The new Quantum Leap sequel debuted on NBC two weeks ago. I was prepared not to like it, though recently, I've very much enjoyed the sequel of The Man Who Fell to Earth on Showtime, and, for that matter, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds on Paramount Plus. And turns out I did enjoy this first episode of the new Quantum Leap, for all kinds of reasons, which I'll tell you about after I warn you about spoilers ahead.
[In case you missed that: Spoilers ahead ...]
First, I very much like the way this new Quantum Leap handled its connection to the original Quantum Leap, on NBC from 1989 through 1993. We learn that Sam, the original leaper, never returned from his last mission. This leaves open the possibility that he could return in some way before this rebooted series concludes. I predict that we'll see Sam again, older and played by Scott Bakula, in the final episode of this season (even though Scott Bakula himself says we won't see Sam again). We also learn that Al, played by Dean Stockwell, passed away last year -- a nice homage to Dean Stockwell, who also left us last year, and who also received a nice dedication at the end of this episode. Also worth mentioning is that Al's daughter is wearing his ring, which means she'll no doubt play a role in the new series.
Next, I think Raymond Lee's Dr. Ben Song is a good time traveler, offering an effective balance of physicist smarts, wisecracking, and even willingness to throw a punch, which of course hurts his hand. Likewise his fiance, Kaitlin Bassett's Addison, whose hologram more or less accompanies Ben on his jaunts. That job was done by Al in the original series, who was pretty much the only other major character in the original. The 2022 series has expanded the team, and that looks like it'll work well, too.
Of course, everything in Quantum Leap depends on where in the past the time traveler lands -- in whose body the traveler finds himself -- and what the traveler needs to do. In the original series, the best episode was the double episode in the final Season Five, in which Sam leaps into the body of Lee Harvey Oswald. I'm hoping we get a least one such cosmically important story in the new season. In the meantime, I'll look forward to all the twists and turns this unique kind of time travel can bring us in the new series.
Even with the original series, I usually was more interested in the overarching story than the individual narratives recounting Sam's historical saves. The new Quantum Leap, now three episodes in, is shaping up the same way. In fact, though the astronaut and boxer stories in 1.2 and 1.3 were quite good, the central narrative, the connective tissue, has gotten a lot more interesting in at least two ways:
1. Ben is going further into the past, earlier than when he was born, by bouncing off the times he visits and using that boomerang energy. He and we still don't know what his ultimate goal is.
2. In fact, we learn in 1.3 that Al's daughter Janis may have set all of this -- Quantum Leap (2022) -- into motion. That moves the ultimate goal we need to know from Ben's to Janis's.
Let's look at this a little closer. We still don't know if Ben and Janis are collaborating on this, if Janis is using Ben, or if someone else we may or may not have met yet (likely not) is using both of them. And, for what end? The likely answer is somehow tied to Sam's disappearance, which makes me think even more that we'll be seeing Sam again before this new incarnation is concluded, which I certainly hope takes a lot longer than just this season.
Addison has already become the most important character in Ben's journey, whatever exactly that is. Episode 1.3 addressed the important issue of her getting physically exhausted back in the present as her hologram supports Ben in his various pasts and seeks to save him from the errors he inevitably makes. I wouldn't be surprised if the team in the present considers the pros and cons of her actually physically accompanying Ben on his trips. The pros of the hologram are she can't be hurt in the past, and can't be seen. But the big pro of her actually being there with Ben is that she'd be there regardless of how much her holographic connection to the present wavers. Of course, it's not clear if and when it will be possible to send Addison back to the past, let alone in a way that allows her to accompany Ben.
Meanwhile, we also learn at the end of 1.3 that Janis may be planning on joining Ben -- why else would she take her father's equipment? This again raises the question of to what extent Ben and Janis were working together before his jaunts to past began.
Lots of possibilities already in motion in the new Quantum Leap, and I'm looking forward to seeing where they lead.