It’s always a fun time when Ben leaps into a host who dabbles in the unknown and mysterious. Scientific skepticism duking it out with the belief that all things are possible. Because, after all, he’s a body-skipping time traveler, so who’s he to say what’s improbable?
In a number of ways, Quantum Leap Season 2 Episode 3 bears a striking resemblance to Quantum Leap Season 1 Episode 7, only instead of spirits, Ben’s got potential extraterrestrials complicating the mission.
What’s less fun is watching Ben process the news that Addison’s moved onto a new relationship. They are both hurting so much, it’s a wonder Addison sticks out the whole leap.
The X-Files vibe is slightly defused by a lack of Scully-versus-Mulder tension on site. Yes, Addison tries to Occam’s Razor the situation, but Ben’s the scientist, and he’s clearly intrigued by the possibility of proving the presence of aliens.
Also, whether purposely or not, the encounters outside of Starlight seem like mechanical and manmade phenomena from the first recount.
Ben has many motivations for throwing his energies into solving the mystery. None of them are truly healthy.
First, he needs a distraction from learning that Addison has a new boyfriend. The shock of that knowledge hasn’t been lessened by her willingness to talk about the new guy.
Second, he feels a deep connection to Carrie and her predicament.
I have also seen things that are hard to explain and harder to believe.
The behaviors her grandfather describes after her mother dies are self-destructive and reckless. Ben’s behaviors in the wake of learning he has no relationship to return home to are just as dangerous.
Grief is a strange thing.
Finally, he isn’t someone who will ever walk away when he can make a difference.
This doesn’t just apply to Carrie, Melanie, and the sheriff. Their lives are the obvious benefactors of Ben’s leap.
However, he takes a deliberate detour and affects meaningful change in Hannah’s life as well.
Hannah: Imagine if someone from the 1850s walked in here and you tried to tell them about airplanes or the atom bomb or yoyos.
Hannah: You try explaining a yoyo to somebody who doesn’t know what they are. Centrifugal force, angular momentum. I mean, that would’ve been considered witchcraft a hundred years ago.
Keen-eyed viewers will notice that Ben doesn’t leap away until after he gives Hannah the name of the physics professor at Princeton and encourages her to apply to his program.
If his leap was just about Carrie, he should’ve leaped after the meeting with General Murray.
But he didn’t. And we know that this won’t be the last time we see Eliza Taylor‘s Hannah.
While we’re considering how Hannah will recur, can we also take a moment and wonder at the incredible constellation of guest stars Season 2 is rolling out?
From the comedic talents of P.J. Byrne and Aaron Abrams on Quantum Leap Season 2 Episode 1 — not to mention the inside joke of Melissa Roxburgh’s luck with planes — to Janet Montgomery’s riveting performance on “Ben and Teller” (supported by bank robbers Martin, Bean, and Lush), we’ve been treated to a lineup that doesn’t let up.
And here, daytime soap lovers must’ve jumped out of their seats at William deVry’s appearance as General Murray.
Even more impressively, we have Louis Herthum, an actor who wears “sheriff” like a second skin, having played such lawmen on both Home Before Dark and All Rise. Personally, I’ll always think of him first as Westworld’s Peter Abernathy.
But back to the emotional turmoil at the heart of the Quantum Leap Project.
It’s brutal how hard everyone’s trying to get by without confronting the ugliness that Fate has dealt to the team.
Addison: I already buried you once. Please, do not make me bury you again.
Ben: No one made you do that! No one made you bury me after two years, but you did. And now, I have to live with whatever that means for the rest of my life. Whatever kind of life this is. Now, I’m doing this. And if you aren’t with me as my hologram, this will not work. So please, don’t give up on me. Again.
Until Ben uncorks his pain, explaining why he can’t just accept Addison’s suggestions because he trusts his instincts more, there is a chasm opening wider with every interaction.
Addison: Look, my entire purpose is to support you through these leaps and I am trying to do that, but you keep making these decisions. Rash decisions that you would not have made three years ago…
Ben: You mean three DAYS ago.
Ben knows intellectually that Addison had to move on once the project had been shut down. However, that knowledge doesn’t help him feel less angry and abandoned.
At the same time, Addison knows that Ben feels unmoored and blindsided, but there’s a level of rage in her too. She thought she’d dealt with her grief and moved on, only to be thrown back into it with all the pain made new.
Magic: All the agony and loss we went through doesn’t vanish just because Ben’s alive. We still carry all three years of it.
Addison: I, uh, I don’t know how to help him anymore. It’s so strange to look at Ben – my Ben – and not know what to do.
For someone who makes decisions with such surety, Addison’s questioning everything she’s done.
Ultimately, she chooses to stick it out as Ben’s guide and accomplice, and they blow the Starlight UFO case wide open.
The same as on “O Ye of Little Faith,” Ben ends up being drugged along with the others fooled by the scammers.
That this time, it’s the military doing the drugging isn’t that hard to believe.
Ben: When there’s no one to blame, no one to fight, that’s when the anger is like acid in your blood.
Sheriff: Exactly. I sure would like to find a bad guy right about now.
There’s a devil’s advocate voice in my head that questions whether a military black site would be so sloppy as to fly their experimental zero-point aircraft over publicly accessible roads. Repeatedly.
Also, administering the Gamma Blue 5 to civilians — again, repeatedly — feels pretty foolhardy.
I’m also a little unclear as to how Melanie’s tracks — made by the frantic, panicking teen — were completely erased, but the military bootprint was left partially visible.
Sheriff: This is the part where you ask us what we want to keep our mouth shut.
Ben: You have a serum at your base that can reverse the effects of Gamma Blue 5. We’d like a dose for Melanie Hunt. We’d like for you to provide a statement to Mr. Hunt explaining that – let’s call in a helicopter – flew too low and caused Carrie to crash.
Sheriff: Carrie gets a full scholarship to the college of her choice. And throw in a car. Like yours. A new one.
The “negotiation” with General Murray is a nice bit of karmic comeuppance, but bordering on the fantastical. Who knows, maybe things were different in 1949, and black site generals just rolled over when faced with proof of bad conduct?
So, here’s a question I don’t ask often: How do Ben’s hosts feel when he puts their bodies at serious risk in order to help someone they don’t know in their actual life?
Did Lorena Chaves on Quantum Leap Season 2 Episode 2 have muscle strain from his antics during the bank robbery? Have the injuries sustained during earthquakes or bombings or plane crashes left hosts with lifelong physical challenges?
Because, in this case, the double dose of Gamma Blue 5 — the second which Ben purposefully put himself up for — and that random shot of adrenaline is going to leave Agent Foster with some lasting side effects.
Furthermore, Foster’s still FBI and not that high up the pecking order if he’s running all over the country investigating abducted cows.
There’s going to be some serious career repercussions to his meddling with the military.
Addison: If you go to that base and they dose you again, you could die.
Ben: That’s what this is for.
Ben: Uh-huh. Nicked it while I was in the hospital.
Addison: Since when do you ‘nick’ things?
Also — because I know someone’s going to bring it up — it’s a fact that Groom Lake, Nevada, was never called Area 51 in 1949. Way to butterfly effect that one, Ben.
Alright, Fanatics, how well did this one fly for you? Were you a bit disappointed there weren’t more interstellar shenanigans?
How will Ben and Addison settle things? Who was on the phone with Magic?
What is Ian still hiding?
Hit our comments below with all your most out-of-this-world theories!
Keep your eyes on the skies, friends! This season has only begun to reach for the stars!