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Recap / Quantum Leap S 3 E 02 The Leap Home Part 2 Vietnam

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Quantum Leap
Season 3, Episode 2:

The Leap Home: Part II - Vietnam

Sam: (narration) It was happening again, but not like it did the first time. Then, only Tom was killed. Now Maggie was joining him and only God know how many others. Maybe everyone on the chopper. Maybe I’d killed them all.

Written by Donald P. Bellisario


Directed by Michael Zinberg

Airdate: October 5, 1990

April 7, 1970

After failing to save his brother once, Sam finds himself in Vietnam as a member of his brother’s Navy SEAL unit, the day before Tom’s death in combat.


  • Ambiguous Situation: It's not made exactly clear if Operation Lazarus was successful or not in the original timeline.
  • Artifact Title / Sequel Goes Foreign: For the second half of the two-parter, Sam leaps into Vietnam.
  • Bait-and-Switch: While the squad's helicopter is on its way back to base, Blaster is water-skiing behind it, before wiping out and going under the water. When explaining what happened to his commander, Tom doesn't seem to really care about Blaster's fate, pointing out they're five miles from the coast, the tide's going out, and there's an eight-knot current.
    Tom: By now, Blaster's nowhere near where he wiped out. In fact, uh, by now, Blaster's probably (puff of air; looks up in contemplation) right about...
    (Blaster triumphantly emerges on the shoreline while yelling)
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • Maggie says she’d sell her soul for a Pulitzer. While maybe not her soul, she does sell her body and ultimately pays for it with her life.
    • Good news: Sam got to prevent his brother's death. Bad news: it was at the cost of Maggie's life and Al's freedom.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Sam kills Titi before she can kill Tom.
  • Butterfly of Doom: Downplayed: Because Sam had Maggie come along on Operation Lazarus, Maggie gets killed, and the mission is aborted due to the ambush, resulting in Al's repatriation in 1973 to instead happen in 1975.
  • Call-Back: In-universe - Col Griswald recalls something from his own youth: a three-year-old boy saluting the flag. He got on the front page of a base newspaper while John F. Kennedy Jr’s saluting his father’s funeral procession was on the cover of Life Magazine.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Sam finds the radio equipment tuned to the wrong frequency. Later, he takes a radio from a VC soldier that was on the same frequency. This is how he knew that Titi, the only person to be alone in the communications bunker, was leading Tom’s unit into a trap.
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  • Double Agent: Titi is a former VC guerilla who defected to the Americans’ side. Subverted when it turns out that she never stopped working for the VC. She warns the VC not to attack the basecamp, then sets them up to be ambushed. In the original history, she killed Tom.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: After Operation Lazarus, Tom lived but Maggie died. Sam takes this hard.
    Sam: I traded a life for a life.
  • Famous Last Words: "Pulitzer..."
  • Foreshadowing:
    • After being informed by Al about an incoming snapper attack, it's decided to have Maggie and Titi stay in one of the bunkers for cover. For some reason, the snappers never show up despite what Al said. And also for some odd reason, the radio in the bunker Maggie and Titi were holed up in was set to the wrong frequency...
    • When Maggie rushes off to take photos, the camera makes a point of showing she was that close from triggering a tripwire when she stopped to check her camera.
    • Maggie's Famous Last Words are spoken right when she sees Al in her dying moment. Right as she does this, she drops her camera into Sam's hand...
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • Because Sam had Maggie take part in Operation Lazarus, she winds up dying from a tripmine during the evacuation.
    • Originally, as he explained in "M.I.A.", Al got home from Vietnam by 1973. After Tom's death was prevented (at the cost of Maggie's life), and Sam realizes Al was in Maggie's last photo, Al remarks that "[he gets] repatriated in five years".note 
  • Friendship Moment: Al refuses to let Sam blame himself for Maggie's death, insisting that he is the one at fault due to helping Sam. And that's not even factoring in what that help meant for Al himself.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Al had a chance to make sure his younger self was rescued from the VC. Instead, he led Sam back to save Tom.
  • Interservice Rivalry: Averted - Navy SEAL Tom has no trouble working with Army Col. Griswald, but does mention that all bets are off during the Army-Navy football game.
  • In Vino Veritas: It's hard to tell if it was more because of the beer, or because of his own grief, but when at the bar with the rest of Tom's squad following Maggie's death, Sam isn't really bothering sticking to The Masquerade.
    Tom: (as Sam slams down a beer) You didn't kill her, Magic.
    Sam: (plants bottle down) Well, she sure as hell didn't die the first time April the 8th, 1970 rolled around.
    Tom: (concerned) What are you talking about?
    Al: No, (Sam turns to face Al) but Tom did.
    Sam: (while still looking at Al) Well, there it is, isn't it... I traded a life for a life.
    Tom: are one weird dude, Magic.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Maggie Dawson is a photojournalist known for working in war zones around the world. Her goal is to win the Pulitzer Prize.
  • Magical Negro: Invoked - Tom’s unit started calling Herbert Williams "Magic" since the unit had not taken a single casualty since his arrival.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Sam blames himself for what happens to Maggie, feeling his effort to change history for his brother caused the death of someone who originally lived.
  • Near-Death Clairvoyance: As she is dying, Maggie sees the hologram of Al.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • invoked After Al explains he found out about the snapper attack from a story Maggie published after coming home from Vietnam, Sam decides to have her tag along on Operation Lazarus. His reasoning? Since he nor Al actually know how Tom dies on the mission, they can just pull from the story Maggie would inevitably write about that after she gets home. And just as the mission starts getting underway, Al informs Sam that he wasn't able to get any information... because Maggie now dies before she could file such a story.
      Sam: (narration) It was happening again, but not like it did the first time. Then, only Tom was killed. Now Maggie was joining him and only God know how many others. Maybe everyone on the chopper. Maybe I’d killed them all.
    • While Maggie winds up being the only casualty, the mission going haywire because of the ambush ultimately means the POWs aren't able to be rescued... which means Al now doesn't get home from Vietnam until 1975.
  • Not So Different: Col. Griswald considers himself and Tom to be “fraternity brothers” since they both went to military academies: Griswald to West Point, Tom to Annapolis.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Al when a dying Maggie can actually see him.
    • Sam after Tom delivers the Wham Line.
  • Properly Paranoid: Al remarks he never really trusted any of the Chieu Hoi when he was in Vietnam. In the case of Titi, he ends up being right.
  • Reality Ensues: In regards to Sam making Tom promise to hide in the deepest hole possible the day he was supposed to die: as Tom points out, even if he did do that, "any hole around here over three feet deep fills with water". Plus, Tom is on a mission; he can't just hide out for the day.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Tia Carerra (Titi) and Patrick Warburton (Blaster).
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • Al alerts Sam to an upcoming attack, but he cautions Sam that preventing it may cause him to leap before he can save Tom's life. Sam opts to try to prevent the attack, though ultimately nothing happens (later revealed to be because Titi is a Double Agent).
    • Al warns that POWs are nearby and that Sam can save them, but Sam has just realized that Titi is leading Tom into a trap. As Sam pleads for help to save Tom, Al takes a moment to think about it. We later learn that Al was one of the POWs, which made that moment this.
  • Seers: Magic supposedly has a sixth sense. With Sam in Magic’s place, Al serves as Sam’s sixth sense.
  • Wham Line:
    • "She did [win the Pulitzer]. For her last photograph."
    • "It's April the 9th, and I'm still alive. Thanks to you, Little Brother."
  • Wham Shot: Maggie would go on to win the Pultizer Prize, posthumously, for her final photograph: a picture of a twenty-six-year-old Al as a POW.
  • Worth It: After the final photograph is revealed and Sam realizes what happened.
    Al: What the hell? I get repatriated in five years.
  • You Can See Me?: Right as Maggie dies, it's suggested she saw Al.

Tom Beckett: It’s April the ninth and I’m still alive. (to Sam) Thanks to you, little brother.

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