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As it turns out, that old adage of "third times the charm" is true when it comes to Dr. Ben Song (Raymond Lee) and Hannah Carson (Eliza Taylor). In the Quantum Leap midseason finale, "Nomad," fate once again brings the star-crossed, science nerds together, this time in Egypt,1961. Visiting the country for an Applied Sciences conference, Hannah is able to see through Ben's latest leap body — a newbie CIA Analyst — to the man inside that she's forged a deep connection with three times, across 12 years of encounters. And Addison (Caitlin Bassett) gets to observe their bond, first-hand, for the first time.
It's an epic episode that features a hard core spying mission set against a politically volatile Egyptian back drop, life or death leap stakes, the deepening of Ben and Hannah's feelings for one another, and Addison's new theory about why the two keep meeting in Ben's seemingly random leaps. From the incredible location shoots in Egypt to hints at what's to come, NBC Insider went right to the source to get the stories behind the episode from showrunner Martin Gero, director Chris Grismer and stars Raymond Lee and Eliza Taylor.
Ben and Hannah: Third Times a Charm
One of the most remarkable, and swoon-worthy, stories of Season 2 has been the recurring connections between Ben Song and scientist-in-the-making, Hannah Carson. Having met in "Closure Encounters," reconnected in "Secret History," this episode, "Nomad" represents a big shift in their flirtation to a mutually admitted love for one another. In particular, Hannah believes that their repeat encounters is a sign that Ben's real home might now be her.
In a recent interview, director Chris Grismer told NBC Insider that getting to chart the progression of their relationship has been one of his favorite things on the series. "Watching them as they go through time, I've really, really enjoyed this 'impossible girl' twist," he shared. "The characters might spend, who knows how long together in their lives, but it's such a powerful link when we watch it on screen. It really came together beautifully, this season. Eliza brought the longing and the star-crossed lover aspect. She really played that up," he said with admiration. "We shot some stuff that I was really, really proud of, and I thought they really knocked it out of the park."
Addison's Theory on Ben and Hannah
Addison's realization that Ben and Hannah are in love hits her pretty hard as she witnesses their chemistry first-hand in her reinstated role as Ben's hologram. After processing the immediate feelings of sadness and surprise, Addison hashes it out with Magic (Ernie Hudson) back at HQ. He gives her the sage advice to be true to life in front of her with Tom (Peter Gadiot), and that gives her the strength to tell Ben she loves him, and supports where his heart is taking him now with Hannah.
It's a big, personal moment for Ben and Addison, but it also pushes further the season long speculation of what Ben's true leaping purpose is: sacrifice or perhaps, love? Ben admits to Hannah that leaping felt like a curse, especially when it meant losing Addison during his three year disappearance. But Hannah convinces him that his leaping is a far nobler pursuit. It has not only brought them together, but it's given him a clearer purpose in determining what leap that reunites them is pointing them towards. Addison posits that this could literally be the reason they keep crossing paths in the time stream: fate itself is bringing them together.
The show's most dramatic locale - Egypt
For two seasons, Quantum Leap's primary production location has been the Universal Studios backlot and the wilds of Los Angeles. So this was quite the adventure for the executive producers and some of the cast to fly halfway around the world to shoot all of the exterior locales for the episode.
"It was massive and huge and such a fun, romantic episode," Gero remembered with a huge smile.
Grismer agreed and added with equal enthusiasm, "Egypt was a dream come true for me."
He said they brought a very small group with them and hit the ground running. "I've shot in other countries, but it feels like anarchy when you get there. And then you're like, 'How are we gonna do this?' We started with a new crew from Egypt. Our producer does this around the world and was very reassuring that we could pull this off. And we did it. We got to shoot in places that no one really is allowed to go, like the base of the Sphinx's face!"
Lee was equally astonished getting to film in the sand next to the ancient pyramids. "I mean, it's ridiculous, right? I have a bucket list of things that I want to do in my life and at the top is witness the Aurora Borealis. Right underneath that is I wanted to go see some real pyramids and I got to do that! And not only did I get to do that, I got to get bored of it," he joked.
He said he tried to remain very present through every take. "You turn around and it's a marvel. You don't know how it got there," he said of the ancient space. "And then some says action, you do your thing and you're like, 'Oh my God, this is insane!' My mind was blown that entire episode. I look back at pictures now and I can't believe that we were there."
Taylor agreed and said it was also a bucket list destination that she never thought she'd get to see, much less for work. "It was so strange," she shared. "I got home and was like, 'Did that actually happen?' It felt like a fever dream, honestly."
Will Ben and Hannah get their happy ending?
That's a big question showrunner Martin Gero said fans will have to see with their own eyes when Quantum Leap returns in 2024. But he promises, there will be a resolution and it will be worthy of Ben and Hannah's connection.
"Our promise to the audience in this version of the show is that we're really treating each season like a book in a series of novels you really like," he teased. "This is a story that will have a conclusion this season. It will be satisfying and full and surprising."
Catch up on all of Season 2 Quantum Leap now streaming on Peacock during the winter break!