Original Air Date: September 18, 1991
Written by: Donald P. Bellisario
Directed by: Michael Zinberg
Leap Date: June 15, 1945
This time: 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. After playing a Quantum Leap version of Who’s on First, it appears that Al has leapt and that Sam is back in the future, though in the imaging chamber seemingly unable to communicate with Gooshie or anyone else for some reason.
The local milkman, Mike, greets Al as Tom, recently returned from a POW camp, though Tom’s fiancé, Suzanne, thought he was dead and is engaged to Cliff. The two lovers are reunited, and Al somewhat mistakenly proposes marriage which is accepted. This does not sit well with Cliff who challenges Al to fisticuffs. And it does not go well for Cliff.
Without a handlink (Al’s leapt with him and Sam does not have one), Sam and Al piece things together. Sam determines that the lightning bolt causing the issue could have been read as a failure on the Project, causing it to seal itself as a failsafe. Sam has a code to override the failsafe which sounds awful lot like Back to the Future, but it works.
Sam comes back home! He has the obligatory kiss with his wife (!), hugs with Gooshie and everyone is in a jovial mood. They are loading information on 1945 into Ziggy as fast as they can, but it will take some time, meaning that Sam can take a much-deserved moment.
Ziggy determines that Tom and Suzanne drove a car off a cliff to commit suicide. That turns out to not be entirely true; Cliff staged their deaths. With Al knocked out, Ziggy determines that he will not regain consciousness until too late. Sam determines that if he leaps in, Al will leap back, Sam will stop Cliff and Ziggy will return him. Two thirds of that plan works. Sam leaps into a comic trying to keep his daughter while the project staff lament that Sam is once again lost in time.
Fact check: The local diner has to get by with only a half-pound of sugar a week. That does not sound reasonable except for the smallest of diners.
Stop talking to yourself: Because he cannot ever have anything nice, Sam weights the joys at being back home with the tragedy of being stuck in the imaging chamber. This being Al’s leap, he gets a quick aside that is apparently a monologue since his lips are not moving when we hear it.
Only Sam can see and hear: Sam has way too much fun going through objects when he is a hologram.
Mirror images that were not his own: While eating a farmers’ breakfast, Al sees Tom in a mirror.
Brush with history: Mike Tyson gets a name check but it is confusing to the locals since this leap is decades before he was born.
It’s a science project: It is never made explicitly clear if Sam and Al switched bodies or just positions but all seems to be restored at the end. The technical term is timey-wimey.
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow: For the second time in the series and season premiere, we spend a significant amount of time in 1999. Best of all, our visit is not limited to a courtroom. Gooshie makes an appearance after first appearing in Genesis and we see Tina, Al’s current beau. Dr. Beeks makes her second (and final) appearance after the season three finale. We hear Ziggy, voiced by writer Deborah Pratt.
Let’s up the rating: It is not entirely clear if Sam and Al literally switched places, but Sam does express a lot of amorous interest and crack innuendos. Also, when he is home, you can bet he had a visit of the conjugal nature.
One more time: “Beckett. Al Beckett.” “No, it’s Callavicci.”
Al being swiss-cheesed and Sam correcting him.
The Rainbow Treknection: Thus far, we have had some actors from The Next Generation/Deep Space Nine/Voyager era shows along with a smattering of The Original Series. Mimi Kuzyk plays Donna, Sam’s wife before playing Tilly’s mother in Short Treks.
Trivial Matters: Al joins Sam for the “Oh Boy.”
This being Al’s leap and not Sam’s, this is the first of two leaps to take place outside of Sam’s lifetime, both of which require some cheating.
As an incentive to hold onto the failsafe code for half a century, Al chips in a hundred dollars. Adjusted for inflation that would be just under $1,500. That would keep me invested, pun intended.
There is no ‘preview leap’ at the end of this episode but Sam does leap near the end, so this is not an instance of more than one leap per episode.
If the thought of Sam as a stand-up comic trying to help his daughter does not sound interesting, the writers had the same thought. We do not see this adventure. The writers should have had ample time to tease the next episode, making this a missed opportunity.
Having your wife do the computers voice must be a thing. Roddenberry had Barrret do it and Bellisario was able to get his wife do it here.
There is only a skeleton crew seen when Sam comes back to the Project. The date given is September 15, 1999 which was a weekend. Guess not everyone was super eager to greet Sam upon his return. It is not like he will leap again in a couple days anyway …
Put right what once went wrong: “It’s about time you got around to me, Dr. Beckett.” I have taken this show to task when it is clear that they need another half hour or so to tell their story and that might be on display were where we spend a frustratingly short amount of time in the future. Sam coming home should be a big deal and while it is celebrated, that celebration that we see is brief. I am reminded of what Winston Churchill said, that a woman’s skirt should be long enough to cover the subject but short enough to keep interest.
We see enough of the future. We see the main set for Project Quantum Leap (brilliant set design with a center council mirroring the handlink) and a few rooms. Gooshie knows a lot about the Project’s technical details. Dennis Wolfberg once again plays someone we have all seen in our tech departments. Ziggy has a good bite to her dialogue. Star Trek generally gave us very trite dialogue from the computer, but Ziggy has a lot of fun to the point where you can hear Pratt smiling as she speaks. She is not credited with her dialogue, but she is very natural when she says it, more than making up for A Portrait for Troian.
Also, Sam is married? That piece of information would make things difficult for some leaps, but Donna is understanding. Mimi Kuzyk plays this character that we will have never seen before not will ever see again. We do not spend a lot of time with her, but she is able to reconnect and a scene with Al in the end shows that she does still care for him and the their love will last. She has great chemistry with both her co-stars.
As a fan of Post World War II as timeframe, I enjoyed the leap portion of the episode. So did the writers since they covered a lot while avoiding the nastier side of things. Al gets a hero’s welcome, one guy suddenly got flat feet to avoid being shipped out, needing to reconnect. It all fits. There is also a good small-town vibe as we spend a good portion in a local diner. With so much time spent in the future, the leap itself is given short shrift but the actors pull it off, particularly milkman Mike and diner proprietress Kelly played by Douglas Roberts and Jeanine Jackson respectively. Amanda Wys gives Suzanne a few dimensions, but she is there to be both a love interest and exposition. Robert Prescott does not have much to do but get his ass kicked. There are two great plots and I wanted more from each of them though both painted a solid picture, and the cast was more than up for the chance.
Of course, Bakula and Stockwell get to have a lot of fun. Sam does have a bit much at Al’s expense but plays the role of guide well, not dwelling on being swiss cheesed but helping him fit into the leap. Pulling a switcheroo was bound to happen and these two embraced it. After three seasons they were comfortable enough to be in the others’ shoes. Stockwell played up the frustration, but you can see him enjoying himself.
You can point out some nits (not enough of the future, the leap gets short shift, how did they leap Al back exactly) but it is a great way to begin a season.