Quantum Leap – Raped [4.6]

Sam leaps into Katie McBain, as she is in the hospital dealing with the aftermath of being raped. Katie’s assailant was a popular and well-regarded young man that Katie had been on a date with, Kevin Wentworth. Sam believes he is there to help Katie bring charges against Kevin, something he is able to do after being able to convince the reluctant District Attorney. When Sam failes to leap, he realizes he will have to testify as Katie, something he feels unable to do. Al figures out a way for Katie and Sam to see and hear each other, so that Sam can become a proxy for Katie to testify. When Kevin is exonerated anyway, Sam wonders what he he was actually there to do…until Kevin shows up at night and tries to attack Katie again, and Sam is able to beat him to an inch of his life.

Written by Beverly Bridges. Directed by Michael Zinberg.

Previous Episode: Permanent WaveNext Episode: The Wrong Stuff

Comments:
Raped really has its work cut out for it–having to deliver a compelling drama while treating its difficult with appropriate sensitivity, and placing Sam as a stand-in for a rape victim without coming across condescending or parochial. And for the most part, I think it succeeds. I think one of the reasons it works as well as it does is because Sam is primarily concerned not with his experience, but on Katie’s. By now the audience and the character are well-used to the show’s premise, so we’re not wasting a lot of time with Sam talking about how amazing or difficult it is to leap into someone else’s life. Instead, he is just focused on the injustice of what Katie has endured, and on making it through all the horrors that follow in order to do the right thing.

The whole story is about Sam facing different forms of opposition from everyone around Katie. Kevin Wentworth spins lies about her, his friends accost her and accuse her, the newspaper slanders her and the town judges her. Katie’s own family question whether she fought back hard enough, they fret for their reputation, and consider running away from the problem. The episode doesn’t judge them for this, it just shows how confused the issue can become, and how even their most loving efforts are often not helpful. Even Al spends time suggesting to Sam another possible explanation for what has happened–but Sam is convinced that Kevin is guilty. He “knows in his heart”that this is true–perhaps another sign of Sam picking up certain characteristics from his host, an idea the show has hinted at from time to time.

I quite like the Assistant District Attorney character, Nancy Hudson, and sympathetic but practical approach to the problem. I didn’t always completely buy the performance, but I thought the character was interesting and written well, including her relationship with the police detective, Officer Shumway. Their banter–ranging from friendly to snarky–was pretty well developed and gave the impression that we were borrowing them from their own TV show, maybe a proto-Law & Order type program from the early 1980’s.

The highlight of the story is surely the scene where Katie herself testifies about her experiences. It’s a clever idea that makes use of the show’s premise–for the first time, someone other than Al is seen and heard in the Imaging Chamber.

It’s interesting to watch as the camera pushes in past Sam onto Katie, to the point where Sam is not visible and indeed not even audible anymore, and our attention is entirely on the courage of this young woman reliving her painful experiences in the hopes of seeing justice done.

Of course, justice is not done, not exactly. It’s quite an unexpected development when Kevin gets exonerated, but it leads to the only part of the episode that doesn’t work for me–Kevin attacking Katie again, but getting beat up for efforts. Naturally, it’s gratifying to see Kevin suffer so badly physically, and Sam’s pent-up rage against the man is surely echoed by everyone in the audience. But the idea that right after the trial that Kevin would be so emboldened that he’d come straight over to Katie’s house and try to rape her again, right in front of her house while her family is home just defies belief. I was thinking that to make sense of that scene it might have made sense of Kevin’s girlfriend Paula left him, as the trial had revealed to her some of his problems, and then he had shown up drunken and angry. Maybe then I could have believed him capable of such recklessness, but as it is the whole seen just seems contrived to give everyone some catharsis.

Aside from that, it’s still a very good episode with an understated but solid performance from Scott Bakula.

Cast Notes:
• Penny Peyser (Attorney Nancy Hudson) was Cindy Fox on Crazy Like a Fox, a light-hearted action drama from the 80’s that I watched a few times.

• Amy Ryan (Libby McBain) is well known to me as Steve Carrell’s girlfriend on The Office and Steve Martin’s girlfriend on Only Murders in the Building.

• Liz Vassey (Paula Fletcher) was apparently a regular in CSI: Crime Scene Investigations as Wendy Simm.

Who and Where is Dr. Sam Beckett?
Sam is Katie McBain, a young woman in Mill Valley, California, who is also a rape victim, from June 20-23, 1980.

What does Sam have to do?
Sam has to help bring Katie’s rapist to trial and to enable her to testify against him from the future, and ultimately to beat up Katie’s rapist and presumably help Katie regain her self confidence and potentially get the rapist jailed for a second attempted assault.

What do we learn about Sam Beckett?
Nothing new.

What do we know about Al?
Nothing really new except for his comment about his third wife (see below).

What about the experiment?
They never explain how they are able to make Katie audible to Sam in the Imaging Chamber, but Al says it took them enough power to light up St. Louis for a month.

Driven by an Unknown Force…” (God or Time or Something)
No references to this this time.

“Oh Boy”
A serious “Oh boy,” is said by Sam at the start, after he realizes he is a rape victim. Sam and Al say a simultaneous “Oh boy” when they realize that Sam is not leaping out after the District Attorney agrees to take the case.

Sam’s Complicated Love Life
There’s nothing here. Kevin attempts to rape (for a second time) Sam as Katie, but he doesn’t very far before Sam beats him up.

The Many Loves of Al Calavicci
Al’s third wife charge Al with abuse for singing in his sleep–specifically the song Volare, the same song Al helped Sam sing in Double Identity.

Other Observations
• This is one of Sam’s darkest “fish out of water” situations, as he is trying to answer questions about the crime that has been committed.

• Al says that Virbina is with Katie–referring to Dr. Virbina Beeks, the project’s head psychiatrist, who was seen in Shock Theater and The Leap Back.

• ADA Nancy Hudson and Officer Shumway have a lot of the best dialogue: “My gut tells me there’s a case here,” says Shumway. Hudson replies, “Your gut tells me you gotta stop eating at Betty’s House of Pies.” Later, when Shumway says he would bet his fishing rod on something, Hudson says, “Shumway, what would I do with your new fishing rod anyway?” He replies, “You’d loan it to me every weekend.”

• ADA Nancy Hudson tells Katie where it’s at: “Katie, you will be treated as an object, like a piece of evidence, as the offender. The defense will humiliate and discredit you in any way they can. Can you handle that?” and “You lie to me, I’ll drop your butt so fast you won’t know what hit you.”

• It’s interesting how things in Katie and Kevin’s futures come into play with the way Al and Sam try to figure out what to do–with what Al learns about the future of Kevin’s marriage, and of course with what he can learn from Katie’s psychiatrist records.

• Wow, the defending attorney is so creepy and inappropriate. Ick! Thankfully, the judge seems fair.

• I like the way the District Attorney gets so angry at Sam / Katie when she wonders if Katie’s been lying.

• Al tells Sam to faint! I’ve often thought that there were plenty of occasions where Sam should pretend to faint to avoid difficult situation. “That was a good swoon…I even believed that one.”

• Sweet scene between Sam and Katie’s mother. “All of a sudden I have this big yearning for milk and cookies,” says Sam. The mother replies, “You got it. Just give me a minute to bake them.

• It’s cute how Sam cajoles Al that he and Ziggy can figure out how to make Katie audible in just twelve hours. “What’s 12 hours? You and Ziggy together. Come on.” But then it gets serious when Al asks him why he’s so confident. “It’s all the time I got. “

• As I have already said and repeat again below, the testimony scene is powerful. It’s all good but maybe my favorite part of the exchange is Katie’s answer about whether she resisted Kevin. “Not after he hit me.” “Why not? “Becuase I was afraid he would kill me.”

• It’s ever so slightly contrived when we learn that the DA was raped, but I like her line: “That’s why I try to only take
rape cases I think I can win. See, when I lose, I go through it all again.”

• I like it when Sam says to the police officer: “Besides, I’m still here, so it must not be over yet.” They guy is pretty confused obviously, but Sam is not stressed about that.

• This whole episode takes place over four days, which makes sense if we can imagine that the trial is only one day after the arrest. I don’t know if that’s really plausible.

• Sam leaps into himself in a capsule, screaming his head off. I know what’s coming with this episode, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it–I think it will be pretty interesting to see.

Sam Leaps To
The Wrong Stuff

Favorite Dialogue
There’s a number of good bits, but I particularly enjoyed the small exchange between Sam and Nancy Hudson before Al is supposed to testify. Sam looks for Al, and Nancy asks him who Al is.

Sam: Uh, he’s kind of my, uh, patron saint of hopeless causes.

Nancy: Well, then, come on, Al. We need all the help we can get.

I just like how much she just goes with the flow with things.

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

The Best Moment
As I’ve said, it’s is hard to look past the climax of the courtroom scene, where Katie enters the Imaging Chamber with Al and is able to testify through Sam. It’s a pretty powerful scene which is done almost entirely in one continuous take of Katie, pushing in on her to the point where we don’t see or hear Sam anymore. Cheryl Pollack as Katie really nails the scene.

Previous Episode: Permanent WaveNext Episode: The Wrong Stuff

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