Quantum Leap is not just a cult show. Quantum Leap is Scott Bakula’s cult show. Sam Beckett (Bakula), a scientist, gets caught up in his experimental time machine and keeps leaping throughout time and space, occupying the body of a person at a pivotal moment in history, allowing him to change the past to make a better present. He is helped by a hologram of his best friend Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell), who usually informs Beckett about the current time period with the help of the supercomputer Ziggy (Deborah Pratt), and what he likely had to do to move history onto the right path, which would allow him to “leap” to another time period. Each time, he hoped, that the next leap would finally take him home.
Throughout the entire show, this premise had a few flaws. 1) How did he always end up in the body of someone who needed help if he was jumping at random? 2) If he invented the machine, wouldn’t someone in the further future be able to jump back as well? 3) How come he never jumped back to the Inquisition or something, as those would be times where more significant change could be leveraged? 4) If he built the machine to go back in time and “set right what once went wrong,” why does he even want to go home?
Rather than just tell the audience that “it doesn’t matter, just enjoy the show,” the writers of Quantum Leap decided to use the last episode of the show to answer pretty much all of the questions in the craziest way they could think of:
GOD DID IT.
No, really. God is directing the jumps through time of not just Sam Beckett, but all the people who will be jumpers in the future, and the reason he hasn’t jumped to an even harder time is because the entire series is just Sam’s “warm up.” And the craziest thing of all is, it kind of makes sense, and it lets the audience nod in assent and say “well, at least now I know.” The structure of the episode, just having Sam outside of what is actually considered “time,” which resembles a bar, is so different from the other episodes of the series, that it also makes the audience feel more unfamiliar, making way for the big reveal. You have to at least respect the sheer chutzpah it takes to drop that on screen as a farewell.
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