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I just finished watching (Tuesday night, Nov 1) Quantum Leap’s season 1 episode 7 O Ye of Little Faith, which is an interesting title since faith is mentioned and yet largely discounted, particularly by Ben.
This is the Halloween episode (the original series had several supernaturally themed episodes) since it was first aired yesterday (as I write this) on October 31st. It also heavily draws from The Exorcist (1973). So much so, that I was surprised that at some point during the episode, Ben didn’t mention it (although if he were born in the mid-1980s and generally pursued a career in science, he may not have gotten a taste for horror films).
Ben has leapt into a Catholic Priest, Father James Davenport, a specialist in exorcism from Baltimore. The city he’s visiting isn’t mentioned, but the year is 1934, during the great depression.
He’s met at the door by the victim’s mother Lola Gray (Elyse Levesque) and the household maid Magda Pardo (Colleen Foy). Lola says she’s gotten much worse and bids the Priest enter.
To set things up, this home is owned by the wealthy Tessa Gray (Amanda Carlin). Her sons Percival (Josh Meyers) and Charles Gray (Shane Callahan) live with her. Percival is an encyclopedia salesman who implies he may take advantage of the lonely housewives he encounters in his job. Charles is husband to Lola and father to eighteen-year-old Daisy (Kerri Medders). Charles lost his job in automobile manufacturing due to the depression and moved back in with Mom.
For the past three weeks, since Daisy’s eighteenth birthday, she has been exhibiting symptoms of demon possession. Davenport (Ben) has been called to exorcise her since the local Priest failed and died.
Needless to say, Ben is freaking out. He’s a scientist and an atheist and doesn’t believe in the supernatural. Addison, who appears to him when he’s alone inside the “water closet” (her suddenly showing up in such a creepy old mansion makes Ben jump) must believe the same. She says the “machine” sent him here for a reason. Sam Beckett largely believed that is was God or the personification of time that guided his leaps, but more on that later.
Ben finds Daisy is manacled to her bed. The words “Open mine eyes to see” are written on the wall above her in (supposedly) blood. Her face is covered in bloody gashes we presume are manifestations of stigmata. There’s also a horrible smell described as the stench of the demon.
Addison says Ziggy tells her there’s a high probability he’s there to perform an exorcism which again, freaks Ben out. In the original history, Davenport never gets past the point of commanding the demon to reveal itself and dies when attempting to fight the demon for Daisy’s soul. Daisy dies at 12:06 a.m., just a few hours from “now.”
Daisy at this point, seems in her right mind except she refers to Ben as an angel sent by God and not just Father Davenport.
Ben gives it a shot using his “high school Latin” (which he fumbles through at this point but later in the show speaks with confidence and high drama oddly enough). There’s some sort of manifestation and the lights flicker in and out. The demon roars and Ben is freaked out of his mind. Worse, Addison’s hologram glitches and then vanishes and the imaging chamber stops working altogether.
Back in the present, Addison finds Ian working on what is probably Ziggy’s hardware. They (Ian) is wearing cat ears on their head which Addison points out. Ian says they keep them at their desk but doesn’t explain why. No one mentions that it’s Halloween in their present, which would be an amazing coincidence.
Ian says that Sam Beckett did believe God was guiding his leaps through time and tells Addison that the supernatural isn’t totally out of the question. He later says he has two teams working on why the imaging chamber and only the imaging chamber is malfunctioning. They can still monitor Ben’s location and vitals but they can’t communicate. If they can’t communicate he might become lost in time forever, just like Sam.
Back in 1934, Medical Doctor Felix Watts (Chido Nwokocha) has been summoned by Tessa to provide treatment. He is also an unbeliever and says Daisy’s condition is probably psychological. Calling Ben part of the problem, he says that solutions to Daisy’s condition involve state-of-the-art treatments such as electroconvulsive shock and lobotomy. Frankly, if I were Ben, I’d find those “cutting edge medical treatments” absolutely horrifying and have taken another shot at exorcising the kid.
Dr. Watts insists that Daisy be unchained to which Ben (given his recent experiences) reluctantly agrees.
While a black doctor in 1934 America isn’t impossible, it would be somewhat unlikely and possibly less likely that Tessa would engage him rather than a white doctor given beliefs of that time period. I suspect it’s more of a manifestation of “representation” which we continue to see in the modern incarnation of this show.
Back downstairs in the study of this spooky, gothic mansion, a collection of characters that could have been pulled from the old TV show Dark Shadows (1966-1971) gather. This is where Ben learns a large part of the family’s recent history.
Percy offers Ben a drink but he passes. Later, when about to go back upstairs, she takes a swig and nearly gags saying says he never liked gin (Prohibition had been repealed the year before). In the meantime, the maid takes Daisy some soup, the only food she’s been able to tolerate in the past three weeks.
In the present, Addison and Jenn have another heart-to-heart talk. Jenn mentions that in quantum physics, if you believe in something, it can happen. She even uses the word “faith”. This apparently has to do with something called a vision board. Addison says she turned Ian down when he wanted to make one with her. I have no idea what a vision board has to do with quantum mechanics, but click the link to learn more.
Finally we hear a little about Addison’s “tragic backstory.” Turns out her parents never really loved each other and were more like roommates. She told Jenn she never wanted to get married. Then she met Ben.
Meanwhile, Ben learns more about Lola’s “tragic backstory.” She and Charles conceived Daisy out of wedlock and they were forced to marry (I see a theme forming here). Lola says she’s afraid Daisy’s curse is God’s retribution. Ben says eighteen years is a long time for God to wait to deliver consequences, although if I looked, I could probably find examples of this in the Bible. Ben would never know about them.
There’s some sort of commotion in Daisy’s room and Ben leads the others up. They find the door locked and a disturbance inside. Finally unlocking the door, they see Daisy, unbound, is lying on the bed seemingly in her right mind. Tessa’s cane is near the bed and when they turn around, they see Tessa’s bloodied broken body on top of a tall cabinet (I think it was called a chiffonier, but I’m not sure…Ian used the same word at one point).
Apparently, the demon murdered Tessa. Even the good doctor can’t explain it since Daisy should never have had the strength to lift her aunt that high (even though Daisy having multiplied strength was mentioned early in the episode). Ben is torn between what he’s experiencing and his resolve as a scientist, at one point almost giving the doctor a “pep talk” in rationality.
In the present, Ian turns to reddit (not the vastness of the entire internet but specifically reddit) to track down the events around Father Davenport’s visit to the Gray mansion. That’s where he picks up Tessa’s death and that Daisy would die at six minutes after midnight.
As far as I know, Ziggy still works and Ziggy is supposed to be the most powerful, sophisticated computer system in the world. Just because Addison can’t use the imaging chamber doesn’t mean they need to turn to reddit rather than use Ziggy. This made absolutely no sense.
Ben stumbles over something half hidden under Daisy’s bed. It’s a rotting fish wrapped in newspaper. So much for the “demon’s stench”. The maid Magda admits to putting it there but says in Jewish faith, that smell is supposed to drive away demons. Well, that’s one thing out of the way.
He asks Lola what happened the night of Daisy’s birthday hoping to find some rational explanation. She describes an argument between Charles and Tessa over money. Tessa wants Charles to rise above his pride and get a job rather than depend on her to support his family. Charles insists he wants no part of Tessa’s inheritance and drives a carving knife into Daisy’s cake.
Ben, out of options and without Addison to help, turns to Father Davenport’s reflection. While Ben is talking, Davenport’s lips don’t move. Without a Waiting Room back at Project Quantum Leap, Ben must share a body and consciousness with his host. With nowhere else to go, he says he’ll rely on the Father to help him overcome his beliefs and to go upstairs to perform the exorcism. The Priest’s reflection seems pleased.
Ben takes another swallow of his drink before going up.
Confronting Daisy alone, he uses his “high school Latin” to deliver a fiery reading from the Catholic text as the demon appears, the walls bend and boil. Abruptly Ben passes out.
He wakes up seemingly in the same room but it’s flooded with sunlight and Addison is casually lying in bed (fully clothed). She’s not a hologram and they kiss. Ben’s running through the possibilities including his being dead (Heaven?) but while he’s enjoying being able to touch Addison, the clock strikes midnight. Daisy has only six minutes to live. Again, Ben invariably puts his personal needs and priorities ahead of those he’s supposed to help during the leap.
Then he realizes he’s hallucinating. The only thing he drank during this visit was the gin Percy gave him. He was drugged. So Tessa was murdered and Daisy/Demon was blamed for the crime. But it was a classic door locked from the inside murder. Addison suggests that creepy old mansions always have secret passages.
Ben wakes up in Daisy’s room with Daisy still in bed. She still believes that she’s possessed and that it will take an act of faith on her part with Davenport, to free her. Ben searches the room and finds a hidden doorway in the back of the wardrobe, but it only leads to the room next to Daisy’s.
By the time everyone else enters, Ben has concealed the doorway again. He’s told Magda is bringing up more soup to Daisy. While it seems to be more than six minutes to Daisy’s death, it’s still not far off. Ben says he has to make a call and excuses himself. He finds the phone and laments that 911 hasn’t been invented yet. I’m guessing he wants to call the cops. Magda, coming with the soup, says the phone stopped working when he arrived.
Ben decides to quiz Magda about the night of Daisy’s birthday. The argument is almost the same except when Charles refuses to accept Tessa’s inheritance, she says she’ll make sure he never receives a penny upon her death. She changed her will so that Daisy will be the sole inheritor. But if Daisy dies, with Tessa already dead, who gets her money? The murderer has to be the person using the room next to Daisy’s which Magda says belongs to Percy.
He finds the glass he drank from (presumably not letting Magda take the soup upstairs and apparently no one gets curious as to why it’s taking her so long). He says this would be so much easier with the internet out loud, then finds Percy’s hardcopy encyclopedia. He discovers that Percy had asked Magda to bring him something from an apothecary in the next town over more than three weeks ago. She remembers its appearance and a partial spelling which leads Ben to look up Jimsonweed. Interestingly, it’s also called “devil’s snare.”
Although it has legitimate medical uses, it’s also a hallucinogen and poisonous. I’d have to do more reading than I’m willing to right now, but I’m willing to bet the Quantum Leap writers probably took a few literary liberties as to how or if it would affect Ben and Daisy exactly as it did in the episode.
Ben enlists Daisy’s, Magda’s, and the Doctor’s help in setting a trap. He’s already eliminated them as suspects (but he’s a scientist, not Columbo). He gathers the family at 12:06 a.m. just as Dr. Watts declares Daisy dead and pulls the sheet over her. A constable is present. Presumably one or more stayed in the area after they took Tessa’s body. Oddly enough, they didn’t insist on performing an investigation since Tessa was obviously murdered. They might have arrested Daisy right then and committed her to a mental hospital. This is a pretty big plot hole.
Anyway, Ben prays over the body invoking God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (a hundred years ago, he probably would have said “Holy Ghost”). Daisy sits up and says the demon is still present and points to Percy. Just like a classic courtroom confession from an episode of Perry Mason (1957-1966), Ben cracks Percy on the proverbial stand…with one error.
Percy didn’t want the money just for himself. He was in love with his brother’s wife Lola and wanted to run away with her to Hollywood where she always thought she could become a star. Lola confesses that she was forced into a loveless marriage because she conceived out of wedlock (no one breathed a word about abortion, but the subtext in this episode is obvious).
Daisy removes the blanket and in spite of the fact that she’s just been confronted with the knowledge that her Mom and Uncle tried to murder her, she forgives Lola, even when Ben doesn’t. One thing not mentioned is that if the marks on Daisy’s face aren’t stigmata, then Uncle must have worked her over with a razor, permanently scaring her. Daisy it seems, it a person of abundant faith (who would never have existed if aborted).
In the present, Ian reading the reddit page about Daisy’s death sees it change to 404 page not found, which is a standard internet code (the IMDb “goofs” for this episode say it was a generic page rather than what would have really appeared on reddit). That tells them Ben was successful and saved Daisy.
As it turns out, Tessa did have wealth but throughout the episode, it was established that she used most of it to help the poor. Daisy plans to follow in her footsteps with her inheritance, creating a charity she plans to call Goodwill. Cute. Daisy also says when she first saw Father Davenport, he appeared as a much younger man with dark hair, an angel sent from God. Ben is understandably startled (although it would have cinched the deal if she’d have mentioned the angel was Asian).
In the present, Ian has discovered the problem with the imaging chamber.
In the past, Ben alone now, hears a static-laden voice. I first thought it was Addison but it’s Janice (or Janis). She seems concerned and almost panicked. She tells him her name (figuring he wouldn’t remember her with his swiss-cheesed memory) and says she’s come back to warn him (So that’s what she’s been doing all this time with her Dad’s equipment that the ripped off from Mom’s place). But before she can say anything else, Ben leaps.
Ben leaps into a teenage boy in the midst of escaping from some sort of juvenile corrections boot camp with other teens and that’s it until next week.
This ghost story detective show again borrowed from just a ton of tropes which is understandable and predictable. It explains away almost all of the supernatural elements. It does not take into account the supernatural events Ben experienced (minus Addison disappearing) such as the swirling, gaseous “demon” when Ben originally tried to “exorcise” Daisy. Not being under the influence of Jimsonweed, there’s no reason for him to have hallucinated.
While Percy could have cut the phone lines when Ben arrived, how did he reproduce an electrical interruption on cue? I’ve already mentioned how Daisy saw him as his true self, which a hallucinogen would most likely have not done.
A few of these elements might have been put in to spice up the mystery, but as I said, there were some big plot holes.
Also, while the original series didn’t have too much of a problem invoking the supernatural (after all, Sam once leapt into an authentic vampire), the current show is more likely to steer away from it, especially depicting anything about God and Christianity in a positive light.
That’s the nature of the modern entertainment industry and generally the world we live in. Sam Beckett was allowed to explore other worlds not firmly grounded in classical physics, but Ben never will. It might contradict too much of that the current series is trying to say.