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Who Is Eliza Taylor's Hannah Carson on Quantum Leap?
Former The 100 actress Eliza Taylor is now a recurring Quantum Leap character, but who is the enigmatic Hannah Carson?
Spoilers ahead for Episode 3 of NBC's Quantum Leap Season 2!
First introduced in the episode, "Closure Encounters," a play on Steven Spielberg's 1977 classic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Hannah Carson is a diner waitress, played by new series regular Eliza Taylor. Initially introduced as a smart and empathetic stranger, Ben ends up contemplating some complex science with her during his leap. She proves to be a kindred spirit when it comes to her curiosity about science and the unknown.
And now she's appeared again in "Secret History," at Princeton University in 1955 where she is enrolled in the very physics program that Ben suggested she seek out before he left her in New Mexico. Six-years later, she's fulfilling all that promise that Ben caught a glimpse of during his 1949 leap. Together, they solve an Albert Einstein-centric mystery which allows Ben find out about Hannah's career dreams and passions, which only endears her more to him. Their adventure culminates in an epic kiss which begs the question: can these time-crossed, old souls figure out how to reconnect during Ben's leaps, on purpose?
The initial sparks that ignite between Ben Song and Hannah Carson
For "Closure Encounters," director Chris Grismer told NBC Insider that if the audience is detecting an underlying spark between the two, they're reading it right. In fact, in an episode full of old school alien imagery and lore, he said that his favorite scenes were the ones where Hannah and Ben just talk in the diner.
"Introducing her relationship with Ben, I just felt so excited," Grismer said. "I loved how they brought out the best in each other and they saw something in each other that no one else had seen. They had a connection that he hadn't felt in a long time. And right when he was feeling so disconnected from his past world, he had someone who he shared a connection with even though they don't come from his time. And he helped point her in the right [career] direction."
At the end of the episode, Ben goes back to speak with Hannah and asks about her high level knowledge about physics and mathematical concepts. She confides that she studied them both, and got a programmer job during the war. But her dream profession dissolved with the end of the war, and she's stuck waitressing. Impressed by her intelligence, Ben alerts her to Professor Yates opening his physics program at Princeton to women, and tells her to "go live the life you want to live." For science geeks, this is as romantic as a Prince Charming moment in any fairy tale.
A repeat encounter in 1955 at Princeton University
In "Secret History," Ben leaps into the body of Princeton University instructor Dr. Henry McCoy who knows Hannah as a brilliant student in the physics department. It gives him the first opportunity to actually reconnect with someone in his leap history, and purposefully get to know Hannah as a scientist and person that he really admires.
Quantum Leap co-showrunner Dean Georgaris told NBC Insider that weaving her into the show's mythology as a repeating character in Ben's post time-jump life has been remarkably easy for their team of writers. "Hannah's story, and where it would fall in the season and how it would grow, is an example of when an idea is a good fit because it's not a massive struggle. They just fit really well together. And we got this incredible, good fortune of getting Eliza to play Hannah."
Who is Hannah Carson on Quantum Leap?
We know Taylor is a recurring character this season, and she's made two appearances so far in Season 2, with one more promised appearance in the midseason finale episode airing December 13. We know she is a brilliant physicist with a major science crush on her hero, "Al" Einstein. Which means quantum entanglements and time travel is now a more concrete path of study to pursue because of Einstein's theories, and Ben's admission to her that he is leaping through time. With Ben's fate now present in her mind, could she possibly be able to "point" Ben to her position in a future leap?
Asked about that theory, actor Raymond Lee told us, "I feel like there would be some part of Ben's brain that would hope that Hannah could piece that together for these chance happenings to happen. But we don't know. However, two brilliant minds working at the same thing, with some sort of a common goal — with hope — can ultimately lead to a positive outcome," he teased.
Where have you seen Eliza Taylor before?
If you're wondering where you've seen actress Eliza Taylor before, genre fans will recognize her as Clarke Griffin in the post-apocalyptic, sci-fi drama, The 100. As Clarke, she had played out a dramatic character arc starting out as a naive, space ship raised teen sent down to Earth to try and repopulate it many decades after nuclear devastation ruined the planet. In the course of seven seasons, Clarke evolved into a fierce leader, a non-traditional mother and ultimately a martyr for the ascension of what's left of the human race.
Taylor also appeared as Doctor Villka in The Orville, and was a regular in 2005 on the popular Australian soap opera, Neighbours.