Poor Ben. He’s now on his third leap after he was supposed to go home, and it ain’t easy trying to process everything that happened while trying to save a team of airmen in enemy territory, or negotiate a bank robbery before tragedy strikes. At least this time, he isn’t in imminent danger, with life-or-death stakes demanding his attention. After leaping into a 1940s UFO investigator, Ben — and the audience — finally has a moment to process what’s going on. And what’s going on is a big fat spoiler if you haven’t watched the first two episodes yet, so this is your chance to turn away. Review to commence after this photo of the Quantum Leap panel at WonderCon.
Addison has stepped back into the imaging chamber — a hairy emotional situation since three years have passed for her, but only a matter of days for Ben. He thought he was going to leap home and be reunited with his fiancée. She spent years mourning him and eventually moved on. Addison has been seeing someone else for eight months now, and Ben is admirably accepting of this. In fact, he seems a bit too calm…
The mission at hand is less urgent than the previous two. Ben isn’t in imminent danger — rather, he’s been tasked with investigating a teenager’s claim to have been run off the road by a UFO. The accident put the girl’s best friend in a coma, and in the original timeline, the friend dies and, without any way to prove it was anything but reckless driving, the girl is convicted of manslaughter. Compounding the problem is the fact that the friend’s father owns half the town and is out for blood. The girl’s grandfather is the local sheriff, and he’ll do anything to protect his one surviving family member.
But as Ben begins poking around, it becomes clear that the news of the time jump and Addison’s new relationship has affected his behavior. He becomes uncharacteristically reckless and impulsive, lashing out because he has nowhere to place his anger. One gets the sense that he’s too decent a person to place any blame on Addison, and yet a deep down, a secret part of him — a part he dislikes and wants to suppress — blames her nonetheless. And who can blame him? From his point of view, they were engaged mere days ago and never even broke up. And now he must accept the fact that he has lost her, while still working with her to save a teenager’s future.
“Closure Encounters” sends Ben on a sci-fi-style adventure whose plot stretches credulity a bit and borders on cliché and even predictable. Nevertheless, the execution keeps things entertaining. Quantum Leap‘s strength since the beginning of season one has been creating characters sympathetic enough for you to care about, so you care what happens even if the plot is a little thin. I mean, who wouldn’t sympathize with a tough-as-nails but soft-for-his-granddaughter old sheriff? Or a terrified, wide-eyed teenaged girl who must be saved from an unjust fate?
The true point of the episode, though, is Ben and Addison dealing with the emotions around their new relationship as exes. Now, it’s Ben’s turn to mourn. It does seem interesting that he’s suddenly single, though. Sam Beckett was notorious for bedding beautiful women in the past (a questionable practice considering they thought he was someone else, and that someone else was watching from the retconned-into-oblivion Waiting Room). Will Ben’s new status free him to romance other characters? There do seem to be hints that a certain comely guest star, with whom Ben develops a rapport beyond what was necessary for the leap, may reappear…
This season so far, it feels like the show has mastered the balance between past and present, with even doses of Ben’s-adventure-in-the-past and what’s-going-on-at-HQ. The result is another solid episode that succeeds in presenting a self-contained story for the leap while advancing overall character arcs… and setting up whatever this season’s Big Plot will be.