Another episode of Quantum Leap; another chance for this show to break our hearts. And, boy, does Quantum Leap 2×04 “The Lonely Hearts Club” deliver. The writers know they have to cut us some slack eventually, right? Surely there are only so many times they can break our hearts each week. Right? Right???
This week’s episode takes Ben (Raymond Lee) on a quest to help one of his favorite actors, Neal Russell (Tim Matheson). Tim’s a nearly-washed-up actor who’s trying to revitalize his career. Ostensibly. But he gets distracted in trying to win back his ex-wife, before she gets married to someone else.
It’s a mission that hits a little too close to home for Ben, making him unwilling at first to see that reuniting lovers isn’t actually his purpose. Instead, he’s supposed to be reuniting father and estranged daughter.
But can you blame him for being a bit myopic on this issue? Putting this as the next mission in his path was almost cosmically cruel. He’s still mourning the loss of his (ex-) fiancee, Addison (Caitlin Bassett). Which is to say, he’s lost her as his fiancee. She is still very much in his life, acting as his hologram. Until the end of the episode, which he decides he can’t really have her be that for him anymore. At least not for a while.
And, honestly, it pretty much had to happen. Trying to hold on to their relationship as Leaper/Hologram really begged the question of whether either of these people had ever had a breakup before. Because anyone who’s ever been through a breakup knows, you can’t go from “you’re the love of my life” to “we’re besties and it’s all totally fine” overnight. Breaking up and remaining friends/coworkers/guides through time and space itself can work out. Eventually. After some time – and healing – has passed. But it can’t happen right away, and trying to hold on too hard to what used to be just hurts more.
So I don’t blame Ben for deciding he needs a break from Addison for a while. Choosing otherwise was just hurting both of them, really. But that doesn’t mean this choice didn’t hurt me.
Which really brings us to my biggest concern with Quantum Leap this season. Though mine isn’t the only concern at hand this week, after Ian (Mason Alexander Park) realizes someone’s getting their hands on Ziggy. Again. You’re a top-secret government project, guys! You really need to get a handle on this! (Also, as an aside? Ian. My precious cinnamon roll. When you do discover there has been a breach of the system? You really need to tell Jenn (Nanrisa Lee) immediately. She’s your head of security for a reason! Come on, now!) For what point and purpose? Nobody knows. But it’s a good bet it’s not going to end up being a good thing for anybody.
Now, onto my concerns. Which are, of course, shipping related. (I do care about other things in this show. Promise. But you have to cut my shipping heart a little break here, okay?)
Yes, I’m Talking About Shipping
I understand why Addison moved on after Ben “died.” I understand why Ben isn’t taking it well. I even understand why she didn’t immediately dump Too-Good-To-Not-Be-A-Villain Tom (Peter Gadiot) the second they realized Ben was still alive. (Incidentally, I see you trying to make him sympathetic by making him a widow, writers. That doesn’t convince me he didn’t kill her.)
Dumping Tom like a bad habit would make it seem like she’d just been using him to work through her grief over Ben. Or making him a Ben stand-in. Either way, it would probably not be a very admirable thing to do. (That said, remember what I said about how it might sometimes be cosmically okay to shoot an obstacle in the back, Ben. You know. For no particular reason.)
But all of this does feed into my growing concern of just how the writers write their way out of this. Because, in the context of the show, Ben and Addison are supposed to be It for each other. They’re the show’s OTP. And while their relationship might be under some fairly unique challenges at the moment, my usual concerns about love triangles still applies.
The problem with introducing a love triangle (or this kind of conflict) to an OTP is that it really can undermine the central message that these two
idiots lovebirds are meant to be together. That their relationship will one day (if not today) be able to withstand any challenge that comes its way. Which is huge when it comes to shipping an OTP. It’s really hard as a shipper to believe that your ship will stand stronger than space, time, and cosmic purposes when it can’t even withstand the presence of Gary from the local coffee shop.
Ben and Addison’s connection was a huge deal in the first season of the show. It’s the whole reason Ben went on this journey to begin with. It was a huge point of drama that he might have put it at risk by messing up their first date in the first season finale. So how is the show going to make us believe that they can still withstand anything when, right now, it can’t even withstand Tom?
Don’t get me wrong. I have faith in the show. Even in the wake of Quantum Leap 2×04 “The Lonely Hearts Club.” I’m going to give them a chance to prove my concerns wrong. And I’ll hope for a shipping moment that not only puts my fears to rest but cements these two as the unshakable OTP I saw them to be throughout all last season. A moment for the record books, that makes it clear that nothing will ever get between them for long. (Including your theory of self sacrifice Tom, so shut up, okay???).
No pressure, writers.