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The second episode of NBC’s Quantum Leap revival sent the time travel action to the stars, as Ben leapt into an astronaut in a late-1990s space shuttle mission. His mission? Save the astronauts and save himself.
**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers ahead for “Atlantis,” the second episode of the first season of NBC’s Quantum Leap**
Expanding the action in the late 1990s was fun to see, especially for OG Quantum Leap fans (the original series was constrained to the timeline of Dr. Sam Beckett, so it could never just forward beyond the original show’s early-1990s setting). Ben finds himself in the body of astronaut David Tamura flying along on a 1998 shuttle mission tasked with assembling the International Space Station (ISS).
Once the team tracks him down, Ziggy deduces why he’s there: David dies on this mission when he’s struck by space debris during a space walk. So Ben’s mission is to… well, not die. Easy enough, right? Turns out the ISS payload shifted, so he has to do a space walk to correct it. The space debris arrives early, but thanks to Addison’s warning he manages to duck the fly-by and survive. The only problem? Since the debris didn’t hit David, it knocked the heat shielding on the shuttle loose, meaning the entire crew will not perish on reentry.
With mission leader Jim Reynolds (Jose Zuniga) injured and unconscious due to the chaos of the payload shift, second in command Samantha Stratton (Carly Pope) takes over. One quick note for original series fans there: If that Stratton name sounds familiar, there’s good reason. On Sam’s first leap in the original series premiere, he leaped into a USAF Capt. Tom Stratton and saved his life. Tom went on to have a baby daughter named (you guessed it) Samantha. Coincidence? We’d think not.
A recurring theme this episode finds everyone talking about how Ben is a peacemaker, and he gets to put those skills on display once Jim takes back control of the mission and is at odds with Samantha. Ben warns them of the damaged heat shielding and Ziggy notes that hooking up with the Mir space station to make repairs looks to be the only way for the team to survive. Samantha backs the Mir plan, while Jim wants to roll the dice and attempt to return to Earth (which we know, thanks to Ziggy, wouldn’t work).
Ben gets through to Jim, and learns to trust Samantha’s judgement, and they decide to reach out to the Russians at the Mir station for help. The only problem? The communications dish is broken, so Ben has to take another space walk (at this point, he’s kinda enjoying them) to point the dish at Mir to try and make contact. That still doesn’t work, as it’s the middle of the night in space time (or whatever, you know what we mean) and the Russians are asleep. So Ben takes a full on space leap (sorry) to jump from the shuttle to the Mir station and bangs on the airlock door to wake them up. Risky? Sure, but can you really be surprised? “Leap” is literally in the show title, after all.
Back in the future (present?)
We also get plenty of development as Magic and the team try to piece together exactly why Ben leaped in the first place. Addison finds a thumb drive and tries to keep it secret from the wider team, while Magic pays a visit to Beth Calavicci (!!!), a character fans of the original series should know very well. Beth was Al’s wife, and seems to be old friends with Magic (which makes sense, considering the decades since the original series). Magic warns her that her daughter Janis is in some trouble after working with Ben on their rogue mission, but Beth plays dumb.
Turns out she has been in contact with Janis, though, and Magic tracks down Janis to a house loaded with a secret server room and lab in the basement. We’re told some of the writing looks to be Ben’s handwriting, and Jenn manages to salvage a server before Janis torches the site remotely (though she does at least call Magic while he’s there to warn him to clear out).
Janis also drops another piece of the mystery puzzle: she didn’t recruit Ben to this secret plan, she claims Ben actually came to her. So whatever they’re doing, presumably it was Ben’s idea.
Back at Quantum Leap HQ, Addison comes clean about the thumb drive, which turns out to be the key to unlocking that drive Jenn recovered. Once they crack it they get another peek deeper into Ben’s mystery mission. The server seems to show a vast tapestry of millions of points in space and time, with one particular destination highlighted. Where is it? When is it? We don’t know. But it seems like that is where Ben was trying to go, we just don’t know why.
This being a Quantum Leap episode, you know how it’s going to end, with a peek at next week’s leap. This one should be a nice, familiar concept for OG fans, too. Ben opens his eyes with a fist coming at his face. He’s leapt straight into a boxer, and he’s about to get his clock cleaned.
New episodes of Quantum Leap premiere on NBC every Monday at 10 p.m. ET and the following day on Peacock.