NBC made a leap of faith when it decided to reboot Quantum Leap, a classic sci-fi series from the late 80s and early 90s. The flagship series followed Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula), a physicist who created the Quantum Leap project. After years and billions of dollars, the U.S. Government moves to shut it down, forcing Sam Beckett to make a jump, never to return. The original series ended in 1993, and the reboot series began last year (see my previous review). This week the series returns to NBC with Quantum Leap season 2.
Returning with a 13-episode season, which could receive more episodes after the actor’s strike is concluded, Quantum Leap is ready to jump into uncharted territories. This reboot series follows Dr. Ben Song, who has made his leap in the accelerator and is lost throughout time.
The second season releases on October 4th with an episode that is poised to shake up the series, and blow the minds of everyone watching. Quantum Leap is reinventing itself in a time when not much else is grabbing our attention on the television landscape. Now is the perfect time to pick up this series, binging the first season and preparing yourself for what’s to come in Quantum Leap season 2.
[Warning: light spoilers and impressions from the first season and the first three episodes of Quantum Leap season 2 are below!]
One last jump in the season one finale of Quantum Leap
When we last saw Dr. Ben Song (Raymond Lee), he was on his final leap to complete his mission. Throughout the first season, what caused Ben to venture into the quantum accelerator initially was shrouded in mystery. His decision to do so was against protocol, as the experiment was meant for another.
By the time Ben makes his eighteenth jump, it becomes clear to everyone involved and the audience as well just what exactly pushed him to do it. Ben’s mission has been to save his fiancé, Addison (Caitlin Bassett), whose life is in danger from Martinez, another leaper who has been two steps ahead of Ben all the way. Martinez believes killing Addison will put an end to Quantum Leap altogether.
By completing his mission and saving Addison’s life, the entire Quantum Leap team believes that Ben will finally return to 2023, ending the nightmare at hand. However, this is a television show, so it’s never that simple. When the second season picks up, Ben has made another leap but hasn’t returned to his own time or body. Instead, he’s transported to another life in 1978, confused beyond belief about what is happening.
His confusion is magnified by the fact that he seems to be on his own. Usually, through the use of holographs, Ben can communicate with Addison, who acts like a liaison for Ben. She provides him with information about the period and the people present in his current leap, with the main objective being to help him identify and help whoever is in trouble. Her motivation might be slightly selfish, wanting to keep Ben alive in whatever life he jumps into. If the body he inhabits dies in that reality, he dies as well.
Except this time around, in the first episode, no one is answering his calls for help. His pleas to Addison don’t bring about help.
A change in characters and relationships in Quantum Leap season 2
Because he can’t count on someone to be there to help him out in difficult situations, Ben has to rely completely on himself to figure out who to save and how to do so. This adds an interesting shift in the structure of the series, as Ben is put into a different position, one that brings about much more danger than we’ve yet to see in the series.
Not that there wasn’t danger, but with future technology helping Ben figure out all the logistics, part of the intensity and danger that’s present in the premiere episode is missing. In this first episode, it’s ever-present and makes the episode stand out in my mind as one of the stronger stories from Quantum Leap. It’s interesting to see Ben both in his element and out of his element because these beginning episodes place him squarely in both camps.
However, despite each leap and mission, which is the crux of the series, the drama comes from the changing dynamics between Ben and the rest of the members of Quantum Leap. Things have changed, mostly because of the reality that Ben didn’t come home like everyone anticipated. There doesn’t seem to be any indication of when or how Ben will return to his life, a fact that impacts his friends in different ways. That shift in the dynamics greatly impacts everyone, but none more so than Ben and Addison.
The duo is still at the core of Quantum Leap and their story this season gives both Raymond Lee and Caitlin Bassett a lot to work with. Lee has to balance the danger at his end, showcased in the problem of the week, with the love and sacrifices Ben has made for his fiancé. It’s fantastic to see him remembering a bit more of his life before leaping, making Ben a bit more well-rounded.
However, the true emotional component of this season is Addison’s story. I found myself drawn to her journey, watching the sacrifices that she also made for Ben’s decision. His choice is felt harder this season than it is in the last one, which leaves deeper emotional scars for Addison as she grapples with what’s left and attempts to find a way to move on. Quantum Leap season 2 gives Bassett so much material for her to work with, which she excels at with ease. Her role alone is worth watching this season for.
The positives and negatives of NBC’s Quantum Leap
The first three episodes are strong in every sense of the word. From the actors to the writing, to the camera work and effects. There’s not a single actor in the series that is weak, from those who are series regulars to those there for individual stories. The quality of Quantum Leap is of a higher caliber than many serials on television. Major props should be given to Mason Alexander Park and Nanrisa Lee, who play Ian Wright and Jenn Chu respectively. Besides the two leads, these two are fantastic to watch on-screen.
Together, Ian and Jenn carry the functional aspects of Quantum Leap, providing the strong shoulders that everyone else can rely on. I love how Ian remains the optimistic player, refusing to give up when things get tough. Their unbeatable personality is a necessary component of the team, and it helps to bring a bit of hope to what could be a heavy season.
While these first three episodes are a vast improvement from an already strong first season, the story still suffers from the serial setup of the series. So far, each season attempts to balance the larger mystery with the story of the week’s procedurals. The larger mystery is incredibly engaging, with endearing characters and in-depth examinations of every one of them, which is the main reason I tune in every week.
However the hum-drum “new story every week” gets a bit old after a while. Some of the stories catch my interest more than others, so it’s a mixed bag how invested I am with these one-off stories. Those who loved Supernatural or Law & Order for that aspect of the show, then this is the series for you.
The verdict on Quantum Leap season 2 so far…
I was pleasantly surprised to see that in the first three episodes of Quantum Leap season 2, there isn’t the typical sophomore slump that comes with second outings. Instead, the writers behind the series have flipped the script, bringing about a reinvention of an already successful reboot. Everything, except for the procedural aspect of Quantum Leap, is new. However, it also feels incredibly familiar with the same exceptional acting and characters that viewers have come to know.
As stated above, with the television and film landscape standing where it currently is due to the ongoing strikes, this is the perfect time to jump into Quantum Leap and see what all the fuss is about. You can start from the first season if you like, however, with the slight reinvention of the second season, you could easily jump into the new episodes and not be all that lost. Regardless, the work and love put into Quantum Leap season 2 makes it worth watching for old and new fans.
Quantum Leap returns with its season 2 premiere on October 4 on NBC. Are you interested in checking this series out? Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord.