Quantum Leap (1992) – A Leap for Lisa and Lee Harvey Oswald

Season 4 comes to a conclusion this week as Sam (Scott Bakula) changes history for the worse, causing him to lose Al (Dean Stockwell)!

A Leap for Lisa was written by Donald P. Bellisario and aired on 20 May, 1992.

It’s 25 June, 1957 and Sam has leaped into a young naval ensign accused of raping and murdering Marci Riker (Debbie James) the CO’s (Charles Rocket) wife. The young ensign… none other than Al Calavicci.

In the original history the charges were eventually dropped when Al’s innocence was proved, but Sam has changed things, and now, there’s an 81% chance that Al will be executed! It seems his alibi was provided by Lt. Lisa Sherman (Terry Farrell) originally, and Sam doesn’t let her testify.

Lisa is a married woman, who is having an affair with Al, and was with him the night he supposedly murdered Marci. In the original history she testified and Al was deemed innocent. When Sam doesn’t let her, it changes everything – including the fact that now, Al is facing execution.

The timeline seems to play out that way as well, when Al disappears to be replaced by a new hologram, Edward St.John V (Roddy McDowall!).

Can Sam figure out why he is really here and get his friend back? And maybe Sam was too late to set right what once went wrong.

A great way to end the season. The episode has a couple of firsts, Sam leaps into Al’s dream when he first arrives, and we finally get a look at the Waiting Room at the Project.

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Season 5 opens with what might be my least favourite story, a two-part episode aired as a two hour premiere in response to Oliver Stone’s JFK. Sam leaps into Lee Harvey Oswald. Airing on 22 September, 1992, it was penned by Bellisario.

Instead of being in control, Sam is moved through Oswald’s time line seemingly at whim, to tie in with actually recorded encounters to illustrate the ‘reality’ of the line assassin.

Al tries to keep his friend rooted and on task, which viewers believe is to stop the assassination of Kennedy. Sam, meanwhile, is losing control, as Oswald asserts his personality over Sam’s forcing the time traveller to watch as history unfurls, once again, and completely unable to do anything about it.

Now, while I may not be a fan of the story of the episode, I do like seeing the way Sam and Al interact, and how unnerving it is for both characters when Lee asserts himself.

The episode opens in a unique way featuring a gorgeous piece by Velton Ray Bunch set against pictures of Kennedy and Oswald. It also spends more time at Stallion’s Gate, New Mexico, the location of Project Quantum Leap than we have in all the episodes combined to date.

In the future, Willie Garson, who had previously appeared in the season 1 episode Play It Again, Seymour, takes on the role of Oswald as he interacts with Al. The Project Observer is doing his best to find correlating evidence to prove the conspiracy theory of Kennedy’s assassination.

The episode features new theme music, well, a 90s pop version of the traditional Quantum Leap theme, and its one of the only times in the series that it doesn’t give us a teaser of where Sam leaps to next at the end of the episode…

Oh, boy.

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