The Curse of Ptah-Hotep was the 20th episode of Season 4 of the TV series Quantum Leap, also the 73rd overall series episode. Written by Chris Ruppenthal, the episode, which was directed by Joe Napolitano, aired for the first time on NBC-TV on April 22, 1992
Synopsis[edit | edit source]
At an archaeological dig in Egypt Sam has to deal with an approaching sandstorm and a 3000 year old curse.
Summary[edit | edit source]
In 1957, Sam leaps into the body of Dale Conway, an American archaeologist on a dig in Egypt just as he and his partner Ginny Will discover the tomb of Ptah-Hotep. Al tells him however that the discovery has to this day never been reported and that both Conway and Will disappeared without a trace. Like all tombs, there is a curse supposedly placed on anyone who enters and Al would happily get out of there. As several of the expedition's crew are killed in bizarre accidents, Sam and Ginny race to save as much of the tomb as they can before a huge sandstorm engulfs them. As they find what they are looking for however, they are also trapped in one of the tomb's inner chambers.
Full storyline[edit | edit source]
March 2, 1957: Sam leaps into archaeologist Dale Conway (the leapee is played by Rodger LaRue) just as he and fellow archaeologist, Dr. Ginny Will (Lisa Darr) enter the tomb of Pharaoh Ptah-Hotep. Sam is thrilled once he realizes where he is and says that this is a dream come true and realizes that he's in 1957, when he mistakenly mentions a publication from six years in the future. Unfortunately, they cannot find the sarcophagus and Ginny suggests that tomb robbers beat them to them to the punch.
Back on the surface, Al warns that Conway and Ginny disappear at some point in the next few days and are never seen or heard from again. He also warns of a coming sandstorm that could bury the tomb and everyone at the campsite under fifty feet of sand. He wants Sam to get out of there but when he admits that there was a high probability that the tomb was likely destroyed by a construction crew that built the Aswan Dam in the 1960s, Sam refuses and resolves to work fast.
Their partner with the museum, Dr. Mustafa El-Razul (John Kapelos), drives up having finally managed to locate their new campsite since they left the last one without telling anyone where they were going. Ginny does not seem pleased to see him. A series of accidents have meanwhile been plaguing the camp. A snake ends up in Conway's tent and eats his canary. Ali (Chaim Jeraffi), the doctor's assistant on the visit to the tomb, is poisoned and when Razul tries to leave to return the body to his family, his car breaks down. Another assistant and search guide, Gamal (Ali Dean), is then killed trying to fix the car. Everyone, including Al, worry about a curse but Sam refuses to entertain such ideas.
Sam meanwhile has a breakthrough. He knows that oftentimes pharaohs had false entrances to trick thieves and wondered if maybe this time the false room is the real room. He breaks through the wall and discovers the sarcophagus and a lot of treasure. He calls Ginny and Razul down and, though Razul would rather wait for more people and better equipment, he allows Sam (worried he might leap too soon and about the sandstorm) to sweep him up in the excitement of the moment and they open up the sarcophagus.
While they are down in the tomb, their camp catches on fire. Razul and Ginny are very shaken and starting to wonder seriously about the curse. To prove them wrong, Sam charges down and grabs ‘the heart of Ptah-Hotep’ (a large jewel the mummy was holding). Immediately afterwards, he and Ginny are trapped in the tomb. They have two days worth of air but only twelve hours to escape the sandstorm. Al starts to feel claustrophobic and tries to leave only to find out that, due to a technological malfunction, he's currently trapped in the imaging chamber.
Razul promises to drive to town and bring back help but Sam would rather not wait that long. He and Ginny eventually find their way out by putting the jewel back...only to discover that Razul never left. He says that he was going to go get help but then realized how profitable letting them die would be. Sam accuses him of causing the other problems but Razul denies it. In fact, he said he thought it was he or Ginny who caused the death and other problems, inferring that they were random accidents after all. At gunpoint, Razul forces them back into the tomb and demands to know what they did to get trapped and to escape.
Sam warns Razul against tempting fate but the man won't listen. Sam knocks the gun out of Razul's hand and when Razul takes the jewel, Ginny and Sam escape before they are trapped. Razul tries to put the jewel back but finds that it will not fit. He pleads for help and, despite what he's done and the knowledge Sam possesses about the incoming sandstorm, they try to free him by moving the giant rock trapping him. Razul starts screaming and Sam sends a reluctant Al to see what's going on. Al quickly runs back out again, revealing that the mummy is killing Razul. He also reports that he wasn't trapped by a chip failure as he had thought but by a new program from Egypt. He informs Sam that Conway and Ginny look for the tomb again for years and never find it. Sam manages to convince a reluctant Ginny that Razul is already dead and they flee to the surface.
Plot Holes[edit | edit source]
- The ancient trap that still works after three thousand years drops a giant slab of rock in front of their hole and the slab is too thick to cut through. However, it can't be more than two feet wide, so why didn't they just cut around it?
- Dr. El-Razul insists that he was not the one responsible for the accidents and for killing Ali and Gamal, and it's easy to believe him since he could not have started the fire (he was with Sam when that happened). Ziggy says the odds are 40,000 to 1 against it all happening by chance. So who was actually responsible? There are really only two possibilities:
- Ginny was in a position to commit the murders and start the fire. This possibility is never seriously explored by anyone except Al, who, as usual, suspects everybody. In the original history, Ginny (and Dale) died in a freak sandstorm. Did Sam, by getting them out of there, allow a murderer to go free?
- The curse itself was evidently a real one. Al saw Ptah-Hotep killing Razul (and so did the home audience). However, if the curse was active when Ali and Gamal were killed, why didn't Ptah-Hotep kill Sam and Ginny since they were robbing the grave with no less eagerness than Razul was? It is worth noting that Sam, throughout the series, disbelieves in the supernatural, except for the force that is leaping him around. He frequently tells Al not to be superstitious. He certainly seems pretty blase about resurrected mummies in this episode.