The Leap Back was the season premiere of Quantum Leap's fourth season, also the 54th overall episode in the series. Written by series creator Donald P. Bellisario, the episode, which was directed by Michael Zinberg, originally aired on NBC-TV on September 18, 1991.
A lightning bolt strikes Sam and Al, causing them to trade places and personalities: Al becomes a World War II ex-POW just returned home in 1945; Sam leaps ``home to the Q.L. control center in 1999.
June 15, 1945: In this episode, Sam and Al switched places, thanks to a lightning strike in the end of the previous episode, "Shock Theater", at the end of Season Three (episode #24). Al's stuck back in 1945, as U.S. Army Captain Tom Jarrett (the leapee Tom is played by Dean Denton in a mirror image cameo). Sam realizes that he is in the Imaging Chamber, so has therefore returned home to 1999. However the two friends have a problem... the now powerless Handlink is in the year 1945 with Al, and Sam needs it to open the Imaging Chamber door.
Meanwhile, Sam is starting to regain his memories, and remembers an override code that can be used to unlock the Imaging Chamber door from the outside. Sam remembers that in the event of a catastrophic collapse of the radium accelorator ring surrounding the imaging chamber, that Ziggy would have automatically sealed the chamber to protect from a possible radiation leak, and that once the imaging chamber door is sealed, it can't be opened, not even by Ziggy, for another 1,600 years, until the radiation half-life of the radium ring had expired, which prompted Al to ask Sam, frustrated and angrily, "How could you design a system without a fail-safe???". As he posts a letter to be delivered to the project the day of the switch, Sam suddenly remembers something important.
Sam remembers the fail-safe he designed in which if the chamber door is sealed in error, it can be reopened from the inside, problem being that Al, who's stuck in 1945 as the leaper with the handlink, which can't be used for another 54 years, but, Sam, in his genius mind, devised a plan: If the others in the imaging room realize that the ring didn't collapse, that someone would have to be there to open the chamber door, by getting the backdoor code, which Sam remembered that he designed in the event of a catastrophic failure such as what caused he and Al to switch places, delivered to Gooshie through a letter in the U.S. Mail System, addressed to Irving Gushman (Gooshie's real name), mailed to a Doc Crosnoff, Sam's dad's lawyer, with about $100 in 1945 money, for his trouble, with implicit instructions to be delivered to Gooshie on September 15, 1999, the date which Al switched places with Sam. As soon as Sam has Al put the letter into the mailbox, the imaging door opens up, as Gooshie and the others in the imaging room, who received the letter, are able to open the door for Sam, as he runs through and is reunited with Donna, his wife that his Swiss-cheesed brain had forgotten about.
Meanwhile, Al is trying to stumble through a leap without Ziggy to give him information. He is Tom, a former WWII Army POW who was presumed dead who has just returned home from Germany to his hometown Crown Point, Indiana. His former girlfriend is going to marry another guy in two days and Al and Sam guess that he is there to get her to marry Tom instead.
Ziggy finally reaches a probability hypothesis, inconveniently while Sam and his wife Donna (Mimi Kuzyk) are having some personal time, and informs Sam that Al is in 1945 to prevent Tom and his girlfriend before he went off to fight in the war, Suzanne Elsinger (Amanda Wyss) from committing suicide (or at least how it looked to the police when they discovered their bodies) in what seemed like a Romeo and Juliet-inspired lover's pact.
Sam and Al soon discover, unfortunately, almost dangerously too late, that it was not suicide at all, but a carefully planned murder. In order to save Al Sam must go back into the Accelerator Chamber and leap back to 1945 to accomplish the mission. Sam and Al switch places, with Al returning to 1999, and Sam defeats Clifford "Cliff" White (Robert Prescott), the new boyfriend who is trying to kill them, Sam can not be retrieved, yet again, leaving Sam with the useless handlink. Afterwards Sam leaps, with no memory of ever returning home or of Donna.
- When Sam leaps out of Sam Beterman and into the present, he is still wearing the hospital gown that he was wearing when he was in the persona of Sam Beterman. Al is wearing Tom Jarrett's uniform. So, when Sam Beterman returns to his own time, whose clothes is he wearing? I presume Tom Jarrett, in the waiting room, is wearing Sam's Fermi Suit, so what is Sam Beterman wearing? Al's clothes?
- There is a some ambiguity as to whose persona Sam is inhabiting when he returns to his own time, his own or Al's. Sam leaps into Al's location in the Imaging Chamber (rather into his persona's own location, the Waiting Room). Tina remarks that Sam sounds just like Al. At no point does the audience see Sam's reflection. Of course, no one says explicitly that Sam is in Al's persona but no one says explicitly that he is in his own. Additionally, Sam is wearing neither Al's nor his own clothes (see above). (problem is if Sam leapt into Al's persona, wouldn't he be holding the handlink and wearing Al's clothes ... There seems to be no logical explanation as to why Sam lept into the Imaging Chamber)
- Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby - by Louis Jordan
|Quantum Leap Season Four|
|● The Leap Back ● Play Ball ● Hurricane ● Justice ● Permanent Wave ● Raped ● The Wrong Stuff ● Dreams ● A Single Drop of Rain ● Unchained ● The Play's The Thing ● Running For Honor ● Temptation Eyes ● The Last Gunfighter ● A Song For The Soul ● Ghost Ship ● Roberto! ● It's A Wonderful Leap ● Moments To Live ● The Curse of Ptah-Hotep ● Stand Up ● A Leap For Lisa ●.|