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Three episodes into its run, NBC’s Quantum Leap revival is really starting to feel like a Quantum Leap series. The latest episode would’ve felt right at home as one of Sam’s stories — and is easily the most quintessentially Quantum Leap-y episode they’ve done yet.
Along the way, it also pulled back more of the curtain on what we’ve missed over the past 30 years and how the Calavicci legacy still has a major role to play in the story’s future.
Spoilers ahead for “Somebody Up There Likes Ben,” the third episode of NBC’s Quantum Leap revival.
First up, though, is the leap. As was teased at the end of last week’s episode, Ben leaped into a boxer in the ring and started the story off with a hook right to his face. Turns out he’s dropped into the body of Danny Hill, a Las Vegas boxer in 1977 preparing for his middleweight title fight. But like the Quantum Leap stories of yore, this is a family tale, as Ziggy (and Ben and Addison) put the pieces together to figure out why Ben is there and how he can win that fight.
Like many of Sam’s old leaps, Ben has dropped into Danny’s life at a critical moment that can change the lives of everyone around him. Danny’s older brother and trainer, Daryl, is suffering from PTSD from Vietnam and on the verge of losing his gym if Danny doesn’t win this fight. This makes for a charged, tear-jerking story as Ben has to bond with Daryl as his brother, and help get him to a point where he’s willing to seek help with his trauma. It’s excellent drama, and for the first time in this new series, you really do care about those affected in the leap story. It’s Quantum Leap at its best.
The only problem with winning the fight and setting everyone’s life on a better course? Ben doesn’t actually know how to box, though it helps he is in the body of a trained boxer and has the raw tools at his disposal. So Addison pulls up the play by play of the original fight, and shadowboxes with Ben to follow the choreography of the original fight, but using an opening they spot in the reigning champ’s technique to allow Ben to get a knockout blow in. It works, though it wasn’t quite enough to knock out the champ, who makes it back on his feet just before he’s counted out.
To finish him off, Ben switches to his natural right-handed stance (Ben is right handed, but Danny is left handed), which gives him just enough of an edge to win the fight.
So where’s Ben headed next? He leaps into the body of a young woman, being hit on at a bar. As has been teased, this is also the episode that’ll feature This Is Us fan favorite Justin Hartley as the character’s love interest. Yep, that’s going to be a fun one.
So what about Ben’s mystery leap and Janis Calavicci?
The lingering mystery of Ben’s leap also got some focus this week, as the team back in 2022 has figured out that Ben did leap with a target location in mind out there in history — they just haven’t figured out what it is yet. But they do know Ben’s leaps were planned, and that he’s effectively slingshotting himself through time (which is admittedly a bit silly but fun!) to gain enough speed to fling himself further back in time than he’d normally be able to travel.
One long-established rule in the original series was that Sam could only leap within his own life’s timeline, though Sam and Janis’ new code seems to have broken that rule somehow (presumably with the slingshot technique). This mission to the 1970s was before Ben was even born, and we’ve seen teases of an episode set in the Wild West — which would obviously be long before Ben (and even Sam’s) timeline.
So the leaps were planned, and they’ve deduced it’ll take between 10-20 leaps for Ben to reach this mystery spot in time he’s targeted. Janis also visits Beth (wife of the late Al from the original mission), and we learn Beth actually asked Magic to keep Janis off the revived QL project so she wouldn’t spend her life chasing her father’s legacy (it seems Al never got over not being able to save Sam). But Janis says she is smart enough to figure out how to fulfill Al’s legacy (which would be… A grand time travel plan? Finding Sam? Controlling the leaps?), and drugs Beth to knock her out so she can steal something that should be very familiar to fans: Al’s old hand link device, which he used as a hologram to interact with Sam, and tap right into Ziggy.
We also get a look at the toll these leaps are taking on Addison, as she’s not been sleeping while serving as a constant hologram partner and support for Ben. She finally collapses from exhaustion mid-mission, and Ben makes her promise to take care of herself if they’re going to keep leaping. He’s not so worried about the upcoming leaps, he’s just worried about Addison being there with him. Aww.
New episodes of Quantum Leap air Mondays on NBC and stream next-day on Peacock.