Jimmy is the eighth episode of Season 2 of the Quantum Leap TV series, also the 17th overall series episode. Written by Paul M. Belous, the episode, which was directed by Robert A. Wolterstorff, originally aired on NBC-TV on November 22, 1989.
Sam leaps into Jimmy LaMotta, a young man with a development disability that needs to show he can keep his job at the docks or else he will die in a mental institution. Michael Madsen guest stars as a dock worker that teases and intimidates Jimmy for being disabled. Since mainstreaming the mentally handicapped is not yet a popular concept, Sam must help Jimmy LaMotta, the "slow" young man he's leaped into, get a job and gain his coworkers' acceptance, to prevent his brother from returning Jimmy to the institution. It's also revealed that Al had a younger sister who had a development disability and died in an institution.
Sam finds himself lying upside down in a bedroom, wearing children's pajamas and slippers. A young boy, Corey, shoots him with a toy ray gun and asks if he's going to die, and Sam dramatically plays dead. Corey's father Frank comes in and says that Jimmy needs to get dressed for his first day of work, and tells him that he won't always be there for him. As he opens the closet door, a mirror reveals Sam's new body. Frank says he had to pull some strings to get Sam the interview, and tells him that if anyone asks, he's just "slow," he's not disabled. Sam realizes he's leapt into a man with Down's Syndrome.
Frank goes down to breakfast and greets his wife, Connie, who complains she didn't get much sleep the previous night. She explains that she's been thinking about Jimmy, and Frank insists that the doctor believes Jimmy is ready to be out on his own. Connie is already uncomfortable with having Jimmy in the house, and it's only been two weeks. Sam comes in to have breakfast and Frank plays with him and Corey, much to Connie's irritation. Sam reads the paper and discovers he's in Oakland on October 14, 1964. Frank is surprised to see that Sam is reading the front page rather than the comics. Corey leaves for school and Connie tells him to come home early and not play at the wharf. As he leaves with Sam, Frank assures Connie that everything will be fine, and Jimmy is family. As Sam gets up, he spills the milk and Connie tells him to go. As he leaves, Connie mistakes Sam's unfamiliarity for Jimmy's typical behavior. Al appears and talks with Sam outside. He assures Sam that Jimmy is disabled, not Sam, and that Jimmy has the IQ of a 12-year-old. Al tells Sam to act normally, as someone at Jimmy's level can read, write, and hold a job. As they talk, Connie looks out the window and sees Sam apparently talking to himself. Meanwhile, Al assures Sam he knows what he's going through, and admits that Ziggy is having mood swings. However, the computer thinks that Sam is there to mainstream Jimmy, and they didn't have mainstreaming in 1964... rather, people preferred to lock away the mentally disabled. Jimmy's been in an institution, and will end up there again unless Sam changes things. As Frank calls Sam over, Al tells him to make sure that Jimmy gets the job.
Frank drives to his job at the wharf and goes to clock in. One of the workers, Blue, taunts Sam. Frank starts to go after the man but Sam restrains him. He then talks Sam through everything he has to do, repeating things several times. He insists that he'll love Sam no matter what. Frank's boss, Charlie Samuels, admits that he has concerns. He talks to Sam very loudly and warns that people have to watch out for each other. Samuels points out that Sam is disabled, but he insists that he can do the work. Sam gets the job and goes to work. As he greets his fellow workers, Al arrives and tells him that's what he's there to do: make friends and prove that Jimmy can function normally. However, he warns that Sam has more to do, and make sure that Jimmy can hold on. Al talks about Jackie Robinson, and how he had to take a lot of abuse before he was accepted as a black baseball player. Sam points out it could take a while. As he wheels a cart around a corner, Blue hits it with a forklift and insults him.
Later, Frank and Sam are eating on the pier and Sam says the guys are treating him okay. Frank wishes that their father was alive to see it, and says he'd be proud. The toughest day of his life was when he had to put Jimmy into an institution. Frank apologizes that he couldn't get him out any sooner, but insists that Sam can stay with them as long as he wants. When Sam asks about Connie, Frank says that she didn't grow up with someone like Jimmy. As they talk, Sam accidentally knocks Frank's watch into the water that was given to him by Connie. He briefly gets mad but then says it's no problem. As Sam continues working, Blue and the other workers pick a fight. Blue tries to provoke Sam, who finally defends himself. Frank breaks it up and Blue warns him to keep Sam away from him. The shift whistle blows and they head for home. As they clock out, Frank warns Sam to stay away from Blue. Sam insists on clocking out himself but messes it up and finally tears it.
The brothers return home and Connie congratulates Sam. Frank suggests that Sam and Corey play catch. Once they're gone, Connie says that she doesn't like him encouraging Sam to play with Corey, and is worried he might hurt the boy. Frank insists that Jimmy loves Corey and would never hurt him. As Sam and Corey play football, Sam inadvertently throws the ball into the neighbor's yard. The neighbor boy, Peter Kirksey, calls Sam a moron and Corey attacks him. Sam tries to break it up and Mrs. Kirksey attacks him, thinking he's assaulting her son. Frank comes over and Mrs. Kirksey says that she'll call the police and Sam belongs in an institution, and Frank orders Sam inside. Inside, Corey insists that he was the one who was fighting, and that Pete called Sam a dummy. Frank stands up for Corey but Connie tells her son to make sure it doesn't happen again. Sam tries to apologize and when Frank comes to his defense, Connie gets angry and says they have to watch him every second. She storms off and Frank goes after her. Later, Frank is cleaning the truck and Sam tries to help. Frank warns him that he has to be careful but Sam insists that he didn't try to hurt anyone. He also asks Sam to be on his best behavior. He notices that Sam has scratched the paint, and then Sam messes up with the hose. Frank sends him inside and he tries to set the dishes. Al startles him and Sam admits that he's hurting Jimmy more than helping him. As Connie comes in, she bumps the door into Sam, causing him to drop her grandmother's platter.
Sam goes outside, furious with himself for his constantly clumsy behavior, and Al explains he's just feeling the pressure of everyone treating him as a disabled person. Sam insists it isn't going to work, but Al says there was a girl named Trudy who was worse than Jimmy. He got in fights over it with the other kids, and explains that Trudy was his little sister. Their mother couldn't handle it and ran off with an encyclopedia salesman. Their father tried to keep them together but when his job took him to the Middle East, Al ended up in an orphanage and Trudy was put in an institution. By the time Al found where she was, she had died of pneumonia. Al angrily insists that they're not going to lose Jimmy. This deepens Sam's resolve, making him determined to help Jimmy fit in.
As Sam goes to bed, Corey asks him to read their bedtime story. They start to read a horror comic, and Corey wonders why people are mean to Sam. He explains that people don't know him and are afraid, and that Connie is trying. Sam makes up a story based on Star Wars. The next day, Sam is working at the wharf and Mr. Samuels says that he's doing a good job. The boss then calls Blue over and tells him to pull batch 1675. Blue claims he's busy but Samuels tells him to do it now. He drives over and pulls batch 7516. Sam notices and tries to point out his error. Blue insults him again and complains to Samuels. When Sam defends himself, Samuels realizes that Blue pulled the wrong batch. Blue claims he thought Samuels pointed at the crate he pulled, and Samuels tells him just to go by the number he said. Sam continues to mop the floor and avoid any incidents. However, Blue drives by and his forklift skids out of control. Blue says there's solvent all over the floor but Sam insists that he turned it off. Frank leaps to his defense again but ignores Sam's claim, believing his brother screwed up but standing by him. Blue refuses to work with Sam any more and Samuels tells Frank he's letting Sam go. When Sam tries to intervene, Frank tells him to stay out of it and says if Sam is fired, he'll quit. Samuels stands by his decision and Frank walks off, and Sam goes after him. Frank finally snaps and says he can't watch Sam all the time, and that Sam has no idea if he let the solvent leak or not. He orders Sam into the truck and Sam reluctantly gets in.
At home, Frank tells Connie the news. He insists he'll get another job, but she wonders what happens when Jimmy messes up that job, too. Connie says he doesn't belong and she tells him to take Jimmy back to the institution. She says they've all tried, but it's not working and never will. Sam is helping Corey fix his bike when Al shows up, angry that Sam got fired. Sam insists it wasn't his fault and refuses to apologize. Al apologizes for getting angry, and Sam says he'll get another job. Frank comes out and tells Jimmy that he's going back to the institution while Frank finds another job. Al checks the files and warns that if Jimmy goes back into the institution, he'll never come out again. Sam agrees, much to Al's surprise and anger. Once Frank is gone, Sam reveals he stole the truck keys from Frank's pocket. He drives back to the wharf to get his job back, unaware that Corey has overheard him. Frank and Connie hear the truck start up and run out to see Sam drive away. Corey rides after him before his parents can stop him.
At the wharf, Sam tries to convince Samuels to rehire him. Corey climbs up on some crates to watch as Sam accuses Blue of turning on the spigot to get him fired. Blue denies it, but Sam says that Blue did it because Sam found out his secret. He asks Blue to read the numbers on a crate and the worker refuses. Samuels repeats the request and Blue refuses, and Sam explains that Blue is dyslexic. Blue hates him because he thinks Sam is smarter. Samuels realizes that Blue set the whole thing up, offers Sam his job back, and tells Blue that he's fired. As they go to call Frank, Blue tries to run Sam over. Sam dives out of the way and Blue hits the crates with his forklift. As Frank and Connie arrive, Corey is knocked into the water and Frank dives in after him. Frank finds his son but he's swallowed a lot of water. He brings him up onto the pier and Sam tries to pull him up, but Connie tells him to get away. Corey isn't breathing and Sam says he can help. He tells Frank that the boy needs mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and claims they taught it to him at the institution. Frank lets him try and Sam begins the procedure. It doesn't work and he tries CPR. Corey finally chokes up the water and revives as the workers applaud. Al confirms that Sam got Jimmy accepted. Connie thanks Sam and asks for his forgiveness. Frank embraces his brother as Sam leaps.
Corey mentions the movie Invaders from Mars. It was a 1953 movie starring Helena Carter, Jimmy Hunt, and Leif Erickson in which a young boy sees an alien spaceship land near his house, and the Martians soon start controlling the minds of all the adults in town.
The story Sam tells Corey begins "About... a long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. It was a time of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from the hidden base..." He is reciting the opening crawl of the original (1977) Star Wars movie (now known as "Episode IV") nearly verbatim.