Another day, another life saved and another lie revealed. Quantum Leap Episode 2 gave us a delightfully confusing villain in Georgina Reilly’s Janice, who is none other than Al Calavicci’s daughter and a space crisis to solve. Ben thinks he wants to jump home, but his actions before the jump say otherwise. This sequel to the story seems more concerned with the why than the how, and right now this hat makes things a little superficial but could pay huge dividends in the future.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t an undercurrent of sentimentality. Just that, so far, the episodes are about figuring out how to survive each event instead of righting the wrongs. Ben jumped on an astronaut in 1998 who was to die after being hit by space debris during an emergency spacewalk. As Addison navigates the complexities of helping a man who makes her deeply angry and confused, Magic and Jenn search for Janice.
The decision to show us the aftermath of Addison’s discovery of Ben’s message was a wise one. It shows that she is more than a stone-faced contributor. This situation must be unbearable for her. She worries about her fiancé, misses him, deeply hurt by his actions, and doesn’t understand why he would leave her in the dark. Sure, she’ll lash out, but by not showing her rage, she’s not reduced to a stereotypical hysterical woman. Instead, it allows Basset to play it with more nuance.
Not only did Addison lose her love, but this project is like their child. They met on it. What should have been a liaison is instead what tore them apart. It doesn’t help that she actively has to keep Ben from remembering too much lest whatever drove him to do this insane thing will corrupt the docile person they are currently working with. So, for most of Quantum Leap Episode 2, Addison has to lie to both Ben and some of his team.
That’s a lot to handle for someone who is still in shock. When Ben asks her why she’s trying to keep him from remembering and about the ring on her finger, it’s heartbreaking. This Ben is sweet and understanding but doesn’t know her. The Ben who left her behind seemed to love her, but what if he wasn’t the good guy he appeared to be? It might be even more interesting for old Ben to have murky motives and new Ben to be innocent and pure. Similar to how Angel was used in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and later spin-off Angel.
Allowing a character to have two opposing sides that largely ignore each other makes television emotionally resonant. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house when Angel walked away from the brooding hero we loved and the monster he was before his soul. Ben could be cut from a similar mold, and maybe the new, cleaned up version is the best. Much has already been said about Ben’s ability to hold the band together. Seen from another angle, he could be shrewdly manipulative. If so, Addison should be careful what she wishes for.
A rather stark parallel between Ben’s new jump and his real life reminds us that the past should help us grow but not stifle our freedom. At this point, we don’t know what Ben’s case is. Janice seems rooted in the past, but why Ben took this crazy chance we don’t know yet. Quantum Leap Episode 2 continued the fast-save trend of the week, making room (pun intended) for the questions that matter most. A space shuttle with compromised heat shields and low oxygen was less important than group dynamics in 2022. A handful of cute CGI sets, a laughable tour de force, and a sleepy Russian cosmonaut later, Ben and David are in security. In typical Quantum Leap fashion, Addison and Ben solved the problem, saved the day, and lived to jump again.
The group must trust each other and work together. Fortunately, at the end of Quantum Leap Episode 2, they all realize this and share information. Everything that happened with Sam, Al and the rest of his family left a mark. Al’s wife, Bev, who was fun to see, and Janice don’t trust the government. Why? Are they right to keep their secrets? Is Janice delusional and troubled and putting Ben in over her head? The unlocked hard drive, thanks to the flash drive encryption key found by Addison, indicates that Ben and Janice were looking for a specific place in time.
Playing with the past has consequences, however. Ben must save the life of the person he jumps into and, by proxy, his own, but sometimes those good deeds do damage. This new angle is interesting. We’ve seen it a thousand times in everything from The Butterfly Effect to Primer. But just because we’ve seen it multiple times doesn’t mean it’s not compelling storytelling. Something about playing with the ripples of fate drives a story. How this factors into Janice and Ben’s decisions we don’t know yet, but I can’t help but think it will be important. Perhaps one of these consequences of Sam’s jumps affected Ben deeply. Maybe Ben has regrets or a trauma he’s trying to erase. If Janice can be believed, which is huge if, Ben came to her and not the other way around. What did he find?
Quantum Leap 2.0 is less concerned with the moral dilemmas of the people they are immersed in. Ben’s jumps are more about just surviving until the next jump. It’s a departure from the original Quantum Leap which frequently showed Sam and Al grappling with heavy questions about racism, sexism, and family. I don’t know how I feel yet. This sequel to the story is certainly intriguing. I want to know why Ben jumped without telling his friends, colleagues or fiancé. What was his endgame? He had to know that they would see what he did immediately. I’m also torn about Janice. On the one hand, she has all the markers of a true big bad. She is driven, erratic, enigmatic and dangerous. On the other, she’s Al’s daughter, and I don’t like her name getting smeared so much.
Al couldn’t hurt my eyes. In part, my nostalgia colored the series, and the character and the late Dean Stockwell recently passed away. Either way, I’m in on the mystery, and Quantum Leap Episode 2 gave us some tantalizing nuggets to chew on without really telling us anything like all good puzzle box series should. If this updated version of the story can keep the mystery alive while sprinkling in some of the original’s heartfelt life lessons and sentimentality, it could become one of the best of the year. He might also have room to rack up many seasons.
That heart needs to be there, though, and the cast needs some help. He can’t do it all on his own. Screenwriters need to find that balance quickly. Otherwise, it will become just another exploitative ploy seeking to cash in on Gen X’s childhood, but ultimately leaving us cold. There was a reason we liked Sam and Al. I find times where I might like these new characters too.
Raymond Lee (Dr. Ben Song) expresses sweetness despite knowing he took a serious risk and lied to all his friends. Ian (Mason Alexander Park) is charming and funny, Magic (Ernie Hudson) is a strict government man with a wealth of depth going for him, and Jenn (Nanrisa Lee) is so much more than she meets the eye. She’s not just a rigid security spirit. She is a brilliant keeper of the program and has a listening ear if someone spoke to her. Caitlin Bassett’s Addison has the heaviest lift. She is deeply conflicted with what she thought she knew about the man she loved and what is being presented to her every week. However, it is she who fascinates me the most.
Quantum Leap drove the knife into her back a little deeper when she found out who Ben had worked with and was confronted with Ben’s lack of memory of her. Shouldn’t the person you love remember you? If they can remember and accept all the other crazy scientific principles of their time travel life, shouldn’t they at least have a memory of the person they were to marry? Bassett does an admirable job of allowing Addison to maintain her stone-faced professionalism while showing the viewer how painful this is for her.
Quantum Leap Episode 2 confirmed that this series’ version will lean heavily on the emotional wreckage of Ben’s decision. Maybe things will change when the show settles down, but until then the jumps aren’t as big as what’s happening in 2022. As everyone back home tries to piece together what he and Janice do, Ben jumped again. This time fighting. I sure hope he knows how to take a punch. Find all of our Quantum Leap coverage here.
Tracy Palm Tree
As the editor of Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the editor.
The post Quantum Leap Episode 2 Atlantis Review And Recap – What Are Ben And Janice Up To? appeared first on Signal Horizon.