Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Quantum Leap -- Episode 52: The Leap Back

Al (and then Sam) Leaps Into:
Captain Tom Jarrett, a returning WWII hero.

Stop him and his girlfriend from getting murdered by her jealous fiancé.


Crown Point, Indiana

Memorable Quote:
Take a hike, Mr. Morals.  Calavicci's taking over.  ~Al

Outstanding opening when Sam and Al realize that they've switched places.  One of the best openings of the series thus far.

I wasn't a big fan of the "thought reversal" story line (i.e. Sam has some of Al's thoughts/impulses and vice versa).  I thought it would have been more interesting if they were 100% acting as they normally did while they were thrust into the others' usual role.  Although I do like when Al gives Clifford a Sam-style roundhouse kick.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • Fun moment when Sam scares Al as payback for all the times that Al has snuck up on Sam.
  • Why can't Al remember his last name but he can remember that he never told Sam about Donna?
  • The mailing of the letter 54 years into the future is reminiscent of Back to the Future 2 when Doc mails Marty a letter from 1885.  And this means that the future year in the Quantum Leap universe is 1999, but in the last episode it was determined to be 1997, so there's a contradiction there.  
  • Donna is no longer played by Teri Hatcher (from Star-Crossed).  In fact, I wrote this in my Star-Crossed write-up:
    • I'm intentionally not reading up about future episodes so I don't get any spoilers, but I think Donna comes back at some point (but played by a different actress).
  • Writer/Producer Deborah Pratt is the voice of Ziggy the computer (she also voices the opening narration).  Ziggy is pretty sassy.  Who would win in a Ziggy vs. Sandy female egomaniacal computer showdown?  I'd lean toward Sandy (she's got the killer robots at her disposal after all).
  • 26:30 mark - Sam takes a gratuitous shot at Barbra Streisand!  And I was surprised that he called Ziggy a "he" given the female voice (even though Ziggy is a male name).
  • After all these leaps where Al has to watch in agony as Sam gets the beautiful woman, it's nice that Al finally has a chance.
  • Powerful moment at the end when after just having gotten his memory back and returning to his present life with Donna, Sam chooses to leave in order to save Al.  

Final Analysis:
Cool episode.  The premise of Sam and Al switching places and Sam going back to the future is a great one, and I like the angle of Sam getting his memory and his life back only to be a tragic hero and sacrifice it for his friend.  The Future scenes are fun, and I also like the 1945 post-war setting as a unique locale for Quantum Leap (unique because it's outside of Sam's lifetime). Ranking it 12 out of 52.


  1. This was a fun one. I actually liked the mixing of Sam and Al's thought impulses too. Since they were already going for a role reversal, they might as well go for letting the actors ham it up by behaving like the other characters. It was fun seeing Bakula spread his wings a little in this role much in the way MacGyver did when he became Dexter. And I loved the actual interactions with Ziggy, who was absolutely nothing like the viewers were expecting based on Al's prior interactions. I never made the connection that it was Deborah Pratt's voice but it's easy to match the voice with the voice in the series intros. She got some really clever lines in there and added to the fun factor. Even the main story of the leap was above-average with the POW and the draft-dodger feuding over the girl, although it was pretty predictable that Clifford would emerge as the villain in the end when the first chatter was made about their bodies being found at the bottom of the cliff.

    I didn't connect as well with the reintroduction of Donna, mainly because I didn't remember she was the same role played by Teri Hatcher. It was kind of like Mike Forrester on "MacGyver", where her death on "The Widowmaker" wasn't as powerful of a scene as it would have been if played by the same actress who the audience knew had this lifelong connection to MacGyver. The new actress as Donna did a fine job and there interactions were powerful, adding another layer to the role reversal revelation, but for me I felt like this reunion shouldn't have become part of the narrative without Teri Hatcher because only the hardest-core fans would have associated the character from an episode three years earlier. I still really liked it though and our ranking will be identical--for now--as I'm putting it between "Runaway" and "What Price Gloria?" in 6th place.

  2. IIRC when I saw this one originally, it was a bit of a let-down after the cool build up of 'ooh! switched places!' Like, the story could've been much more compelling somehow, but it just wasn't.

    And, how did the handlink not just drop to the floor of the imagining chamber? why did it go with Al when he leaped? Other than 'plot device'?

    Is it just me, or did Al seem far more 'swiss cheesed' than Sam ever was on a leap? Like, Al went super!stupid instead of just 'mind foggy'. Sam had to hand-hold him through nearly every line of dialog.

    1. Even though I ranked this one fairly high I can relate to what you are saying in that while it was a creative and fun plot line, I don't get the feeling like they 100% knocked it out of the park. And yeah, Al did seem kind of dumb at times early on in the leap.