When season one of Quantum Leap ended, its primary arc wrapped up nicely, but a lot of us viewers were left wondering: What are they going to do with season two? The first episode of this season left that question dangling until the very end, and if you haven’t watched it yet, what follows will spoil it. You have been warned. Review to commence beneath this random pic from San Diego Comic Con.
In the final moments of the season two premiere, after poor Ben was left high and dry with nary a hologram nor super-computer in sight, someone from HQ finally showed up: Ian, telling him that three years have passed back home, that Ben was presumed dead after two years of searching, and the Quantum Leap program was shut down a year ago. A disturbed Ben isn’t given any time to process this before he leaps again, this time into an elderly female bank teller in the 1980s.
Brief aside: I appreciate how little of a deal this Quantum Leap makes out of Ben swapping genders and races across leaps… in fact, I think he’s only leaped into one fellow Asian man this entire time. Sam Beckett in the original almost always leaped into a fellow white man, and much ado was made any time that wasn’t the case. The effect of the original was to, perhaps unconsciously, make it seem as if only white men could change the course of history. I suspect the diversity of Ben’s hosts is an intentional rebuttal of that.
Anyway, back to the episode, “Ben & Teller.” About three seconds in, the instant you realize that Ben is a bank teller, you know exactly where this is going… it’s a bank robbery episode. As far as plots go, it’s a pretty straightforward one. Bad guys come in waving guns and demanding cash. Cops arrive and, in the original timeline, things get nasty and people die. Ben must stop this from happening.
The real focus of the episode, it seems, is on re-assembling Team Quantum Leap, which has scattered since the program was shuttered a year before. And dealing with what this means for Ben, from whose perspective no time has passed at all… and Addison, who spent three years first searching for and then grieving for him.
Yet the bank robbery scenario, despite being a not-particularly-original one, is more compelling than it has any right to be. One reason for this is the mix-up of the usual formula. It’s Ian, not Addison, who’s the hologram. They were the one who found Ben and showed up, while Addison was still off living her new live, and so they’re the one who must help Ben out. Ian stepping into the role of hologram highlights the skill the role takes… Addison always made everything seem so straightforward, knowing when to ask HQ for help and how best to advise Ben. Ian, having been unwittingly thrown into the role, is much less adept. It was a nice way of showing that we shouldn’t take Addison for granted.
And, of course, Quantum Leap has figured out how to make its guest stars incredibly sympathetic, even with a short amount of screen time, injecting pathos into each episode. In “Bank & Teller,” the characters who pull on your heartstrings are a young robber and his guilt-ridden older sister, who’s also the bank’s assistant manager. Too plot convenient? Definitely. Kind of cheesy? Totally. And somehow this episode got me right in the feels. Like I said, it’s better than it has any right to be.
Another place where the feels are big? Back at HQ, where the team is trying to figure out what it means for them now that Ben is back after so much time. And where Addison is trying to process her emotions around seeing Ben return after she’d buried him.
It’s still unclear what the big season arc will be, but right now, the focus is on how everyone’s dealing with the time jump. I actually appreciate the slow burn, which is a stark contrast to last season’s diving head-first into the plot with Ben breaking into the Quantum Accelerator. All the emotional build-up around the characters ensures we’ll care what happens to them when the Big Plot, whatever it may be, is finally revealed.