Quantum Leap – Ghost Ship [4.16]

Sam leaps into Ed Brackett, a young co-pilot of charter plane flying to Bermuda with a passenger suffering from acute appendicitis. When the plane suffers massive instrument failure due to issues related to the Bermuda Triangle, Sam must convinced the more experienced pilot to fly onward, a goal complicated by the pilot’s PTSD from a prior disaster in the area.

Written by Paris Qualles and Donald P. Bellisario Directed by Anita W. Addison.

Previous Episode: A Song for the Soul Next Episode: Roberto!

Ghost Ship is a solid episode of the show which generally keeps its story going at an enjoyable pace, in spite the built-in limitations of location and cast. Back in Sea Bride the action took place entirely on a ship, but it was as large and populated as any other locale that the show has taken us to. This time around, everything is on a small plane, with only a couple of cabins, and just five people in total.

Ghost Ship is one of those tried and true episodes which pits Sam against an apparently supernatural threat. Typically, Sam doesn’t give it any credence, while Al seems absolutely overwhelmed, quaking in his boots. And just as typically, Sam comes out on top but just before the episode ends something is introduced which lends weight to the supernatural again. In this case, it’s the revelation that the USS Cyclops, which rescued Captain Cooper from the waters of the Bermuda Triangle years earlier, had been lost at sea decades earlier (making the Cyclops the best “Ghost Ship” the episode has to offer, right in its closing seconds.)

The episode’s guest cast are all likeable, even if none of them particularly stand out. I especially liked the treatment of Grant Cutter jr (played by Kurt Deutsch), the young newlywed husband. This is exactly the sort of character who could have easily remained an entitled, thoughtless jerk for most of the episode’s runtime. It was much more realistic, and indeed refreshing, that he so quickly realizes how much danger his wife is in and transitions into a concerned husband.

What worked a little bit less or me was the depiction o Captain Cooper’s post-traumatic stress disorder. Not that I know anything about what the experience of that is like for people, but those were the only parts of the episode that felt like they were dragging–like they were a handy way for the production team to fill out the episode’s runtime.

But they weren’t overtly bad, and aside from that one weakness this was a fun episode of Quantum Leap which hit all the familiar story beats that we want, but did so in a novel way.

Cast Notes:
• Carla Gugino (Michelle) was the voice of the Kryptonian ship in a few different DCEU projects (eg. Batman v. Superman, Justice League) and was the older Silk Spectre in Watchmen.

Who and Where is Dr. Sam Beckett?
Sam is Ed Brackett, a young co-pilot and medical student, on a plane that has already left Norwich, Virginia, on its way to Bermuda, on August 13, 1956.

What does Sam have to do?
Sam has to convince the pilot, Captain Cooper, to take the plane all the way to Bermuda in spite of the many challenges they are facing, in order to get passenger Michelle Cutter dies from a burst appendix.

What do we learn about Sam Beckett?
Sam is

What do we know about Al?
Al knows how to fly a plane, and talks knowledgeably about the Grumman Goose and Liberty ships, made of concrete.

What about the experiment?
Al says that as Sam is a moving target (on a plane) it was lucky that Ziggy could track him down at all.

“Driven by an unknown force…” (God or Time or Something)

“Oh Boy”
Their is a raspy “Oh boy” at the start from Sam, and another one at the end, when he fins himself in a fight during the taping of a TV show. Al also has two “Oh boys” – one when he is worried about a UFO being swallowed up by the Triangle, and once when Wendy pulls out an Oxygen mask to use as an IV.

Sam’s Complicated Love Life
Sam is not involved with anyone this episode.

The Many Loves of Al Calavicci
Al ogles Wendy the stewardess, and also tells Sam to handle the plane like a woman.

Other Observations
• This episode does a good job showing Sam trying to “catch up” to the circumstances around him. For example, he awkwardly mumbles, “You guys are married…” when he realizes the relationship between Cooper and Wendy, and then quickly adds, “An you’re acting like it too.” And in other scenes, Al nicely fills in all sorts of information about flying that Sam is supposed to know.

• Al references Sam’s time as a test pilot from the first episode of the series.

• Sam has a good time teasing Al about his more “fringe” beliefs, with references to giant prehistoric lizard fish, and a U.F.O. that supposedly has been circling them. Al even wonders if the U.F.O. has been swallowed up by the Bermuda Triangle.

• Pretty funny image when Al is floating outside the plane.

• Good dialogue: Sam exclaims joyfully, “I can fly!” Al replies, more down-to-earth, “You can dial.”

• And a good line from Cooper about autopilot: “You keep flyin’ with black boxes, kid, you’re gonna end up in one.

Sam Leaps To

Favorite Dialogue
Right near the start, Sam (in voiceover) delivers this little gem:

Whenever you fly, they tell you in emergencies to put your head between your legs. I guess that makes it easier to kiss your butt goodbye.

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

The Best Moment
I like the bit about 3/4 the way through when Al starts to freak out about being in the Triangle, and then slowly disappears. The near crash-scene that follows is also good.

Previous Episode: A Song for the Soul Next Episode: Roberto!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s