This leap takes place at the end of Vietnam. Immediately after leaping, Sam is confronted with a soldier who appears to be suffering from a flashback and is met with aggression from one of the male nurses. Sam is about to get up and stop him when Al shows up just in time to tell him he’s leaped into someone with no legs, a vet named Ron.
Sam encounters three key people in this leap: his wife Julie, a girl named Kiki (played by a very young Jennifer Aniston), and now quadriplegic soldier named Billy. Al tells Sam that Billy is found dead at the bottom of a swimming pool in the hospital. Sam is also told that he (Ron) is going to go on to have children, one of whom will end up in the Gulf War of 1991 and save an entire platoon. Sam and Kiki bond throughout the episode, while trying to snap Billy out of his depression. Kiki has a brother in Vietnam who she is convinced has gotten killed in the line of duty. Julie seems to be unable to adapt to the monumental changes that have happened to her husband. Al urges Sam to fix this as soon as possible so that the platoon in the gulf doesn’t meet its doom.
Eventually, Billy is given an electric wheelchair and is able to make his way to the pool, where he plans to drown himself and be done with life. Al reports this to Sam, as we see his wife telling him she’s met someone else and she’s leaving him.
Sam makes his way back into the hospital, but is stopped by the male nurse from the beginning of the episode. He wheels Sam into his room and is preparing him for bed. Al checks around and tells Sam the coast is clear, and in one of the more fun moments in the show, Sam stands up and we see his reflection in the mirror, a young soldier standing without legs. The nurse is stunned, Sam knocks him out and then makes his way to the pool. Billy makes one of the most powerful monologues I can remember in TV history. He’s bawling and talking about the war and how everything is different – how much he feels like the war was meaningless and all the suffering was for nothing. Suddenly, Sam agrees with him and tells him to go through with it.
Al is stunned by this! Sam explains that Billy needs to almost die to appreciate life again. Sam pulls him out of the water and saves him from drowning. Al confirms that Billy doesn’t try again. Sam tells Al that he’s glad he saved Billy, but he failed to save his marriage and now all of the soldiers in the gulf are going to die. Al checks and discovers that they all live after all and everything is unchanged. As they’re wondering how this could be when Julie has left him, Kiki shows up right on cue. Turns out she is indeed the mother of his children and Al never checked. She hands Sam a telegram that she hasn’t been able to read. Sam opens it and reads it, Kiki begins to lament about the loss of her brother. Sam tells her that when she’s done crying, she should bake her brother a cake, because he’ll be home in a few hours.
Another perfect episode.
I thought this episode was one of the best ever. Powerful acting, powerful story, great execution. It’s also awesome to see Jennifer Aniston pre-Rachel. You really sympathize with Billy, hate Julie, love Kiki and feel great when Sam knocks out the jerky nurse. This episode is a must watch, easily.