Quantum Leap – Hurricane [4.3]

Sam leaps into Archie Necaise, a Mississippi sheriff working with his girlfriend Cissy (a Red Cross nurse) trying to help people evacuate in the face of the onset of the devastating Hurricane Camille. Sam must prevent Cissy’s death in the storm, while also helping others in his role as sheriff. Eventually, Sam and Al realize that Cissy was not killed by the storm but by Archie’s jealous ex-girlfriend, desperate to win Archie back. Sam is able to save Cissy and also help spur her on to doing the work to become a psychotherapist.

Written by Chris Ruppenthal. Directed by Michael W. Watkins

Previous Episode: Play BallNext Episode: Justice

After the human interest drama Play Ball, Quantum Leap shows its versatility by delivering this action-packed tale of Sam having to brave both the fearsome elements and a woman driven to murder, all set during the historical Hurricane Camille of 1969. Like Al points out, hundreds of people were lost their lives as a result of this storm, and the damage was massive, so it’s certainly exciting to see Sam have to contend with some of the impact. For my money, this is the sort of “brush with history” that works best in the show–Sam coping with small corners of large real-world events, like the riots in Black and White on Fire or the earthquake in A Portrait for Troian. I prefer this over Sam randomly bumping into famous people, as he is often prone to do.

The episode makes extensive use of stock footage, but manages to incorporate it well and sell the illusion that Sam is struggling to drive around in one of the country’s worst storms. The subplot of the “hurricane party” that Sam has to convince to leave for their own safety is actually based on an apocryphal story from the real hurricane, which apparently involves a similar hurricane party in a building which was destroyed, leaving only one survivor (in truth, there was no party, but there was a building that was destroyed, killing 8 and leaving 15 survivors).

I like the mix of the use of the storm as a backdrop for the melodrama o the crazed Lisa. It’s nicely thematically connected to have the storm raging both internally and externally, and it gives the episode plenty of activity to keep it interesting. There are a number of standout scenes of tensions, including the bit where Sam is out in the storm deciding on which crisis to address first, and especially the sequence of Lisa preparing to fingering the knives as she grows determined to destroy her romantic competition. If there is a weakness to it all, it’s just that Sam somehow gets home, quite conveniently, in time to save Cissy when it seemed like there was no way to do so. But this is a minor quibble.

It does come with a few oddities, however. Given the amount of effort Sam has exerted to refrain from becoming romantic with people on his leaps, he seems very receptive to Cissy’s interest in this episode. It’s understandable but a bit surprising given his usual way of operating. Also, there are two characters (Cissy and the guy running the party) who, incompletely different scenes, directly comment on how Sam somehow looks like two different people at the same time (seeing two eye colors at once, or two hair colors at once, that sort of thing). Nobody has ever made a comment like this to Sam before, and it’s never explained or followed up on in the episode. I don’t know if it will ever get mentioned again but the show is not highly serialized so I doubt it. They were interesting moments, but just a little odd if the episode wasn’t going pay them off at the end.

In the end, Hurricane is a good entry into the fourth season of the show. It features good performances from Scott Bakula and Dean Stockwell, and the two main guest stars, Marilyn Jones (Cissy) and Tracy Colis (Lisa). It’s not the deepest episode, but it is enjoyable and diverting to watch.

Cast Notes:
• James Morrison (Joe Deever) was Bill Buchanan in a whole bunch of episodes of 24.

• Bill Erwin (Mr. Deever) has, amongst his hundreds of credits, a role on Star Trek: The Next Generation–specifically the episode Remember Me as the scientist who disappeared first when everyone was vanishing around Dr. Crusher.

• Barbara Townsend (Ma Maw) was the first of two actresses to play Mildred Potter on the spin-off series AfterMASH.

Who and Where is Dr. Sam Beckett?
Sam is Sheriff Archie Necaise of Jackson’s Point, Mississippi, on August 17-18, 1969.

What does Sam have to do?
Sam has to prevent Archie’s ex-girlriend Lisa from murdering Cissy Davis while not failing to perform his other duties during Hurricane Camille. He also must help to encourage Lisa to pursuing a career as a psychotherapist.

What do we learn about Sam Beckett?
Sam had seen a lot of tornadoes as he grew up in Indiana, but here doesn’t feel like any of that prepared him for a hurricane.

What do we know about Al?
No new information.

What about the experiment?
No new information, although for some reason both Cissy and the guy running the party can both detect that there is something odd about Sam…that he actually somehow looks like two people at once. This is never explored or explained.

“Driven by an unknown force…” (God or Time or Something)
No references this time around.

“Oh Boy”
There is a funny “Oh boy!” right at the start when the cat escapes and the newspaper blows in Sam’s face, and then a much more sober one at the end after he has leapt in during the KKK ritual.

Sam’s Complicated Love Life
Sam becomes very romantic (though not fully intimate) with Cissy Davis, a Red Cross nurse who is dating Archie. Lisa attempts to rekindle a relationship with Sam / Archie, but is rebuffed.

The Many Loves of Al Calavicci
Al stares at a statue of a woman (on the front of a boat) and makes a vaguely suggestive comment toward Cissy (which she of course cannot hear). He and Tina are apparently having a fight.

Other Observations
• Sam has some narration which has a nice idea behind it, but I don’t feel is actually well written: “Strangely enough, the thought of being in a hurricane…was somehow comforting and familiar. I guess that’s because every time I leap, I feel that strange, unseen forces hurl me wherever they want to, and there’s nothing I can do to stop them. So that for me, life, like storms, is unpredictable.”

• Its funny watching Sam try to interpret all the police jargon.

• The episode has an interesting sound track, with heavy use of percussion.

• Nice romantic line from Sam: “If it was the right someone, I’d marry ’em after a couple of hours.”

• The ending credits of the episode role over this week’s incidental music and archival imagery of the aftermath of the hurricane.

Sam Leaps To

Favorite Dialogue
This isn’t a a particularly strong dialogue episode (though it’s not bad), but I guess my favorite is Sam’s “knowing” speech about how being in a storm makes you feel more alive.

Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound?…Move mountains, right wrongs, travel through time, grow 10 feet tall and run forever.

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

The Best Moment
As I mentioned, there are two standout moments–when Lisa is looking at the fishing knives during her conversation with Cissy, and when Sam is stuck in the car, trying to figure out to save Cissy and save the people in the apartment building at the same time.

Previous Episode: Play BallNext Episode: Justice

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