Her Charm was the 15th episode in Season Two of Quantum Leap, also the 24th overall episode in the series. Co-developed as a teleplay written by series creato Donald P. Bellisario and Deborah Pratt from an original story penned by Bellisario, along with Pratt, Paul M. Belous and Robert A. Wolterstorff, the episode, which was directed by Christopher T. Welch, originally aired on NBC-TV on February 7, 1990.
Sam is FBI agent Peter Langly, assigned to protect Dana Barrenger. She testified against Nick Kochifos, a dangerous criminal she used to work for. Now, he wants Dana dead, and the history books say she will be, unless Sam can get her to safety. But Dana has been put into Witness Protection twice before, and Nick has found her - leading Peter's boss and Sam to believe that Nick may have an informant inside the FBI.
September 26, 1973: Sam finds himself standing at the front door of a suburban home, with his finger pressed on the doorbell. From inside, a woman yells at him to hold on, then opens the door to obvious dismay as she sees Sam standing there. She goes back inside for a moment, and comes out with two packed suitcases, closing the door behind her. She tells Sam to put the suitcases in the car, then walks down the driveway, verbally chastising herself for getting into this mess.
The woman gets into the back of a car parked in the driveway, telling Sam to hurry up as he puts the suitcases beside her on the back seat before getting into the driver's seat. Sam looks at his reflection in the driver's side mirror, and the woman tells him that men aren't supposed to be that vain. Sam snaps at her that it isn't nice to be rude and pushy, and the woman responds that she doesn't care about being nice, she just cares about getting out of here. She angrily tells him to start the car and drive. Sam says he doesn't have the keys, and the woman tells him that last time they were under the seat. Sam tries to look under his seat, but can't find the keys. Exasperated, the woman leans down to help him, just as a man holding a gun opens fire on them from a passing car. As shards of glass rain down on them from the broken windows, the woman, now holding the car keys, shouts at Sam to do something, telling him that he's the FBI agent.
It's September 1973, in Boston, Massachusetts, and Sam has leaped into FBI agent Peter Langly (the leapee Peter is played in the episode by Mark Harigian). The woman in the car is Dana Barrenger (played by Teri Austin), who is under witness protection, and Peter has been assigned to protect her. Sam's car is riddled with bullets from the shooting. The other car has stopped, and the shooter, Nick Kochifos (played by John Snyder), gets out and starts walking toward Sam's car, still carrying his gun. A man named Andy (played by René Assa) watches intently from behind the wheel of Nick's car. Sam starts his car and backs down the driveway, crashing into Nick's car as Nick dives out of the way. Sam quickly drives away, with Dana still crouched on the front passenger seat. Nick fires at them again as Sam disappears around the corner, then gets back into his car. Andy tries unsuccessfully to start the car, and tells Nick that something is wrong with the steering. Nick gets out to fix it, then sees several people coming out of their homes to investigate the noise. He fires a few shots into the air to scare them back inside, then gets into the car again. This time it starts, and they quickly chase after Sam and Dana, and Nick fires more shots into the front of Dana's home as they round the corner.
In Sam's car, Sam and Dana are both suffering cuts from shards of glass. They appear to have lost Nick. Dana demands to see someone called Richardson, and Sam tries to get her to calm down. She complains about being in a bullet-riddled car with murderers chasing after her, and tells Sam to take her to the FBI building. Sam wants to take her to a hospital first, but she wants to see Richardson so he can have Sam "executed for stupidity". Sam insists that someone needs to stop her bleeding first. Dana looks into the rear view mirror, and faints at the sight of the blood running down her temple, collapsing onto Sam's shoulder.
Later, Sam has found his way to FBI headquarters, and after two hours in the emergency room with Dana, he is eager for her to become someone else's problem. Al has arrived, and Sam complains that as soon as he leaped in, people were shooting at him. Al counters that they were technically shooting at Dana, but Sam just wants to know why he's here. Consulting the handlink, Al tells Sam that Dana is thirty-two years old, divorced with no children, and used to work for Nick as his personal secretary. Sam surprises himself by remembering that Nick's family works in shipping, and Al says that Nick uses the business to smuggle everything from illegal aliens to drugs. Sam remembers that Nick was shot by a Colombian drug lord, but Al explains that that won't happen for another three years. Dana worked in Nick's Miami office as a stenographer before Nick took a liking to her and made her his personal secretary. Last year, Dana found out about Nick's criminal activities, and reported him to the authorities. She gave the Justice Department enough information to put Nick away for life, but since the jury found him not guilty, Al guesses that Nick paid off the jurors. Since then, Dana has changed her identity twice, but Nick found her again both times. Al tells Sam that Nick is going to kill Dana at 3.18 that afternoon, which is in less than five hours.
In another room, Dana is complaining to FBI Agent Greg Richardson (Stanley Brock), the head of FBI headquarters in Boston, that she had been promised by the Justice Department that Nick would be put away for life. Richardson responds that the jury found him innocent, and there was nothing they could do about it. Dana tells him that the FBI is supposed to be protecting her, but she has been protecting herself. She jumped into a bayou full of alligators to avoid being shot by Nick in New Orleans, and this morning she only survived because she had to help an incompetent Sam find his car keys. Richardson insists that Sam is one of the department's best agents, but Dana is not impressed. Richardson jokes that Dana shouldn't have gotten involved with Nick. Dana insists that she only worked for him. Richardson is dubious, since Dana was there for twenty-seven months and seemingly knew nothing. An angry Dana protests that Nick is the criminal, not her, and now she is on the run while Nick is a free man.
Sam is blaming himself for almost getting Dana killed, but Al argues that he's been in more difficult situations than this, and he hasn't let anyone down yet. Dana is watching from the doorway as Sam tells Al that "yet" is the operative word. She asks Sam if he always talks to himself, or just when he's in over his head. Sam doesn't respond, and Al comments that Dana is beautiful. Dana hates that Sam is talking to himself, but not to her, and says her ex-husband used to do that to her all the time. Richardson arrives, having spoken to Washington, and tells the two of them that they'll have a new location ready for Dana in two days, and in the meantime, the back-up plan is that Sam is going to take Dana to a safe house in Baltimore. Dana refuses to go anywhere else with Sam, but Richardson coldly responds that in that case, Dana is on her own. Dana angrily leaves the room without another word, and Sam rushes out into the hall to follow her. She tells him she's going to the ladies' room. Richardson watches her storm away with a grin, and tells Sam it could be worse - Dana could be short, fat and ugly.
Meanwhile, Nick and Andy are parked across the street from the FBI building. Andy tells Nick that no woman is worth making him crazy. He says that even though they've done everything right, including having a man on the inside, they still didn't manage to kill Dana this morning. He tells Nick that God is trying to tell them something, and that God doesn't want Dana dead. Nick tells Andy that he's forgetting something - Nick wants Dana dead.
Sam and Richardson are walking down the hall, with Al close behind. Al is telling Sam where Dana's body is going to be found, but Sam doesn't respond, and instead asks Richardson why Nick is after Dana. Richardson answers that Nick would never let anyone get away with testifying against him in court, especially a woman. Sam asks Richardson if he knows Nick personally, while Al complains that Sam is ignoring him. Richardson admits that he and Nick have met, and that he almost busted Nick on conspiracy to commit murder. Reaching the ladies' room, Richardson opens the door and tells Dana to get moving. He apologizes to Sam with a laugh, and assures him his next assignment will be something more straightforward. He tells Sam to go down to the garage and see if the laundry truck is ready. Al eagerly insists to Sam that they should change the back-up plan. Sam points out to Richardson that Nick has already broken Dana's cover twice, but Richardson responds that only the two of them know where Sam is going to take Dana, so if there's a leak, it has to be one of them. Al looks suspiciously at Richardson, and Sam agrees to go and check on the laundry truck.
Sam leaves Richardson waiting outside the ladies' room for Dana, and rounds a corner while Al agitatedly asks if Sam can even see or hear him. As soon as Richardson is out of sight, Sam tells Al that he heard every word he said, but his ranting was breaking Sam's concentration while he was trying to get information from Richardson. Sam realizes that they are in Boston, and remembers to Al that he used to live there. Al tells Sam that he made it through four years of M.I.T. in just two years.
As Sam and Al head downstairs in an elevator, Sam tells Al that he used to spend weekends living in a cabin outside of Boston. He remembers trees, and a lake, and tells Al it was a beautiful place. Al asks if Sam ever took any women to the cabin. Sam tells Al that the cabin is where he and a professor named Sebastian LoNigro (James Hardie) came up with the string theory of quantum leaping. He decides to take Dana to the cabin, to keep her from being killed on the way to the safe house in Baltimore.
Soon after, Sam is driving away from the FBI building in a laundry truck, wearing a professional cleaner's clothes. Nick and Andy watch him go, then Andy starts the car and they start following the truck. Andy tells Nick that he is worried about him, because he is obsessed with killing Dana. Nick responds that there is nothing wrong with a little obsession.
On his way to the cabin, Sam looks at his watch and sees that the time of Dana's original death has passed by almost an hour. He looks at Dana, who is asleep in the back of the laundry truck, and hopes that he will leap soon, but nothing happens. Meanwhile, Nick and Andy are still following them, but staying far enough behind to avoid being spotted.
Dana wakes up, and asks Sam how long she's been asleep. Sam tells her it's been three hours, and she wonders why he didn't wake her when they stopped for gas. Sam says that he hasn't stopped for gas, and assures her that they still have half a tank, showing her the fuel gauge. Dana sits down in the passenger seat, and reluctantly thanks Sam for saving her life earlier, but soon points out that if it wasn't for her actions, they'd probably both be dead. Sam is annoyed by this, but admits that it was a team effort. He checks the rear view mirror, seeing nobody behind them, then asks Dana why she is so angry at him. Dana responds that he almost got her killed twice. Sam tells her that it wasn't intentional, and points out that he almost got killed as well.
Dana admits that her bad mood has nothing to do with him personally, but says that she hates being a fool. She shows Sam a bracelet on her wrist which bears an evenly balanced set of scales, and tells him that she won it when she was nine, for a paper she wrote in school about crime and citizen responsibility. She put it on and wore it during Nick's trial to remind herself that she was making a difference, and doing her duty as a citizen, and as a human being. Then Nick was acquitted, and now she feels like a fool. Sam tells her that what she did was courageous, but Dana responds that it was stupid, and now because of it, she's either going to get killed, or spend the rest of her life pretending she's someone else. Sam says that he knows the feeling, but tells her that men like Nick have enemies, and sooner or later, he'll either end up dead or in jail. Dana says that until that happens, she's going to wake up every morning and wonder if Nick knows who and where she is. Sam promises to Dana that he won't let Nick touch her.
Back at FBI headquarters, another agent is telling Richardson that there's no sign of Sam and Dana at the safe house. Richardson says he should have tailed them with an escort car, but the agent tells him they're short-handed as it is. Richardson tells him to put out an APB, and to call every state police captain between Boston and Baltimore. The agent leaves, and Richardson looks worried.
Sam and Dana continue toward the cabin. Dana sees mountains on the horizon, and realizes that they aren't headed to Baltimore. Sam admits that he's taking her to a cabin, because he didn't think the safe house was safe. Nick and Andy have also realized that they're not going to Baltimore. Nick checks for other cars behind them, sees none, and tells Andy to "do it". Andy speeds up to pull up alongside Sam, and Dana screams when she sees Nick with his gun. Sam tries to run them off the road, but Andy drops behind them and opens the roof, allowing Nick to stand up and fire at them. Dana opens the back doors of the truck and starts tossing laundry bags out onto the road in front of Nick's car. Andy swerves repeatedly to avoid the laundry bags, rendering Nick unable to shoot at her. Finally, Andy loses control of the car, which veers off the road and down a hill. Dana happily returns to the front of the truck and hugs Sam, the two of them smiling widely. Dana then stops smiling and berates Sam for not helping, despite Sam's argument that the laundry bags were his idea.
At the bottom of the hill, Andy is clearing tree branches from the car, and tells Nick that the car hasn't been damaged. He says that once they get back on the main road, Sam and Dana will have a big lead on them. Nick opens the trunk, and pulls out a suitcase marked with the words "PROPERTY OF FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION". He opens the case to reveal sophisticated computer equipment tracking the laundry truck's location. Nick and Andy get back into the car and start following Sam and Dana again.
Later that evening, Sam and Dana are still in the laundry truck, and tensions are high. Dana complains that Sam has gotten lost. Sam asks her about the feeling you get when someone scrapes their fingernails on a chalkboard, and Dana asks him if he's saying she makes his skin crawl. Sam tells her that he's been shot at twice today, and if he's going to continue risking his life for her, then he deserves a little appreciation, or a lot less grief from her.
Taken aback by this, Dana tries to respond, but can't find the words. Sam tells her that he admires her for trying to indict Nick because it took a lot of courage, and that it isn't fair that the system is making her pay for doing what's right. Dana tells Sam that Richardson makes her feel like she's a criminal, and up until today, so has Sam. Sam says that Peter Langly is sorry for how she's been treated so far. Dana accepts his apology, and Sam offers a truce. Dana asks Sam if he remembers the night he told her that if things were different between them... but she doesn't finish this thought, instead telling Sam that she wishes things were different too. They lean toward each other for a moment, then Sam recognizes a sign pointing the way to the cabin. Meanwhile, Nick and Andy are still using the tracking equipment to follow Sam and Dana.
Sam and Dana walk up to the cabin, and Sam tells her it hasn't changed. Dana asks him when the last time was that he was there. Sam tells her it was in the summer of 1973, then remembering that he's in 1973, corrects himself to say it was in 1953. The two of them look out over the lake, commenting on how beautiful it is. They look at each other for a moment, then lean in to kiss each other. Dana pulls back though, and says it's no good for them to even think about it. She goes inside, then tells Sam she can't find the light. Sam follows her inside, and turns on a lamp. Dana complains about the cold, and Sam walks across the room to light up the fireplace. She then complains about being hungry, and Sam asks her if she wants to eat or be warm. Dana offers to go and find some food while he starts the fire.
While Dana continues to complain about the food, Sam pulls a matchbook out of his coat. Opening it, he sees a phone number written on the inside. He looks at the number for a moment, then strikes a match to light the fire as Al appears. Sam asks why he hasn't leaped, and Al says he hasn't saved Dana yet. Al explains that the timeline has changed, and now Dana is going to die at 4.18 in the morning on a bridge near the cabin. Dana walks back into the room as Sam complains that Al said Dana was going to die on the way to Baltimore. Al responds that every time Sam saves Dana, the time and place of her death changes, which will continue until either Nick is dead, or Dana is.
Dana walks over to Sam by the fire, and tells him he should stop talking to himself, or people who don't know him will think he's crazy. She hands him a fork and a tin of sardines, the only food she could find. Before leaving, Al tells Sam that even if Dana doesn't die until the morning, Nick could still catch up with her before that. Sam gets up, putting the sardines down on the table. Dana tells Sam that he made a really good fire, and since they lost Nick, they're probably in the safest place they could be. Sam reluctantly tells Dana that Nick and Andy know they're in the cabin. Dana can't believe it, and asks Sam how he could know that they know. Sam offers to go and bring the truck closer to the cabin, but Dana doesn't want them to separate. Sam realizes they have to stick together, and the two of them leave the cabin.
Nick and Andy reach the side road leading to the cabin, and Nick tells Andy to make the turn. In the truck, Sam is trying unsuccessfully to start the engine. After a few moments, the engine starts, but cuts out again as soon as Sam tries to start moving. Dana yells at him for making the truck stall. Sam starts to leave the truck so he can go out and check the engine, but Dana wants him to stay inside, saying that Nick has probably cut the wires and will hit him over the head as soon as he steps out. Sam starts to argue that if the wires had been cut, the engine wouldn't have started, then gives her his gun, telling her to shoot them when they hit him on the head.
Sam goes out to check the engine. Dana looks at the fuel gauge, noticing that the needle is still exactly halfway between full and empty. She taps on the glass with the butt of the gun, and the needle drops straight to empty. She steps out of the truck, and tells Sam that the gauge was stuck, and they're out of gas. She walks away angrily, tossing the gun back to Sam. Sam reaches out to catch it, and falls into the lake. Dana looks to the sky and asks, "Why me?"
Nick and Andy are getting closer, and Nick tells Andy to turn off their headlights. A shivering Sam walks back into the cabin with a towel around his waist, carrying his clothes and gun. He sits down by the fire as Dana follows him inside, bringing him a cup of hot water. She tells him she couldn't find any tea or coffee. Sam thanks her for the water, and Dana picks up a picture from the mantel above the fire. She asks Sam who the people in the picture are. Sam looks at it and sees a picture of himself and Professor LoNigro. He tells her it's the professor and one of his students. Dana is attracted to one of the people in the picture, and Sam asks her which one. Dana puts the picture back, and gloomily answers that it doesn't matter, because she won't live long enough to fall in love with either of them. Sam tells Dana that she isn't going to die, but she claims that she is, and says she's never even been in love. Sam asks about her ex-husband, and Dana says that if it was love, they'd still be married. She tells Sam that she wants to love someone so much that the thought of living without them would be too much to bear. She wants to look in that person's eyes and know that she's alive. Sam and Dana lean toward each other again, and this time they kiss.
They continue to kiss for a few moments, then Dana looks over Sam's shoulder to see the open matchbook with the phone number on the inside. She immediately backs away from Sam, then gets up and points the gun at him, saying she's going to kill him. Sam is confused, and tells Dana she's acting a little hysterical. Dana continues to point the gun at him, but Al, who has just appeared, tells Sam that the safety is on. Sam takes a step toward Dana, and she pulls the trigger. The gun fails to fire, so Dana throws it at him and runs out of the cabin.
Sam starts getting dressed, and asks Al what happened to Peter after Nick tried to kill Dana in New Orleans, and after he killed her in Baltimore. Al answers that Peter was unharmed both times. Sam shows Al the matchbook, and guesses that the phone number belongs to Nick. Al tells Sam that Dana is going to die in eight minutes, and Sam rushes out of the cabin to follow her. Al looks up the phone number on the handlink, and realizes that the number does belong to Nick, and Peter has been working for him all along.
Dana is still running away from the cabin, and reaches the bridge. From the other side of the bridge, Nick and Andy are approaching in Nick's car. Dana stops when she sees them, and Nick shoots at the ground in front of her. Dana screams, and Nick laughs loudly. Dana starts running in the other direction, and Nick shoots her in the arm. He gets out of the car to follow her on foot, while Andy trails behind him in the car. Clutching her arm, Dana continues to run back toward the cabin, but stops when she sees Sam at the other end of the bridge, holding his gun. Realizing she's trapped, Dana runs into the bushes and down a hill. She passes Al, who calls out for Sam to hear so he can follow and find her. Nick follows Dana's path into the bushes, still carrying his gun. Andy tries to tell Nick to wait until morning to find her, but Nick doesn't listen. Andy gets out of the car and starts following Nick.
Al is still following Dana as she runs out of energy and collapses by a ridge overlooking the lake, still holding her arm in pain. Al calls out again for Sam to follow the sound of his voice and find Dana. As Sam reaches the spot where Dana collapsed, she appears from behind a tree and hits him across the back with a heavy branch. Sam is knocked down, and Dana runs away again. Nick and Andy are in pursuit, and Andy tries to tell Nick it's too dark to find Dana, but Nick still isn't listening. Dana reaches the end of the ridge, and looks down at the lake below. Sam reaches her, and she screams when she sees him. Nick and Andy hear her scream, and quickly follow the sound.
Dana threatens to jump off the ridge if Sam steps closer, then despairingly says that's what he and Nick want anyway. Sam tells Dana that he doesn't want her to die. Al says that Nick and Andy had to have heard Dana scream, and Sam tells Al to go back up the trail and warn him when they arrive. Dana tells Sam that he talks to an imaginary playmate, and warns him again to stay back. Sam tucks his gun into the waistband of his jeans, and tells Dana he's not going to shoot her. He says that Peter might shoot her or turn her over to Nick, but tells her he's not Peter. Al shouts that Nick and Andy are coming. Sam tells Dana that she has to trust him if she wants to get out of this alive. He moves closer to her, and the two of them embrace.
Nick and Andy arrive, and Sam turns to face them, pulling out his gun and pointing it at Dana. Nick asks Sam why he tried to get away from them earlier. Sam says that he didn't know it was Nick chasing them, and he thought Richardson had tried to put a tail on them. Andy tells Nick that Sam's story makes sense, because if he really wanted to get away from Nick, he'd have turned off the beacon. Al urges Sam to shoot Nick while he has the chance.
Nick tells Sam that he thinks Dana got to him. He asks Dana if she turned Sam on the way she turned him on. He says that he didn't touch Dana out of respect, and she turned him in. Al urges Sam again to shoot Nick, shouting "Shoot Him, Sam! Shoot Him!", as the two exchange gunfire. Nick raises his gun to fire at Dana, but Sam shoots him in the chest and stomach. Sam points the gun at the unarmed Andy, then slowly lowers it to his side. Andy clutches the dead Nick to his chest, asking him why he didn't listen, and telling him that God didn't want Dana to die. He picks up Nick's body, looks at Sam one more time, then carries Nick away. Sam leans down to check on Dana, and the two of them embrace once more. Dana winces in pain from her gunshot, and Sam tells her they have to stop the bleeding. Dana looks at the blood on her arm, and promptly faints.
Later, the sun has come up, and Sam and Dana are back in the cabin. Dana has recovered, and gives Sam her chain with the scales on it. Sam says he wishes he could take it with him. Dana asks why he can't, and Al tells Sam he's going to leap at any moment. Sam gives Dana his gun, and shows her how to take the safety off. He tells her to keep him covered until Richardson gets there. Dana is confused, and tells Sam he's crazy. Sam asks her to humor him. Dana asks what Richardson is going to do to him, and Sam says that Richardson will make sure that he gets what he deserves. Dana tells him that he deserves a medal.
Al tells Sam that Peter is going to get eight-to-ten years in prison. Sam and Dana kiss, as Al explains that Dana will testify on Peter's behalf, which saves him from getting fifteen-to-twenty. Dana is going to back to law school, and in 1976, she will pass her bar and become a senior partner in the firm of Elroy, Elroy & LoNigro. Recognizing the latter name, Al tells Sam that he's never going to believe who Dana is going to marry. He doesn't have time to finish, however, as the door to the cabin opens and Professor LoNigro walks in. LoNigro wants to know who Sam and Dana are, and Sam excitedly tries to tell the professor that their string theory works. LoNigro is confused, but as Sam starts to say, "Don't you know who I am? I'm Sam Beckett!", he suddenly leaps.
In this episode Sam chooses to hide out in the cabin of his mentor from MIT Professor Sebastian LoNigro, it is revealed during the episode that he and Sam first formulated the string hypothesis that underpins the Quantum Leap project together, in that very cabin.
After Sam completes his duties he fails to leap, it is only when Professor LoNigro enters the cabin to find Peter and Dana, that Sam gets an opportunity to tell him that the string theory works.
Earlier in the episode Sam mentions the last time he visited the cabin was some months from the time period in which the episode is taking place. This leaves the possibility that he invited Sam to his cabin to formulate the theory because the future Sam had already informed him of its success; effectively making the force that's driving Sam responsible for quantum leap's creation.
[The summer of 1973 would have been weeks or months before the events of this episode, With September 22nd being the fall, and since Sam's last visit being the summer of 1973, September 26th is after Sam's time with the professor. ]
Kind of a spoiler, a mess-up
After Sam being hit in the head by Dana, Al follows Sam up a small hill by a tree, well Al's feet move the dirt and the dirt near the tree. He is a hologram.