Quantum Leap (1993) – Memphis Melody and Mirror Image

Here we go, the last instalment of Quantum Leap. Sam’s last two leaps… that we know about.

In Memphis Melody, set on 3 July, 1954, Sam (Scott Bakula) finds himself as The King himself, Elvis Presley. Written by Robin Bernheim, this episode allows us to see Sam sing one last time, with a couple of rockin’ numbers as he tries to not only keep Elvis’ life on track, after he screws it up, causing history to be rewritten with Tony, Orlando and Dawn releasing what should have been Presley hits.

Al (Dean Stockwell) lets him know he has to keep Elvis’ career safe, but also save Sue Anne Winters (Mary Elizabeth McGlynn) from a bad marriage to a real nozzle, Frank Begley (John Scott Clough), He has a low opinion of Elvis, and doesn’t want Sue Anne singing or chasing her dreams.

Airing on 20 April, 1993, the episode also featured Micheal St. Gerard as Elvis, a role he had taken on before on the television series of the same name.

The episode tries to ground itself in as much of the reality of Elvis’ life at the time as they could, and it’s pretty obvious that Bakula and Stockwell are having a pretty good time once the tunes kick in.

I like this episode, as I enjoy the moments in the series when Bakula gets to let loose and belt a tune. It’s a fun little brush with history episode with Sam taking the form of a person who actually existed.

And consequently, it’s the last fun episode before the tear fest of the series conclusion.

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Mirror Image…

Oh, boy. So this is it. It all comes to an end here. Series creator Donald P. Bellisario brings everything to a conclusion in an episode filled with familiar faces, and set on the day Sam was born, 8 August 1953.

Airing on 4 May, 1993, Sam leaps into himself. His body is gone from the Waiting Room and it takes forever for Al to find him.

In the interim, Sam finds himself in a bar of a mining town, conversing with a bartender named Al (Bruce McGill) who may be more than he seems.

McGill was also in the pilot episode, and with the revelations in this story, it makes you wonder what that portends, when one looks back at it.

Sam is surrounded by faces he knows, but with different names. Jimmy’s brother Frank is there, but here he is called Tonchi (John D’Aquino), Captain Galaxy is Ziggy (another familiar name to Leapers) Ziganovich (Richard Herd), there’s (another familiar name, and bad breath to go with it) Gooshie (William Morgan Sheppard) and for the first time, Sam sees someone else leap.

He can’t quite figure out what he’s there to do, but helps in a mining disaster while talking with Al the bartender. We can’t quite figure out where he is, though a local paper says he’s in Pittsburgh. But it is a very strange town. So what really is this place? A crossroads? Something more?

As the conversations progress Sam learns that he has a choice, he’s always had a choice, and he’s cautioned that things are about to become more difficult for him, should he continue.

That troubles him, but he makes his choice. After setting something right that he should have fixed a long time ago. Something that helps his dearest friend, Al, the project observer.

The title cards at the end of the episode break my heart every time. Sam, since the first episode, is a character I identified with, and knowing he goes on and I can’t follow, that saddens me, especially know what he leaves behind in his world.

I love this show so much. And I’ll have to revisit it again in the future, until then…

I’ll keep hoping, along with Sam, that the next leap, will be the leap home.

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