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Quantum Leap’s Tragic Al Calavicci Reveals Change His Original Ending

This article contains spoilers for Quantum Leap episode 3.Quantum Leap episode 3 reveals Sam Beckett’s best friend Al never got over his disappearance, adding a fresh note of tragedy to the original series’ ending. The cliffhanger ending of the original Quantum Leap TV series was bittersweet. Sam Beckett chose to change the life of his best friend, Al Calavicci, granting him the happily ever after he had always longed for with the love of life; but a title card revealed Sam himself never returned home.

NBC’s new Quantum Leap relaunch is set 30 years later, as a new group attempts to relaunch the Quantum Leap project. It’s swiftly become clear everything is overshadowed by the adventures of Sam and Al, though, with scientist Ben Song conspiring with Al’s daughter Janice before choosing to follow in Sam’s footsteps. Quantum Leap episode 3 sees the situation escalate, with Janice stealing technology her father had secretly taken from the first project – including a remote link to the super-computer Ziggy.

Quantum Leap‘s Al reveals have been a smart way of honoring the classic series, ensuring this feels almost as though it is a continuation rather than a reboot. These latest twists, however, add a layer of tragedy to it all; they confirm Al’s happily ever after was tarnished by Sam’s loss, and he remained almost obsessed with Sam until the end of his life. Al’s mourning widow Beth clearly felt Al wasted years of his life trying to figure out how to bring Sam back, and she’s devastated to see her daughter following the same path.

Can NBC’s Quantum Leap Fix The Worst Cliffhanger Ending In History?

Quantum Leap may now be considered a cult classic, but viewing figures were poor at the time of release. NBC pulled the plug in 1993, and Quantum Leap‘s resulting cliffhanger ending is generally seen as the worst in TV history. It teased future adventures at an even greater scale, with Sam no longer leaping into the bodies of others, instead traveling physically through history. But that thrilling prospect went unrealized, and viewers were left with a title-card proclaiming Sam “Becket” never returned home. The spelling error on the title card seemed to add insult to injury, leaving audiences furious and disappointed.

In truth, there was no way NBC’s relaunch could avoid dealing with the original show’s bittersweet cliffhanger ending and its implications for Sam and Al. The focus in Quantum Leap episode 3 is lying upon the bitter rather than upon the sweet, on Al’s regrets and grief rather than his happily ever after, but this is entirely understandable; Sam Beckett’s fate would have undoubtedly shaken Al to the core, and he would never have been able to forget his best friend. It remains to be seen whether the new Quantum Leap series can redeem this ending, perhaps by giving Sam’s story a satisfying conclusion.

Episodes of Quantum Leap release on NBC on Mondays at 10 PM ET. Episodes are available for exclusive streaming on Peacock the next day.

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