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Old 10-07-2012, 05:44 AM   #1
chris-oates
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Default Why did Sam choose not to leap home at the end of Mirror Image.

I know this question has been addressed many times, but I have to ask this question. I've just watched Mirror Image for about the 10th time. I don't like the episode much. I don't like it for quite a few reasons, but mainly because of the sad and ambiguous ending. The reason I've watched it so often is because I keep trying to make sense of it. But I can't.. I have a few questions to ask.

1. Why didn't Sam choose to leap home..

I know the reason he doesn't is because he wants to help Al and Beth stay together.. But it's strongly implied that Sam was always controlling his own leaps, and when he realises he can leap wherever he chooses, he leaps to the exact moment in M.I.A when Beth is dancing.. But why doesn't he after he tells Beth that Al is alive, leap home. If he can control where he leaps, why can't he leap home after telling Beth? It seems like Sam had to choose between, saving Al and Beth's marriage, and leaping home. Why can't he do both?

2. Does Sam telling Beth that Al is alive effect his friendship with Al.

After Sam tells Beth that Al is still alive, does this radically change history. Do Sam and Al even meet? And if they never did, this means Al won't remember Sam. But if this is the case would Sam still remember Al. Because when you think of the episode A Leap for Lisa, Sam changed history and Al was going to be executed. But Sam still remembered Al, even though history was saying that they never met.

3. Was Sam dead all along.

In the final episode it is mentioned how often we here stories of the dead coming back to help the living. It could be Sam never returns home because he was in fact dead all along. Once he died in the start of the series he began leaping through time to help people much like Al's uncle in the final episode who was taken at the moment of death through time to help the miners in the final episode. However, with Sam, his body was gone when he died because of the Quantum Leap, and Al & Gushy & Ziggy were able to use the technology from the Quantum Leap project to go back and time and observe Sam wherever he had leaped to. Al never realizes that Sam is dead and neither does Sam. But all along, Sam is just another dead person helping the living. That could be it.

And finally.. 4. Does Don Bellisario fully understand the last episode.

Maybe he doesn't understand it either. Maybe he just threw it all in because he couldn't think of an ending for the show.. I know that Don wasn't sure if NBC were going to renew it for another season, so he tried to make it both a cliffhanger and a series finale at the same time. But still it's so confusing, I find it hard to believe that Don understands everything about that episode.

I know we'll probably never really know the answer to these questions, but it would be great if you could try to answer my questions. I'd love to hear your opinions on the final episode.
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Old 10-07-2012, 08:21 AM   #2
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Because Don Bellisario is a big meanie.
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Old 10-08-2012, 03:28 PM   #3
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Hahaha. From what I understand (and it's stuff I've read, not firsthand knowledge or anything, so there's no way I can be sure) it was actually the network that was the meanie. They left stuff until the last minute and things were sort of rushed because of that.

I do agree they could have ended it better; they should have had Sam get home. That would have left things open for a movie or something later. The theory that he might be dead is a reasonable one, but at what point did he die if that's the case? It would be sort of hard for a dead guy to father a child, or have a wild night with his wife, or get hurt in the episodes where he was injured. Just sayin'.
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Old 10-09-2012, 02:52 AM   #4
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Yeah you make a good point. How could he father a child if he was dead. Well it looks like we'll never know anything for sure. There was talk of a movie, but now everything seems so quite, I doubt we'll get one now.
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Old 10-09-2012, 10:39 AM   #5
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I think it boils down to Sam always did what was right, and he decided to put righting things for Al above getting home. They could have had him do both though. Oh well. The world of T.V. can be a crazy one. It would have been different if I'd been one of the writers though.

The theory that he had died is reasonable; it's when that happened that I would wonder about.
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Old 10-23-2012, 11:42 PM   #6
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I think it boils down to Sam always did what was right, and he decided to put righting things for Al above getting home. They could have had him do both though. Oh well. The world of T.V. can be a crazy one. It would have been different if I'd been one of the writers though.

The theory that he had died is reasonable; it's when that happened that I would wonder about.
Well, since the entire episode "Mirror Image" doesn't make sense, why should the ending? Seriously, though, we all know NBC's interference resulted in the ending being changed to end the series. This is why Sam's line, "I've got a wrong to put right first" was actually dubbed over to be, "I've got a wrong to put right, for Al." To me, it's pretty obvious Don Bellisario did intend Sam to go home and have Al become the leaper even if we didn't know about Bellisario's plans for a Season 6 premiere.

However, since NBC's interference created what ended up as canon, I always thought of Sam's 'revised' decision in the context of the Bartender talking to Sam about taking sabbaticals. While it appears as if the Bartender always controlled Sam's leaps, he insists that Sam is himself in control. I think what happened is that he convinced Sam to continue leaping and that Al's Place was a sort-of "rest stop" for Sam.
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Old 10-28-2012, 07:37 PM   #7
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Well, since the entire episode "Mirror Image" doesn't make sense, why should the ending?
lol, one of the things that I liked about the episode actually is the ambiguity and surrealism, the way Sam can't get a straight answer about anything but then he does make sense of it finally and draws a conclusion on his own.

In one of the other Mirror Image threads someone mentioned that it was actually NBC that put the black screens in at the end and not Bellisario, and I am wont to believe that given that Sam's last name was spelled wrong. I really don't think Bellisario would have made that mistake. I wonder what he himself might have done with the series finale had NBC not made the decision at the last minute, interfered and hastily tacked on that ending.

This was a great show and it really deserved better than that hastily tacked-on 'where are they now' conclusion. But there's always the fanfic.
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Old 11-01-2012, 08:00 PM   #8
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I think they wanted to end like that so that,well,pretty much "as it says" so that he could go on to help others and change their lives. I think once he KNEW he could leap home at any giving moment, that it brought more of a comfort and assurance to him that he could go when he wanted,and as such i think he felt that he wanted to help as many people as possible before he would finally call it a day.

I don't think it would have affected their friendship, as really all he did was say that he was still alive, i don't think his future career and association with the Quantum Leap project etc would have changed, so i think his friendship would have remained,if not certainly got a lot stronger, after Al helped Sam save his brother and Sam keeping him and Beth together, i don't think they would ever have a falling out lol.

There is still a lot of potential for a movie,so hopefully something comes of it.
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Old 11-01-2012, 08:40 PM   #9
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My issue is, it should have been clearer that Sam was not "lost in time" but merely that he periodically visited home, but spent most of his time leaping.

That would have put the kibosh on the direction a lot of the fan fiction went through (and Calloway's Sci-Fi channel script felt very much like fan fiction to me).
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Old 11-01-2012, 08:58 PM   #10
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My issue is, it should have been clearer that Sam was not "lost in time" but merely that he periodically visited home, but spent most of his time leaping.
I actually didn't get the idea that Sam was lost in time when I watched it because it was very clear by the end of the episode that he was and always had been choosing to leap and was in control of his leaps, which to me means he wasn't "lost". Rewatching 'Genesis' and then 'Star-Crossed' after seeing the whole series further confirms that for me. I'd like to think he went home to visit sometimes but didn't stay permanently - he is a Quantum Leaper now, no longer simply a quantum physicist. I agree, though, that the black screen and then the three cards makes it ambiguous and I know a lot of viewers thought that somehow Sam put himself in temporal limbo or something after he righted Al's wrong.
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Old 11-02-2012, 06:33 PM   #11
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I think they wanted to end like that so that,well,pretty much "as it says" so that he could go on to help others and change their lives. I think once he KNEW he could leap home at any giving moment, that it brought more of a comfort and assurance to him that he could go when he wanted,and as such i think he felt that he wanted to help as many people as possible before he would finally call it a day.
I agree with this. Even in the pilot episode after Sam gets off the phone with his father he says (in voice over) something along the lines of "maybe this leaping around in time isn't so bad, to have a second chance, right wrongs, who knows what I can accomplish before I'm done". Maybe he forgot that because his memory was Swiss cheesed, but it was obvious right from the start that Sam wanted to be doing this.

Regarding the friendship it's possible that because Al stayed married to Beth his life took a different direction. So maybe he retired from the Navy and therefore didn't end up working on Starbright, for example. In which case he wouldn't have met Sam and they wouldn't have become friends. I have a feeling they still would have met anyway, but it's plausible that things changed so they didn't.
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Old 11-07-2012, 06:50 PM   #12
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Don Bellisario stated several times that Sam and Al would still meet. I don't remember where I read it, but he equated their friendship on the same level as two "star-crossed lovers" who are destined to meet regardless of the path taken or the circumstances.

My theory: Al would still be at Star Bright, but perhaps he's still traumatized from his POW days. His marriage to Beth may be on the skids because of that, or perhaps a bad argument causes tension between both of them and their marriage hits a severe road-bump for the first time (as many marriages often do from time to time). He turns to alcohol to ease the pain and/or awful memories. In frustration, Al starts destroying the vending machine (because it ate his dime) and Sam comes along. He helps Al to sober up and repair his relationship with Beth. They become the best of friends.

The backstory probably didn't change much... just the circumstances surrounding them.
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Old 11-07-2012, 07:12 PM   #13
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My theory: Al would still be at Star Bright, but perhaps he's still traumatized from his POW days. His marriage to Beth may be on the skids because of that, or perhaps a bad argument causes tension between both of them and their marriage hits a severe road-bump for the first time (as many marriages often do from time to time). He turns to alcohol to ease the pain and/or awful memories. In frustration, Al starts destroying the vending machine (because it ate his dime) and Sam comes along. He helps Al to sober up and repair his relationship with Beth. They become the best of friends.

The backstory probably didn't change much... just the circumstances surrounding them.
Makes sense to me.
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Old 11-15-2012, 11:09 AM   #14
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I know this question has been addressed many times, but I have to ask this question. I've just watched Mirror Image for about the 10th time. I don't like the episode much. I don't like it for quite a few reasons, but mainly because of the sad and ambiguous ending. The reason I've watched it so often is because I keep trying to make sense of it. But I can't.. I have a few questions to ask.

1. Why didn't Sam choose to leap home..

I know the reason he doesn't is because he wants to help Al and Beth stay together.. But it's strongly implied that Sam was always controlling his own leaps, and when he realises he can leap wherever he chooses, he leaps to the exact moment in M.I.A when Beth is dancing.. But why doesn't he after he tells Beth that Al is alive, leap home. If he can control where he leaps, why can't he leap home after telling Beth? It seems like Sam had to choose between, saving Al and Beth's marriage, and leaping home. Why can't he do both?
Because he knew there was always some other wrong that needed to be put right.

Quote:
2. Does Sam telling Beth that Al is alive effect his friendship with Al.

After Sam tells Beth that Al is still alive, does this radically change history. Do Sam and Al even meet? And if they never did, this means Al won't remember Sam. But if this is the case would Sam still remember Al. Because when you think of the episode A Leap for Lisa, Sam changed history and Al was going to be executed. But Sam still remembered Al, even though history was saying that they never met.
While it may affect his friendship with Al in small ways, they were still destined to meet and be the best of friends. I don't think GFTW would let Sam change history that much that he would have ended up alone during his original leaps.

Quote:
3. Was Sam dead all along.

In the final episode it is mentioned how often we here stories of the dead coming back to help the living. It could be Sam never returns home because he was in fact dead all along. Once he died in the start of the series he began leaping through time to help people much like Al's uncle in the final episode who was taken at the moment of death through time to help the miners in the final episode. However, with Sam, his body was gone when he died because of the Quantum Leap, and Al & Gushy & Ziggy were able to use the technology from the Quantum Leap project to go back and time and observe Sam wherever he had leaped to. Al never realizes that Sam is dead and neither does Sam. But all along, Sam is just another dead person helping the living. That could be it.
No, Sam is not dead. It was his project which enabled himself to do what only the dead had been doing previously. It's pretty well established in the series that Sam's body is leaping around, which is why he has his own physical strength when he leaps into much weaker women, children or chimps, why he is able to walk when he leaps into someone without legs, and why he is able to father a child.

Quote:
And finally.. 4. Does Don Bellisario fully understand the last episode.

Maybe he doesn't understand it either. Maybe he just threw it all in because he couldn't think of an ending for the show.. I know that Don wasn't sure if NBC were going to renew it for another season, so he tried to make it both a cliffhanger and a series finale at the same time. But still it's so confusing, I find it hard to believe that Don understands everything about that episode.

I know we'll probably never really know the answer to these questions, but it would be great if you could try to answer my questions. I'd love to hear your opinions on the final episode.
I think DPB understands the episode better than anyone else.


Personally, I see Mirror Image as Quantum Leap's version of "The Wizard of Oz". First of all, the entire leap is inside Sam's own head, just as Dorothy's trip had been. Nearly everyone Sam sees reminds him of someone he's met before (Tonchi and Pete/Frank and Jimmy, Ziggy/Captain Galaxy, the two boys outside fixing the bike/the children fathered by the bigamist) - like the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion being identical to Dorothy's family's farm hands. There is an ambiguous guide (Al the bartender) who is similar to Glinda, giving just enough information for Sam to get through while really pulling the strings. Sam needs to go on a quest (saving the miners and figuring out the leap himself) and finally learns that he could have and can still go home at any time, just like Dorothy did.
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Old 11-15-2012, 02:37 PM   #15
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Wow, I love that analogy to the Wizard of Oz!
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Old 11-15-2012, 02:56 PM   #16
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Wow, I love that analogy to the Wizard of Oz!
It's a great analogy and the more I think about it, it really makes sense (and makes some of the things that are 'off' in the episode, like how Al acts when he's with Sam, fit).

There was a detailed essay about this printed in one of the sci-fi publications in the 90's, which is reprinted online here: http://www.sethargabright.com/qleap/mi_essay.htm

Really good read.
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Old 11-16-2012, 02:14 PM   #17
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The Wizard of Oz analogy is a great one! Wouldn't it have been nice to have another season and have them explain it wasn't real?

I was so ticked off that he didn't get home, but the idea he didn't get home would be part of the Wizard of Oz theory, so that wouldn't be real either.
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Old 11-17-2012, 05:05 PM   #18
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1. Why didn't Sam choose to leap home..

I know the reason he doesn't is because he wants to help Al and Beth stay together.. But it's strongly implied that Sam was always controlling his own leaps, and when he realises he can leap wherever he chooses, he leaps to the exact moment in M.I.A when Beth is dancing.. But why doesn't he after he tells Beth that Al is alive, leap home. If he can control where he leaps, why can't he leap home after telling Beth? It seems like Sam had to choose between, saving Al and Beth's marriage, and leaping home. Why can't he do both?
You have to remember that, in Mirror Image, Sam only just then found out from Bartender Al that he is the one who's controlling his Leaps, not God, Fate, or Time. Just because he just found out that he can determine where he Leaps to, that doesn't always mean that he has the control necessary to be able to pre-determine where he ends up in time.

I kind of liken it to the series Chuck, and when he "downloaded" Intersect 2.0. Although the improved Intersect was designed to allow for the user to recall information at their own desire, that didn't necessarily mean that Chuck had the fine control over it that was needed. As a result, he Flashed on things without control, and hilarity sometimes ensued (i.e. when he told off the Chinese woman in Chinese, LOL).

Given time, and with help from a mentor like Bartender Al (as the Al we know from the Project wouldn't have the skill set to help Sam control where he Leaps - just what he has to do to fix history), I think Sam could have gained enough fine control over it to where he could Leap wherever he wanted to at least 75% of the time or better.

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2. Does Sam telling Beth that Al is alive effect his friendship with Al.

After Sam tells Beth that Al is still alive, does this radically change history. Do Sam and Al even meet? And if they never did, this means Al won't remember Sam. But if this is the case would Sam still remember Al. Because when you think of the episode A Leap for Lisa, Sam changed history and Al was going to be executed. But Sam still remembered Al, even though history was saying that they never met.
I don't think it changes anything at all. The world around them would have changed, but how they met wouldn't have. The only thing that it would have changed is Al's history (in terms of his marriages) leading up to the point where Al and Sam met. The only way that they wouldn't have met would have been if something happened to where Al prematurely died (like in A Leap for Lisa).

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3. Was Sam dead all along.

In the final episode it is mentioned how often we here stories of the dead coming back to help the living. It could be Sam never returns home because he was in fact dead all along. Once he died in the start of the series he began leaping through time to help people much like Al's uncle in the final episode who was taken at the moment of death through time to help the miners in the final episode. However, with Sam, his body was gone when he died because of the Quantum Leap, and Al & Gushy & Ziggy were able to use the technology from the Quantum Leap project to go back and time and observe Sam wherever he had leaped to. Al never realizes that Sam is dead and neither does Sam. But all along, Sam is just another dead person helping the living. That could be it.
I don't think Sam was dead at all. If he was, then those who's lives he inhabited wouldn't have been in the future at all (leading to great episodes like Killin' Time, etc). Likewise, Sam wouldn't have been able to return to the Project in the future when he and Al simo-Leaped, and Donna wouldn't have stayed with the Project. It'd make no sense for her to have stayed if her husband died in the experiment by Leaping, and could never return home. Being there would have been far too painful for her, no matter how strong in spirit she may have been.

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And finally.. 4. Does Don Bellisario fully understand the last episode.

Maybe he doesn't understand it either. Maybe he just threw it all in because he couldn't think of an ending for the show.. I know that Don wasn't sure if NBC were going to renew it for another season, so he tried to make it both a cliffhanger and a series finale at the same time. But still it's so confusing, I find it hard to believe that Don understands everything about that episode
The whole point of Mirror Image was to prepare Sam for more difficult Leaps in the future - to show that he doesn't always have to be the one putting his neck on the line, and there are others in the world who do care and willing to help make things right.

Not just that, but the fact that he made his historic effort to Leap may have inspired others to follow in his footsteps. One of the alternate endings for the series, had it been allowed to continue, would have had Al following Sam by Leaping.

Donald Bellisario knew where he wanted to take the series, the direction he wanted to go in as well as the future elements he wanted to explore, but NBC pulled a Star Trek on us and didn't give the series a chance to have a proper send off (like Warner Brothers got for Chuck). The series was on the bubble (the potential of being cancelled) so many times, we're lucky that we got all 5 series that we did, even though the ending on Mirror Image was very hasty and only added to the confusion, as well as left many fans unsatisfied.
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Old 12-06-2012, 09:46 AM   #19
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I have seen or heard what the plans were if a Season 6 would of happened. Al would of joined Sam as a leaper. In Killing Time we saw Gooshie as a hologram to both Sam and Al, which would of been how Project Quantum Leap kept in contact with Sam afterward.

Also, Beth was not that much frightened when Sam appeared in her living room. Sure, she was somewhat startled, but not to the point of panic. I believe that has to do with being Star Crossed. Sam leaped as himself there instead of in another person, because of the fact that had Season 6 had happened it would of been Beth who suggested to Al that he should leap. After believing that Al again would return to her, as he did before when he was MIA, she felt confident he would find his way back to her as well. Why Beth would believe this is beyond faith, but the fact that she knew Sam twice in her life. The first time in her own living room and later on when Al and Sam met. She probably remembered Al's new best friend at Starbright as the mysterious man in her past that told her Al was alive. Beth, of course felt that because Sam brought Al back to her years ago, that she was obligated to return the favor and let Al find Sam even at a great risk. That is why Sam leaped as himself to her, so that history could fulfill itself.

I believe that is why Sam did not go home either. I think that it was what happened in the future that made the past possible and for Sam to even have Project Quantum Leap in the first place, he had to leap somewhere else in time to make it happen at all! Therefore, he had to go, or else none would of happened so far. Once he did that, he could return home and maybe again want to leap around, this time with full ability to control his leaps.
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Old 12-06-2012, 09:47 AM   #20
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Default Sams reason for not going home

I also forgot to mention that Al and Sam always had to be friends or else many of Sam's leaps could not of happened. Remember, it was Al who was the person most who wanted for Sam to help Jimmy in Jimmy. After what happened to his sister Gertrude dying in an institution, Al could not see Sam louse up Jimmy's life. Therefore, if Al and Sam did not meet after reconciling with Beth, there would be no helping Jimmy out the way it was done as well as many other leaps might have not turned out the way they did due to Al's help.

During that one moment in A Leap For Lisa when Al was dead, all of Sam's previous leaps did not happen the way they did. It was more imperative to save Al's life not for the two of them, but for all of history.
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Old 12-10-2012, 01:18 AM   #21
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I just think at the very least, Don shouldn't have said that Sam "never leaps home". No matter what, that idea just seems ludicrous to me. So he just left his wife hanging forever? Al spends the rest of his life helping him? Or does he go about it alone? That seems hard to believe because w/o Al, I can't see Sam succeeding for "years and years".
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Old 12-11-2012, 11:57 PM   #22
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Or does he go about it alone? That seems hard to believe because w/o Al, I can't see Sam succeeding for "years and years".
I agree, I don't think Sam would last doing it alone for very long. My guess is that if he keeps leaping on and on he does have help, if not from Al Calavicci then maybe from Al the Bartender or other leapers like Stawpah - depending on whether we interpret Al's Place and the people in it literally or more symbolically like the Wizard of Oz analogy.
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:18 AM   #23
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Default Why did Sam choose not to leap home at the end of Mirror Image.

I don't know blue. I mean, yeah Sam helped Stawpah in "Mirror Image" pull that trick to save Tonchi and Pete, but it just seems like a stretch to me. And I don't usually like stretches. lol

I think whether or not the show was to continue, DPB should've never said never. It doesn't work. If the show was to truly end, it's nuts. If the show was to come back as another season or a movie etc., it's STILL nuts! lol

I do like the comparison by Al the Bartender of Sam to priests, but Sam ISN'T a priest. He never swore his life to Project Quantum Leap. But saying never is exactly what that implies. I just wish they'd just done either one more season, or a movie (TV or film), and just ended it properly. Mirror Image is great on some levels, but the show deserved better. And now DPB (according to the owner/manager of this site himself) is just putting the new movie idea on hold indefinitely. Why did Universal wait so long to let this movie be made? Why now?! Why not 10-15 years ago when it would've made SO much more sense to do it? They could've had it focus on the evil leapers, Sam's new daughter Sammy Jo, etc. I think the evil leaper one would've been the best, but whatever. Like have it be about Sam leaping to destroy Lothos once and for all (maybe with Alia's help even?!). Now THAT sounds like a winner! And then he can leap home already.

The least those cheap Fs (pardon my language) at Universal could do is put the series out on blu-ray already, fully restored as well (no music alterations, no messed up leap-ins, maybe some new bonus stuff, etc). All they have to do is charge a few bucks more or whatever to cover the music licensing, and it would be fine.

No matter what, it was a great show, and that's all that we really need to remember.

Quote:
Originally Posted by blue enigma View Post
I agree, I don't think Sam would last doing it alone for very long. My guess is that if he keeps leaping on and on he does have help, if not from Al Calavicci then maybe from Al the Bartender or other leapers like Stawpah - depending on whether we interpret Al's Place and the people in it literally or more symbolically like the Wizard of Oz analogy.
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Old 12-29-2012, 08:02 PM   #24
leaper
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i always hated the last episode of the series.i always hated this silly in my op ending they gave.It is silly becouse it would make more sense if they said that sam continued leaping and helping others than sam never returned home.that one implied that something bad happened to sam and he was somehow lost in time.thats how the vewers show it in the end and they expected to see what was the meaning of that last sentence but they never saw it couse the series was cancelled.
The best scenario for me would be if sam landed somewhere in the past in 1950s for eg and without al he could have had some sort of amnesia who he was.so he would start his life from the scratch.But in the future his daughter sami jo would tried to find her father by leaping in time and also she could tried to find al and ask for his help .maybe al in this new timeline didnt know sam. Its like in the episode fringe when peter changed somethin in the past he changed the future but he vanished and noone knew him but in the end SPOILER ALERT they remembered him couse they couldnt let him go.
something like that could ve worked easy for sams case.If you remember in the first ep when sam leaped to that pilot he thought he was the pilot he had amnesia so he would take his new identity any time.
Also it would be interesting to see if the evil leapers tried to track down sam and kill him and without al or goochi fight back that would be interesting.
Thats how i can now imagine the series if it had another round.
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Old 02-05-2013, 05:07 PM   #25
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The Wizard of Oz analogy is a good one but I would suggest some elements of Touched by an Angel come into play in the final episode as well.
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