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Why did Ben leap? We finally learn the answer in ‘Quantum Leap’ midseason finale
One mystery solved, but we have a whole lot more questions.
The driving question behind the Quantum Leap revival series has revolved around exactly why Dr. Ben Song went rogue and leaped — and now we finally have some answers.
The leap itself was a compelling one, and we’ll get to that in a moment, but first up let’s dig into the biggest reveal of the show’s midseason finale (new episodes of the super-sized first season are set to return in early 2023). Ben tells Addison about seeing Janis at the end of his Halloween-themed leap, as Janis used her tech to block out the Quantum Leap team and project herself as a hologram to Ben to try and reopen her line of communication.
As Ben wraps up his leap, some memories start trickling back to him, most notably a conversation he had with Janis before he leaped. In it, Ben seems to be the one pushing for the rogue leap, and Janis asks him if he’s sure they need to go forward with it. Ben is determined, and he finally remembers why: Addison.
He tells Addison he leapt to save her. From what? Why? How? All questions we still don’t have an answer to at this point. Best guesses? Ben somehow got a look at a future calculation from Ziggy (or put together by Janis?) that showed Addison becoming lost in time, or simply dying in the future, and he figured out a way to alter the timeline. It just involved going on some leaps of his own to move some dominoes around first.
But that theory in itself leaves even more questions. The team has figured out that Ben seems to be trying to leap into the future — but why? Is he trying to get to a future moment where Addison dies to try and change the future from that moment? Hopefully the back half of Season 1 will bring some answers, most notably what role Janis played in the mission (and why she signed on to help Ben in the first place). Also, we still don't know what's up with the mystery leaper.
As for the motivation itself? It makes sense. The relationship between Ben and Addison has been central to the show, and it makes total narrative sense it’d be the driving force that would send Ben off on a rogue leap. Who wouldn’t risk it all to save the love of their life? It also throws (at least some) cold water on theories that Ben leapt to try and track down and rescue Sam Beckett, or to find the mysterious bar/leaper way-station in time that Sam landed in during the original show’s series finale.
What about the leap?
It was a good one! Ben landed in the body of a troubled teenager in 1996, as a small group of students at a child detention center are making a jail break. It turns out the “camp” has basically been emotionally and physically torturing these kids, which is why they were so adamant to escape and are willing to risk their lives to find a way out. And risk it they will, because in the original timeline the kids all die from exposure in the woods. Gulp.
After their getaway car crashes, Ben (who is in the body of a kid named Ben!) and fellow troubled youths Roy, Stacy and Leah trek off through the woods with little supplies and a shaky plan to find a way out. After nearly running out of supplies, Addison helps them find a cabin — but the instructors from the camp track them down there, and Leah has to turn herself in to help the rest of the kids escape.
But instead of going on the run, they enlist the help of Leah’s uncle (who works at a local TV station) to expose the camp and shut it down for good. The gambit works, and Ziggy gives us the rundown of those troubled kids, who go on to live great, productive lives now that Ben has helped set them on a better path. They also remain lifelong friends, galvanized by their shared trauma and experiences.
The soundtrack is also a lot of fun, and it was great to see Quantum Leap tackle the 1990s with some classic grunge tunes pumping for ambiance.
Quantum Leap returns to NBC with new episodes in early 2023. In the meantime, you can catch up on the first half of Season 1 streaming on Peacock.