Quantum Leap Begins to Unpack the Mystery of Evil Leapers
Quantum Leap delivers an antepenultimate episode rife with lobotomies, attempted murder, and a mole reveal.
This Quantum Leap review contains spoilers.
Quantum Leap Episode 16
Quantum Leap’s “Ben, Interrupted” warrants a heartfelt, Oh boy! This episode embodies all the scary intensity one can imagine in a trip to a mental institution in 1954, an era rife with the torture and murder of patients in the name of science. At the height of malpractice, a spouse, typically a husband, could easily have their “loved one” committed. Such is the situation of Judith; the young woman Dr. Ben Song (Raymond Lee) is supposed to save.
Judith’s husband brought her to the George’s Island Asylum where she is diagnosed and “treated” for hysteria, which translates, in Judith’s case, to a woman who is unable to bear children. Ben’s host is a private detective, Liam O’Connor, who is paid handsomely by Judith’s sister to go undercover and help Judith escape by becoming a patient himself. In the original timeline, neither Liam nor Judith ever make it out of the George’s Island Asylum.
Every leap is high stakes, but “Ben, Interrupted” raises the bar on what it means to get stuck in the past. If Ben gets stuck in 1954, his fate is joined with the reality of zombifying narcotic treatments, lobotomy and craniotomy (awake brain surgery). While Ian (Mason Alexander Park) runs diagnostics to help Ziggy map an escape route out of the asylum, they receive two critical alerts.
First, Janis Calavicci (Georgina Reilly) is on house arrest at her mother’s place and tampers with her ankle monitor. When Magic (Ernie Hudson) rolls up to question Janis, she is still at home, safe and sound. The Quantum Leap project put Janis on the back burner and she’s had enough of being ignored.
Removing her ankle monitor is a ploy akin to making a phone call and getting put through immediately. And she delivers shocking news: this is Ben’s last chance to stop Leaper X, a.k.a Richard Martinez (Walter Perez), from reaching his destination point where Addison (Caitlin Bassett) will require saving. Somewhat arbitrarily, Ben has only a trinity of chances to intervene. If he fails, then his mission, according to Janis, must be to sabotage the leap and get stuck forever in the asylum, sacrificing himself for the greater good. It’s not only Addison, Ben’s fiancé, who adamantly opposes the plan that Janis says is exactly what Ben wants (if only Ben could remember what he wants). Magic declares for all to hear that he promised Janis’ father, Al Calavicci (the late Dean Stockwell), that he would never allow another leaper to be lost in spacetime.
The team ignores Janis’ pleas and continues doing everything possible to save Judith and Ben and help him leap. The team’s timing with Janis is off. Just moments after learning a little bit more about Ben’s and Janis’ plan, that plan gets tossed out the window. Everyone is now on the level playing field called “The Great Unknown.”
The second alert that Ian receives through Ziggy is the anomaly of Richard Martinez leaping into Ben’s leap. Ian also discovers a misfiled report from the original Quantum Leap project that details Dr. Sam Beckett’s (Scott Bakula) encounters with other leapers….evil leapers. The question remains: is Martinez evil? Martinez and Ben share the same goal: to save Judith and keep leaping. Ian wonders if maybe Ziggy assigned two leapers out of necessity. But Addison is able to forge an alliance with Martinez through the wisdom of working with known hostiles to achieve a goal. Of course, for Martinez, Ben and Addison are the “known hostiles.” But where Martinez uses force to succeed and follows brutal orders, Ben is a pacifist and leads the leap, commanding Martinez and Judith with authority and clever gambits in order to escape the asylum.
On their way up the tunnel ladder to the freedom of the parking lot, Martinez stabs Ben in the neck with a scalpel. He then tells Ben that he is a threat to the greater mission and that his orders are to stop Ben before they cross the end. Yet, Ben’s wound is not severe enough to prevent him from climbing a ladder, walking to a car, and using the flaming hot cigarette lighter to cauterize the puncture. If Martinez had intended to kill Ben, surely his advanced Marine tactics would’ve zeroed in on Ben’s carotid artery or jugular vein, ending his life in 5-15 seconds. Despite Martinez’s attempt to follow orders, it is still unclear whether he is evil or not.
Ever since Jenn (Nanrisa Lee) caught up with and captured Janis in Belize, Quantum Leap has teased a mole reveal. Janis is sure she now knows who, or what, is the spy on the project and she goes as far as smashing Magic’s phone so that no one at HQ will overhear her announcement. It’s Ziggy. The all-seeing, every-helpful AI that Quantum Leap relies upon for nearly every move they take. There is still much left to learn in the final two episodes of Quantum Leap’s first season. In speaking with Den of Geek, Caitlin Basset shared that rules would continue to get broken while Ziggy keeps doing the most throughout this season.
It will be interesting to find out whether Ziggy knows she/it is a spy or if the very nature of AI and time travel places Ziggy in that position due to the nature of the job. As Quantum Leap season 1 winds down, fans have loads of intrigue and resolution still to look forward to in the remaining episodes.
Quantum Leap airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. The sequel’s episodes, as well as all five seasons of the original show, are available to stream on Peacock.