Promised Land was the 11th episode in Season 5 of Quantum Leap, also the 86th overall series episode. Written by Gillian Horvath and Tommy Thompson, the episode, which was directed by Scott Bakula, first aired on NBC-TV on December 15, 1992.
Sam leaps into his hometown as William "Willie" Walters, Jr. (Daniel Engstrom appears in mirror image as Willie the leapee), one of three brothers who are robbing the town bank in order to pay off a loan. Sam must uncover the reason the bank lent money to these farmers who could not possibly pay it back, while trying to prevent the brothers from being killed when they try to escape.
Leaping in to find a gun in his hand and a cloth tightened around his lower face, Sam realizes he has landed in the middle of a bank robbery, with him as the robber. Or more precisely, one of the robbers, as Sam finds he is standing between two cohorts, a hotheaded young man and a timid teenager – his host's two brothers. What's more, something in the scene seems familiar to Sam, but his Swiss-cheesed mind prevents him from finding out what it is.
Al soon arrives to supply the answers, and Sam is shocked to learn that he has once again leaped home, to his hometown of Elk Ridge, Indiana, into one William "Willie" Walters, Jr., the middle of the three Walters brothers, whose father, William "Willie" Walters, Sr., who was a local dairy farmer, has recently died. Left foundering in substantial and increasing debts to the local bank, the brothers and Mary, their widowed mother (played by Lorinne Vozoff) now face threats of foreclosure by the bank's young and cold-hearted manager, Gus Vernon (Jonathan Hogan), also an old high school classmate of Neil's, who has sealed his ears to their pleas for more time to pay a recent loan. Thus, led by hotheaded older brother and new head of the family Neil (played by Dwier Brown), the three brothers, Willie and brothers Neil and John (Chris Stacy) all have stormed the bank to take by force the money they have no other way of getting.
However, their simple plan is soon complicated by the circumstances, as the frightened tellers they hold at gunpoint cannot give them the amount they demand – that much money is only stored in the bank's vault, and the manager, being the only one who knows the access combination, is out of town and is due back only hours later. While Sam tries to persuade Neil and the younger brother John to escape while they can, an alarm is raised and before long, the police are surrounding the bank. The brothers are forced to hold the three tellers and a couple of elderly clients as hostages.
Al reveals that the brothers are to be shot when they try to escape the bank, and tells Sam that Ziggy's nearly-certain estimate is that his mission is to lead the three in a safe surrender to the police. However, Sam has already become emotionally involved in the brothers' plight, and for good reason: as he tells Al, his own family later had to face the same threats of foreclosure and the same worsening working conditions, owning a dairy farm themselves before Sam's father died of heart attack, a few years later. Sam further reveals that he has always blamed himself for his father's death, having then already been gone to college and failing to be there to support and aid his father and family during such critical times.
Like Sam, Willie too is a bright young man who had been sent by the family to college, and was therefore, like Sam, absent when his own father died and the trouble began. This in mind, Sam informs Al that he won't allow the same thing that happened to his own family to happen to Willie and his brothers. Despite Al's repeated objections, Sam decides to investigate the brothers' claim against the bank more thoroughly.
Sam's suspicions are confirmed when, by his request, Al conducts an inspection of the records to find that the Walters family, as well as several other families living in close neighborhood to them, have been deliberately pressured by the bank… and that in the very near future, a shopping center is to be erected exactly on the foreclosed land of these families' farms. Sam now has to negotiate with his hometown's old police chief to achieve a peaceful solution of the hostage situation and prevent the brothers' deaths; to escape the bank himself in order to find proof that the bank's conniving manager is intentionally stealing these people's lands; to deal with an outburst of violence as a frantic young man bursts into the bank to rescue his wife, one of the tellers, and gun down the brothers; and finally, to come to terms with his own burdened conscience for not having been there for his father when he needed him most, by making peace with Willie's family, who carry a grudge for him and silently blame him for the same thing.