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SYFY WIRE Quantum Leap

‘Quantum Leap’: Best theories on the mystery leaper, as the retooled pilot finally arrives

We have so many questions, but there are so many earthquakes.

By Trent Moore
Quantum Leap Season 1 Episode 6

It’s been well-reported that the pilot episode for NBC’s Quantum Leap revival was retooled and reshot, with the original pilot being tweaked and bumped to later in the season. Well, it finally arrived — and brings a whole lot of theories about what’s up with that mystery leaper from the end of last episode.

**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers below for the latest episode of Quantum Leap, "What a Disaster!"**

It seems the team at Project Quantum Leap was as surprised as the rest of us when that mystery cowboy rustled up to Ben at the end of the last leap and told him he knew who he was, and that he should quit following him. The present day team dives head first into trying to solve the mystery, and lays out the options with three key theories for who might be behind this mysterious new figure code named “Leaper X.”

Option 1: A rival country has acquired or developed their own leaping technology. Option 2: A private corporation or billionaire (think Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos) has acquired or developed their own leaping technology. Or Option 3: The leap is coming from inside the house, and this mystery leaper originated from Project Quantum Leap itself, just at some point in the future.

RELATED: 'Quantum Leap' boss teases Ben and Addison will have a 'long‑distance relationship from hell'

Which raises a fascinating question, and one that goes back to some of the biggest mysteries left unsolved from the original Quantum Leap series. The OG series featured some Evil Leapers, and the series finale famously teased there were other people out leaping through time, as well, seemingly doing good like Sam. And now, we know there’s at least one mystery leaper who is annoyed at Ben and thinks he’s following him through the time stream.

Could all of those mysterious folks have originated from Project Quantum Leap, just sometime in the future? It’s not just an option, but seemingly the most likely one. The team identifies the mystery leaper as a soldier named Martinez, the only problem is that the Martinez in 2022 seems like a seemingly nice guy and has no idea about the QL project and has been out of the country. Which means the present day version of Martinez almost certainly couldn’t have been doing the leaping. So, that leaves a future version of Martinez as the mystery man.

This twist also brings us to another big reveal, thanks to Ian digging into what Ben’s plan might be. Where they’d first assumed Ben was trying to slingshot himself further into the past, it now seems Ben might be trying to slingshot himself into the future. Could he and Janis have been aware of these mystery leapers, which is what led them to keep their mission a secret (so they couldn’t change the timeline to stop them), and they’re trying to find and stop them out there in the timeline? It makes sense. Well, it makes some sense.

Quantum Leap Season 1 Episode 6

The 1989 California earthquake arrives

As for Ben’s leap, he lands in 1989 during the California earthquake that famously interrupted the World Series. This leap was the original story used for the pilot, before they reworked the episode order and reframed the premiere episode around a heist story. It’s a cool, big budget leap, and features a guest spot from genre favorite Jewel Staite (Firefly, Stargate Atlantis). 

It follows Ben as an estranged father who has to set off across the city to save his son’s life before an apartment building collapse, and also reconnect the son with his mother (played by Staite). Along the way, Ben starts remembering some of his personal memories, including the death of his mother, which occurred when Ben was a teen and he was fighting with her about moving to New York. Ben gets mad and runs away, but when he returns, his mother has died of an aneurysm.

It explains why Ben takes this leap so personally, as well as why he got involved in the Quantum Leap project in the first place. Deep down, he’s just a kid who wants to go back in time and save his mother.

As for little continuity bits, there are some fun ones. Addison is having a glitch with her handlink, so she has to swap it out for an older model early in the episode. Most likely, that older model she’s using is the original design for the handlink used in those original pilot scenes, so they had to have a reason to switch it out to keep the continuity in check. It also makes sense there’d be some Ziggy glitches, with Janis still poking around in the system.

Next up? This one looks fun. The tease for next week finds Ben leaping into a priest in what seems to be the 1950s(-ish), and he seems to be walking right into an exorcism on Halloween night. Yep, we’re getting a Halloween episode!

New episodes of Quantum Leap air Mondays on NBC, and stream next-day on Peacock.