Southern Comforts was the 16th episode of Season 3 of Quantum Leap, also the 47th episode in the series. Written by Tommy Thompson, the episode, which was directed by Chris Ruppenthal, originally aired on NBC-TV on April 3, 1991.
Sam leaps into Gilbert LaBonte (played by Richard White), the owner of a New Orleans brothel to prevent one of his girls from disappearing after a confrontation with her abusive husband.
August 4, 1961 Sam leaps into Gilbert LaBonte, the owner of a popular New Orleans brothel, during the man’s birthday celebration with his girls. Al is very excited about this leap but Sam is annoyed by the voyeurism. A man makes trouble when one of the girls, Gina, does not want to go upstairs with him and the man has to be threatened with a shotgun before he will go and take his friends with him. Gina apologizes but will not elaborate. Shortly afterwards, a man who runs a school shows up looking for one of his missing students and Gina claims illness and retreats to the kitchen.
Al reports that Gina goes missing that night and a month later she’s found beaten to death. Sam tries to solve the problem by giving everyone at the brothel the night off and most of the girls go to the French Quarter. Gina is revealed to be the cousin of Marsha, one of the older prostitutes, and not a prostitute at all. Gina and Marsha are worried that LaBonte will find out that Marsha is essentially giving her free board and throw them both out. Marsha tries to understand what Gina is doing there and explains how very unglamorous that lifestyle is but Gina will only say that there’s nothing for her back home and she had to get away.
Sam tries to focus on Gina but Gina won’t admit to being scared of anything and asks Sam to leave so she can go to sleep. Sam is distracted by Marsha who LaBonte is apparently engaged to but Marsha doesn’t love him and only seems him as her ticket out of the life of a prostitute. Al reports that LaBonte marries someone who isn’t Marsha and when Sam resists Marsha’s advances, she is devastated and accuses him of being in love with Gina who she confesses is her cousin. Sam encourages her that it is never too late for a second chance and that she should move on to a new life…just not necessarily with him.
They hear screaming as Gina is being beaten by the school head who wants Gina to come back with him. It turns out that she was a student of his and when her mother died, he let her stay on for free. He was very nice to her and her friends and they quickly married before she could see that he would be an abusive husband. Sam arrives to save the day and beats the man up before sending him packing. Gina refuses to press charges and the sheriff points out that Gina’s husband appears to be a pillar of the community while LaBonte owns a brothel so Sam’s word against the husband’s won’t go well.
Al reports that Gina is pregnant and she left her husband after finding this out for fear of hurting the baby. She reluctantly agrees to go back and hopes that knowing of the baby will soften her husband’s rage but Al reports she’ll die anyway. There is no legal way of dealing with the husband with Gina refusing to press charges and so Sam takes matters into his own hands.
The husband shows up to take Gina home as Sam is taking a ‘graduation picture’ of the girls (the brothel dates back to the time when such establishments were given innocuous names and this is apparently a quilting academy) so the husband will have to wait for Gina to get down. One of the girls is late to the picture and stumbles while stripping and Sam takes a picture of what appears to be the husband soliciting a prostitute. The girls all swear to tell everyone that the husband tried to solicit them and Gina refuses to go with him
Al tells Sam that the husband is so paranoid of his picture being leaked to the newspaper like Sam threatened that he never goes back to the school and his rage eventually lands him in an institution where he can’t hurt anybody else. Marsha leaves with Gina who, gets a waitressing job and names her son after LaBonte.
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