Sam leaps into Father Frank Pistano, who serves alongside the older Father John McRoberts, who is distressed at the recent death of an alter boy. “Father Mac” knows that the murderer is a hoodlum called Tony Pronti, who killed the boy because he was a witness to a crime, and is now after Father Mac for the same reason. Sam must work to keep Father Mac alive, and also to prevent him from destroying his own life when Sam discovers that Mac is destined to kill Tony.
Teleplay by Tommy Thompson. Story by Nick Harding and Karen Hall & Tommy Thompson . Directed by James Whitmore jr.
Sam’s a priest! He has a been a rabbi before, but not a priest, at least not that we’ve seen. The show leaps him, in for maximum awkwardness, right in the middle of a wedding. Fortunately for Sam, he comes in at the tail end of it all, and seems to be able to muddle his way through.
Though Leap of Faith is not a bad episode of Quantum Leap, and Father Mac is an interesting enough character, I do wish it had gone further with showing what it was like for Sam to be a priest. We get a couple of small tastes, but no indication of Sam struggling with the role in any way after the opening. It might have been interesting to use the role as a way of exploring Sam’s belief in God, or to show him struggling with it. Instead it’s Al who has the spiritual crisis, which is both brought up and resolve in a fairly simplistic way. It might have been more interesting to see Sam wrestle with his faith in light of his situation with leaping from life to life…but on the other hand that’s sort of the ground that was covered in The Leap Home, so maybe the producers just didn’t want to go there again.
In any case, Sam being a priest is sort of incidental to the story, which is really about the guest character Father Mac. Sandy McPeak does a fine job with the role, and the story has got a few nice turns in it which keep things interesting. But the episode never distinguishes itself as anything special–perfectly serviceable, but nothing more.
• Penny Santon, who plays one of the Monchelli sisters, apparently played Klinger’s mother in an episode of AfterMASH, the sequel series to M*A*S*H back in the 1980’s.
• Pat Crawford Brown, who plays a Woman in this episode, was the voice of Pierce’s mother in an episode of Community.
Who and Where is Dr. Sam Beckett?
Sam is Father Frank Pistano in Philadelphia, from August 19-21, 1963.
What does Sam have to do?
Sam has to prevent his Father John McRoberts from taking revenge for the murder of a young boy by taking the life of the killer, Tony Pronti.
What do we learn about Sam Beckett?
Nothing really here.
What do we know about Al?
Al’s father put Al and his sister in the orphanage because of his inability to care for them. He came back when Al was ten, Al’s father came back to see his ten year old son, excited about money he’d made working in old fields in Saudi Arabia. He took the kids from the orphanage and bought a small house. But then he got sick with cancer, and got worse and worse. From hospital, he told Al that he’d be okay if Al prayed for him. Al prayed daily until his father died, and then turned his back on the God and the church.
What about the experiment?
Sam is frustrated at the inconsistency of what Ziggy knows and what he doesn’t know, but no other information is shared about why this is so. It is pretty messed up of Ziggy to not even know who died on that day in history.
God or Time or Something
There are lots of references to God from the priests and Al, including revelation about Al’s bitterness toward God. It’s never really talked about in terms of the process of leaping though, as it is sometimes.
The catchphrase is heard twice, in the usual places–once at the start and once at the end, both times after Sam has leaped in.
Sam’s Complicated Love Life
Nothing in this episode.
The Many Loves of Al Calavicci
Tina is referred to, but nothing else is said or shown.
• The two old ladies at the start who are critiquing Sam’s service are pretty funny. “You call that a religious ceremony?…Don’t worry, I seen worse.”
• I like Father Mac’s line, “At least you’re Italian. They consider being Irish a birth defect.”
• That guy Tony is super-creepy with his girlfriend.
• After Al shares his history, I like it when Sam says he’s sorry and that he forgot about childhood story. Al says, “Oh you didn’t forget. You didn’t know. I never told you.”
• The scene between the two brothers later in the episode is well played but awkwardly scored.
• Al’s advice to Sam about how to confession is funny: “Just uh, forgive everybody. And don’t talk to much….forgive everybody everything.”
• It’s also a cute moment when the injured Sam murmurs Al’s name, and the woman thinks he is talking to her husband Albert. “Why does he want to talk to me?” “What do I look like, a mind reader?”
• Father Mac is going without drink at the end of the story, so he did grow. But…he did try to kill someone, right? Does that not need addressing, even if he changed his mind?
Sam Leaps To
One Strobe Over the Line
When Sam starts to ask Al about why he is acting the way he is, Al replies,
I think that collar is goin’ to your head.
Special thanks, by the way, to this site for the episode transcriptions.
The Best Moment
Sam and Father Mac get into a fight in the bar. Sam knows martial arts, and Father Mac is an expert boxer, so they make pretty short work of their opponents. In the middle of this, Sam notices his reflection for the first time, and sees that the person he has leapt into does not look like the sort of guy who is able to do the things Sam can do.