Friday, September 2, 2016

Quantum Leap -- Episode 48: Last Dance Before An Execution


Sam Leaps Into: 
Jesus Ortega, a prisoner about to be executed in the electric chair.

Objective:
Stave off the chair by trying to clear his name along with his friend and fellow death row inmate.

Date:
5-12-71

Location:
Tallahassee, Florida

Memorable Quote:
Oh God.  ~Sam

Highlight:
Great scene in the church when Al uses the little girl as a go-between to Theresa to guide her to the bullet.  One critique of the scene, however, is that Theresa is not nearly surprised enough at the girl knowing all this information and claiming to be speaking to angels -- I would expect her to be crying and falling to her knees.

Lowlight:
We learn that the bullet in the church was a "through and through" (i.e. passed through the body) but that there was another bullet that was found lodged in the sternum.  Why couldn't they have just used that bullet to prove or disprove Jesus's innocence?  Maybe it wasn't in good enough shape?  They should have made that more clear or just had the one bullet.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • This is the first Florida leap (I've been keeping track).  That we've had 22 other states so far (including California 13 times) before Florida is somewhat surprising.
  • I remembered from when I was a kid that there was one episode where Sam started out by saying "Oh God" instead of "Oh Boy," but I didn't remember which episode it was (that's why it's the memorable quote, because it's the only thing I even vaguely remembered about this episode).
  • Last episode Sam was complaining and saying that he was on "the Leap from Hell" but after sitting on the electric chair, I'm sure that lying in a puddle of mud or a pile of manure was starting to look pretty good.
  • I'm not a death penalty fan.  People can debate whether it's racially biased or how much it deters, but personally I believe that the vast majority of human beings are redeemable to some extent (to say nothing of those who are falsely accused).  And even for the ones that aren't redeemable, the killing of another person as punishment doesn't seem like something for humans to decide.
  • A few familiar faces in this one!
  • After Sam's shocking confessional and other revelations, you'd think they'd take some time to question him some more before just executing him a few minutes later.
  • I've mentioned this before, but it's amazing how Sam can be even remotely alert and coherent immediately after leaping out of such a dramatic situation. I'd need some time to process everything.

Final Analysis:
Intense, well done episode with an excellent performance from Bakula.  A good plot also -- even with five minutes left I didn't have a clue how it was going to end.  Ranking it 21 out of 48.

2 comments:

  1. I actually caught some unexpected free time at work this afternoon and was able to watch this. I usually like "march to death row" episodes of shows so I figured I'd get into this one and I did. I also caught the "Oh God!" in the opening and figured if there was any episode that deserved the more urgent moniker, it was this one. Great performances by all (Sloyan and Gago were excellent) and I've never seen Sam get as worked up as he did when appealing to Theresa, and while I liked the passion it was a bit too much as no death row convict would be allowed to pin his lawyer against the wall in a fit of righteous passion.

    I also didn't know where the story was going and enjoyed both the "miracle of the Madonna" (don't tell the Phoenix podcast guys!!!) with the little girl conveying the location of the bullet from Al to Theresa, and the ultimate revelation that Jesus actually did commit the murder. I was a little confused why Raul was telling Jesus all this information from cell to cell as if Jesus was unfamiliar with it. I get that Sam was unfamiliar with the story but the way Raul explained it made it seem like he was opening up to a stranger rather than his accomplice to the crime. There was definite suspense throughout the hour in a way this show sometimes needed more of and the electric chair confession was thrilling as was Sam's leaping at the exact moment the juice was turned on. I'd rate this one 4th between "The Leap Home, Part II" and "Runaway". I'm actually interested to hear why you didn't rank it higher.

    I've never been a death penalty fan either for two major reasons. I don't think the government/criminal justice system can credibly be put in a position of who gets to live or die in the name of justice....and the margin for error is too high, as DNA evidence that has led to multiple exonerations has proven. I have mixed feelings on whether everyone is "redeemable" as there's levels of human psychology in that argument well beyond my pay grade. My anecdotal experiences are that some people turn out badly because of the environment they grew up in either toxifying them or forcing their hand into a life of unsavory choices. These people are probably mostly redeemable. Others are just rotten eggs who I can't imagine any life circumstance leading them to do anything else but evil. With that said, I still don't think either myself or a product of the criminal justice system is qualified to make that call when it comes to taking human life.

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    1. I thought the same thing about Raul talking in the cell (didnt' seem natural). As for why I don't have it higher, I don't have any major issues with the episode, it's just there's others I like better or enjoy more.

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