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After dutifully making 18 leaps and changing lives for the better in the the Quantum Leap accelerator, Ben expected per his colleagues that he would finally return to his own time. Instead, Ben found out that he was lost to the HQ team for three years — and he's still not home. With Ziggy unable to find him, the Quantum Leap program was shut down and Addison (Caitlin Bassett) mourned his "death" and found love again with former colleague, Tom Westfall (Peter Gadiot). It was only due to a latent tracker that Ian (Mason Alexander Park) left open in Ziggy that Ben was found, the program was reopened and the chase to get him home has recommenced.
Raymond Lee loves dramatic ups and downs of Ben's next chapter
But Ben is still a man lost in time, without the woman or friends he loves. A tragic tale on the surface, but for actor Raymond Lee, Ben's latest predicament is also an incredible turn of events that he's been delighted to play since the moment he was informed of the arc by showrunners Martin Gero and Dean Georgaris.
"I, in fact, remember where I was when I received that call that, not only that we were renewed, but also where they wanted the story to go," Lee recently told NBC Insider about his Season 2 arc. "And I just thought it was brilliant. On one hand, to lean into the lore of what that might mean, just in terms of the way time travel works, and the fact that time is relative. Then for fans and people to understand both sides, where for one person, it's been a day. And for another group of people, it's been three years and a lot can happen in three years. I just thought it was so brilliant."
Lee's thoughts on Ben opening his heart to Hannah Carson
Plus, there's been the fertile emotional space for Lee in getting to play several episodes of heartbreak as Ben wrestles with letting Addison go, and his surprising across time connection with physicist, Hannah Carson (Eliza Taylor).
Lee said he's loved being able to play an arc that leans into Ben's already open-hearted mission of helping people in time, and seeing it come back to reward him in his meetings with Hannah.
"He's always consistently trying to help people, but [with Hannah], it's in a world that he knows very well," Lee said of Ben's physics advice that he passed to Hannah in New Mexico. "He actually has contacts that he can further her journey as a physicist, and just as a person. He sees somebody that is a strong individual who has a very specific point of view, from a seemingly small town. And he goes, 'I just want the best for you and I hope I see you again.' And that really is what's at the core of it."
Raymond Lee on Ben and Addison's separation on Quantum Leap
In this first half of Quantum Leap Season 2 (which sees its midseason finale air on December 13 on NBC), Lee said he appreciates how the leap missions have made some space for Ben to confront the impact of these massive changes on his head and his heart.
"[The leaps] are piling one thing on top of one another, so we get to see where [Ben] might fissure, and where you might release steam in places where you weren't expecting it to happen," he said of the gamut of emotions Ben has weathered from grief to jealously to regret and even hope with Hannah.
"This is how we all are," Lee said of the shared human condition. "We just kind of walk around holding onto a lot of things, and then we let out anger on somebody or other emotions like when you start crying randomly when you listen to a song. I feel like we're watching Ben on that journey. It's really fun as an actor to find those layers and moments where he can find relief, and where you can find a place to let it out."
Lee said one of his favorite examples of that so far happened in "Secret History" when his rival for Addison's heart, Tom, had to take on the role of Ben's hologram guide. Tom had become the symbol for so much of Ben's ire and pain, so Lee said he loved playing the messy complications of that first face-to-face.
"You wanted it to happen in an unexpected moment because you don't want the audience to be prepared for this meeting," he said of the surprise of the reveal for both Ben and the audience. "It just has to happen and everyone has to deal with it. So even with all the given circumstances of it being just not a great situation, Ben says, "Literally, you're the last person I want to be helping me. I really hope you're not right, but I need you to be right." I just think it's brilliant. We have great writers that can create these moments for us and all we get to do is just play in it."
The next new episode of Quantum Leap airs December 6 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC and streams next-day on Peacock.