Before I delve into my review of Quantum Leap 2×02 “Ben & Teller,” I just have to ask the writers
one a few questions: Are you guys okay? Did we do something to make you mad? Did I personally run over your childhood dog or accidentally kick your favorite hamster? Because it kinda feels like you’re on a personal mission to hurt me. And I just want to get ahead of the ball, here, and apologize for whatever it is I did.
What do you mean, you don’t go into the writer’s room with the express directive of “Hurt Jade from Fangirlish as much as possible?” It kinda feels like you do.
As a somewhat more understated character, I don’t know that Jenn (Nanrisa Lee) has always gotten the love she deserves – from the fandom or in my reviews. She’s one of those parts of episodes that always works, but she rarely steals the spotlight. So I have to take a moment at the top of this review to give her a shoutout.
Bless Jenn. She deserves all the love in the world for constantly being the Responsible One surrounded by chaos and madness. I know “Ben & Teller” went out of its way to establish her as being a bit of a shark at poker. However, I’m not sure I buy it. Is she really that great at poker? Or does she just seem that way because she spends so much of her time playing against the human equivalent of overeager puppies, falling over themselves and making a mess of things?
Ian’s (Mason Alexander Park) basically one one side of the table doing the human equivalent of chewing on cards while Addison (Caitlin Bassett) keeps getting distracted and laying her cards face-up on the table. All while Jenn keeps screaming, “No, you…stop that! You’re supposed to…they have to be the same suit, darn it! We’ve talked about this!”
And as for Magic (Ernie Hudson)? He knows better than to get within 10 feet of this mess.
So, yeah, maybe Jenn is a really great card player. But it’s also possible she’s an average player who comes off looking like she could take Vegas by storm because everyone around her is just so bad at poker.
Her Heart On Her Sleeve
Yeah, I’m not really talking about poker. I mean, I am. In the same sense Quantum Leap was really sending a message about poker this week. But, really, it’s all about Addison having the worst poker face I’ve ever seen. Seriously. Toddlers sneaking a third cookie from the cookie jar have stronger powers of deception.
Don’t get me wrong. As a shipper, my heart melted when she said that Ben (Raymond Lee) would know the truth right away. I just thought it would be “because we have such a great connection.” Not “because I’m so bad at prevaricating.” Do I choose to believe she’s so bad at lying because of her connection with Ben? Yes. Yes, I do.
So, now we get to the elephant in the room.
My own broken heart aside, I actually don’t blame Addison for moving on. Three years have passed. For her, at least. She genuinely thought Ben was dead. She searched for him for years. At some point, if you really love someone, you want them to let go of their grief and find happiness again. So if Ben really had died, he’d have wanted her to find happiness again.
At any rate, the theme of this week’s episode was “Sometimes you have to shoot an obstacle in the back, and that’s okay.” What do you mean, it wasn’t? Okay, fiiiiiiiine. It was about accepting mistakes and forgiving the people we love. Which sometimes includes ourselves. And sometimes you just have to shoot an obstacle in the back. (Write that down, Ben. Sometimes shanking a guy is cosmically the Right Thing To Do.)
I have no doubt Ben will understand why Addison moved on. Eventually. After he goes through his own process with grief, regret, and maybe even guilt. I have no doubt that he genuinely wants her to be happy. And, realistically, he may never find his way home. Would he really want her to hold onto his ghost forever? I don’t think so. Naturally, none of that makes the pain of (temporarily) losing Addison better. Particularly since he doesn’t have the benefit of time, as Addison does. For her, three years passed. But he thought he was coming home a few hours ago, so he has to feel like he lost everything in a blink.
Making things worse – for Ben, at least – is that he can’t move on after losing Addison. Even if he’d experienced the same passage of time. When you don’t know what decade you’ll be in tomorrow, you can’t exactly build long-lasting ties with someone. And incorporeality makes it hard to sustain a relationship. There’s also the inherent creepiness in pursuing romance when the body you’re in isn’t your own.
Okay, now I’m just making myself sad. Sadder. I’m making myself sadder than this episode already made me. And that’s a lot.
The point is, I don’t blame Addison for moving on. My heart breaks for Ben. For both of them, really. As for my thoughts on Captain Chiseljaw (Peter Gadiot)?
Tom seems like a good guy. Too good, if you know what I mean. If you know me at all, you know how much I love Superman. But even Superman would look at Tom and be like, “This guy just seems a little too nice to be genuine.”
Of course, he’s in an impossible situation. And I certainly wouldn’t want him to try to stop Addison from working with the team. But if you’re in a relationship with someone, their formerly-presumed-dead ex re-emerges, and they tell you that they need to work alongside said ex-only-because-they-were-presumed-dead, you’re going to have some reservations, at the very least. You’re going to need some time to grapple with some conflicting feelings.
In TV land, the typical trope would be for Tom to actually be evil. Secretly working to undermine the Quantum Leap project for his own nefarious purposes. His entire relationship with Addison having been a ruse. Or Tom would be on the up-and-up but die tragically once his role as “obstacle between Ben and Addison” was fulfilled.
I don’t see Quantum Leap going quite so far as the former. And if Tom is genuinely as good as he seemed, the latter will just be a bummer. So maybe there’s a third option. Addison and Tom agree they just don’t work as a couple, and Jenn sweeps the newly single member of the team off his feet.
After spending all day corralling the human equivalent of literal puppies, she deserves a little love, too.
I don’t always delve into the Leap of the Week in reviews. Although they’re obviously a major focus in episodes, I often want to focus more on episode themes, theories, and – yes – my emotional reaction.
However, I would be remiss not to mention just how good this episode was as a whole. The Leap of the Week was particularly engaging this episode, with the perfect amount of tension, drama, and Pilates. Yeah, there were some serious flaws in the planning of the robbery. Most notably, choosing not to wear a mask when robbing a bank where your sibling works isn’t the best way to avoid detection and capture. But if criminals always thought out their crimes in detail in real life, we wouldn’t have as many weird crime stories as we do.
If Quantum Leap 2×02, “Ben & Teller” is anything to go by, the second season of one of my favorite shows intends to take no prisoners. (Was that a pun? It kinda felt like it was a pun.) So buckle up, fellow fans. I have a feeling it’s only going to get more painful from here.