As fun as Quantum Leap is as a concept (and show!), if I’m really honest, I don’t envy Ben – or Sam – a good 98% of the time. Finding yourself in some random person’s life and having to fix their mistakes? That’s a hard pass. I struggle enough fixing my mistakes in my own life, and I have at least a passing knowledge of how I got to the point of making them, thankyouverymuch.
That said, there are the occasional episodes that make me wish I could step into the Quantum Project for just one day. “Atlantis” is one of those episodes. Although really, as much as I dream about going to space, I’d be scared witless if I was in Ben’s shoes, finding himself doing an (untrained!) spacewalk. So maybe I wouldn’t mind being in Addison’s shoes for a day. “In space” from the safety of a holographic chamber. Yeah. That sounds great. Sign me up for that.
What’s Your Problem?
So what is it that brings Ben to space? In the show’s second episode, he discovers he’s leaped into the body of an astronaut tasked with helping build the International Space Station. Which is great when it comes to being able to take in the view. But when it comes to the fact that astronauts have to do a metric ton of training to be able to do space-type things without, you know, exploding…Or suffocating. Or dying in a dozen other non-enviable ways. Well, finding oneself aboard a space craft filled with 300 tiny switches and not knowing what any of them do would just be peachy.
Luckily, Ben has Addison. And Addison has Google. Or some sort of super-Google, because she’s able to tell him which thingamagigs to press after a 10 second search, and I’m pretty sure my Google skills aren’t that strong. Still, one imagines that she felt both relieved and jealous that it was Ben in the hot seat and not her, as it was originally intended to be. But, then again, Addison had enough conflicting emotions this episode to go around. More on that in a minute.
In time, Addison discovers that the Leapee (I guess we’ll call them?) originally died on his mission after being struck with space debris. Clearly the “wrong” that Ben is there to right. Unfortunately, in doing so, he sets off a sequence of events that makes it absolutely certain that everyone on the shuttle will die in a fiery explosion if they attempt re-entry.
Oops. Well, you know what they say about good intentions and all that.
Which really begs the question of what happens to the people Ben is “displacing” through his leaps. In the original series, it was established they go to some sort of “waiting room,” so to speak, so one assumes the same remains true in this iteration. In which case, I can only hope that they eventually give these poor souls a monitor to see what Ben is doing in their bodies. Mostly (I’ll be honest) for my own humor value, as they lose their minds watching what Ben messes up before getting things right. But also because…can you imagine “waking up” to find yourself clutching the side of a Russian shuttle and having to figure out how the hell you got there?
Give these people a monitor to watch what’s going on, Team Quantum. I beg of you.
A Matter of Trust
Speaking of the team, they’re dealing with their own issues this week. Which is really only to be expected, given Ben’s actions. And the secrecy surrounding them. They don’t know who to trust. They certainly don’t know if they should trust Ben. Until they figure it out, Magic orders them to keep Ben from remembering his own life. If he went into the past as a saboteur, reminding him of his intentions would be a terrible idea.
It’s not a decision that sits well with Addison, which is understandable. But she’s dealing with conflicting feelings of her own. On the one hand, she loves Ben. She trusts Ben. But Ben had secrets, and he certainly didn’t trust her with them. Was it all an act? Can she trust anything about their lives together?
In the end, she decides she may not have all the answers, but she knows Ben. And Ben is still Ben, with or without his memory. They’ll figure the rest out together.
As a story beat, this isn’t a particularly novel one. Of course the team would question Ben’s loyalty. Addison’s too, while they’re at it. But to its credit, Quantum Leap doesn’t torture fans with festering distrust among the team for long. They may not know what’s going on, but they know each other. They trust each other. And doing so will only help them get through this together. Thank god, because we’re only two episodes in, and I don’t want anything coming between this team already.
And not just because Mason Alexander Park (as Ian) gets the absolute best lines each episode. But they do, and I predict they will end up being the fan-favorite character of the season, when all is said and done.
One Step Forward, One Step Back
While Addison focuses on keeping Ben from dying horribly in space and Ian focuses on being amazing in the present, Magic and Jenn focus their attentions on the biggest mystery of all: Why they’re in this position to begin with. Of course, Magic knows Al’s family, so he tries to figure out what Ben is doing with Al’s daughter, Janis.
They don’t get very far, as she’s one step ahead of them. What they do get (evading their own fiery explosion in so doing) is code, written in Ben’s handwriting. With the assistance of a flash drive Addison finally decides to hand over (after spending an episode wondering who she can trust – and scared what she’ll discover about Ben), they’re able to open the encrypted file. What they find is some wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff. All focused on one particular date and time. Where and when is this location, and why is Ben looking for it? That remains to be seen.
Theories and Speculation
Actually, several things remain to be seen, but this is where theories and speculation comes in. After all, watching a show is fun, but theorizing is even better.
While there are a few offshoot mysteries, there are really two main questions for fans at the moment: Why did Ben act in secret, and what is he trying to achieve?
As for why Ben acted in secret, we’ll probably know the answer to that when we know what he was trying to achieve. So what was that? The most obvious answer is that they’re working to bring back Sam, but that doesn’t track. Everyone on the project is working to bring back Sam. That’s not something they would need to do in secret.
Which means it’s something personal for Ben, since he was supposedly the one to rope Janis into the project (and not the reverse). Which would suggest Janis is helping for her own reasons – perhaps hoping that the breakthroughs they make together would help her pursue her own ends in finishing what her dad started. But if Ben is pursuing something personal to him, why didn’t he let Addison – his future wife – in on the project? Because what he’s doing could have such catastrophic consequences to the world as she knows it that he didn’t want to burden her? It’s possible.
I can’t wait for next week to get some answers. Or, more realistically, a few more breadcrumbs to dissect. What do you think? Do you have theories about what Ben and Janis are doing? Share them below!
Quantum Leap airs Mondays on NBC and is available for streaming on the Peacock app.