The Future of Sam
Due to concept of the purposed sixth season, Al Calavicci would still be part of Project Quantum Leap because he (Al) would go back to Al's Place and become a leaper himself in order to track down Sam. Besides, in the alternate ending of Mirror Image, the picture of the Calavicci is one of many family photos in Al's den at Project Quantum Leap where Al and Beth discuss where Sam might have gone after the bar.
I believe the real reason Sam didn't return home is the battle between his heart and mind. Sam has always been notorious for thinking with his heart. Which makes him so perfect for Quantum Leaping. Sometimes his actions went against Ziggy's theories and proved positive. In Mirror Image, when Bartender Al told Sam that Sam has been controlling his leaps all this time, Sam will not buy that at all. That's what he thinks...but when the two of them discuss further details outside the bar, Sam says he can't go home because he has a wrong to put right for Al. This is Sam using his heart which clearly leaps him back to Beth to change history. In his heart, I believe Sam would love to go back home, but in his mind...he has plenty more to do.
The question of whether or not it was an actual leap is
interesting and not easily explainable. I think it's what Bartender Al teased outside the
bar. It's a sabbatical. THE LEAP BACK was also a bit of a sabbatical, but that was
under more of a funky twist of fate and science. I also theorized that Al's Place is named
after Al Calavicci and that Bartender Al is actually Sam in the future. How could this be?
It's a wild concept, but it also would explain why Sam leaps into the future. Bartender Al
is actually Sam Beckett in the future. He named the bar after Al Calavicci...as a tribute
to the Al's past pervert life that only Sam truly remembers. Bartender Al seems to know a
lot more than he's letting on. This is because he's Sam in the future. Why is his name Al?
Maybe because Sam Beckett eventually died and was reincarnated into what we know as
Bartender Al. Besides, with all the leaping that Sam does, within the course of time
he would make many realizations which only he could reveal to himself. Perhaps in the
original history, Sam never leaped into himself entering Al's Place. Instead, he kept
leaping blindfolding and none of the mystery was ever revealed to him. Therefore,
when Sam Beckett died (with the knowledge he acquired after all the time leaping) he
decided to take on an different aura (like leaping) and became this rather plump
Bartender. Knowing what happens to himself, he somehow summon's his past self to visit the
bar on the day he was born. In the original history, Al and Beth never got back together
and Sam just kept leaping. So, Sam in his reincarnated being of Bartender Al
corrects what he didn't believe in his past by basically counseling himself.
Besides, who would know about Sam's missions and life more than Sam himself. The miners in
the bar represent Sam's memory of his past life of leaping and Stawpah stands more of a
demonstration of the power leaping has.
Outside the bar, when Bartender Al and Sam converse and Sam
confirms Stawpah is Al's uncle and Bartender Al thinks it's amusing...that's because Sam
met Stawpah in the afterlife. That's why Stawpah visits Al's Place because he knows of the
history behind the bar. Bartender Al further explains to Sam knowledge about Quantum
Leaping. Revealing information to his past self to alter his past thinking (AKA
"playing by the rules"). Hoping to convince his past self that he has the
ability to send himself home, but doesn't not accomplish that task is like many others
leaps where Sam didn't accomplish everything he liked to. His past self goes on to realize
that changing Al's past to reunite Beth and him is the "right" thing to do. And
like Sam always said, when leaping he never sticks around long enough to be thanked for a
job well done. This is finally done when Bartender Al (reincarnated future Sam) places his
arm around his past self and says, "God Bless, Sam."
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