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Will Ben Ever Come Home? Inside That New Quantum Leap Theory
In this week's Quantum Leap, a new theory about the very nature of Sam and Ben's leaping is considered. How likely is it to be true?
Spoilers ahead for Episode 4 of NBC's Quantum Leap Season 2!
This week's Quantum Leap episode, "The Lonely Hearts Club," put Ben (Raymond Lee) and Addison (Caitlin Bassett) through the emotional wringer as the formerly engaged couple confronted the hurt, betrayal and disappointment of their relationship ending after he disappeared for three years, and Addison moved on thinking Ben was dead.
In helping beloved actor Neil Russell (Tim Matheson) through his own crisis of the heart on this leap mission, Ben is forced to look at this heartbreaking situation not just from a place of his hurt and presumptions, but from Addison's perspective. She's just as passionate about how hard it was to move on, give his eulogy and come to grips with his choice to leap and leave her first. They come to a place of mutual understanding, but Ben also needs his own time to move on and asks that she not be his hologram anymore.
Tom Westfall's Outsider Observations on the Quantum Leap Project
Not only did the episode allow Ben and Addison to get real with one another but it also formally restarted the Quantum Leap project with U.S. Army Intelligence Officer, Tom Westfall (Peter Gadiot), placed in charge as a member of the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit. He reiterated to the team his intention is to make sure the project is never shut down again, and to relay to his bosses just how noble and inspiring the Quantum Leap project is to those who allocate funds and resources to it.
He quickly proves that's not just lip service as he digs into all areas of the program that could become funding red flags, including an increase in energy spikes that flare up when Ben leaps. The increase is abnormally large compared to Ben's leaps three years ago, so he tasks Ian (Mason Alexander Park) to investigate what might be happening. Being cost efficient will help them stay off any cost-cutter radars.
Are Sam and Ben destined to stay lost in time forever?
As Tom observes the operations, he eventually comes to Magic (Ernie Hudson) with a new big picture theory. Having reviewed the records from the first iteration of the Quantum Leap project, when Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) felt compelled to enter the project accelerator so it wasn't shut down due to "lack of progress," Tom wonders if there's an inherent element of self-sacrifice that mandates any leaper is never meant to return?
Tom theorizes with Magic that when Sam never returned and everyone assumed he was dead, those left behind figured that something went wrong. The same thing happened to Ben for three years until Ian's clandestine scanning found him once again. Tom wonders if the "something wrong" theory is what's actually wrong? Both Tom and Magic agree that the science hasn't gotten any clearer between Sam's time to Ben's time that "X number of leaps" will translate to success in the mission. Thus, Tom wonders if the engine for the entire project is sacrifice itself?
In Sam's case, it was to save all the years, time and effort put into the project to prove its viability. Beckett made the ultimate sacrifice for his team to put himself in the accelerator and then subsequently prove their data was correct and worthwhile in pursuing. For Ben, it was to save Addison's life from Martinez (Leaper X).
Tom's theory is a bit tragic for the unknowing Leaper and their families. But it is a pure example of a selfless act, and if that's what it takes to make Leaping even possible then that's something Tom can take to D.C. with him to prove the long-term worth of the project.
A worthy theory or is there something more nefarious out there?
At face value, Tom's theory is entirely plausible. But let's take into account that while Tom seems like the perfect new partner for Addison, and a very altruistic guy, it would be a human response to be jealous, or worry that the person you love, when faced with an old love, might be tempted to go back. Tom's theory is pretty cut and dry way and doesn't leave a lot of room for the team to look for other answers. Accepting that leaping is a "one-way trip" would be a tidy outcome for Tom to keep Addison, and to further assuage her guilt.
It also plays into concepts introduced in the original Quantum Leap series, which flirted with the idea of "God" or some grand design leading Sam's leaps, and came to a head in the series finale where he met up with a mysterious figure in a bar that seemed to exist outside of time itself. Is there a grander purpose driving this all?
What's up with the power surges on Quantum Leap?
Oh, and what about those power surges? Turns out Ian has reconnected with their old partner Rachel, and once they are tasked by Tom to figure out the power surges, they make an off-site meeting with her. It's revealed that Rachel's old boss was the one who made the quantum chip and it looks like every recent leap is making the chip instigate a direct connection to that lab.
If Rachel's boss is monitoring all of Ben's leaps and gathering valuable data, or something else more disturbing, the whole program could be in jeopardy. If not only because of the security breach, but also if they pull the chip, no one makes a processor that powerful so they could lose Ben forever. You have to wonder if something bigger is going on with rival labs, rogue Pentagon agents, or something even more mysterious...like a Hannah Carson (Eliza Taylor) reappearance? Or perhaps the OG Evil Leapers are set to make a return?