I honestly believed that I would have quit before I reached this point, but we’ve finally made it to the last recap for Season 1 of Quantum Leap. How have my thoughts on this show progressed as we’ve delved deeper into it? Well, for one, while I still like the show it has become more apparent where Sam’s flaws lie. He has an incredible amount of baggage: familial, romantic, neediness, you name it.
Yet, that is where the level of interest lies. Sam is so engaging because he’s so flawed, because he is needy, blind to things, and gets too invested in whatever aspects hit close to home. That he still tries to do the right thing despite being pulled in these different directions makes him come off a lot more heroic than he would otherwise. But enough about that for now: let’s get started with a light breezy episode about teens.
Quantum Leap S1E8: Camikazi Kid
We open up with Sam leaping behind the wheel of a beat-up car in the middle of a street race. On the back of the car, in very embarrassing oriental style font, are the words “Cam-ikazi Kid” – three guesses as to what the name of Sam’s latest host is this time. This actually gets to me as the name of the car is “Mod Mobile” – why not have that etched on the back instead of some lame pun? This Cam is a piece of work, I tell ya. Sam gets his bearings pretty quickly this time, as it must be preferable to outright crashing, but loses the race and bemoans the “dork” he’s become as he views himself in the mirror. It’s not a pretty sight.
To make matters worse, however, Jason Priestly is one of Cam’s three main bullies. It’s just so odd to see him in this, when seeing Teri Hatcher was very natural. Maybe it’s because I sorta forget Priestly exists. Anyway, the trio of bullies strip Cam/Sam nude and dump him in, well, a dumpster in front of Cam’s crush – his tomboyish best friend. Naturally things get even worse, as it turns out the trio defer to their leader, who is engaged to Cam’s sister. It makes sense that the last recap of the season would be just as cliche filled as the first one was, makes for nice symmetry.
If you guessed where this is going because I said “sister”, then you’d be right – this sets off Sam’s familial instincts off something fierce. We find out more about this in Sam’s narration, as not only was he not able to spend as much time as he had wished with his father or brother before their untimely deaths – but his sister was stuck in an abusive relationship for years. Sam’s inability to get her out of it is another of the main motivators of his hero complex. The drive to help whenever possible. So, when Al mentions Cam’s sister’s fate, being stuck in this horrible relationship with this bully – it sets Sam off.
Especially since Cheryl, the sister, is a really kind soul – another of Sam’s triggers. She wants to join the Peace Corps and change the world, and even tries to set her brother up with his crush. Her fiance, for his part, is all superficiality – pretending to go along with it and pretending to be nice to Cam to boot. As one might guess, this is what Sam believes his mission to be – to get Cheryl to fulfill her dreams. Well, that and to rag on another decade – as he makes a cutting remark as to how “[1961 is] the tail end of the most immature period in history”. I’m starting to believe that Sam doesn’t like any year whatsoever. He also has another spare moment to say how his host is probably going to die of “terminal acne” – jeez Sam, it’s not like he picked to have that complexion.
Anyway, Sam decides to have a heart to heart with Cheryl, and it is a really great scene. Even though Sam has to pretend to be Cam here, the connection he feels toward Cheryl, in proxy of his sister, is really evident. As evident as her caring feelings for, well, pretty much everyone else. Sam tries to get through to her the importance of putting herself first, over what her fiance Bob wants, but to no avail – she loves the shmuck. He doesn’t give up, trying twice more at Cheryl’s dress fitting and at the wedding rehearsal.
Sam finally gets some ammunition when he overhears Bob and his dad planning on stifling Cheryl’s dreams by “baby trapping” her. Which is just…the worst thing I’ve ever heard, but it’s Quantum Leap. Sam reveals this to Cheryl and Bob, well, takes this as an affront and challenges Sam to a race – for pink slips. Bob then makes several classic mistakes here that could really be avoided if he paid attention to movies: 1. he starts acting like an outright douchebag to Cheryl. 2. He tries to kill Sam in front of Cheryl. 3. He shows that he doesn’t care about Cheryl in front of Cheryl. Classic mistakes.
Sam, for his part, decides to pimp out the Mod Mobile with a bit of Fast and Furious Flair and installs in a new fuel injector. To put it simply, he HITS THE NOS. I really hope more people have seen those movies or else none of that makes sense. Cheryl calls off the engagement, again the classic mistakes, and Bob is defeated. In no small part due to Sam pulling off one of the sweetest dashboard slide/punch combos I’ve ever seen.
Al says that Cheryl ends up being a lifer for the Peace Corps and ends up marrying someone as passionate as she is. Sam, in Cam’s body, finally gets that date with Cam’s crush and he leaps out as they kiss. Once again, it was something simple that instigated the leap – but Sam will always choose the harder, arguably better, good deed when push comes to shove. If nothing else that has been the overriding message of the first season.
The first season finale is a horrible episode so we’re skipping it. But here it is a bonus recap: Sam spends some time in a really, really, annoying noir pastiche and then leaps out. The end. Next recap will starts season 2. See you then!
Oh, wait, he also met toddler Michael Jackson and taught him some sweet moves.