In the new Quantum Leap‘s first gender-bending episode, “A Decent Proposal,” Dr. Ben Song leaps into the body of a young bounty hunter named Eva, who’s out at a club in 1980s LA. She soon encounters her partner, Jake, and together they take down their latest quarry. And then things get complicated when Jake proposes.
But Addison has no time for any romantic shenanigans. Ziggy is certain that Ben’s purpose is to help one Tammy Jean, who in the original timeline fails to show up to traffic court and vanishes after. She’s awfully adamant that Eva’s personal life is irrelevant, even though Jake is by Eva / Ben’s side the whole time they’re looking for Tammy Jean. And Ben is awfully adamant that it does matter, sometimes to the detriment of the mission he’s supposed to be on.
While Addison has been doing her best this whole time to keep things “just business” as Ben’s hologram and not remind him that she’s his fiancée, Ben has been getting flashbacks to tender moments with an unseen woman… a woman he misses despite not knowing who she is. Which brings us back to: Why did Ben leave her in the first place?
Meanwhile, in 2022, the team is still working on figuring out what made Ben go rogue in the first place, and discovering the answer will require them to divulge more than they may be willing to.
While the show’s fourth episode spends less time in the present than previous ones, the focus on 2022 feels greater. In fact, the actual “episode”—the storyline where Eva must make sure Tammy Jean shows up to traffic court—serves almost as a backdrop to the larger plot arcs at play. The real stakes are emotional and philosophical rather than physical… despite Addison repeatedly reminding Ben that unless he fulfills the mission of finding Tammy Jean, he won’t leap, the tension derives from Ben, as Eva, working with Jake while trying to figure out their relationship. Meanwhile, the ongoing dramatic irony of the audience knowing that Addison is Ben’s fiancée while Ben himself doesn’t continues to grow.
Though Ben is the central figure of the show, Sam Beckett’s presence has loomed since the pilot. The very first thing the show did was remind audiences that Sam was the first to leap and that he never returned, all but ensuring that he would remain at the forefront of audiences’ minds. The episodes since have hinted at connections to the original, but this week’s makes those connections even clearer. Sam is the ghost in every room the characters enter, absent and present at once.
At times it felt like “A Decent Proposal” focused too much on the future—both 2022 and the connections to the 1989 Quantum Leap—at the expense of the past. The actual “leap” seemed almost inconsequential. Still, it was fun to see the colors and sounds of the ’80s.
As for the part where a cis-man leaps into the body of a cis-woman? Apart from the opening scene where Ben deals with a creep at the club and marvels at Eva’s handbag, and Addison throws in a few snarky comments, it’s not really a thing. Eva’s gender doesn’t really play much into the story; one could easily imagine her and Jake’s roles reversing. Which was a relief. Ultimately, Eva is another person Ben leaped into in order to rewrite history for the better, and that’s what really matters.
All in all, “A Decent Proposal” was another solid episode, and fans of the original Quantum Leap truly need not worry about whether the new one will address its predecessor.