I might be laying it on thick here, but I am positive that this week’s Quantum Leap was the best episode of the series’ run, so far. It was like Quantum Leap crossed with X-Files and a new and intriguing potential storyline that will play out over the course of the season.
It’s 1949, and here, Ben leaps into the body of an agent for Project Sign, an actual government study of UFOs commissioned by the Air Force. The episode even seems to include a nod toward inventor Jonathan Edward Caldwell’s disk rotor, confused with a flying saucer back in the day. Set in New Mexico, Ben has to get to the bottom of a case involving an apparent UFO that forced two women off the road and into a hospital, where one was in a coma and the other was facing potential manslaughter charges for drunken driving. The small-time sheriff, meanwhile, is the grandfather of the woman who may be charged with the crime — he’s a grizzled old guy with a tough exterior and a soft heart.
Ben’s investigation eventually leads to the discovery that the United States is running an off-the-books base that studies UFO activity. They also gaslight people who run across them into believing they have seen alien activity so that the person can be dismissed as crazy. After cracking the case, the woman and her grandfather live happily ever after, and the other woman in a coma survives thanks to an antidote the Air Force possessed. Ben, meanwhile, tells the guy who runs the off-the-book base that he should check out an abandoned airfield in Groom Lake, Nevada (Area 51 was built six years later there).
Fun case. Very X-Files. But there’s some more intrigue here, too. Ben is still smarting after finding out that Addison began dating another man after believing that Ben was dead. In a moment of frustration, in fact, he unleashes after Addison tells a reckless Ben to be careful. “I already buried you once,” she says. “Please do not make me bury you again.”
“No one made you do that! No one made you bury me after two years, but you did! I have to live with whatever that means for the rest of my life … so please, do not give up on me. Again.” Ouch.
That’s not where the intrigue lies. Ben meets an attractive waitress named Hannah Carson played by Eliza Taylor. Hannah is wicked smart and knows much about mathematics and physics, but she had to give up her pursuit after World War II when the men came home and she lost her job. She and Ben have an immediate connection. At the end of the episode, Ben encourages her to seek out a professor who he knows was opening a physics program for women at Princeton at the time. “Go live the life you want to live,” Ben tells her. Instead of saying goodbye, Hannah also insists on “see you later.”
Actress Eliza Taylor — like the actor who plays Addison’s new boyfriend, Tom — is a series regular on Quantum Leap now, which means we will be seeing plenty more of her across the various timelines. According to the exec producers, her story is just starting to unfold.
I hated the idea last week that Quantum Leap was going to put us through a love triangle between Ben, Addison, and Addison’s new boyfriend, but, if Ben gains a new love interest as well, I’m considerably more interested. It helps that Hannah is also a great character. Let’s just hope that Ben doesn’t sleep with her only to discover that she’s Addison’s grandmother or that Ben somehow became Addison’s grandfather. The timing certainly works. But the ick factor does not. On the other hand, could Hannah be an Evil Leaper? We shall see.
Next week: Tim Matheson.