Poor Ben. After last week’s episode, he thought he was going to leap back home to 2022. But it’s no spoiler to say that wish won’t come true any time soon (I mean, the number of scenes hinted at in the poster alone make it clear that it’ll take more than 2 leaps to finish his journey). Instead, Dr. Ben Song (Raymond Lee) finds himself in a boxing ring… with a boxing glove coming right at his face. Welcome to the third episode, “Somebody Up There Likes Ben.”
Thanks to some conveniently placed posters, Ben has an easier time figuring out whose life he’s leaped into this time: that of a 1970s boxer named Danny Hill (Jermaine Alverez Martin) who’s supposed to fight for the title the next day. Here’s the weird thing: Ben wasn’t yet born in 1977, which means he has broken one of the parameters of leaping and gone outside his lifetime.
In the original timeline, Danny got distracted and lost his big fight, and his career never recovered. Ben is sure he’s here to change that… but what was Danny so distracted about? At first glance, it seems to be his romance with Angela (Danielle Larracuente), and Danny’s brother / coach, Daryl (Jon Chaffin), himself a former boxer, is certainly concerned that might be the case. But of course, this is Quantum Leap, and the situation is never as simple as it appears.
Meanwhile, back in 2022, Addison (Caitlin Bassett) is running herself ragged trying to figure out what Ben’s supposed to do to leap again, and also worrying about the mystery surrounding why he leaped in the first place. One of the biggest differences between the new Quantum Leap and the original is the heavy focus on the present. Whereas the original treated the adventure in the past as pretty much the entire story, with moments in the present largely incidental, 2022’s Quantum Leap makes the present just as important.
While this episode has no shortage of plot, both in the past and the present, it takes the time to delve into the emotional lives of the characters in both time periods. The original show had plenty of heartfelt moments in the past as Sam Beckett used therapeutic words to encourage people onto better paths. And Ben Song proves up to the task as he learns more about Daryl and how he’s supposed to change things for the better. But whereas in the original, it was easy to forget about people in the present (other than Al, of course), the 2022 show reminds us that the present-day characters are human too, and they’re going through immense amounts of stress as they try to figure out why Ben (who still can’t remember anything) hijacked the program in the first place, in addition to how to get him back.
While it’s impossible not to compare the original and the 2022 shows—I mean, they have the same title and everything—it’s also worth remembering that 2022 Quantum Leap is, in fact, a new show, and I, for one, am glad that they’re trying something new while also keeping the spirit of the original alive. A million words have been written about how much people miss Scott Bakula, to which I would say: Then go rewatch the original. Ben Song is not Sam Beckett, and that’s intentional. This isn’t a remake; they didn’t recast Sam. They introduced a new character, one who manages to embody the good-hearted spirit that made Sam such an appealing protagonist while bringing new dimensions to the story.
With three episodes in the bag and a fourth promising to be our first gender-bending escapade of the new show (as Ben comes to in a bar as a beautiful woman with a creep hitting on her), 2022’s Quantum Leap is off to a promising start, and I, for one, am excited to see where it goes next.