Part Seven: Body...


by Karen Funk Blocher

It has been established that Sam's whole body leaps, spending some time "in transit" G/T/W only knows where. Some of the episodes supporting this--and the evidence they present--are listed below:

The Pilot (aka "Genesis"): If a neurological hologram is "created by a subatomic agitation of carbon quarks tuned to the mesons of [Sam's] optic and otic neurons," then presumably Sam's brain--and its neurons and mesons-- must be present in the past to be tuned to Al.

"The Right Hand of God": Sam is out of shape, but trains quickly for the boxing match. This could mean that Cody is in terrible shape for a boxer, but as we see later in numerous episodes, it actually means that Sam's in good shape for a scientist, but needs to be better than that to survive in a ring.

"Double Identity": "Frankie's condition when he arrived in the Waiting Room left little to the imagination." If it were Sam's body back in 1995, there would be no evidence of arousal.

"Honeymoon Express": Al says that "The experiment was designed around our brainwave patterns." Sam would need his own brain to keep the patterns from getting distorted by someone else's physiology.

"What Price Gloria?": Sam refers to wearing the sexiest dress "I could stuff my hairy chest into." He also protests to the infatuated Al that "I'm not a woman!" If Sam were in Samantha's body, "he" certainly would be a woman, albeit temporarily!

"Blind Faith": Andrew Ross is blind, but Sam isn't until the flash bulb goes off in his face. The idea that Ross suffered from hysterical blindness (so that Sam could use Ross' eyes and optic nerve) is extremely unlikely, especially since from the mirror shot we can see that Ross's eyes are physically defective. Also, Chopin can tell it's Sam, and how could he unless Sam was physically there?

"Jimmy:" Although Sam is strongly influenced by Jimmy, Sam isn't actually retarded, which he would be if he had to use Jimmy's brain rather than his own.

"Another Mother": Sam has no trouble using his martial arts skills, suggesting that he doesn't have to adapt them to a strange body. Also, how could little Teresa see Sam if he wasn't physically there? Unlike Al, he's not a hologram to the people around him.

"Pool Hall Blues": Once again Sam demonstrates martial arts skills with a strength and agility the leapee would not possess. Magic's body would not be up to the fight in the alley, but Sam's is. Also, according to Al, "Magic's eyesight is gone," and Sam's "is 20/20."

"Leaping In Without a Net": Al tells Sam, "Well, you could be [a catcher]. You're athletic, you've got a good sense of timing and balance, and you've got the strength for it." If it were Victor's circus-trained body, most of that would be a given, even if he were a little out of practice.

"Maybe Baby": The baby sees Sam as Sam; therefore Sam is there.

"Runaway": Sam is strong enough to seize Hank's arm to ward off a blow, and later, he easily holds Butchie's older sister and dangles her over a well. Both actions would be a neat trick for a twelve-year-old's body.

"8 1/2 Months": Here's where it really all hit the fan. The infamous "illusion of the physical aura" of the person Sam leaps into is mentioned for the first time, and both Sam and Al state that Sam is physically present in 1955. Sam's symptoms are explained as a connection between Sam and the leapee back in the Waiting Room. When Dr. Rogers tells Sam his body knows how to have a baby, Sam says, "I don't think so."

"You'd be surprised."

"So would you."

"Glitter Rock": Sam is unaware of Tonic's webbed fingers until told about them, and has to hold his hand over a mirrored surface to see the webbing. If Sam really had webbed fingers, he would have noticed while doing all that guitar playing.

"Last Dance Before An Execution": Sam and Al both say that if Sam's in the electric chair, Sam will die.

"Nuclear Family": Sam gives this vivid description of leaping: "Quantum Leaping around in time, I'm used to getting my atoms smashed in an explosion of blinding white light." Sure sounds like something's happening to his body!

"Shock Theater": If Sam's brain weren't the one shocked, then it wouldn't be Sam's past leaps that surface in his traumatized brain. Also, Tibby can see Sam, so Sam's there.

"The Leap Back": Sam's simo-leap with Al puts Sam--as himself--in the Imaging Chamber where Al was. If only the mind leaped, the only place Sam could become himself would be the Waiting Room, where his "body" would be (instead of his aura, which apparently rejoined Sam a few rooms away from where it had been all these years).

"The Wrong Stuff": Sam successfully swims to rescue Frank from drowning, which is something a chimp's body cannot do because of its low body fat ratio. Also, Sam is capable of standing upright and even using karate, and has the full use of his own intelligence, not the intellectual capacity of a chimpanzee's brain.

"Dreams": "Sam, Jack is not here," Al insists. "Well, maybe part of him is!" Sam says, equally insistent. Only Sam, not Jack, is physically present in body, according to their knowledge of leaping at that point. But Sam knows instinctively that a piece of Jack Stone's mind (read neurons and mesons) is left behind inside Sam's brain, or at the very least is communicating with Sam from the Waiting Room. As we are later to see in "Lee Harvey Oswald," the physical presence of a piece of Jack's mind--inside Sam's own body--is the most likely reason for this phenomenon, later to be known as "psycho-synergizing." More on this in Part Eight of the CQ Answers.

"Temptation Eyes": Tamlyn sees the real Sam in the mirror, instead of Dylan's aura. This psychic vision could take place whether Sam's physically present or not, but added to the evidence of other episodes it works best as Tamlyn's penetration beyond the illusion of the aura to Sam's real body, with the mirror as a sort of psychic window.

"The Last Gunfighter": Sam has faster reflexes than the old man he leaps into (Tyler Means) would have. "The guy [Pat Knight] is 82 years old, right? Now, granted, he's more accurate than I am, but my reflexes have gotta be faster. My synapses have gotta be be quicker, because I'm 50 years younger." Setting aside the fact that Sam would be about 45 years old at that point (only 37 years younger than Knight), Sam is obviously referring to his own body , not that of Tyler Means.

"A Leap for Lisa": Al tells Bingo that "His aura surrounds you and yours is surrounding him." Later, Bingo says, "Okay. You're gonna put me into a nuclear accelerator chamber, and send my body back into time?" Al replies, "Right."

"Lee Harvey Oswald": This one's more of an "influence" problem (see my CQ's on that subject in Parts 7 & 8). Sam refers to a "little residual of the other person in me." Al doesn't believe it at first: "Oswald didn't leave a little anything into you, Sam. When you leap into someone, you're still Dr. Sam Beckett, with your personality, your knowledge, and you--where'd you learn to field-strip an M-1?" Faced with this evidence, Al says, "You can certainly handle a few of Lee Harvey Oswald's loose neurons." That implies that physical brain tissue belonging to Oswald might be present in Sam's brain, a notion confirmed by Ziggy's disastrous attempt to leap isolated neurons back to Sam.

"Nowhere to Run": Sam walks using his own legs while in the persona of a legless vet.

"Killin' Time": Sam explains to his hostages, "When I leap, you see the person I've leapt into. But when I leap, it's my body that's here. It's my spirit."

"Trilogy, Parts 2 and 3": Sam fathers Samantha Josephine (Sammy Jo) Fuller, a genius with a photographic memory like Sam's. He could never do that if he weren't physically there instead of Will Kinman.

"Dr. Ruth": Al has glasses made for Dr. Ruth Westheimer in the Waiting Room because she can't see without them. It it had been Sam's body in the Waiting Room all these years, Dr. Ruth would have no more need of glasses than any other leapee.

"Mirror Image": Sam doesn't leap into anybody but himself in this one, so there's no one else's body to leap into. If he didn't bring his whole body, then how can he drink a beer?

I may have missed a few examples from Season Five (which I haven't finished writing about for my ongoing episode guide in The Observer), but I think that over two dozen shows' worth of such compelling evidence should be enough for anyone. Nevertheless, there has been resistance to the "body theory" in some quarters, must notably Quantum Leap novelist Ashley McConnell, who consistantly uses the long-since disproved "mind theory" in her novels. Ashley has said that when she started writing the first of the novels, long before the show was canceled, the body versus mind question was not settled, so she went with her preferred theory and continued with it in further novels for the sake of consistancy.

Some fans have argued that the mind theory must be true because that's how it is in the novels, but my own First Rule of Quantum Continuity is that the aired episodes happened. All of them, whether you like the ep or not. Stuff cut from the scripts may or may not have happened. What is said by Don Bellisario and Deborah Pratt in interviews is probably true, what's in the Quantum Leap Story Guideline is probably true, and everything else (comics, novels, fan fiction) is probably bogus. That's the hierarchy, because what's on the aired episodes is what Don Bellisario approved as the "real" story, the product of all those writers and producers and actors and directors working together under Don's watchful eye. Everything else is secondary, since the storylines of the novels and comics have never been submitted to Don for approval, only to Berkley and/or Universal's legal department.

Speaking of what is said in interviews, here is what Don Bellisario had to say about Sam's body leaping at the Hitchcock Theater "8 1/2 Months" screening of 2/25/91:

"When I pitched this idea to Brandon Tartikoff and he told me to explain it to him in twenty seconds so his mother could understand it, I decided not to get into the physical aura aspect of it.

"Had he leapt into Jimmy, and truly been a person who had a handicap, or was retarded, then I don't know what we'd have been accomplishing with that. Sam might have learned something out of it, but he learned something leaping in and being himself and being perceived as being a retarded person. And that means that people see you as something, and they treat you like it, and they don't give you the chance to be who you could be. And that's a part of what we're talking about, part of what we're trying to change.

"So the idea is not that he really is that person. That never was the concept. The concept in my head was that when he leaped in, people saw the aura of the person he leaped into. It's a little bit like, if I came up here in the beginning of this thing as I did, and I somehow hypnotized you all, and instead of Scott Bakula being up here, because he was down working on the show, I had Michael Zinberg, who's a producer, come up and sit down here, and you all saw him as Scott Bakula. That's what happens on the show. It's only when you look in a mirror do you see, do we see, does Scott see, what everybody sees around him. But I think that holds true.

"And I hope, I think that's also interesting; because he can leap in as a very old man that everyone can perceive cannot do anything, and he can be quite physical, and shocks people when that happens. Or he can leap in as a man his age; he's not very old, but he can be trying to perform as a boxer who's twenty years old, and [it's] tough to do. So he is then handicapped in that situation by his limits. So that's the way we script it."

The issue has also been confused by various bits of dialogue in which Sam refers to leaping into "the body of a troglodyte" (see below) and similar references, and by opinions expressed by Scott Bakula in various interviews. Like Ashley McConnell, Scott believed in the "mind theory" until Don Bellisario finally told him otherwise during the show's third season. Even since then, Scott has frequently said "the body of" for the sake of convenience. I think that given the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we can attribute "the body of" references in the show to Sam and Al's shorthand for what's really going on. An admittedly sketchy roundup of evidence against the "body theory"--and my refutation thereof--is given below:

The Case for the Mind Leap Theory - Refuted


Canonical Explanation

Real World Explanation

"Time has packaged my best friend inside a goddess of love." --"What Price Gloria" Superficially, this sounds like Al is saying that Sam is inside the body of Samantha. In reality, however, he's saying, "inside the illusion of the physical aura of" Samantha. Given that (as Deborah Pratt said in a 1993 interview) she and Don argued about whether Al saw Sam as Sam or as Samantha, Deborah was probably already aware by this point (as other staff members apparently were not) of Don's body-leap concept.
"I'm trapped in the body of a troglodyte" -- "Animal Frat" This early in Sam's leaping, he has not fully recovered his memories of how Quantum Leaping worked, as seen in various first and second season episodes. He also loses various memories on each leap. It is therefore reasonable to suppose that at that moment, Sam honestly does not remember that it is he own body he is using. Even if he did, he might well have ignored this technicality for the sake of a succinct comment. "I'm trapped in the illusion of the physical aura of a troglodyte" just don't have the same ring to it!
This was part way through Season Two. Don Bellisario didn't get around to telling his writers and actors about the illusion of the physical aura--or even that it was Sam's body--until midway through Season Three.
I'm in the body of a chimp. That's too close."--"The Wrong Stuff" As in "Animal Frat," Sam's imprecise speech here is due to his annoyance and penchant for pithy comments. Despite the remark, there are several clear indications that Sam is in his own body here. Sam can swim (see above), and a chimp's body can't, even given Sam's mind at the helm. Also, Sam can standing upright, use his own intelligence, and use human speech (which Al can hear, even though the people Sam's time cannot through the illusion of the physical aura.
By now, Paul Brown and the other writer-producers knew about Sam's body leaping, but didn't let that technicality get in the way of a funny line of dialogue.
Miscellaneous NBC and cable tv ads, TV Guide listings, etc. (Please note I haven't actually looked for examples yet. This may be a straw horse.) Television promos and TV Guide listings are not part of the series itself as produced and overseen by Don Bellisario. therefore they never happened, and we can safely ignore their contents. One minor exception is the handful of NBC promos (four of the early ones, various new time slot announcements and one ad about the last several shows of Season Five) that were specifically produced by Belisarius Productions. Even here, they can't be said to have "really" happened, because Sam wouldn't be addressing the audience directly as he does in most of these ads. NBC hardly ever got its facts right in Quantum Leap promos, aside from the very early ones in which Sam leaped into Terri Utley, Willard Scott, Dracula and Santa Claus. Judging from the results, it seems that the NBC promo department would generally pull out the most dramatic clips and make up their own plot and title to fit the clips. This led to such spurious titles as "Daughter of Sin" for "Trilogy" and "The Oswald Conspiracy" (a direct contradiction of the episode's theme!) for "Lee Harvey Oswald." It is therefore no surprise that NBC publicity and TV Guide listings might sometimes skip the technicalities and say "into the body of" whoever.
Universal video boxes and press releases, e.g. "...when he leaps into the body of Samantha...." ("What Price Gloria" video box.) Universal merchandise copy and publicity are not canonical, having no direct connection to Don Bellisario's vision or to Sam's life. Like NBC, MCA/Universal has often shown a casual disregard for the finer points of Quantum Leap continuity. Although licensed products must be cleared by MCA prior to release, this is generally for legal purposes to to make sure the product isn't blatantly shoddy. The products are not, to my knowledge, checked by anyone closely connected to the show, so mistakes can and do occur. An exception to that the Quantum Leap soundtrack album, which was largely supervised by Deborah Pratt.
Quantum Leap novels and comics, especially Quantum Leap: The Novel by Ashley McConnell Although they are the closest things we've had to new, official Quantum Leap stories we've had since May, 1993, the Quantum Leap novels and comics are not overseen by Don Bellisario and are therefore not canonical. In other words, we have no official evidence that any of these stories ever happened. (On the other hand, except for the parts that contradict the aired episodes, we can always say that these stories could have happened!) Ashley McConnell, who wrote most of the early Quantum Leap novels, did not like the "body theory," so she simply chose to go with the "mind leap theory" she had personally developed long before the opposite explanation became well established on the episodes themselves. Some of the other novelists have since reverted to the body leap theory in their own work. As for the comic books from Innovation, many of them show a profound lack of understanding of the Quantum Leap premise in that they often have Sam fulfilling history instead of changing it.
But it just doesn't make any sense! Neither does the alternative, given all the evidence. Nevertheless, pretty much every apparent glitch in the "body theory" can be explained away, either as shown above or by exploring the properties of the physical aura. (See the rest ofPasrt Seven and Part Eight for more on this.) Hey, who ever said that Don Bellisario, or Quantum Leap itself, always made sense? That's what makes explaining it all so much fun!

Like it or not--and some fans still don't like it--we have to accept that it's Sam's body that leaps, not just his disembodied mind. There are problems, of course--there always are--but they are mostly concerned with side issues such as "Who sees whom?" "How is Sam influenced by the leapee?" and "How does the physical aura work?" That last one's a toughie. We know what it does, but not how it does it. All of these questions are dealt with elsewhere in CQ7 and CQ8.

© 1992-1997 Karen Funk Blocher (major revision 3/29/97)


by Karen Funk Blocher

The "illusion of the physical aura," a term first mentioned in "8 1/2 Months," is as close as Quantum Leap's ground rules come to outright magic. Even Sam and Al are sometimes surprised by what it can do. Like them, we really don't know how it works, but from what it does, it seems to be, as the term states, both "illusion" and "physical." We do know that it can do some pretty amazing things--make Sam seem to be a chimpanzee's height and weight, fit Sam into clothing that should be too small ("Runaway," "The Leap Home," or too large ("Maybe Baby", "Good Night, Dear Heart," "A Little Miracle"), disguise his voice (particularly when he's a woman or a chimpanzee!), show up in a photograph looking like the leapee, transmit the impact of a baby's kick in the Waiting Room, and even carry a baby down the physical aura of the birth canal, if only for a few seconds!

Although it's illusion, it's physical enough to do all these things, and Sam can cover the aura in clothing, brush the aura's hair and so on. Since it's Sam's body, Sam also has to shave his real facial hair, as well as taking care of the aura's apparent needs. This is possible because Sam himself is immune in some respects to the illusion the physical aura presents. Indications are (as mentioned in another CQ Answer) that Sam sees himself as himself except when he looks in a mirror. That most likely applies to the sense of touch as well, since Sam did not feel the webbing between Tonic's fingers while playing guitar in "Glitter Rock." It is unclear how Sam can touch both the aura and his own body, or even whether he does so. The most likely explanation is that the aura merely reflects changes made to the real body underneath--i.e. makeup, hairstyling etc. Nor do we know for certain whether Sam curling the aura's illusory hair affects the real hair in the Waiting Room, but it seems unlikely. Most likely the illusory surface of the aura is set in a certain pattern based on the real body at the time of the leap, and thereafter subject to a large extent to the actions of the real person inside rather than the person resembled. This would not apply, however, to whatever functions it may have in maintaining a physical and mental link between leaper and leapee, such as symptoms of pregnancy ("8 1/2 Months) or heart problems ("Trilogy, Pt. 3").

G/T/W knows what would turn up on the various monitors if Sam were to have a thorough medical examination using modern equipment, although the Project seems to manage adequately with Sam's counterpart (the leapee in Sam's physical aura) in the Waiting Room. Perhaps they have special methods for compensating for the aura's effects. Certainly Dr. Rogers in "8 1/2 Months" could not detect any difference between Sam and a young woman in labor, except of course for Sam's odd behavior!

There are some ways, however, in which the physical aura does not compensate to make Sam apparently match the leapee. Sam takes his own body, his own intelligence and his own physical strength into a leap, and is thus able to do things which amaze onlookers. In "Runaway," he picks up Alexandra, who is bigger and heavier than Butchie. In "Miss Deep South" he performs a similar feat as a fairly petite woman. And when Sam throws a punch, it's with all the force of a fortysomething-year-old male physicist in great physical condition.

This is somewhat problematical if the aura also gives Sam the illusion of the leapee's weight, as seems to be the case in "The Wrong Stuff." If necessary the aura might be able to compensate so that it would seem like Sam weighed what Bobo weighed, but since Sam is physically there beneath the aura, he would actually have an adult human's weight. Perhaps one of its properties would be to compensate for Sam's actual mass so that the combination of Sam and aura would tip the scales at Bobo's weight after all, and yet still allow Sam to use his own strength.

The aura has a particularly weird job to do in "Blood Moon." Not only does it have to disguise Sam as the leapee, but it also has to function the way the real vampire would with respect to mirrors. In this case, Sam's physical aura has to deflect light in such a way that neither the aura nor Sam's real body shows up in a reflection.

We'll probably never know just how all this can be done, but within the context of the show we simply have to accept that there is little that the "illusion of the physical aura" can't do to maintain Sam's disguise. However, certain people do see through it to one extent or another, especially with respect to seeing Sam's eyes. The question of who can see the real Sam, as well as Al's hologram, is covered in another CQ.

"Mirror Image," of course, raises new questions with respect to Sam and his physical aura. Did Sam have the illusion of his own physical aura in "Mirror Image," or no aura at all? Were Sam's clothes and wallet part of the aura, or did they leap in from Sam's closet in New Mexico? And now that Sam has made two leaps undisguised, will he resume leaping into other people's auras?

If I had to guess, I'd say that Sam was wearing an aura in "Mirror Image," complete with the illusion of the physical aura of his wallet. With no body in the Waiting Room to cover, Sam's aura shifted to Sam, altering in the process from the Fermi-suited Sam image worn by the leapees to Sam as he would be in the year 2000. (Don't ask me how the aura picked up on the "civies," though. I can only assume that G/T/W had something to do with it!)

Alternatively, Sam could leaped home, gotten his wallet, and leaped out again, immediately forgetting the whole incident (as I once postulated in a story called "Donna's Secret" for a fanzine that still hasn't been published after at least four years of waiting!). In that case, or in a repeat of "the fabulous leaping clothes" of "The Leap Back," Sam is not wearing an aura at all!  But short of a lightning strike or a nuclear blast, as mentioned in the pilot and "The Leap Back," I don't know how Sam managed it. Perhaps Sam has passed some event horizon at which the power expended by G/T/W has increased to include the clothing.

Most likely Sam resumed leaping into other people's lives after talking to Beth, because in most cases he can do more good in a situation if he comes in as a loved one (or whatever) rather than as a stranger named Sam Beckett. But we won't really know for sure until we get a Quantum Leap movie.

© 1992-1997 Karen Funk Blocher (revised 3/29/97)


by Karen Funk Blocher

This is one instance in which all the available evidence points firmly in both directions at once, at least on the matter of what Al sees. Let's tackle him first:

In the pilot episode (retitled "Genesis" for its NBC rerun), Al tells Sam, "Well, that was to be expected [Sam looking like Tom]. To us, Tom looks just like you." Yet in "Pool Hall Blues," Al says, "When I walked into the Waiting Room and saw Magic sitting there I just couldn't believe it!" In "Lee Harvey Oswald," Al looks down at the mirror reflection of Sam when he takes over Oswald for a moment, rather than looking at Oswald looking like Sam. Then in "Killin' Time," Gooshie mistakes Stiles for Sam!

And how does Sam look to Al?  In "What Price, Gloria?" Al is so taken with Sam's appearance as a beautiful woman that he gets a crush on him. But in "Nowhere to Run," Al seems to see Sam as Sam. In "The Leap Back," Sam and Al don't seem especially surprised to see each other as, well, it's hard to say just who Al looked like to Sam, but it's a safe bet that Sam looked like himself to everyone. Finally, in a scene cut from "Mirror Image," Al remarks to Beth that Sam looked like himself, but that Al was too distracted by Sam's "crazy" words to notice this at the time. But then again, who else could he have looked like at the time?

So what's the answer? The most workable theory is that Al sees Sam's real body under the "illusion of the physical aura," and sees the physical aura superimposed over it. At the February 1991 Hitchcock Theater screening of "8 1/2 Months," Dean Stockwell said, "I see the person he leaped into. But I know it's him."

The same would hold true for Al looking at the leapee, seeing the real person beneath Sam's image, but also the face of his absent friend. This would be because Al's neurons and mesons are tuned to Sam's. To quote Al in the pilot, Al's appearance to Sam (and presumably vice-versa) is called a "neurological hologram," which Sam defines as "created by a subatomic agitation of carbon quarks tuned to my optic and otic neurons." (Yes, I know carbon isn't subatomic as a quark is, but maybe the carbon in Sam's neurons is used to produce the quarks via "agitation." Or something. And yes, I also know that this is the fourth times I've quoted this comment in the CQ's!)

At the time of "The Leap Back," this tuning in was much stronger than usual because of the boosted signal from Ziggy, the massive power discharge from the lightning and the shock treatment, and the simo-leap itself, which gave them part of each other's minds. Sam, long-since used to Al being the only person who calls him by his own name, may well have seen Tom Jarret's aura over Al, because he stared at Al in surprise just before telling him to "Come here." As for Al, even if he normally sees Sam partly as someone else, he was too Swiss cheesed at the time to instantly pick up on such details. After all, at the time Al thought his name was Al Beckett! Gooshie seeing Stiles as Sam was to be expected, because he's not normally tuned into Sam's neurons and mesons as Al is. However, after all these years he ought to be used to the idea that anyone he might see that looks like Sam is actually someone else!

What does Sam see? He sees the other person in the mirror, but apparently sees himself when looking at his body directly. In "What Price, Gloria?" Sam refers to putting on the sexiest dress "I could stuff my hairy chest into." And in "Glitter Rock," Sam has to actually hold his hand out over a mirrored surface to see the reflection of the webbing on Tonic's fingers. Of course, being able to look down at his real body doesn't help Sam to see his real face, so seeing his own "Mirror Image" was quite a revelation!

The idea of Al seeing both Sam and the leapee at the same time was pretty much confirmed by Deborah Pratt in a February 1993 interview for The Observer: "[Don Bellisario] had it very clearly set in his mind how Quantum Leaping worked, and then over the years, people like me who came up and said, 'Okay, so really Al can see either Sam as the person he's leapt into or Sam as himself.' But if you go all the way back to 'What Price Gloria,' that was a big argument that we got in 'cause I wrote the script and everyone said, 'No, no, no, Dean can only see Sam.'

"I went, 'No, Dean can see what Sam sees because he's attached to his mesons and neurons.' So Sam sees Gloria [Samantha] when he looks in the mirror. Dean can see [Samantha] when he looks at Sam. That's why he could fall in love with him. [In the waiting room] it's just the reverse. So what he sees is Dr. Beckett and then when they look down in the mirror it's just absolutely the reverse. We don't try to understand it here. I write it and we make it work for us."

Who sees Sam as himself, and Al as well? Basically, the answer boils down to someone whose brainwaves are either extremely similar to Sam's, as seen in "A Little Miracle," or else substantially off the adult human norm. The latter, more common situation includes animals (most prequently dogs), children under the age of five (the developmental psychology term for this age group is "preoperational"), the "mentally absent"--that is, some crazy people, people near death, drunks and so on--and supernatural beings such as angels and devils. Psychics sometimes perceive Sam's and Al's presence, but not as strongly. In most cases, anyone who is aware of Sam beneath the aura is also aware of Al.

As mentioned above, animals see both Sam and Al, and often react oddly to the hologram, appearing to be either hostile to or intimidated by Al. This leads to Al being able to "control" animals for Sam from time to time, such as the dog in "Genesis" and the horse Widowmaker in "How the Tess Was Won." However, a truly enraged animal, such as the lion in "One Strobe Over the Line," does not seem to respond as well to this side effect of being a hologram.

A final note on this: like the "mentally absent," we as viewers see and hear Sam, while the rest of the world sees and hears the other person. This helps us to identify with Sam, and gives us the opportunity to watch Scott Bakula at work. Similarly, we as viewers see the real leapee in the Waiting Room, while Gooshie and Beaks and the military guards see Sam. But Al, being tied in to Sam's brainwaves, sees both the reality we see and the illusion the rest of the world sees.

© 1993-1997 Karen Funk Blocher (revised 3/29/97)


by Karen Funk Blocher

Fans occasionally propose a combination of the body and spirit theories, leaning heavily toward the spirit side. While I see the point, and find some merit in it, the evidence presented in my "body" leaves no room to go back to the "leap into the body of" scenario no matter how often Scott Bakula persists in stating it this way.

There is, however, some dialogue left out of "Trilogy Part 3" that helps to reconcile the two views. Al says that "there's a physical link" between Sam and Larry, who just had a mild seizure in the Waiting Room. "Ziggy says you're tied into Larry enough to affect his heart rate and yours." Then a page later, Al says, "Ziggy figures there are certain people that you retain physical as well as mental attributes from the leaps. It seems that the more you need of their expertise mentally the more you have to pull from them physically. Good or bad."

The fact that this dialogue was cut between the script and the aired episode may indicate that Don Bellisario didn't want to use that explanation, or there may not have been time for it. In any case it's a bit ambiguous. Overall I think it comes down to the "influence" questions dealt with in another answer. It was as much the medical treatment of Larry as Sam taking pills that kept them both alive, implying a neurochemical connection between their minds--and therefore their respective bodies--rather than a physical swap of large body parts. My best guess from the evidence is that this link is both transmitted (like Al's link to Sam) and physical in nature, with Sam and the leapee temporarily in possession of a small portion (larger for Oswald) of each others' neurons and mesons. That would be enough to trigger the other physical characteristics, from nicotine addition to heart palpitations. (But I still think Sam was really pregnant--sort of!)

Major data here on this comes from the "Lee Harvey Oswald' episode. Al says that Sam "can certainly handle a few of Lee Harvey Oswald's loose neurons." That implies that physical brain tissue belonging to Oswald might be present in Sam's brain. Ziggy's theory on why Sam leaps into Oswald multiple times (and presumably why they act like each other) is that they each have some of each other's neurons, which try unsuccessfully to reconnect with the rest of their own brains with each leap. This is the theoretical basis for Ziggy's plan of putting Oswald in the Accelerator and trying to leap Sam's neurons from Oswald back to Sam. According to Sam, however, the neurons would not go alone--and therby cause the opposite effect of merging their minds even more.

© 1993-1997 Karen Funk Blocher (revised slightly 3/29/97)


by Karen Funk Blocher

My current theory is that the two auras--Sam's as Jimmy or whoever and Alia's as Connie or whoever--"short each other out" with respect to the two time travelers underneath, creating instead a shared aura which continues to disguise them to people native to the time. The "illusion of the physical aura" is apparently vulnerable to contact with another such aura. Once this happens, Al can see Alia and Zoey can see Sam, but since this doesn't actually tune their brainwaves to each other's Observers, neither the leapers nor the Observers can see each other's holograms from the future.

I think the most telling point in the second question is that Sam and Alia could not see each others' Observer. If they can't do so, what chance have the Observers themselves, standing in two different Imaging Chambers and seeing Sam's and Alia's time only through their neurological links with their respective leapers?

As for Alia's leap with Sam and its consequences, it appears that the same physical contact which allows Sam and Alia to see each other can also be made to cause the two time travelers to leap together. Since it is Sam's leap which carries Alia to the prison, Alia's aura is also pulled to the same location as Sam's aura, resulting in Alia's leapee Angel being dragged into the Project's Waiting Room instead of Lothos' holding area.

At least one leaper has proposed an explanation for these situations which incorporates terms based on "real" quantum physics. Sounds good to me, but frankly, I don't have the scientific background to fully understand that answer, and so I've stuck with mine, based on what seems to fit the facts but using terms even I can understand. Gee, I wish I've taken physics in college, but I don't suppose it would help much in explaining the Bellisario Laws of Quantum Leaping!

© 1993-1997 Karen Funk Blocher (revised 3/29/97)

Common Questions about QL Index

Common Questions about QL Part Three

Common Questions about QL Part Four

Common Questions about QL Part Five

Common Questions about QL Part Six

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