Maybe it’s because it’s fun to explore different eras; maybe it’s because Ben (Raymond Lee) is the only man in recent history to pull off a fedora without looking like a Nice Guy, but I always think of Quantum Leap as exploring historical rather than contemporary time periods. So you can imagine how ancient I feel every time the series is set during an event I was, you know, alive for. And vividly remember. As happens in Quantum Leap 2×05 “One Night in Koreatown,” which is set during the 1992 LA Riots.
I was a teenager. I’m a dinosaur, guys. Practically decrepit. But I’m going to push all that aside and focus on…oh, right…the review.
A Touch of Magic
I’m sure everyone knows how I feel about the separation of Ben and Addison (Caitlin Bassett). I won’t go into that
again now. (I’ll wait until later in the review.) However, if my heartbreak has a silver lining, it’s that this separation gives other characters a chance to take a spin as a Ben’s hologram. Everyone’s dynamic with Ben is different, and it’s fun to be able to explore these different relationships.
This week, it’s Magic’s (Ernie Hudson) turn. I don’t know it’s possible to ever give any character enough love in my reviews. Every one of them deserves all the love they can get. But Magic definitely deserves all the love he can get. And seeing him as Ben’s hologram allows the audience to see him outside of his comfort zone.
The leap isn’t easy for Magic, due to events from his own past. However, I wonder if we’ll see that being a hologram takes an even harder toll – not just on Magic but on the rest of the team.
Everyone on the team cares. Even if they like to pretend they don’t. They all feel a need to help – not just Ben, but the people Ben is trying to save. Naturally, they struggle when Ben needs help and their incorporeality means they’re limited in what they can do. But it’s even worse when someone else needs help. Someone who can’t even hear them. And they find they’re even more helpless. As Magic was this episode.
Ben may be doing the heavy lifting. But being his hologram comes with its own challenges.
A Heavy Toll
Another silver lining in this storyline that’s broken my heart is the ability to see the price the other members of the team paid when everyone thought Ben had been lost forever. Addison may have felt the greatest loss in some ways. But they all loved – love – Ben. They would all have mourned his “death.” They would all have felt guilt over not being able to bring him home. And that grief would have taken its toll on all of them.
Magic is the “team dad,” in a sense. That can be a double-edged sword. He provides them support and guidance. But he also carries a weight of responsibility greater than the others. So it’s unsurprising that he would carry not just grief but a sense of guilt over losing Ben.
In the intervening three years since the first season finale, Magic became an alcoholic. It’s a demon that he’s going to have to battle for the rest of his life, regardless of whether Ben ever returns to the present. Fortunately for him, he doesn’t have to battle alone. He has the team. And he has Beth (Susan Diol). Which is a twist I did not see coming. But, hey, if anyone deserves a little love, it’s these two.
Of course, the fact that Addison is (temporarily) not acting as Ben’s hologram means she’s got a lot more free time on her hands. To perhaps fill another void on the team. Like helping Ian (Mason Alexander Park) and Jenn (Nanrisa Lee) figure out what’s going on with Ziggy. Or…and I’m just offering up a suggestion here…figuring out what Tom (Peter Gadiot) is really up to. Because – and I’m sure this will come as a shock to exactly nobody – I don’t trust him.
Yes, it’s theory time.
It’s not just because I’m a shipper. Tom seems a little too good to be true. And, granted, if there’s ever been a show where “too good to be true” isn’t a thing, it’s Quantum Leap. Ben himself is arguably too good to be true.
But Tom isn’t Ben. What Tom (seemingly) wants is in direct opposition to what would make Ben and Addison happiest. Which is to be together. Even assuming Tom is as good as he seems, in a contest between wanting Tom to be happy and wanting Ben and Addison to be happy? Well…it really is no contest.
Plus, there’s just such an easy set-up for Tom to be Secretly Evil. Or at least Secretly With A Ulterior Motive. It could be a pure ulterior motive, not an evil one. Like…maybe getting his wife back? (Assuming he didn’t kill her. Yes, yes, I know. But the writers could tell me he spends his free time on the weekends saving puppies from burning buildings, and I’d ask if he was setting those fires to appear the hero. Maybe that’s shipper bias, but I’ll own up to it.)
Maybe Tom isn’t what he seems. Maybe the breakup isn’t what it seems, and Addison has an ulterior motive to supposedly “move on.” In some way, doing it to protect Ben? There are a lot of maybes out there, and it’s entirely possible this storyline is exactly as it seems. But where’s the fun in assuming that?
As much as it hurts as a fan to have my heart broken by story choices, that’s pretty much the name of the game. I get emotionally invested in what happens because I love the show so much. As a shipper, I don’t love that Ben and Addison broke up. As a viewer – and a fan – I get why the writers would make that choice.
But that also opens the door to speculate about how everything will become Right With the World in the end. How do the writers get these two back together? How do they show that Addison’s love for Ben is as strong as his is for her? (Given how much Ben risked and sacrificed from love for her, three years may have felt too soon for her to move on to some.) How do they show that this ship is stronger than three years, a presumed death, and Tom?
Quantum Leap 2×05 “One Night In Koreatown” may have left Ben and Addison in a bad, limbo-ish place. But if there’s ever been a show that gives me confidence they’ll find a way to bring back my happy ending, it’s this one. That’s pretty much this show’s entire raison d’être. Trying to figure out how they’re going to get there? That’s the fun part of being a fan.