"The Leap Between the States"

Leap Date:

September 20, 1862

Episode Adopted by: Brinsley


Breaking all the rules of Quantum Leaping, Sam leaps along his genetic line and finds himself in the civil war as his great-grandfather! While helping the underground railroad smuggle a family to freedom, Sam must also win the heart of his great-grandmother, or he may be erased from existence.


Audio from this episode


Leap Date

Project Date
Name of the Person Leaped Into

Music Artists
Project Trivia
Sam Trivia
Al Trivia

Al's Women
Al's Outfits Worn in the Episode

Miscellaneous Trivia
Kiss with History

Broadcast Date
Guest Stars
Guest Cast Notes
Guests who appeared in other Quantum Leap episodes
Cast members who have passed away
Personal Review
Best Lines
Best Scenes
Say what? (things in the episode that make no sense)
Quotable Quotes




Leap Date: September 20th, 1862.

Place: Mansfield County, Virginia.

Name of the Person Leaped Into:
Captain John Beckett, of the Union army.



Leaping into a truly nightmarish scene, Sam finds himself standing knee-deep in a river next to a large wooden bridge, a full-scale battle going on around him: men in old-fashioned uniforms are running around shooting their pistols at each other; two lines of men face one another, each blasting the other with volleys of shots from long-barreled old rifles; an old cannon thunders as it launches a heavy shell at the enemy soldiers; smoke from gun and artillery shots floats in the air, as the neighing of spurred horses mingles with the terrified, tortured shrieks of the dying… Sam has leaped into a Union army officer fighting in the civil war, and he has only time enough to learn that his host's name is Beckett, before he is shot by a Confederate lieutenant and falls, unconscious, near the riverbank.

Waking up in a barn with a hazy memory of being carried there by a group of blacks, Sam is soon met by a relieved Al who tells him that since his leaping into this time period he had been entirely lost to the project, and has only just now been located. The reason for this disturbance is obvious: for the first time, Sam has leaped outside the limits of his lifetime, into the 19th century. An explanation for this freak leaping accident is found as Sam suddenly remembers an ancestor of his who fought in the civil war… his great-grandfather, Captain John Beckett of the Union forces. It appears this leap was made possible due to Sam's DNA structure being extremely similar to that of his great-grandfather, enabling a "genetic transference".

Sam and Al are interrupted by the appearance of a young woman at the door of the barn, who calls out to Sam to come out. When he does, it is only to stare at the barrel of a rifle pointed at him. The reason for this young southern woman's immediate and undisguised hatred of Sam is made clear as Sam learns that her husband was killed in battle on the front, leaving her fighting to defend her homestead against Yankee raids… the same Yankees of whom Sam's ancestor (and therefore now Sam himself) is one. Ms. Olivia's only remaining companion and aid against her enemies is her loyal black slave, Isaac.

Olivia must soon reevaluate her beliefs and opinions regarding the wild Yankees she has come to hate for raiding and looting her home, as she is forced to nurture the wounded Sam back to health, and is confronted with his honesty and lack of evil intent. Sam, meanwhile, is up for a surprise as he learns from Al that the ferocious southern belle nurturing him back to health is none other than Captain John Beckett's future wife – Sam's own great-grandmother. Finally, when an errant cannonball causes a fire in her barn, Olivia is forced to concede that Sam is of more possible use to her than he is of harm. Sam has gained her grudging trust and is allowed to move freely about her homestead, but when a Confederate patrol rides by, led by a cunning and suspicious lieutenant, Sam must pretend he is Olivia's cousin, a proud southerner, in order to save his neck. The lieutenant clearly fancies Olivia, and makes no effort to hide his wishes regarding her. While he warns Olivia that, following the previous day's battle at the bridge (in which the lieutenant himself has shot and wounded one Yankee, who proceeded to escape), surviving Yankee soldiers may be roving about, he nonetheless believes Sam's contrived tale of his belonging to the mighty Confederate army and, having been wounded, coming to stay with his dear cousin. Oddly enough, said cousin shows no intention of saying or doing anything to turn in the young man whom, only hours before, she has known to be her sworn enemy.

As soon as the chillingly formal lieutenant and his soldiers leave, Sam confronts Olivia with her failure to disprove his invented cover story in front of the soldiers and lead to his hanging as she has so hatefully promised him she would earlier. Olivia's unwonted silence at his insistence to know her reason for saving his life leads Sam back to his hazy memory of being brought to her house by a *group* of blacks.

Sam becomes determined that Olivia is a Union sympathizer who is harboring runaway slaves on her grounds. Olivia insists she has no idea what he is talking about, but when Sam sets out to explore the premises it is not long before he discovers a small family of blacks hidden in a back room in the barn. A young couple with a daughter and a small baby, they are timid and seem very frightened of Sam, but their determined protector – Isaac – certainly isn't. As it turns out, Sam has stumbled upon a "stop" in the Underground Railroad of the war years, of which Isaac is the conductor, offering his wards a temporary shelter, providing for them and showing them the way to the next "stop" on the road to escape from capture and to freedom. Sam manages to gain their trust by revealing to them his foreknowledge of a brighter future for blacks. However, the grim and practical Isaac sadly dismisses it all as a dream that could never come true.

Now certain of Olivia's awareness of the existence of the Underground Railroad "stop" on her grounds, Sam confronts her with the proof that she sides with the Union and opposes slavery. When she denies his allegations against her, which would mean she is guilty of a crime punishable by death in the south, Sam resorts once again to sharing his knowledge of a brighter future, this time one in which women don't have to blindly follow the edicts of the society and country they live in, a future in which they can vote, make a difference and stand up for what they believe in without fear. As Olivia still refuses to admit her collaboration with any such thing as sheltering runaway slaves, Sam lets her off the hook, but has to start thinking about approaching her himself, for a very different purpose, when Al drops by and reminds him that his own existence may depend on John Beckett's successful courtship and eventual marriage to Olivia.

This in mind, Sam goes on to cook a humble romantic dinner for him and Olivia, throughout the course of which he learns of her recent anguish, waiting for her dead husband to return from the front and saving a special bottle of vintage for that blessed occasion. Sam also learns to play a player piano. An intimate waltz to the sound of the music in their heads completes the initial courting, and, having won the lady's favor, Sam can return to dealing with more pressing matters.

Paying another nightly visit to the poor family stowed in the back of the barn, Sam details the information he has presumably received from Al at some point during the day (although the scene itself was never shown). Advising Isaac about the safest route on which he should send his timid wards, Sam is interrupted by the violent cries of a familiar, manly voice… the Confederate patrol has returned. The haughty lieutenant Montgomery orders a thorough search of the premises, and Sam, realizing there is no hope of keeping the runaways hidden and determined not to risk exposing Olivia's complicity in the crime, asks Isaac and the runaways to trust him and initiates his quickly-conceived plan.

Coming out of the barn and turning in the slaves to a gleeful Montgomery, Sam proceeds to come up with some lame excuses to delay the approaching hanging, for which the two dimwitted soldiers in Montgomery's unit have already begun preparations. Sam bargains with Montgomery, who still thinks him to be a *southern* captain on sick leave, and achieves a postponement of the dreaded event to the break of day. Until dawn, Montgomery places the runaways and Isaac in the barn and posts his goons to guard them, while he himself accompanies Sam and Olivia inside the house to while away the time until dawn.

But Sam's plan for rescuing the blacks is still far from fruition, so he has Olivia bring out the bottle of old vintage she's told him about earlier, as is fitting for such a special occasion. After a cheerful toast is proposed to the victory of the south, Sam says a few words meant to remind Montgomery of his fancy of Olivia, and despite her feeble protests, offers to play a nice tune for them on the player piano while they share an intimate dance. Trying his best to ignore Olivia's murderous looks directed at him over Montgomery's back, Sam takes advantage of the lieutenant's momentary distraction to hastily pour all the contents of the old vintage bottle into the half-full coffee pitcher. He proceeds to generously give the lieutenant and "his dear cousin" some time alone, and volunteers to take out mugs of coffee to Montgomery's poor freezing soldiers outside.

Inside the barn, Sam accosts the grizzled private guarding the blacks and genially offers him some steaming coffee. The goon, a man of delicate taste, at least as far as all kinds of liquor are concerned, immediately detects the traces of the vintage, but for some reason doesn't seem to mind it very much. Sam edges him on by pretending to take hearty slurps out of his own mug, then quickly spilling the contents on the ground. Pretty soon, the goon is intoxicated and whooping loudly. Sam offers a few more sympathetic words, then smacks him soundly on the head. He takes the man's gun, unties Isaac and the runaways and they follow him out of the barn. With the help of Al's observing eye, Sam takes the second of Montgomery's two halfwits by surprise, and he and the blacks haul the man into the barn to join his fellow. The coast is now clear for the blacks to make good their escape, but Sam has to go back for Olivia first.

Meanwhile, Olivia has been rebuffing the increasingly bold advances of the eager Montgomery as politely as possible. When he starts manhandling her, she gradually gets more physical with him. Tired of playing violent games, he pins her down and threatens her with the punishment of the law if she doesn't yield to him. Yes, he knows of her terrible crime, as he explains by reporting his finding, during his quick tour of her house when he first came in earlier that evening, of a Union army captain's uniform, with a bullet hole in it. Exposing Sam as an escaped Yankee and her as a Union sympathizer, he correctly concludes that she's guilty of harboring fugitive slaves. But he's willing to let even this pass should she yield to him. Sam bursts in and points his gun at Montgomery, who in turn uses Olivia as a human shield. He then calmly tells Sam that his soldier's weapon is worthless and is about to shoot him. However, Olivia breaks out of his grip and shoves him backwards. Sam pins him down and knocks him out. Sam and Olivia then bolt out of the house.

Dawn is breaking. In a forest clearing, a considerable distance from the house, Sam tries to comfort Olivia for the loss of her house and her way of life. Olivia shrugs off these material concerns as irrelevant, but still seems bothered by something. She hesitantly asks Sam if there could really be love between them. Sam, hinting at the future, answers affirmatively and commits to her for his great-grandfather. Isaac then intrudes on their intimacy, asking to have a word with them. At the same time, Al pops in, reassuring Sam that Ziggy indicates that Isaac and Olivia have a 98% chance of joining up with the nearest rebel outfit and making it to safety and freedom. Sam turns back to Isaac. As a free man, Isaac would need a last name. He has been debating several choices within himself, among which are John's (and Sam's), and Olivia's. However, he eventually turns to simpler logic to make his choice. It appears that the legacy of Sam's speech, the one that Isaac had determined to be nothing but a hopeless dream, would live on… and people will eventually come to believe in it. Sam and Isaac share a moment of true brotherhood, before Sam leaps.


Songs / Music:
Quantum Leap Theme by Mike Post
Musical Score by Velton Ray Bunch


Project Trivia:
This leap apparently caused considerable havoc at the project initially, as at the moment of Sam's leap he "dropped out of the space-time continuum" and has been completely lost to the project, despite Ziggy's attempts to locate him. It may have taken some time, as it usually does, until the transit was complete and Sam's leapee arrived in the Waiting Room, but even then, Al was unable to get much information out of the young man about his original time period, as the man became extremely terrified of his surroundings. Furthermore, the situation at the project can be seen to be the cause for a strange glitch in the IC door in this episode, which I will discuss later (see the "say what?" section).


Sam Trivia:
Sam's great-grandfather, John Beckett, was a captain in the Union army and fought in the Civil War. Sam's father was named after him.


Al Trivia:
Al has a thing for southern belles.


Misc. Trivia:

Historical trivia – the Civil War:

- John Beckett's orders document is signed by a "General G.B. McClellan". Major General George Brinton McClellan (1826-1885) was for a short time General-in-Chief of the Union army, but returned to assume command of the Army of the Potomac for the second time on September 2nd, 1862, the very day on which the orders paper Sam finds in his possession has been issued, and 18 days before Sam himself leaped in. McClellan resigned from the army and proceeded to run for USA presidency against Abraham Lincoln in the 1864 election. Losing the election to Lincoln (who was assassinated the following year), McClellan went on to become governor of the state of New Jersey.

- In his cover story to Lt. Montgomery as "Aubrey Covington", Sam follows Al's instructions and states that he belongs to the Mississippi 6th infantry regiment, commanded by General John Adams. As Montgomery says, on that very day, September 21st, they should indeed be somewhere in Tennessee, making their way south, to the battle of Corinth, that is to take place about two weeks later.

- At one point in the episode, Isaac is revealed to be a conductor on the "Underground Railroad", running the local "stop" in Olivia's house. The Underground Railroad was the name for the clandestine network, run by northerner blacks, of shelters and guides for runaway, fugitive slaves throughout the south. It was created as early as the 1780's and existed until after the civil war. Perhaps as much as some tens of thousands of slaves found their freedom thanks to its guidance. It was also called the Liberty Line.

- At the end of the episode, Al in his final outlook mentions the rebel outfit that Olivia and Isaac join will reach the Mason-Dixon Line. The Mason-Dixon Line is another name for the border between the states of Maryland and Pennsylvania.


Al's Outfits:
1. Dark green jacket, silvery shirt and dark brown necktie (in the barn).

2. Long, dark gray overcoat, yellow jacket and dark red shirt (at the pump).


Writer – Richard C. Okie


Director – David Hemmings
First Assistant Director – R. John Slosser
Second Assistant Director – Brian Faul


Co-Executive Producer – Deborah Pratt
Co-Executive Producer – Chas. Floyd Johnson
Supervising Producer – Richard C. Okie
Associate Producer – Scott Ejercito
Associate Producer – Julie Bellisario
Coordinating Producer – David Bellisario


Broadcast Date: March 30th, 1993.


Regular Cast:
Scott Bakula as Dr. Sam Beckett
Dean Stockwell as Al Calavicci


Guest Stars:

Kate McNeil as Olivia Barrett Covington

Michael D. Roberts as Isaac

Geoffrey Lower as Lt. Richard Montgomery

Neil Giuntoli as Private Ryder

Robby Sutton as Young Soldier

Paul Wittenberg as Wounded Union Soldier

Rob Hyland as Captain John Beckett / Mirror

Note: I could find no credits for the actors playing the runaway slave family (a couple with a young girl and a baby).


Guest Cast Notes:

Kate McNeil (Olivia) has among her credentials appearances in many TV-movies, among which are the Walton reunion movies "A Walton Thanksgiving", "A Walton Wedding" and "A Walton Easter", and also appeared in such films as "Space Cowboys" and "Glitter". Among her TV series credentials are "As the World Turns", "WIOU" and "Bodies of Evidence".

Michael D. Roberts (Isaac) has appeared in many popular films and TV shows. Among his film credentials are "The Hunter", "Rain Man" and "Manhunter", as well as the more recent "Sleepstalker" and "The Golem". His TV show credentials include starring roles in "Double Trouble" and "Manimal", as well as many guest appearances on different TV shows, a noteworthy one of these being his role in a few episodes of "MacGyver" as the founder and manager of a club and home for juvenile delinquents who live on the street and lead lives of petty crime, violence and drugs. This is echoing Mr. Roberts' own struggle and dedication in real life, to fight against the spreading of drug addiction nationwide and to use his access to the public as an actor to encourage youth to resist drugs. He founded the anti-drug education program "Right Track" and received a commendation from the mayor of LA for his work against drugs.

Geoffrey Lower (Lt. Montgomery) has appeared on several movies during the 90's, among which are "Heaven Sent", "Avalanche" and more recently "Time Share" and "Housebound". He has also appeared on the TV show "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" and following that show's success, in the TV movie bearing the same name. Among his other TV credentials are guest appearances in "Beverly Hills 90210", "Friends" and "NYPD Blue".

Neil Giuntoli (Private Ryder) has appeared in supporting roles in such movies as "The Shawshank Redemption", "Waterworld" and "Next of Kin". Among his TV credits are guest appearances in such shows as "Wiseguy", "Seinfeld" and "Ally McBeal".

Rob Hyland (John Beckett / Mirror) has appeared only in the movie "Slaves of Hollywood", and guest starred as Sam's great-grandfather in this episode.


Guests Who Appeared in Other QL Episodes:
Michael D. Roberts (Isaac) also played the character of Reverend Willis Tyler, father of young Nell and son of Sam's memorable first controversial leapee, old Jesse Tyler, in the first-season episode "The Color of Truth". So it's only fitting that he be hired for another controversial episodes dealing with blacks' rights.


Personal Review:
A very nice, unique, adventurous and at times quite touching episode. Its main issue is slavery, the differences in attitudes and political positions regarding it between the North and South, that caused the American civil war, and their nature during the war years. Free life and equality for all are brought up as a dream that people need to believe in, or it will stay just that – an unfulfilled dream. Isaac is the focus of this inner struggle to accept the dream and believe in it, even though throughout the episode we know nothing about him, even when his secret job of conductor for the Underground Railroad is exposed. Only at the end do we understand the impact of Sam's speech on him, as the foreknowledge of his descendant's belief in this actual family legacy is fully understood only at the very end.


Best Line:
Sam: there will come a time when everyone will have the same rights. Everyone will be free.


Best Scene:
The final scene of the episode:

(After escaping from the Confederate soldiers at Olivia's house, Sam and Olivia, along with the now-free blacks, stop at a clearing in the forest. As Sam assures Olivia of her future with his great-grandfather, Isaac approaches and asks to have a word with them)

Sam: Yes, Isaac?

Isaac: Well sir, I've been thinking. Once I'm a free man, I'm gonna need a last name like everybody else.

Olivia (smiling fondly): Got any ideas?

Isaac: Well, I considered Lincoln… considered Covington, since I've been with y'all since I was born… I considered Beckett, to thank you for taking me with you, sir.

Sam: You don't have to thank me, Isaac, but I’m flattered.

Isaac: Most of all… I like the way I feels about being a free man. Makes a man feel like a king. So, if it ain't too uppity, I'd like to be called – Isaac King.

(Sam and Olivia smile at each other, happy for him)

Al: Sam, you're not gonna believe this. Isaac here goes on to have a son, named Emmanuel, and Emmanuel goes on to have a son –

Sam (smile gone, murmurs, suddenly understanding): King?...

Isaac: Something wrong?

Sam: No no, no… it's fine.

Al: And *that* son has a son… a very famous son… Martin Luther King.

(Close-up on Isaac's proud and determined face, reminiscent of his great-grandson's. He nods gravely, waiting for Sam to reply)

Sam: I think that's a fine name, Isaac.

(Isaac's grave face lights up in an appreciative smile, and he nods, satisfied. Sam smiles, nods back... and LEAPS).


Worst Thing about the Episode:
I couldn't think of anything that is actually disappointing in this episode… except perhaps, we could have been shown more of the 19th-century lifestyle, more examples of contemporary achievements in science (such as the primitive medicinal poultices Sam was so repulsed by) and people's world-views at that time.


Say What? (Things that Make No Sense):
At one point Al warns Sam to make sure John's romance with Olivia is realized, or Sam's parents "will never get here". This seems to be a mistake, as Thelma Beckett would most probably still be "there", just not married to Sam's dad, whose existence will probably be erased (which would indeed, in turn, erase Sam's existence, but that's not the point). That is, unless of course Thelma was herself born a member of the Beckett family, which would make her a relative of her husband. Maybe I'm being nitpicky here, but it would have been more accurate for Al to mention only Sam's dad as the one whose actual existence is at stake here. Of course, "get here" could have meant that they get together as they are meant to.

And a small error in the special effects category, that I don't recall seeing in any other episode (though it may have happened once or twice earlier in the show): when Al arrives for the first time in the episode, in the barn, the IC door glows completely red instead of blue. This can naturally be attributed to the red haze of the sunrise shining through the cracks and holes in the walls of the dark barn. But of course, the IC door is a hologram, and, it being a special effect, unlike the "hologram" of Al himself, there shouldn't be any need to work around its having to obey the laws of physics (such as casting shadows, or reflecting bright light). What's more, from our first actual view of the IC, in "Mirror Image", we learn that its walls are comprised of the same blue, glowing material as the walls of the Waiting Room. Therefore, the blue glow of the open doorway is clearly the glow of the wall behind it. Thus, it should never be red.

However, it's still possible that the project maintenance system, namely Ziggy, has changed the color of the glowing wall. Perhaps Sam's erratic leap out of his lifetime generated a literally "Code Red" situation at the project?


Quotable Quotes:

(Olivia points a rifle at Sam)

Olivia: Where's the other one?

Sam: The other what?

Olivia: Whoever you were talking to.

Al: Oh, I'm right here, Scarlet. Ooh, she's lovely! I always had a thing for girls from the Deep South.

Olivia: I wouldn't trust a word out of your stinkin' Yankee mouth if you told me that peaches was sweet in the summer.

(Olivia is dressing Sam's wound. Sam frowns and leans forward to examine the plate on the table, filled with a yellowish goo)

Sam: What is *that*?

Olivia (irritably): haven't you ever seen a mustard poultice before?

Sam (dazed by the stuff's smell): Aww… wow, yeah, yeah. Forget what I said, bring on the gangrene.

(Sam is telling Isaac and the runaways about the future)

Sam: Things are gonna be bad for a while, but everything's gonna change. Blacks… Negroes… are gonna get to *vote*. They're gonna get jobs, *good* jobs…

Isaac (incredulous): That's crazy talk.

Sam: It's truth. I swear it, Isaac. It's gonna be a long, hard fight for schooling and other equality, but believe me: there will come a time when everyone will have the same rights. Everyone will be free.

Isaac (gravely): It ain't nothing but a dream.

Sam: Believe in it, Isaac.

(Sam turns to leave, walks to the door, then turns back to the runaway family)

Sam: Good luck to you folks.

(He walks out of the barn. Isaac remains standing, deep in thought)

(Sam has cooked dinner and is presenting it to Olivia)

Sam: We've got rice, we have gravy, we have fried chicken, carrots, okra… although, I think I'll let you and Isaac have all the okra.

(After the blacks have been caught, Sam and Olivia are forced to entertain Montgomery until dawn. Sam had Olivia bring out her special bottle of vintage)

Montgomery: If you'd allow me, Captain, I'd like to make the first toast.

Sam: By all means, Lieutenant. (Hands him the glass) There you are. Cousin. (He hands another one to Olivia)

Montgomery: To victory!

Al (standing in the corner): Up your nose with a rubber hose.

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