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That Wild Quantum Leap Season 1 Finale, Explained by a Producer
One of the executive producers behind the new Quantum Leap goes deep on the season finale.
The season finale of NBC’s hit revival of Quantum Leap has wrapped, bringing plenty of answers and still a few questions as we look ahead to Season 2.
NBC Insider caught up with the show's executive producer, Martin Gero, to talk about the season finale, dig into how they crafted the story, and break down the decisions they eventually landed on.
For context: The series stars Raymond Lee as Dr. Ben Song, a time traveler who sets out across various time periods to right wrongs and also save the woman he loves (Addison, played by Caitlin Bassett) from a mysterious threat looming in the future.
The season finale brings it all to a head, revealing the mission that set Ben off in the first place, how it all started, and wrapping up the storyline with a fairly definitive (but not too definitive) ending.
Ian had Ben leap because it's the end of the world
Ben’s penultimate leap takes him to the far-flung future of the 2050s, where he finds Ian (Mason Alexander Park) living in a post-apocalypse with so few people left alive he could barely find someone to have Ben leap into in the first place. He tells Ben the government sent the rogue future leaper Martinez back in time to stop the program then destroyed the time machine in the future. The reason? They blame time travel for the world ending, even though the Quantum Leap project isn’t actually to blame. Basically, they scapegoated time travel for the world’s problems.
“It’s so easy to blame the past for our problems in the present. Regardless of whether that’s true or not, we’re in the present now and this is where we can really solve things for now,” Gero explained. “Quantum Leap is a show about solving problems in the past, making right what once went wrong. Where as there are some global things we need to get on the same page with quickly. If not, I think we’ll blaming ourselves in the past again.”
Martinez’s mission was to kill the entire Quantum Leap team
So what was Martinez’s mission, and why did Ben leap to save Addison’s life? We learn that Martinez’s mission was to kill Addison because she is the leaper in the original timeline that leads to the apocalypse. But more than that, probabilities reveal to Martinez that it’s not just Addison who needs to die to complete his mission. If any member of the current team survives, they’ll keep the project going, so his expanded mission is to kill Ben, Addison, Ian, Jenn (Nanrisa Lee) and Magic (Ernie Hudson).
To do that, Martinez travels to the early days of the revived Quantum Leap project, leaping into project leader Magic in 2018. Ben leaps into is younger self in 2018, and the two face off to try and protect the team and keep the project from being destroyed. As fans of the original Quantum Leap series likely know, original leaper Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) leapt into his younger self a handful of times, which gave the new creative team the precedence to frame their story around the same concept.
“We’re trying to learn from the successes of the first show while we try to make our own take on it, as well. For us, if there’s been a struggle this season, it’s giving the present day stories enough air, so it feels like those characters are getting enough time to develop,” Gero told NBC Insider. “So for us, having Ben leap into his own body solves two problems. One being how do you get into Quantum Leap, one of the most secure buildings in the world, and how do you make a finale that feels like a finale for everyone and not just Ben?”
The whole cast gets in on the time-travel action
The back half of the season also got more of the main cast involved in the time travel action, with more characters like Jenn, Ian, and even Magic in the finale stepping into the imaging chamber to interact with Ben as a hologram. Gero said that was always the end goal when they started, to try and create more connections and chemistry once they had established Ben’s mission. It also served a more practical purpose: giving Bassett an occasional production break, since she’s typically the only character present in both the present day and leap storylines.
It ends on a cliffhanger
So how does Season 1 end? In classic Quantum Leap fashion, it’s a cliffhanger. Where the original series ended with Sam choosing to keep leaping through time and righting wrongs instead of going home, Season 1’s finale is a bit more open-ended. Ben saves the day and finishes his last leap, then the particle accelerator spins up and the team anxiously waits to see if Ben will return home. Then, the screen fades to black, without giving us an answer. Gero said that was obviously a deliberate decision, to leave fans wanting more and making clear there is still more of the story to come in Season 2.
“It’s really important these shows don’t feel all like middle, so each season has a beginning, a middle, and an end,” Gero said. “But we’re lucky enough to know we’re already doing our second season with an early pick-up, so we wanted to close this chapter and move on to the next one. Just to give a hint there is more to come.”
Season 2 is already in the works
For fans wanting more? Don’t worry, it’s coming, Season 2 is already in production. If you want to catch up on the old adventures in the meantime, the entire first season of the new Quantum Leap is streaming now on Peacock. If that’s still not enough, the full five-season run of the original series is also streaming on Peacock.