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Quantum Leap: Ben Attempts to Prevent Nuclear Disaster in a Time Loop Episode

Review of the season's eleventh episode, "Leap. Die. Repeat."

Robert Picardo as Dr. Edwin Woolsey, Highdee Kuan as Mallory Yang, Mike Wade as Moe Murphy, Raymond Lee as Dr. Ben Song, Joseph Dinicol as Eugene H Wagner (Photo by Ron Batzdorff / NBC)

A colonel, a Nobel-prize-winning physicist, his young assistant, a journalist, and a janitor walk into a nuclear reactor control room in the early 1960s… and they all die in a horrific explosion that’s covered up by the U.S. government. Oh, and one of them is actually Dr. Ben Song, who has leaped into the scene to try to prevent the tragedy.

Ben as the colonel in a nuclear reactor control room
Raymond Lee as Dr. Ben Song (Photo by Ron Batzdorff / NBC)

Except he fails—first as the colonel, and then as the other individuals in that room. Over and over, he relives the scene leading up to the explosion, each time trying to find out what caused it, and how to stop it.

Raymond Lee as Dr. Ben Song, Caitlin Bassett as Addison, and Highdee Kuan as Mallory Yang (Photo by Ron Batzdorff / NBC)

In the eleventh episode of its debut season, Quantum Leap shakes up its usual format by throwing Ben into a time loop, which greatly confuses the team back in 2023. So desperate are they for an answer that they turn to an outside expert on the phenomenon, who also happens to be the season’s primary antagonist: Janis Calavicci.

Ernie Hudson as Magic, Georgina Reilly as Janis Calavicci (Photo by Ron Batzdorff / NBC)

For the first time, Quantum Leap‘s dual plot lines, in the present and the past that Ben has leaped into, are directly connected. The team back home scrambles for clues while Ben investigates the reactor and the people in that control room. It’s a tense and emotional episode, with Addison facing the possibility of losing Ben forever and the team having to work with a person who they (very understandably) don’t trust.

Beyond the attempts to stop the nuclear disaster and break the loop, the episode teases at upcoming reveals around why Ben leaped in the first place and just what Janis is hiding. Raymond Lee indicated in a press tour that the many questions the sci-fi mystery has raised “will all be answered by the end of Season 1,” and a scene late in the episode hints that some of those answers may be coming soon.

Caitlin Basset as Addison and Raymond Lee as Dr. Ben Song (Photo by Ron Batzdorff / NBC)

The season seems to be pacing its reveals, with several plot threads from earlier this season still dangling, including the motivations behind Leaper X (who hasn’t been mentioned in a little bit), and, of course, why Ben couldn’t trust any of his teammates with the truth behind his leap and turned to Janis instead. With eight episodes left in the season, there’s still time for these threads to tie together, and it is likely the pace of the reveals will accelerate as the show builds up to its finale.

Though “Leap. Die. Repeat.” doesn’t offer a lot of answers, with the focus being primarily on resolving Ben’s immediate, life-threatening dilemma, it introduces a new wrinkle in the form of a time loop (that Janis happens to be the foremost expert on—coincidence or conspiracy?). Between that, the previous episode to the Old West, and the notion of leaping toward a particular time in the future that seems to be Ben’s overarching goal, Quantum Leap is pushing the boundaries of the original show’s format, and since it has been renewed for a second season, is likely to continue doing so.

Quantum Leap airs on NBC at 10:00 PM EST and streams on Peacock.

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