Some ideas just will not get out of your head. I got to thinking tangentially about how a series like Quantum Leap with putting history ‘right’ could have been the impetus for an alternate history not going wrong. The more I thought about it and the more I researched and lost sleep over it. The more I came to the conclusion that Sam Beckett actually may have stopped the Watchmen Universe from occurring.
Proofs (after the break)
EPISODE 75 LEE HARVEY OSWALD – In this episode Sam leaps in and out of the life of Lee Harvey Oswald but rather than pulling the trigger at the end – he actually becomes a secret service agent. At the end, Al reveals that he did alter history by saving the life of Jackie Kennedy who had originally died.
HOW IS IT RELEVANT? Jackie Kennedy did not give the Camelot interview mythologizing the Kennedy White House until a week AFTER the assassination. This interview essentially lionized Kennedy even more and put the Kennedy White House in the same vein as King Arthur’s Court. While the assassination of Kennedy would eventually help Nixon to get into office – the creation of Camelot as the memory of Kennedy would curb him from getting to the god-like status that would allow him to have four consecutive terms.
EPISODE 2 STAR CROSSED – In this episode, Sam endeavors to put a daughter back together with her father who is shipping off to Vietnam. At the end of the episode, it is revealed that Sam actually trips the alarm at the Watergate Hotel alerting authorities to the break in.
HOW IS IT RELEVANT? This is relevant in two ways. First of all, it takes place in 1972 and the Vietnam War is still ongoing. June 15th, 1971 is established in the Watchmen universe as the day that the Viet Kong Surrendered to the American forces. Much like the Terminator Judgment Day, this shows that that history has already been changed. Secondly, without the power of the victory in Vietnam, Nixon does not have the power to kill and cover up Woodward and Bernstein. The scandal that Beckett would unwittingly tip off would first make it impossible for Nixon to get additional terms and even brought his second one to an end.
EPISODE 9 HONEYMOON EXPRESS – A senatorial committee is trying to cut off funding for the Quantum Leap project and demands that Al instruct Beckett to change history. Their suggestion is to stop the downing of the U2 Spy Flight done by Gary Powers. Beckett is unsuccessful but the funding is continued because due to Beckett working in history, the Senator criticizing the project is replaced by one that does approve the funding. Critically, the episode takes place starting on April 27th, 1960.
HOW IS IT RELEVANT? In several ways, first of all – the failure to prevent the U2 spy plane downing is a critical event in the Cold War escalating mistrust and counter operations between the United States and the Soviet Union for decades. This crisis is the very thing that Ozymandias is trying to avoid by his insane scheme to bring the ‘alien’ into New York and cause destruction. Second, Beckett influences a Senate race. This is key to the Watchmen universe in the form of John David Keene who is elected a Senator in 1972 in the Watchmen Universe. This is an event that never happened and could have been influenced by the election results altered by Beckett in the past. Keene is responsible for the Keene act on August 3rd, 1977 outlawing costumed crime fighters.
EPISODE 43 FUTURE BOY – In Future Boy, Sam leaps into the set of a show called ‘Time Patrol’ where the star is almost institutionalized for his belief in quantum string theory among other things. Sam saves the day and the star is not committed. The year in the episode is 1957.
HOW IS IT RELEVANT? – The events of Future Boy and the continuation of Time Patrol happen while Jon Osterman (Dr. Manhattan) is still a student in Princeton. The show while presumably based on serious physics ideas is not taken serious. Osterman would graduate the following year and then go to the Gila Flats facility in Arizona. It is a subliminal thing but keeping a show like Time Patrol on the air for more seasons while firing the imagination of a young Sam Beckett (who apparently wrote a fan letter) may have also had the double edged sword (being presented as childish and ridiculous) or subliminally influencing a young Jon Osterman to alter career pursuits just enough not to take the job and work elsewhere in the world of physics where he would quietly spend out his days unknown.
EPISODE 32 THE LEAP HOME PART 2 – Its April of 1970 and Sam leaps into a NAVY SEAL and ends up risking everything to save his brother’s life from a traitor in the midst. In the process, a photojournalist named Maggie Dawson is killed (when she originally was not) but snaps a Pulitzer Prize winning photograph of POWs in Vietnam – which incidentally includes a picture of Al.
HOW IS IT RELEVANT? – Again, Nixon’s continued success depends on a successful resolution of the Vietnam conflict. This includes a strategy in which a virtual atom bomb named Dr. Manhattan literally gives a ‘final solution’ to the Viet Kong. Without Osterman, who may have subliminally taken himself out of the equation in Future Boy, an actual atomic solution may have been considered. As a matter of fact, Nixon had exactly that idea in 1972. However, photos such as the ones taken by Dawson as well as burning Buddhist and men about to be shot made it impossible for Nixon to take such an action leading to what may have been a very different outcome to the Vietnam War.
EPISODE 80, 89 AND 90 THE EVIL LEAPERS – As seen in episodes Deliver Us From Evil, Return of the Evil Leaper, and Revenge of the Evil Leaper. Alia was the most prominent of the evil leapers and when Sam turned her good, her own hologram was made into a leaper and sent to kill her. The evil leapers were run by an unnamed organization but one dedicated to setting back wrong what Sam Beckett once put right. The computers name for the Leaping is Lothos.
HOW ARE EVIL LEAPERS RELEVANT? – In the Watchmen universe, Ormandy’s (Adrien Viedt) is an above average evil genius. He is also particularly well connected. Being an evil genius and being well connected would have put him in touch with not only the quantum leap project but also the results of it. Being able to figure out the probabilities and what happened and what should have happened may have been impetus enough for Viedt (without knowing the final results) to want to undo Beckett and create the Watchmen Universe re-establishing the known points of divergence. So he could have easily created a counter program and obviously never been a leaper himself. Looking at Viedt’s fondness for ancient things, it makes sense that he would have named his computer Lothos. Lothos itself would seem strangely connected to the Greek word Logos meaning word which has been given some quasi-religious overtones. It sounds exactly like a plot from a man who would blow up part of a city to save humanity.
1986 – No real support here other than this. It is the year that the events of Alan Moore’s The Watchmen takes place and it is also a year Sam conviently never leaps into. He leaps into about every 80s year out side of 1986. For whatever reason, Sam seems somehow cosmically forbidden from going there even after The Leap Between the States in which he leaps out of his own lifetime.
Do I believe the two franchises have anything to do with each other? No. Do I believe that Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz movie have a damn thing to do with each other? No. But it is a fascinating premise (at least to me) and now it is finally at least out of my head.