One of the biggest shifts in tone between the current iteration of Quantum Leap and the 1989 original is the unrelenting spotlight on the characters’ emotions. At its best, the current show delivers some truly powerful emotional moments, really digging into the characters’ feelings and letting the actors and writers show off how well they can tug at your heartstrings. At its worst, it just kind of gets tiresome, and everyone starts feeling a bit whiny.
If you’ve been falling my Season 2 reviews of this show, then you can probably tell by now that I’m not a big fan of the Ben-Hannah romance storyline. It’s rushed, it’s shallow, and it stubbornly refuses to address matters of consent when Ben is in someone else’s body. But I’m tired of harping on that.
So I was actually quite glad when Episode 209, “Off the Cuff,” chose to focus more on Ben’s latest adventure, at least for the first half (even though Ben himself keeps obsessing over Hannah). Ben has leaped into an ex-cop-turned-bounty-hunter who already has his latest quarry, a sleazy lawyer with shady clients, including a dangerous arms dealer. Problem is, the lawyer, Kevin, has also double-crossed said arms dealer, and in the original timeline, he escapes jail only to be horrifically tortured and killed. So Ben’s job is to deliver him safely to jail.
Kevin, though, doesn’t make things easy. Not only does he keep trying to escape or bribe his way out of the situation, but he’s incredibly obnoxious, promoting a philosophy he calls “radical selfishness.” Truly, he tries Ben’s (and the audience’s) patience. I did enjoy how the show made fun of its own formula, when Ben wonders aloud whether the person he’s supposed to help this time has any redeeming traits. We’re treated to some fun action sequences as Ben and Kevin dodge the bad guys, and I was like, “Yes, please, this is the show I’m here for!”
Except then he has to go all gooey-eyed over Hannah again, and it’s seriously tiresome (and I’m usually a romance fan!). Makes me want to put on my Regina George voice and say to the writers, “Stop trying to make Hannah happen! She’s not gonna happen!”
Meanwhile, Addison is wrestling with her own feelings, over seeing Ben fall in love with another woman while trying to figure out where she stands with Tom. And then there’s the mysterious clue that Tom dropped about a possible way to bring Ben back.
Look, I’m glad that the show is trying to give the characters emotional depth, but this week’s episode was a bridge too far in my opinion. All the romance stuff felt distracting (and, after weeks and weeks of non-stop moping from both Ben and Addison, downright whiny) from what was otherwise a pretty sharp action-adventure episode. I wonder if the show is suffering from its season length; maybe if it had 26 episodes to fill, instead of just 18, it could space out the romantic crap a bit more, with a few episodes where it doesn’t feature in between.
As it is, I groan each time Hannah shows up (no offense to the actress). Based on where the episode left off, we aren’t rid of her yet, and based on how the season trajectory seems to be going, we probably won’t be rid of her until the end. Which means I’ve got to slog through 8 more episodes of this nonsense… God I hope at least 2 or 3 of them have no Hannah at all. Because my patience for that character and the related storyline is gone, and I could use a week where we go back to worrying more about changing history for the better than Ben’s lonely heart.
3.5 / 5 stars – The action stuff was really quite good!