Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Quantum Leap Rewatch (Episodes 61-65)
Episodes 55-60 -- Episodes 66-72
The more I delve into this series, the more I realize that it is just an less religious and (slightly) less preachy successor to “Highway to Heaven.” That is a step down from where my memory had this series.
Episode 61: “Dreams”
Episode 62: “A Single Drop of Rain”
Episode 63: “Unchained”
Episode 64: “The Play’s the Thing”
Episode 65: “Running for Honor”
Al starts out as the rational voice of people concerned that open homosexual identity in the military will cause problems. His pivot on the issue never addresses his concerns; he just changes his mind because the story needs him too.
The main antagonist is the worst sort of homophobe, and it is hinted that he may be acting out of an overcompensation. He is so homophobic he must be closeted. That is an interesting point, but it is never really dealt with. The man is pure hatred, cartoonishly so.
One of the worst failings of the show is the typical way that Hollywood stereotypes the issues. We are never told if Sam’s character is gay or not. However, we discover that the only reasons to suspect he might be is that he is a 21-year-old virgin (!), he was friends with a gay student who was his roommate, (In this case the show falls prey to an argument espoused by the villain—that being roommates with a homosexual person could make someone gay!) and because he was standing against discrimination. That, and Al suspects an inclination due to things like: the way Sam sits and the fact that he drinks tea instead of coffee!
The most redeeming aspect of the whole episode comes at the end when Sam is about to leap. Al mentions that they never found out if Sam’s character was gay. Sam asks, “Does that matter?” That gets to the heart of the issue for this episode. This is more of a story about suspicion as judgement. In that sense it almost works, but as already mentioned, the antagonist is a cardboard character. And somehow, even then, the show undercuts itself by making the gay victim not a victim at all. Instead it has him frame the homophobic gang for murder.