages to tell an interesting little mystery, with the revelation that Al–quite possibly the person we’d all least suspect–is the murderer.

I remember coming into this episode on a rerun many years ago, and seeing the second half of it. Sadly, that meant I never got the full effect of the twist. Still, the bit where Al suddenly bleats out like a goat was confusing and a bit funny at first, and then became incredibly creepy as it became clear what was going on.

But what exactly is going on? Taken at face value, Sam leaps in, creeps around, gets knocked out by accident, and then has a creepy dream. But that can’t be exactly right, because Sam’s dream revealed all sorts of things that proved to be true–not just Tully’s death, but Mary and Stevie’s identities (indeed, he doesn’t even see their faces until after the accident–and he even knows Stevie is a young Stephen King).

So what’s the alternative? Does Sam legitimately encounter the devil, or some other evil being who prides himself at bringing death into the world and who can apparently shapeshift? If so, how does he defeat him? By just holding on while he spins around the room wildly changing appearance? Why does that cause the whole day to become undone?

Or is the truth that Sam is dreaming, but that in the dream there is a battle going on between this “devil” and “God or time or fate or whatever” for Sam’s “soul”–his mind, will and emotions? Maybe if Sam had lost this particular battle, his whole mission would have been a failure, and Sam himself lost to despair and hopelessness.

Or maybe Sam is dreaming, and the dream is just a message from “God or time or fate or whatever” so that Sam will know what he needs to know to save Tully’s life? Certainly, if not for the experience of the “dark reality”, Sam would not have been in time to save Tully (who, it must be acknowledged, died much earlier in the “real” world than he did in the “nightmare”).

All this ambiguity doesn’t make The Boogieman into a particularly good episode–it’s not, really; there’s not a lot to recommend it in terms of drama or characterization aside from the twist itself–but it does make it memorable and ripe for lots of speculation.

Cast Notes:
• Paul Linke (Sheriff Ben Masters) previously played Lionel in the Season One episode, Play It Again, Seymour. He also was a regular on CHiPs, as Officer Grossman.

• Chris Ruppenthal, the episode’s writer (and a writer and producer for many other episodes) appears uncredited as Joshua Rey, Sam’s host.

Who and Where is Dr. Sam Beckett?
Sam is Joshua Rey, a horror novelist, on October 31, 1964, in Coventry, Maine.

What does Sam have to do?
Sam apparently has to save Tully from the “accident” which leads to his death. In the original version of things, this is caused by a goat (probably really the Evil Al), but in the final version of events at the end of the story, there is no sign of a goat, so presumably it’s just an accident.

What do we learn about Sam Beckett?
There isn’t really anything to be learned here, except I guess that Sam is familiar with the Addams Family, and I guess Stephen King.

What do we know about Al?
Nothing new here.

What about the experiment?
There’s nothing new here, except the implication that someone has put wrong the things that Sam is trying to put right.

God or Time or Something
Evil-Al refers to God as his opposite, basically (which just goes to show this is not the biblical God / Devil here. Or it shows that the Devil is lying, as he is known to do).

“Oh Boy”
The catchphrase is heard only once, in the teaser for the next episode. Strangely, though, it is not heard at the start of this one, even though it was in the teaser we saw last time.

Sam’s Complicated Love Life
Sam is engaged to Mary in this episode, but there is not really any romantic behavior in the episode.

The Many Loves of Al Calavicci
Nothing new here, which is not surprising given that the real Al is barely in the episode.

Other Observations
• Sam thinks he’s in 1879, but of course that’s not possible, as far as Sam knows.

• There’s a funny exchange with Stevie about getting the haunted house ready: “I still gotta peel those grapes for the bowl of eyeballs. Hey do, you need any more gopher guts or anything?” “Uh, no. No, I think we got enough gopher guts.”

• If Al is not a hologram here, how could Sam not smell his cigar smoke? There’s also a bit where Al stands very close to Sam and Mary on the stairs–seems lucky nobody bumped into him. Still, it’s clever how he usually leaves his scenes off-camera and without any sound effects.

• It’s nice touch how characters have a vague reaction to the Al’s presence.

• With both Tully and Dorothy, both are killed by animals, and Al appears just after each one goes off camera. However we do see the snake and Al at the same time. It’s the same with the cat, I think. Did Evil-Al let a real snake go, and then take it’s place to kill Dorothy? Whatever the answer, the snake showing up from under the stove is quite startling.

• Evil-Al says there’s something “hinky” going on? I’ve never heard that word outside of The Fugitive.

• The typing appearing and telling the story is quite creepy

• Wait…Sam says that psychokinesis is real??! What?! Maybe it’s just in the nightmare world that Sam believes that is true.

• Sam finds the dead sheriff and lets out a big and terrible, “Noooo!!!” It’s pretty hard to take a moment like that seriously.

• Dean Stockwell is creepy as all get out as evil-Al.

Sam Leaps To
Miss Deep South

Favorite Dialogue
I like Evil-Al’s key line

Who gave you the fight to go bungling around in time, putting right what I made wrong?

It definitely opens up the scope of the show.

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

The Best Moment
There’s nothing in this episode that I love, but as I wrote earlier, the moment when Evil-Al is revealed and bleats in Sam’s face always stood out to me for its odd creepiness.

Previous Episode: One Strobe Over the Line • Next Episode: Miss Deep South

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