Sam leaps into piano player Chuck Danner, who is really Joey DeNardo, a man on the run after having witnessed a murder years earlier He is found by his ex-girlfriend Lorraine whom he disappeared on due to the murder. Sam and the accident-prone Lorraine discover that their lives are in danger, and eventually realize that Lorraine’s new fiancé is actually the murderer, who started the relationship with Lorraine to track Joey down.
Written by Ed Scharlach. Directed by James Whitmore jr.
Piano Man is a decent episode of Quantum Leap–a “road” episode with some good interaction between Sam and the episode’s principle guest star, Lorraine (Marietta DePrima). It’s got a sweet romance going on, and some good action scenes as the two attempt to avoid being killed. There’s also a decent plot twist with the revelation that “Carl” isn’t as innocent as he seems.
Indeed, before the revelation that there is more going on with Lorraine’s fiancé than we we first see, we might even be tempted to feel sorry for him, as he seems like a perfectly decent guy who is on the verge of losing the woman he loves. So the discovery that he is actually the story’s villain is a fun surprise, and of course quite convenient at giving the main characters a happy ending.
However, the episode also brings up some difficult questions about Sam’s time travel–which has to do with the number of people who die as a result of Sam’s involvement. In this episode, there are four deaths all together. Two of them are “bad guys”, so from an narrative perspective, this seems acceptable, even though one wonders what sort of effect this would have on history–possibly a positive one, it can be imagined.
But a little bit more troublesome are the deaths of Janelle and Frank, who end up getting blown up in Joey’s car instead of Sam and / or Lorraine. This kind of things has happened before (I’m thinking specifically of The Leap Home part 2–Vietnam), but the difference here is that nobody ever brings it up. These two innocent bystanders are killed in a way that is a complete historical divergence, and all Al seems to care about is Sam himself. Fair enough, at the moment things are pretty urgent, but it seems like an oversight for the episode to not acknowledge how serious a thing this is in one of the quieter moments later on.
Instead, there is a lot of light-hearted action and even some dark humor about all the boyfriends that the accident-prone Lorraine has had who have died in strange circumstances–one fell into an alligator pit while taking photographs, one fell out of the upper deck of a baseball stadium trying to catch a ball. And at the end, it’s Lorraine who actually kills her latest would-be love (and the bad guy) by causing a car to drop on top of him! (“I always thought he’d die in a plane crash,” she even says).
So, it’s a fun episode which I enjoyed, but I would have preferred it if it had either dealt with the thorny issues it brought up, or had avoided them (something which would not have been too hard to do).
• Denise Gentile (Janelle) played Lise Hampton in a handful of episodes of Babylon Five.
Who and Where is Dr. Sam Beckett?
Sam is Joey DeNardo, operating under the name Chuck Danner, driving through New Mexico, starting from Tularosa through Vadito, past Taos and up to an airport in Sedona, from November 10-11, 1985.
What does Sam have to do?
Sam has to prevent Joey DeNardo (and later Lorraine) from being murdered by Nicky Bellini.
What do we learn about Sam Beckett?
We once again see Sam’s experience and ease with the piano and singing, but that’s not really new.
What do we know about Al?
There’s nothing really new in this episode.
What about the experiment?
Ziggy is unable to get a lock on Lorraine’s location because , as Al puts it, “She’s dizzy”–she’s actually missing some of the connections in her brain.
“Driven by an unknown force…” (God or Time or Something)
No particular references this time around.
The catchphrase is heard both at the start and at the end in their usual places (shortly after a leap), but also in the middle of the story after the tire blows (although that sounds more like, “Aw boy.”
Sam’s Complicated Love Life
Sam is paired up with Lorraine, the love of Joy’s life, the entire time, but he leaps just as he kisses her. Janelle, the girl at the bar at the beginning, also comes onto Sam / Joey pretty strongly.
The Many Loves of Al Calavicci
Al leers at Janelle, but that’s about it.
• This is the second episode in a row in which Sam seems to right away to have reflexive knowledge of how to do certain thins that his host did–in this case he knows not just how to play the piano, but how to perform Joey’s songs quite naturally.
• The song Sam plays–Somewhere in the Night–is pretty good, and Sam sings well.
• Cute line from Al: “I mean, you get killed–as in dead, morte, kaput, finito, the big sleep.”
• The ending credits run over a shot of Sam playing and singing to Lorraine.
Sam Leaps To
Desperate, Sam says, “Al, we need a plan.” Al replies…
Ziggy says to get the hell out of Dodge!
And Sam replies, “That’s not a plan.”
Special thanks, by the way, to this site for the episode transcriptions.
The Best Moment
Sam and Janelle play the piano together in the middle of the episode. Scott Bakula does all his own singing performances and according to one source wrote his songs as well!