Rewatching Quantum Leap – Episode 38

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.

Black on White on Fire

  • Sam finds himself lying on a dirty mattress outdoors and is greeted by the kiss of a young woman who then talks to him about medical school.
  • They’re approached by a trio of black men who don’t look too happy to see them there.
  • The girl looks a little terrified and Sam steps in front of her, ready to defend his obvious love interest of the leap.
  • But three against one is a little much, even for Dr. Beckett.
  • The biggest of the three, Papa D, gets Sam in a headlock and the girl begs one of the others, Lonnie, to tell the others to stop.
  • He gives her a hard time, then reminds her that he told her to stay away from his brother.
  • That’s Ray, the man that Sam has leapt into this time around.
  • The girl, Susan, tells Lonnie that she can’t stay away from Ray… she loves him.
  • Ray is a young medical student and Lonnie is angry about him spending so much time with Susan while he and their mother have been working day and night to put him through med school.
  • Doesn’t help that Susan is white and it’s 1965… inter-racial relationships aren’t exactly kosher at that point.
  • Then the conversation turns to how Ray will use his MD once he’s finished with school.
  • Susan expects him to accept a once-in-a-lifetime internship in Boston while Lonnie expects him to stay right where he is, being a doctor for his own people.
  • August 11, 1965
  • Once Lonnie and his friends leave, Sam drives Susan home and she tells him that no one has a right to tell him how to spend his life, even her.
  • She just wants to be a part of his future… but then insists that that future is not in Watts.
  • Susan’s father emerges from their house, decked out in his police uniform, telling Sam that he warned him to stay away from Susan.
  • He tells her that she won’t keep seeing him while she’s living under his roof… so then she threatens to move in with Ray.
  • But Sam puts a halt to that, which she, of course, interprets as him not wanting her to be with him.
  • Her father points out that Ray doesn’t want her in Watts anymore than he does, with racial tensions being at an all time high.
  • Susan has been volunteering at a clinic in Watts and is just naïve enough to believe that just because she believes a thing it can be.
  • When Susan goes inside, her father confronts Sam and says he tried to see him as an individual when he first starting coming around.
  • But now he’s just afraid that Susan is going to get hurt… maybe not by Sam, but by others who are being stirred up by the words of Malcolm X.
  • Sam gets back to Ray’s neighborhood and Al arrives, but when Sam asks what he’s there to do, Al’s got nothing for him.
  • Ziggy’s trying to run some scenarios around the riot by plugging Ray into events, but is having a hard time coming up with what could have happened in all the chaos.
  • Sam is confused… he knows he’s in Watts, but has no memory of a riot.
  • Al explains that one of the worst riots in American history is about to take place in this area of Los Angeles when a black man named Marquette Frye is arrested in Compton lighting a fuse that will result in 35 deaths and hundreds of injuries.
  • Sam suggests he’s there to stop the riots, but Al says Frye has already been arrested.
  • Then he thinks he can warn people… warn Lonnie… but Al just points out the obvious: Lonnie is militant and will be right in the thick of things.
  • Al says no one is going to believe a 4th year med student anyway… but Sam knows Susan will.
  • Turns out that Susan is the key and that by plugging her into the data, it seems most likely that Sam is there to keep her and Ray together.
  • Apparently, after the riots, Ray lost Susan and then lost his dream of becoming a doctor.
  • Then Al notices something concerning… when Sam is talking about Susan’s feelings, he says she loves me… not Ray.
  • Sam just brushes it off, saying that he’s only been here a few hours and can see how in love Susan and Ray are… that they wouldn’t let anything get between them.
  • But Al reminds him that the Watts riots weren’t just a thing… and Sam again suggests stopping the riots from happening.
  • Al then says they’d have had to arrive 50 years earlier… because it didn’t really start when Frye was arrested…
  • It started when the first black person was unable to get a good job or live where they wanted or had a baby that went hungry… Al’s describing systemic racism long before I ever came to understand what that was.
  • Al tells Sam to go with Papa D to party for a while before things really get started.
  • Papa D is just interested in getting Ray hooked up with Sherri, to get his mind off Susan…
  • But then Lonnie shuts down the party and gets everyone riled up to fight and take back their streets.
  • Sam tries to calm Lonnie down, but there’s nothing he can say or do that’s going to stop this from happening.
  • Al shows up and says there’s now a 32% chance that Susan could die.
  • And then she shows up, getting a ride from their housekeeper.
  • She’s lucky to have gotten there alive.
  • Sam gets her inside Ray’s apartment and Susan is still acting extremely naïve, thinking that skin color doesn’t matter.
  • She doesn’t think anyone will hurt her after she’s worked in the neighborhood for so long… but no one will see Susan, they’ll just see a white girl.
  • Ray’s mother gets home, injured in the chaos, and is afraid once she sees Susan that she’ll be killed if anyone finds out she’s there.
  • The next morning, there’s a lull in the violence, and Sam, Ray’s mother, and Susan continue the discussion of where Ray’s future lies.
  • Like Lonnie, Mrs. Harper wants Ray to be a doctor in Watts so he can show kids in the street that they can do better.
  • Lonnie and his friends arrive and one of them needs stitches, leading Susan to suggest they move over to the clinic where they have the proper supplies.
  • Sam agrees, deciding that if they can’t stop the riots from happening they can help the people it’s happening to.
  • At one point, a woman brings in her bleeding child and refuses to let Susan help because she’s white.
  • That evening, Susan is finally disheartened by the racism and seems to actually realize that what everyone has been saying is true… that they can’t just be a married couple, they would be a black husband and a white wife and neither race would ever let them forget it.
  • Lonnie and Bebe drag Papa D in, bleeding badly… Sam examines him and finds that a bullet penetrated the femoral artery and he’s bleeding out.
  • Sam argues that he needs a hospital and surgery, but Lonnie’s car is burned up and the phones are still down so they can’t call an ambulance.
  • He tells them to get the police to take Papa D, but they’re the ones who shot him.
  • But then it’s too late and Papa D is dead.
  • Bebe blames Susan, but it isn’t her fault…
  • In his grief, Lonnie decides that if one more black person dies, so does Susan.
  • He takes her out of the clinic, but when Sam tries to follow, Bebe threatens to shoot him, too.
  • Mrs. Harper gets her hands on the gun and makes Bebe tell Sam where Lonnie has taken Susan.
  • Sam is on his way and Al arrives, telling him that the odds of Susan dying jumped up to 82%.
  • Elsewhere, Susan tries to convince Lonnie that her father, a police captain, can’t do anything to stop what’s happening… it’s too big.
  • Lonnie is convinced that if the white daughter of a police captain is killed, then the police will realize they took things too far.
  • He’s prepared to die for this… suicide by police.
  • Outside, the captain spots Sam and asks where Lonnie has Susan, but he only agrees to tell him if they go together.
  • Just then, they see the police shoot two black men with guns on the roof of a nearby building.
  • Sam then tells the captain that if anyone can stop Lonnie, it will be his brother.
  • The police arrive and announce for Lonnie to come out, hands raised.
  • The captain sees that Susan is being held on the second floor and a sharpshooter is positioned to take Lonnie out.
  • Sam walks up to the apartment and unties Susan, who tells him that Lonnie doesn’t want to be stopped… he wants to die.
  • Al agrees that Lonnie wants to be a martyr…
  • Sam tells him it would be easy to die for Watts… but can he live for it?
  • Al thinks Sam is reaching him, so Sam asks for the gun.
  • Lonnie again complains that Susan’s dad is killing people out there, so Sam tells him to be better than that… be a leader and make sure this never happens again.
  • Just then, the report of the latest deaths comes over the TV.
  • Sam gets in front of Susan… and Lonnie breaks into tears and drops the gun.
  • He tells Sam to take Susan and get out of his face.
  • Sam and Susan move away from the window, giving the sharpshooter a clear shot, which he immediately takes.
  • Susan screams out the window that Lonnie had let her go, but it’s too late.
  • Sam holds Lonnie’s lifeless body, asking why he has to die.
  • Then he tells Al it can’t be for nothing… deciding he has to stay in Watts to be a doctor.
  • Al, again, points out that Sam is saying me instead of Ray.
  • Susan then says we have to stay… and Al tells Sam that he did it.
  • But he just asks, “Was it enough?” before he finally leaps.
  • Sam then finds himself in a box with swords being poked through at all angles.
  • He panics and breaks out of the box, only to have a little girl introduce him as the Great Spontini!
  • Oh boy.

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