This article includes full spoilers for the premiere episode.
Quantum Leap is back.
After almost 29 years since the final episode of the original aired and left us with the final title card: “Dr. Sam Becket never returned home”. The ending was so rushed after the show’s last-minute cancelation, Sam’s last name was infamously misspelled.
The good news is we see Sam Beckett’s full name in the new series’ opening title card, and it is spelled correctly, both Ts.
In 1995, theorizing one could time travel within their own lifetime, Doctor Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator and vanished.
After years of trying to bring him back home, the project was eventually abandoned
As the article and cast & creator interviews have assured us these last few weeks, whether or not Scott Bakula will ever again step back into the role of our original leaper, this new series is a true continuation – not a reboot, not a new show merely recycling the intellectual property that is Quantum Leap.
This is the real deal.
But enough hype. Let’s get into the recap.
After that opening title card, we find ourselves in dimly lit computer lab and a woman working frantically on some calculations. Her right middle finger wears a unique ring. We never fully see her face. A read out pops up on the screen:
WINDOW CALCULATION COMPLETE
“What? That can’t be right!” she says. She lifts scattered papers off her desk to find her cell. She finds the contact for Ben Song. She begins to send a text.
Law of Entanglement
Elsewhere, a party is happening. A POV shot and couple greets “the man of the hour”, a few more people pass saying congratulations. When a woman greets him, “Have you been hiding?”, the camera angle changes, and we see the man of the hour is Ben Song.
The woman is Addison. This is their engagement party and Ben has been hiding in the bathroom. He doesn’t like parties, but he’s putting on an affable enough charming face. We quickly meet the rest of the Quantum Leap Project: Jenn, head of security who points out that Ian, our head programming engineer is about to take out the DJ because he won’t play The Kinks. Ian comes back over wanting to take a new Quantum simulation they have written, before Ben interrupts them and reminds them they all agreed to no work talk tonight. Herbert “Magic” Williams comes over and asks Jenn why Chris at the bar, Jenn’s apparent date, thinks Magic is a video game designer.
“Would you prefer I told him you run a top secret time travel project?” she retorts.
They all share a laugh before Ben is harangued into giving a speech for the attendees.
After an awkward start he, of course, nails it.
“Some people assume because I’m a physicist, I can’t be romantic. What they don’t realize is, science is romance…take the Law of Entanglement. Once two particles experience a shared state, they’re no longer separate entities. They exist as one, even when separated by great distances.“
“Well, that’s not going to be a problem,” Addison responds, “because I’m never letting you go.”
After the crowd returns to talking among themselves, Ben and Addison agree to just another half-hour of small talk, then grabbing a bottle of bourbon and sneaking off together.
The camera lingers on their hands parting. Not a moment later, Ben gets a text. Or a series of them.
Hey! Just got a readout. If we’re gonna do this, it has to be now.
Our window is closing, where are you?
Ben!! Call me!!!
Running out of time!!!
Just sent you the projections via email
CALL ME ASAP!!
Ben gives Addison one last look. Tears start to well in his eyes. He leaves.
...stepped into the project accelerator…and vanished!
Computer banks light up.
Ben, wearing a Fermi suit, steps into a particle accelerator. Rings fly up out of the floor, spinning over his head. Ben spreads his arms and looks to the sky.
He doesn’t have the giddy look on his face Sam Beckett had when he first leaped, but he is a man determined.
Dr. Ben Song leaps.
How did I get here?
Ben finds himself in a van on a city street somewhere. A tiny TV on his dash shows David Bowie taking the stage.
“Is this a mistake?” a man sitting in the passenger seat asks.
“How did I get here?” Ben asks himself.
After a bit of hyping himself up, the man slips on gloves, addresses Ben as Nick, calling him a good friend, slips on a ski mask, pulls out a gun and departs.
Ben catches his reflection in rearview mirror, then the driver’s side mirror. We know the story. Another man is looking back. Ben exits the van and the camera pulls back to reveal that wherever we are, we aren’t in 2022.
As he takes in what he’s seeing – the old cars, people waiting to use a phone booth, a movie theater showing a double feature of The Goonies and St. Elmos Fire, a banner advertising a LIVE AID at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia – July 13, 1985.
The ID in his wallet says he’s Nick Rounder, and the photo matches his new reflection.
“Ben!” Addison yells from the street. “We’ve been trying to find you for hours! We weren’t ready. Why did you leap?”
Ben doesn’t remember her. He doesn’t remember anything. She promises to explain everything to him slowly, but an alarm rings, and a group of masked thieves come running with a big case of something. Yelling at “Nick” to get in the van.
They run right through Addison, and her body shimmers, blinking in and out for a moment.
“Okay, forget slowly. I’m a hologram from the future. You just time traveled to the past.” She explain everything later. But now, get in the van and drive.
The van is a stick, which Ben apparently can’t drive. But he’s a quick learner and, with Addison’s coaching, is soon speeding through the streets of Philadelphia, police on his tail. One of his partners tells him he’s supposed to be driving to his restaurant on York. Thinking quickly, he slyly asks Addison for help getting him there.
They lose the police. They get in an alley behind the restaurant. When his partner asks if he’s okay, Ben says he’s just glad it’s over. But he’s told this is just Phase 1. They have a long day ahead of them.
Everyone goes inside leaving Ben alone with Addison. He asks for a slower explanation now.
Ben is told he’s Doctor Ben Song, a physicist and now a time traveler from the year 2022. The woman in front of him is Addison Augustine. They…work together. She’s here to bring him home, but first he needs to…
And she blinks out of existence.
“Need to WHAT???” Ben shouts.
Welcome to the new Quantum Leap.
Meanwhile in the Imaging Chamber, we see these last few moments from Addison’s perspective. Ben and his surroundings blink out of existence as the Chamber goes offline. (The new Imaging Chamber is sexy just like our new Accelerator, but more on that later.)
Addison exits the Chamber and we find ourselves in the Quantum Leap Project Control Room. Addison implores Ian to get the Chamber back online. Ziggy is down, Ian tells Addison.
We learn that this version of the project has been in existence for five years, but still years away from human testing. Right before Ben leaped, he uploaded an entirely new version of code for the Quantum operating system, and Ian is trying to figure it out.
Meanwhile, No Ziggy. No Ziggy, no calculations on what Ben is there to do. There’s nothing to talk to Ben about right now.
“Oh, I can think of a few things to talk to him about, ” Addison replies.
Ian reminds her that Ben knew the technology wasn’t ready and that leaping now meant possible memory loss and getting lost in time like Dr. Beckett. Addison thinks Ian is unsympathetic to what’s happening now, but just the opposite, Ian clarifies. If Ben leaped now despite knowing that, they say, he must have had a good reason.
Magic arrives, on his cell, assuring someone at the Pentagon that the power surge from a few hours ago is routine and nothing to worry about. After he hangs up, he demands answers from Addison: What is Ben saying? Why did he leap? When Addison reports the situation, Magic warns if they can’t get back soon, it’s just a matter of time before they have to tell the Pentagon what happens. Addison objects; as soon as they know, the project will be shut down.
Ian reports the Imaging Chamber is back online.
“Find out what he’s there to do and bring him home!” Magic demands.
Back in ’85
Back at the restaurant, Ben is in the bathroom splashing cold water on his face, giving himself a pep talk to get out of this situation. Addison arrives and breaks the news Ben is the one who chose to leap prematurely and know one at the project knows why, and that they simply can’t “beam him up” as Ben asks. Addison pulls out the handlink and gives Ben a quick history of the project, producing a holographic image to Dr. Beckett. When Ben asks Addison and the project to consult with Beckett to get him back, Addison breaks the news that he never made it home.
Addison continues and says that to retrieve Ben, Ben has to put right some wrong in the past. This will “trigger” a leap, and hopefully the project will be able to pull him back. When Ben questions the logic of this, reminds him this is part of the project is trying to figure out. Somewhat at odds with this, she also states “the machine” controls the leaps.
She tells Ben he needs to trust her.
“Do I…trust you?” he asks.
Adds assures him he does. “Ben, there’s something I have to tell you,” she begins to say, no doubt about to disclose the true nature of their relationship, but Ryan and the rest of the crew intrude. Who the hell is he talking to?
Back in the kitchen, the case they just stole is opened, revealing a huge case of C-4. The rest of the crew question Nick/Ben’s competence. The getaway had a rough start. He was talking to himself while driving, and now he’s talking to himself in the bathroom. It’s revealed that their original driver had been compromised in someway, and Nick came to Ryan offering to help. The group’s leader, Cole, wants assurances that Nick/Ben can be counted on. Ben tries to assure him he can, but Cole tells him if he screws this up, he’ll kill him.
briefly returns to the Control Room. After some troubleshooting from Ian and their team, Ziggy is back online. Jenn has been monitoring the situation.
“That is a terrifying amount of C-4,” she says.
“Is there an UN-terrifying amount?” Ian counters.
Back at the restaurant, Ben questions Nick why he’s doing this. A foreclosure sign is seen outside the restaurant. This is about more than just money, Ryan reminds Ben. They step outside the restaurant, and are surprised by Ryan’s wife and child, Katie and Caroline. Katie is on dialysis, we learn. They missed another payment, she tells Ryan. He assures her not to worry, the bank approved the loan. Addison reappears from around the corner and Ben reports the situation. Ryan isn’t a criminal; he’s desperate to save his family.
Addison knows this. She also knows Ryan is going to shot and killed today.
Ben and Ryan drive to their next location, Ben trying to convince Ryan he doesn’t have to do this. He knows the future, and that Ryan will die tonight. They arrive at a jewelry store. The owner is speaking on the phone in Romanian. Ben is surprised that he can understand. Addison reminds him he actually knows several different languages. The shop owner reveals what they are there for: The Hope Diamond. But not actually the diamond. A fake. But now he wants more money. When Ryan objects, the owner’s goons pin is face to the glass counter.
Thinking quickly on his feet, Ben reveals he can speak Romanian and nudges Addison for information to get some leverage. He reveals knowledge about the owner’s Cayman bank accounts. He says Cole knows all about them too and can empty them out with little trouble. Just give us what we want, Ben urges him. The owner relents.
Jenn & Magic and a Mystery Ring
In 2022, Jenn reports to Magic with some scrambled security footage of Ben breaking into the project with a woman right before he leaped. They can’t get a good look at her face, but she’s wearing a unique ring. Magic reveals a similar one on his own hand. He got his after his second tour in ‘Nam. Whoever Ben was working with, she has some connection the military.
Jenn requests to be terminated because she feels she failed to keep the project safe from what happened. Magic took a chance on her when no one else would and she failed. He denies her request, assuring her he still has faith in her.
Who is Nick Rounder?
Back at the restaurant in ’85, Ben and Ryan return and Cole and the rest of the crew have questions. They now know there is no Nick Rounder. Ben has actually leaped into Matt Shaw, an undercover cop. This explains why they couldn’t find any info on Nick, Addison says.
Cole punches Ben, and as he tries to catch his breath, he whispers to Addison for help. The crew now thinks he’s wearing a wire, throwing him in a chair. Charlie rips his shirt open, but nothing. No wire means they can kill him, Cole says, aiming his gun.
Ben pleads for his life, reasoning that a stealing a diamond is one thing. Killing a cop means the police will never stop searching for Cole. Instead of killing him, Cole decides to tie Ben up in the kitchen, saving him for leverage in case the heist goes bad. Ben begs Ryan one last time to not go, but to no avail.
Operation Blue Glass
In 2022, Ian steps out in the hall, on the verge of a panic attack. When Magic asks Ian why they’re not working, Ian says they need to take a moment to get a grasp on the situation. So much has changed in the last few hours. It’s like a bad mushroom trip they can’t break free from. Ian catches what they’ve just revealed to their boss, but Magic doesn’t care. Channel that anxiety and get Ben home, he commands.
Magic learns of the planned heist in ’85 “that never happened”, he says that’s not exactly true. Jenn breaks into the Department of Defense and confirms an old story Magic heard in Washington, known as Operation Blue Glass: The Hope Diamond had been stolen from the Museum of Modern Art in 1985 and replaced with a replica. But the U.S. government covered it up in order to avoid paying out the hefty insurance policy. There was an explosion outside the museum that night, but luckily, everyone at the gala was inside and no one was harmed.
Back at the restaurant, Ben is zip tied to some metal shelves. Addison tells him in the original history, the crew never learned Matt’s true identity but for some reason gave him the slip on the way to the heist. By the time he arrived, Ryan had been killed and Matt quit being a police officer, never fully recovering from the shame.
As Addison walks Ben through getting out of the zip tie, she also drops a big piece of information: She was supposed to have been the Leaper, and Ben, her Hologram.
Now free, Ben wants to follow Ryan and get his help stopping the heist and figure out another way to help Ryan’s family, but Addison wants him to call 911. Ben doesn’t want to do this because then he’ll leap and he needs save Ryan and his family. Ben has already let the project down, he argues. He can’t let Ryan down too.
It’s in this exchange that Addison says Ziggy’s name to Ben for the first time.
“That’s a weird name,” Ben says as he takes it in.
Later that night, Ben stands outside the Museum of Modern Art in his tux, his diguise, as Ah-Ha’s “Take on Me” plays. “Just out of curiosity, if the person I leap into dies…?”
“You die too,” Addison says.
Inside the gala, Ben gets his bearings. Addison reports what happened in the original history: Crew member, Pete, sealed the security door so less security can get to them once the room was plunged into darkness. Cole switched out the real one for the fake. Everyone was inside, and no one was harmed by the explosion.
Ben jumps into action, follows Pete down the hall to security and knocks him out. It’s clear he’s not used to punching people.
“Who are you right now???” Addison asks.
Ben apparently is the kind of guy who punches out code in his t-shirt.
Back out on the gala floor, Ben finds Ryan and makes one last attempt to pull him away. But now Charlie is on the move, so Ben counters her and pulls her into a dance.
“Can I dance?” Ben asks.
Addison: “Uh…you think you can.”
He urges her and the crew to abandon the heist and flee, promising her to let the crew go. When she reminds him that the C-4 is going to go off in five minutes and that should be his concern, he reveals no one was hurt in the original history.
Charlie pulls a gun from her garter belt and fires into the ceiling, causing a panic. People begin fleeing, right into the vicinity of the bomb.
Outside, Ben and Ryan locate the bomb in the trunk of a car. With less than a minute to diffuse it, Ben thinks quickly and has Ryan open a nearby manhole cover. Ben drops the bomb in just in time.
In the aftermath, Ryan asks Ben/Nick what he should do know.
“Go home. Be with the people you love. Don’t hide things from them. You’ll regret it. Believe me.”
Addison reveals that after Ryan is taken into custody, his story gets out and city rallies behind him, raising money to save his family and his restaurant.
When she says that “he did it” (prevented a tragedy), Ben reminds her “they did it”. Ben and Addison have a moment. Despite Ben having amnesia, he clearly has affection for her. He thanks her for making him feel safe today.
Addison reminds him of the Law of Entanglement, revealing Ben actually said that once at a party.
“I sound like a really…fun guy,” he says. “What now?”
“You leap,” Addison says.
With that, Ben is enveloped by a blue energy that starts at his feet and moves up his body.
Addison runs out of the Imaging Chamber, announcing Ben’s leap, urging Ian to retrieve him. At first it looks hopeful, but a failure message appears on screen.
“We lost him,” Ian announces.
In the parking garage, Jenn catches up with Magic. He’s on his way to D.C. to answer some questions. Jenn tells Magic they were able to track down the ring seen on the woman’s hand in the security footage. That ring was made for everyone in a certain squadron in Vietnam. The last name on the list of that squad was none other than Rear Admiral Albert Calavicci, who died last year.
But his daughter, Janis, had wanted to work on the project and denied, out of fear of her emotional attachment to her dad and Sam. She had managed to get to Ben somehow.
“Find her,” Magic commands as he gets in his car.
This is bigger than anything you can imagine.
Addison returns to her and Ben’s home, the living room still remnants of the engagement party. Addison finds Ben’s phone, and a video message waiting for her.
“Addison, I’m sorry I had to do this. Especially tonight. I wish I could tell you why, but I can’t, not yet. There are things you are going to learn that won’t make sense to you, but know this: This is bigger than us. Bigger than anything you can imagine. I’m doing this because I think it’s worth it. Because I think it has to be done. Then I’ll find my way home to you. And we can spend the rest of our lives together. I promise.”
Addison is left crying, wondering what this means.
Meanwhile, elsewhere, Ben comes to disoriented, immediately calling out for Addison.
He’s on a space shuttle. And it’s about to depart Earth.
Fade to black, then: Dedicated to the Memory of Dean Stockwell: 1936 – 2021. A wonderful touch.
- This version of the project has been in existence for five years. It appears to exist in L.A. The original project was hidden in the New Mexico desert. It will be interesting to see if and when they address the change in location.
- Addison was brought on to be the Leaper, and Ben was supposed to her hologram.
- Ben & Addison have been together for an undisclosed length of time, and have been engaged for a short time. It’s likely they met working on the project. Ben seems like the kind of guy too buried in his work to have a social life outside of it.
- Jenn states that no one else was willing to take a chance on her, but he brought her on a Chief of Security.
- Though it’s been long suspected, it’s confirmed the project lost touch with Sam at some point. Likely immediately after the events of the classic series finale, “Mirror Image”, but time will tell.
- In the classic series, Al was the only one who could see or hear Sam, even inside the Imaging Chamber, as the project was built around their brain waves. This new project seems to have overcome that limitation. Ian and Jenn indicate they can see and hear Ben’s interactions and surroundings in 1985.
- In the classic series, “God or Time or Fate” was widely thought of as being responsible for where and when Sam leaped. Now, “the machine controls the leaps” according to Addison, and making some needed change in the past “triggers” a leap, though they don’t know why. One purpose of the project is to figure this out.
- From the holographic read-out coming from the handlink, though Sam is consid
- All attempts to retrieve Sam in the classic series happened during a leap. Now, it appears they can attempt to retrieve the leaper only when they are between hosts. Though the novels aren’t canon, it’s interesting to note this is line with a conversation Ziggy and Sammy Jo Fuller have in the novel, Foreknowledge, by Christopher DeFilippis, where it’s theorized it’s difficult to retrieve Sam when he is inhabiting someone, but when he’s between leaps, his neurons and masons are whole and not intermixed with someone else’s, and theoretically, should be easier to get a lock on. The problem is, there is no way to trace Sam between leaps. It appears here that Ian was briefly able to latch onto Ben, but lost him.
- We now see the fruits of Al’s post-“Mirror Image” life in that his daughter, Janis, is very heavily invested in the Quantum Leap Project, though as a rejected outsider.
- The original series took place about six years in the future from the present, and famously had a very…colorful style. We are now in contemporary 2022 as we know it. It will be interesting to see if this congruity is ever addressed.
- It will be interesting to see whether if the Covid-19 pandemic exists in this universe.
(These are nods to the classic series, though not being direct connections.)
- When Addison first sees Ben in 1985, she identifies herself as “a hologram from the future”. This is how Al describes himself to Tibby in Season 3’s “Shock Theater” in the episode’s infamous “Alphabet Rap”.
- Ben leaping into the driver’s seat of a car with David Bowie playing brings to mind another time travel TV show, Life on Mars.
Quantum Leap airs on Mondays at 10/9c on NBC, and streams the following day on Peacock.