Leap Date: October 3, 1954
Written by: Deborah Pratt
Directed by: Joe Napolitano
Original Air Date: May 22, 1991
This time: Sam leaps into being prepared for electroshock therapy. An orderly, Butch, is doing it as retribution for getting hit. Nurse Chatham is concerned about the situation in general and about the voltage in particular, especially since it should only be administered by a doctor, but Butch pulls the switch regardless just as a lightning bolt hits the area.
Butch and an orderly wheel Sam (asleep for four hours) back to a public area. A man, Tibby, expresses concern for Sam. He also insists that the man they brought back is not the person he is familiar with. Butch uses passive aggressiveness to quiet Tibby.
Al arrives just as Sam comes around. It turns out he leapt into Sam Beiderman, a depressive man with chemical dependencies. It dawns on Al that Sam does not remember anything about Project Quantum Leap or who he is. Head Doctor Masters comes in to examine Sam and see if the memories can come back. They do, although he remembers himself as someone he leapt into before, not as Sam Beckett.
Dr. Masters and Chatham discuss the development with Dr. Masters thinking this might be multiple personality syndrome. It also appears that Tibby can see Al, though Al tells Tibby to keep that quiet. Al finally convinces Sam to tell the staff that he is Sam Beiderman and they leave him alone. Al sees the challenge and tries to get ahold of their staff psychologist, Dr. Beeks.
Later, Al and Tibby talk. It turns out that when Tibby gets out, he is on the streets. Al tries to get Sam to help Tibby but Sam believes he is someone else. Al says that if Sam continues to switch personalities, they could lose their link. Under observation, a Rorschach test does not go well with Sam remembering multiple lives including his own. It does not help that he talks to Al, especially considering that the staff knows about Al. Things are further complicated when Sam shifts personalities again.
That night, Sam sleeps while Al put the alphabet into a rap song for Tibby. This changes the future, but Sam is unable to leap in his condition. Al brings in Dr. Beeks and explains about Project Quantum Leap. It seems that the only way to leap out if is Sam gets shocked again.
The medical staff are stumped. There is nothing in Beiderman’s history to suggest why he has multiple personality syndrome. They figure out that the constants are Al and remembering the shock. As it comes out the Butch has been abusive, Sam convinces the staff to give him another shock. They do as a bolt of lightning hits. There is a big flash as Sam and Al leap …
… into a field. Al is decked out a uniform while Sam is all in white. Also, Al can touch things while Sam can pass through them.
Stop talking to yourself: Sam does a lot of talking in this episode and he does not have time to collect his thoughts let alone create an internal monologue.
Only Sam can see and hear: This episode establishes that in addition to animals and kids, the mentally impaired can see Al. On the bright side, Tibby likes Al’s jacket.
Mirror images that were not his own: In an amazing first, we do not get to see Sam Beiderman at all in this episode. Instead, we get another glimpse of Samantha Stormer, Jesse Tyler, Jimmy LaMotta in mirrors.
It’s a science project: In the Rorschach test, Sam sees burnt chitlins, a victim of vehicular assault and the subatomic structure of a quark.
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow: Long mentioned psychologist Dr. Beeks is seen but not heard since she is in the imaging chamber, leaving Al to translate.
One more time: “Sam, you get to use your own name this time.”
Al having a rare moment of happiness this episode.
Trivial Matters: Lee Garington gets the coveted ‘and’ along with the ‘as’ credits.
This is the only finale or premiere not written by Donald P. Bellisario. Actually, Bellisario has not credited with any episodes since the two-part season premiere. This was written by Deborah Pratt.
Sam acts like other people he has leapt into: Samantha Stormer (What Price Gloria?), Jesse Tyler (The Color of Truth), Magic Williams (The Leap Home II Vietnam), Tom Stratton (Genesis), Kid Cody (The Right Hand of God), Jimmy LaMotta (Jimmy). We also get clips of him leaping into himself from the season premiere and Kid Cody.
There is a rare production goof in this episode. After stepping into the doorway to the imaging chamber, Al’s cigar goes outside that threshold.
After an absence of more than a season, this is the third instance of more than one leap per episode as both Sam and Al leap in the end.
Put right what once went wrong: “Only a doctor can administer a shock.” “A doctor told me to do it.” Though gone out of style in recent years, one of the staples of television has been the clip show. A way to save some time and money, Trek has done it in an episode that lives in infamy. There are some clever ways to do it such as when Community wrote one but also filmed the ‘clip’ scenes. This is Quantum Leap’s take on a clip show, and it works magnificently.
Part of the joy is that, Al takes a bigger role than he would normally. Not only does he put right what once went wrong, he is the one in charge which is a nice change of pace. Plot, er, power issues keep him from being on screen at all times, but this adds to the relationship between him and Sam. It is about time for him to be in the spotlight, three episodes ago notwithstanding, and since this episode takes place in an institution, more people can interact with him. It is a great moment when he asks if anyone else can hear him and a bunch of guys wave. Stockwell more than rises to the occasion.
Other than Stockwell, the casting in this hour is great. Bruce Young is fantastic as an angry orderly with a bone to pick. He is nasty to both those in his care and his colleagues. He bites at Tibby and Nurse Chatham. It is only when he is confronted in the end by Dr. Masters that he looks to get his comeuppance. As Dr. Masters, David Proval tries to keep up with Sam’s changing personalities and keeps his patience while trying to treat Sam. Scott Lawrence has a blast as Tibby. There is a childlike innocence, but he has a lot of fun just speaking his mind. He and Stockwell are a great double act.
Bakula dials his acting up several notches, to the point where he is out of character, which is saying something for people we have not seen. Jesse Tyler seemed pretty quiet as did a lot of people he has leapt into though Bakula adds fire to that portrayal. At times he approaches them more as caricatures than as characters. This would have been a great time for him to show of the subtleties of his craft and ability and that did not come to pass. It is understandable as it is the final episode of the season, and he is a huge part in the series. It is not like they can give him a minor role a week earlier to rest up or anything. Brent Spiner found himself in a similar situation filming multiple personalities in “Masks” a week after “Thine Own Self,” another Data-centric episode.
The script of Pratt is well done for the most part. It puts Sam and an in a tough spot and brings back some of the best moments, though they are a little too centered on the first and second seasons; the only material from the third season is the clip from the season premeire. Still a very strong hour and a fantastic cliffhanger to go out on.