Rewatching Quantum Leap – Episode 32

Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the quantum leap accelerator and vanished. He awoke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own, and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear. And so, Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home.

The Leap Home

  • Originally, going into this season, the audience had no clue where or when Sam would be leaping.
  • Because last season’s leap ended with Al vanishing from his first wife’s house.
  • And this leap begins with Sam finding himself in a familiar place…
  • He’s in a cornfield in the fall…
  • Then he sees some familiar faces.
  • A trio of cheerleaders who heard he liked to cut through the cornfield on his way home.
  • One of the girls speaks on behalf of one of the others, Lisa, asking if Sam is taking anyone to the Gobbler Hop.
  • Suddenly it all clicks for Sam and he runs off…
  • He’s home.
  • And when he sees the reflection of his younger self in the window of his house’s front door, his mother walks out and greets him.
  • November 25, 1969
  • Sam is back home… just not the home he left behind in the future.
  • He just stares at his mother, Thelma, like he hasn’t seen her in years.
  • And, really, he hasn’t.
  • She calls for Sam’s father, but complains that he probably can’t hear her after all those years working on the tractor.
  • Sam says he’ll go and get his dad.
  • He meets his father, John, in the barn and begins helping with milking the cows.
  • Scott Bakula is playing both Sam and Sam’s father, by the way.
  • Overwhelmed with emotion, Sam gives his dad a hug and tells him he loves him.
  • Then his little sister runs in and says if they don’t come in to dinner soon she’s gonna feed their dinner to the pigs.
  • At dinner, they discuss Sam’s upcoming basketball game and how they need to stop “No Nose” Pruitt, who has it in for Sam.
  • Al arrives and Sam excuses himself from the table to go finish his chores.
  • In the barn, Al explains that he’s there to help the team win the game that they originally lost.
  • Ziggy says that game was a turning point for a lot of people and that if they had won that game, they would have gone on to become state champs.
  • The high school coach would have been offered a collegiate coaching position which would have eventually led to a position with the NBA.
  • Other teammates would have been offered athletic scholarships and gone on to become doctors.
  • Sam’s excited to find out that all he has to do is help his team win the game.
  • But when Al mentions that after that he’ll be out of here, Sam decides he doesn’t want to be out of here.
  • Then he talks about how his dad is going to die from heart disease in three years… his sister, Katie, is gonna elope with an abusive drunk named Chuck… Sam’s big brother, Tom, is coming home for Thanksgiving before he gets shipped out to Vietnam where he will eventually be killed…
  • Al points out that they aren’t supposed to make changes to their personal histories, reminding Sam about his last leap and how Al tried to save his marriage to Beth.
  • Sam says this is different…
  • But the only difference is that this time it affects Sam.
  • And this is where I lose a lot of respect for Sam.
  • Because Al is right… the only difference is that it’s Sam’s personal history that can be changed.
  • When it was Al, Sam was by the book.
  • Kind of a jerk move, Dr. Beckett.
  • The next morning, Sam is serving up a healthy breakfast for John and has hidden his cigarettes.
  • Sam is trying too hard to save his father and his father isn’t having it.
  • When John gets tired of getting a lecture from Sam, he drives into town get some more cigarettes.
  • Thelma asks Sam what he did with John’s cigarettes and he admits he burned them with the trash this morning.
  • She fusses at him because it’s just like burning money, but then says she’ll start cutting out some fat in their meals after Thanksgiving.
  • Al shows up and asks why he isn’t going to school for basketball practice, telling him it’ll be fun to see all his old friends.
  • Sam agrees, but still says he won’t play in the actual game because he doesn’t want to leap.
  • But Al argues that if Sam thinks he’s there to save his family and not win the game, why not play in the game since that’s not what will make him leap anyway?
  • At practice, the coach tells the team that they’re looking good when they play against each other…
  • But that’s not gonna be good enough against “No Nose” Pruitt.
  • So he brings in a big guy wearing a gorilla mask who’s supposed to be bigger and better than “No Nose.”
  • Sam seems to know the guy in the mask, but just isn’t sure.
  • How that guy can play so well in a mask is beyond me… his peripheral vision has got to be negligible.
  • Sam asks if he knows him and gorilla bounces the ball off Sam’s head.
  • He realizes the gorilla is his older brother, Tom.
  • Later, Sam is out in the cornfield pheasant hunting with Tom while he shares about SEAL training.
  • Sam says he’s been trying to think of some way to keep Tom from going to Vietnam.
  • Tom realizes that Sam doesn’t think that he’ll be coming back from the war.
  • Tom argues that it’s his duty to go over there and he assures Sam he’s not gonna die in Vietnam, saying that neither of them can see into the future.
  • Sam then claims he can, telling Tom he’s gonna flush two birds up ahead and he’ll shoot the first one and miss the second.
  • And that’s exactly what happens only seconds later.
  • Later, John, Thelma, and Tom are talking with their family doctor in the kitchen, discussing Sam’s change in behavior in recent days.
  • The doctor says that Sam has a brilliant young mind and that he may simply be imagining a world where he can tell the future to help him deal with his fears.
  • Outside, Sam sits on the porch swing with Katie, telling her about the future while strumming his guitar.
  • He tells her about things that people are going to be saying in the future… what’s cool… what’s not…
  • Then he tells her she’s gonna meet a guy named Chuck and they’ll elope, warning her that Chuck is going to be an alcoholic.
  • So then Katie simply says, fine… don’t marry Chuck.
  • Sam realizes she’s just humoring him.
  • Then she asks the important question…
  • Is Paul McCartney really dead in the future?
  • He tells her that Paul’s not dead, but that the Beatles are gonna break up soon.
  • She asks what John goes on to do and he nearly tells her about John Lennon’s assassination, but Al stops him.
  • Instead, he tells her that John will go on to write his favorite song, then he plays “Imagine” for her.
  • At first, she really enjoys the song…
  • Then she begins to cry, realizing that if Sam is right about the song then it means he’s right about Tom dying in Vietnam.
  • Everyone else comes out of the house to see why Katie is crying.
  • Al tells Sam to tell them he just made it all up…
  • He’s not saving their futures, he’s just making their present miserable.
  • Sam realizes Al is right and admits to making the whole thing up because he wanted to stop Tom from going to Vietnam, then he runs off.
  • Al is there when Sam stops running and says he knows it was hard, but it was the right thing.
  • Sam angrily says he always does the right thing…
  • He’s always doing the right thing for strangers, but that he can’t do what’s right for his family.
  • Sam screams at the sky that he’s not going to do it anymore, claiming he’s done putting things right that once went wrong and runs into the cornfield.
  • Al gives Sam more time to run it out, then asks if he feels better.
  • Sam just says it’s unfair…
  • But Al thinks it’s “damn fair.”
  • He says he’d give anything to be able to see his father and sister for a few days… to be able to laugh with them, talk with them, tell them he loves them…
  • This really puts things into perspective for Sam.
  • This leap is a gift and Sam hasn’t been able to see it for what it is.
  • So Sam gets to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with his entire family again for the first and last time.
  • That night, Sam and Tom play a little one on one and Tom tries to give him a few more pointers on facing “No Nose.”
  • Tom also says that if he’s able to score on “No Nose” it’ll impress Lisa…
  • But Sam says Lisa’s gonna marry “No Nose.”
  • Tom says he needs Sam to win this game because when it was his team, they lost… so this is revenge.
  • Sam makes an agreement with Tom… if they win the game, Tom has to give him a day: April 8.
  • Tom agrees… if Sam wins the game, he will find the deepest, darkest bunker on April 8.
  • It’s a tight game… and it comes down to one last shot from Sam.
  • He looks to his father in the crowd and says good bye as he takes his shot.
  • The ball goes in just in time and Elk Ridge wins.
  • Al shares the good news about the team going on to be state champs.
  • Lisa doesn’t marry “No Nose.”
  • Sam asks about Tom, but Al can only apologize and tell him that Tom still gets killed in Vietnam.
  • Tom cheers Sam on from the bleachers…
  • Sam looks at his brother and leaps, shouting Tom’s name.
  • Still shouting Tom’s name, Sam leaps into a swamp surrounded by Navy SEALs under fire.
  • But thanks to Sam’s shouting, it draws the SEALs’ attention to where the enemy is hiding and they’re able to take down the opposition.
  • Sam’s brother, Tom, refers to Sam as “Magic” and asks how he knew they were there.
  • Oh boy.

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