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"Pool Hall Blues"
Quantum Leap
Episode No.   Season
27 2x18 Two
Episode Information
Original Broadcast Date March 14, 1990
IMDB: IMDb logo.png Pool Hall Blues
Written by: Randy Holland
Directed by: Joe Napolitano
Leap Information
Leap Date: September 4, 1954
Place: Chicago, Illinois
Leapee: Charlie "Black Magic" Walters
Chronological Information
Preceded by: Good Night, Dear Heart
Followed by: Leaping In Without A Net

Pool Hall Blues was the 18th episode in Season 2 of Quantum Leap, the 27th overall episode in the series. Written by Randy Holland, the episode, which was directed by Joe Napolitano, premiered on NBC-TV on March 14, 1990.


Sam leaps into legendary pool player Charlie "Black Magic" Walters (played by Robert 'Rags' Woods), who was something of a father figure to Al in his youth. Magic's granddaughter, Violet (played by Shari Headley) runs a bar, but owes money to Eddie (played by J.W. Smith), a loan shark. Sam must beat Eddie in a game of pool to save the bar. There's just one problem - Magic may be a legend, but Sam can barely play.


It's September 4, 1954, and Sam has leapt into an African-American nightclub to find himself in the middle of a game of pool. His opponent, Lester Brown (played by Alton Blair Carter), mockingly referring to Sam as "old man", tells him to make his shot, and raises his bet on the game to four hundred dollars, while several spectators, including a loan shark named Eddie Davies, laugh at Sam's confusion. Sam shoots at the eight ball, but narrowly misses the corner pocket. Lester smiles, and prepares to shoot.

Suddenly, an old man named Jimmy Grady (played by Teddy Wilson) starts laughing and approaches the table. He asks Lester if he knows who he's actually playing, then introduces Sam as Charlie "Black Magic" Walters, the greatest pool player in the world. Sam's granddaughter, Violet, who owns the nightclub, is watching from across the room as she sings onstage. She walks over to the table and tells Sam to give Lester his money back, but Lester claims he can still beat Sam and raises his bet to five hundred dollars. Sam daringly asks Lester if he really wants to lose his money. Lester backs down, and Grady gives the money back to him. Lester apologizes to Sam, and eagerly shakes his hand.

Eddie approaches Sam about playing a game against him, and Violet tells Eddie to beat it. Eddie reminds her that he owns the marker to Violet's club, which is due in two days, and compliments her on turning the pool hall into a classy uptown establishment. He tells her it will be a pleasure owning the club, and leaves with a laugh. Grady assures Violet that Sam will never let Eddie take over her club. Al arrives, and marvels at the pool cue Sam is holding, referring to it as "Alberta" and telling Sam that Alberta is Magic's trademark stick. Grady takes Alberta and puts her away, and Sam directs Al to the men's room so they can talk privately.

In the men's room, Sam looks at Magic's reflection, and Al says he hadn't seen Magic in over forty years before he recognized him in the waiting room. He tells Sam that he once held Alberta, which only a few people have ever done, and explains his friendship with Magic. When Al was ten, he ran away from the orphanage, and after a few days on his own, got so desperate he tried to rob someone in the street. That someone turned out to be Magic, who took Al in, fed him and gave him a jacket. Al traveled with Magic until Magic was arrested in New Orleans for playing in a whites-only pool hall and Al wound up back in the orphanage. Despite this, Al has never forgotten what Magic did for him, and tells Sam he has to help Magic now.

Sam promises to help Magic, but Al explains that their problem is Eddie. Violet borrowed some money so she could turn the pool hall into a blues club, and Eddie bought her marker, which he wants to put up for wager so he can get a game against Magic. Sam insists that he doesn't know how to play pool, but Al tells him he'll have to learn, or else Violet will lose her club and Al will never forgive himself for not helping Magic.

The next morning, Sam finds Violet replacing the lamp above Magic's trademark pool table. Grady arrives, and insists that the old lamp should stay there. Sam convinces Violet to let the old lamp stay, much to Grady's relief. Sam then suggests to Violet, Grady and Al that if they can go to a bank and get a loan, Violet can buy back Eddie's marker. All three of them are skeptical about being approved for a loan, especially since Violet is black and a woman. Violet tells Sam that they already tried applying for a loan and failed, but Sam argues that trying again still makes more sense than risking everything over a game of pool.

At the bank, Sam and Violet enter and ask about applying for a loan. The receptionist tries to pretend that all of the unoccupied loan officers are busy, then refers them to Charles Griffin (played by Robert Gossett), the bank's only black employee. Charles is sympathetic to their request, but explains that establishments such as pool halls and blues clubs are not sound investments. Violet explains that she needs to pay back the money she borrowed from Eddie since her previous attempts to apply for a loan were refused. Charles tells them about the indignities he has suffered being the first black man to work at the bank, then loudly refuses their application. Sam and Violet leave in frustration and anger. Sam tells Violet that they can go to another bank, but Violet responds that they won't be able to find a bank that will approve a loan for them before tomorrow. She now plans to exploit Eddie's sexual interest in her instead, telling Sam that it's the only way to hold on to her club and her dream.

That night, Eddie is in the club playing pool when a provocatively dressed Violet approaches him. She openly flirts with him, and Eddie questions her sudden interest. Grady finds Sam and warns him about what Violet is doing. Sam interjects himself between Eddie and Violet, and tells Eddie to stay away from her. Eddie suspects that Violet only approached him because Sam was afraid to play him, but Sam says they'll play tomorrow, when the marker is due.

Later that night, Sam is practicing at Magic's table while Violet is singing and playing piano. Al assures Sam that since he learnt how to play pool from Magic, he can teach Sam how to play and beat Eddie. Violet asks Sam to join her at the piano, and the two of them sing together as Sam plays the piano to a smiling, astonished Violet. She tells Sam that he'll never cease to amaze her.

Sam says goodnight to Violet, then goes back to the pool table. Al tells him that he needs to learn the geometry of the table, then he can learn where and how hard to hit the ball. Sam guesses that it takes a long time to learn, then the two of them realize that Al can use the handlink to guide him. Al punches some commands into the handlink, and a thin blue light appears, giving Sam a path to sink the next ball, which he successfully does.

The following night, a large crowd has gathered in the club to watch the game, and bets are being taken. Eddie is waiting at the table with a cocky smile as Sam arrives with Violet by his side. Al is also there, handlink at the ready, and a large man called The Brush (played by Ken Foree) is accompanying Eddie. Grady pulls the sheet off of Magic's table, and Eddie finds the table has already been racked for nineball, which is Magic's game of choice. Sam shoots first with the handlink guiding him, and immediately sinks the nine-ball off the break, winning the first game.

The game continues, with Sam and Eddie both playing confidently. Sam is preparing for a shot when the light from the handlink starts to fail. Al tells Sam he'll have to stall, because the Pentagon is usurping the project's power supply. He leaves to try and work on the problem, and Sam pretends to study the table for a few moments, then tells Eddie he needs to take a break. Eddie agrees to let Sam have five minutes, and Grady offers to look after Alberta. Sam walks away, and Eddie tells The Brush to do something about Alberta.

Grady is polishing Alberta when The Brush tells him that Magic wants to see him outside in the alley. Outside, Grady sees nobody but The Brush, and realizes he has been set up. The Brush punches Grady in the stomach, and Sam hears the commotion from the men's room. He runs outside to check on Grady, and The Brush breaks Alberta over his knee, snapping her in two. He tosses Sam one of the broken pieces, but Sam uses it to attack The Brush and knock him to the ground.

Sam and Grady come back inside, and Sam tells Grady to find him another stick. Grady brings him a stick, and tells him the stick is called Basheeba. Sam approaches the table again, making a show of getting used to holding Basheeba as he continues to stall. As Sam finally prepares to shoot, the blue light from the handlink re-appears. Sam looks up to see that Al has returned, and Al tells him to shoot quickly, because he only has two more minutes of power. Sam sinks the nineball, winning the game and evening the score at six games each. Grady racks the balls for the final game as Sam prepares to break. He sinks two balls from the break, and Eddie looks worried. Eventually, only the nine-ball is remaining at a difficult angle.

Sam prepares to shoot when the light from the handlink fails again. Al realizes that this time, the power from the handlink is gone for good. After a few nervous moments, Sam leans over the table with deep focus, and makes a shot, sinking the nine-ball and winning the game. Violet approaches an angry Eddie and asks for her marker back. Eddie looks around at the crowd of people watching him, then gives it to her. Violet tells him she doesn't want to see him in her club again, and Eddie lunges at her. Sam steps between them, holding Eddie back. Eddie and The Brush leave, and Violet hugs Sam. She starts to tell him again that he'll never cease to amaze her, and as Sam finishes the sentence for her, he suddenly leaps.


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