“A Single Drop of Rain”: September 7, 1953
(Original air date: November 20, 1991)
Many of Sam’s missions are straightforward, morally speaking. Saving children, helping nuns, preventing murders, winning beauty pageants...usually he’s engaged in something an audience can get behind, without question. In Billy Beaumont, Sam is a rip-off artist on the one hand and a latent idealist on the other—under the sharp suit and shaky ethics is a guy who sincerely hopes to develop viable rainmaking technology. Billy steals with one hand and gives to his poverty-stricken sidekick with the other. Even Sam is forced to admit he’s not all bad. As for his having run off with Annie in the original history: Al says the heartbreak shatters Ralph, but Ralph is so emotionally locked down that one has to wonder if he’s got it coming. He’s a hard guy and the town really is dull: maybe running off together wasn't the worst choice for Annie and Billy.
Speculation aside, this isn’t the only difficult homecoming in Quantum Leap: “The Americanization of Machiko” comes to mind. It is, however, one of the most thorny. Sam by now is a seasoned Cupid, having brought many a couple together. But giving someone a nudge when they're ready to fall in love is child’s play compared to the task of changing a person’s mind as she’s about to walk away from an eight-year marriage. Annie and Ralph aren’t listening to reason. They have been waiting for a straw to break the back of their relationship, and Billy's return is as good as any other excuse.
On the other hand, an angry brother is a problem Sam has a hope of solving...so he tackles Ralph, wholeheartedly, while leaving Billy’s colourful criminal history and the question of rain to a higher power.
“A Single Drop of Rain” is, ultimately, a celebration of hard choices: of plodding on along a tough road, being honest when it’s easier to lie, letting down your defences and staying put when the smart money advocates running. It is beautifully directed, and the idea of droughts, real and emotional, resonates through its script. It conveys a sense of life withering and the land drying out, of desperation and dead dreams. When the raindrops start to fall, in defiance of Al and the historical record, Sam’s joy—and his visible gratitude for the miraculous—are as powerful as any flood.
A.M. Dellamonica writes novels and short fiction and teaches writing online. She is passionate about environmentalism, food and drink, and art in every form, and dabbles in several: photography, choral music, theater, dance, cooking and crafts. Catch up with her on her blog here.