In a recent interview with Caitlin Bassett, she suggested that Quantum Leap finds its heart in episode 3, “Someone Up There Likes Ben.” Ever since that interview, I’ve been curious to know how that would play out, since this series – like its predecessor – is inherently a show about heart. After all, Ben travels from one time and place to another in order to right wrongs. What I didn’t expect (and probably should have) was that the heart it found wasn’t really with Ben’s story. It was with the team. Which somehow makes it even better.
What’s Your Problem?
I wrote last week that I don’t envy Ben a good 98% of the time. This episode might have pushed me closer to 99%. Someone up there might like Ben, but dropping him into a body right before a couple quick boxer-delivered jabs to the face is at the very best dirty pool. You only hurt the ones you love? Yeah, right.
But Ben took those fists to the face far better than one might expect. Which is a good thing, since they wouldn’t be his last. As it turns out, in this iteration, he’s stuck in a boxer’s body on the day before the big fight. The big fight he has to win, to prevent his host’s brother from losing a bar…and his life. No pressure, right, Ben? No pressure at all!
He can win the fight if he changes tactics partway through. But to get there, he has to do the exact moves at the exact time as they were delivered in the original timeline. Thankfully, he has a photographic memory, so he can do it. But that raises the question: why wasn’t Ben slated to leap, originally?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Addison has skills. Skills we will no doubt see over the rest of the season. But Ben apparently speaks “several” languages and he has a photographic memory. Both of these things are undoubtedly helpful when plopped into the middle of random people’s problems. Addison undoubtedly has better fighting skills, but what was the other criteria for choosing the would-be leaper? I’m intrigued, and it only makes me want to know more about her character.
In true Ben style, he manages to get to the heart of the problem and save the day. Even convincing his host’s brother to get some help for his untreated PTSD. And he only had to go to jail once! Oh, yeah. And get punched in the face a few times. No big deal, right? It’s all in a day’s work.
As I mentioned above, while Ben’s plot contained the feel-good content we already know to expect from the series, it was really the plot happening with the rest of the team that took the heart up a notch this episode. And the threat.
Last week, the team discovered that Al’s daughter Janice is working with Ben in pursuit of…whatever they’re doing together. And that’s assuming that she’s genuinely working with him and not just using him for her own purposes. This week, they discover that she’s Trojan Horsed her way into Ziggy, which is a slight problem but not catastrophic. It’s not like she has her dad’s nifty little hand-held device.
Well, she didn’t. Until this week, when she stole the equipment her dad had squirreled away after the original project was shut down. Which included his original hand-held device. Oops.
The exact nature of the threat Janice poses has yet to be determined. For now, the team is scrambling to figure it out. In the meantime, they grow closer as they step into the void left by Ben in his absence. Is there any better bonding experience than watching trashy reality television together? No there is not.
Theories and Speculation
Amidst the regular shenanigans of the week, Quantum Leap dropped a major bombshell this episode in establishing that Ben can now travel beyond his lifetime. That’s massive. It also completely obliterates any groundwork I’d made in theorizing what he might be after.
Before this episode, I figured whatever it was he was trying to do, it had to be both personal and directly changing an event that happened during the course of his life. Which narrowed down the possibilities quite a bit.
But it isn’t just that Ben can travel beyond his lifetime. His code was written specifically to do just that. The points he’s traveling to now aren’t entirely random. They’re calculated to produce a “slingshot” effect that will allow him to break through the current lifetime restriction. Each “leap” he makes is presumably bringing him closer to that single fixed point.
Now that we have, you know, the entirety of time and space to consider, it’s a lot harder to pinpoint his plan. Or motives. The one thing we do know is that his quest is undoubtedly still a personal one. Not just because that’s the kind of show this is. But also because you don’t blow up your entire life and relationships – risking your future with the person you love – on a lark.
So what’s he after? Right now, I have absolutely no idea.
Thoughts? Theories or speculation about Ben’s Master Plan? Share them below!
Quantum Leap airs Mondays on NBC and is available for streaming on the Peacock app.