Quantum Leap Episode 2 Review: Atlantis

Swiss cheese memory provides protective side effects in the Quantum Leap reboot's much-improved second outing.

QUANTUM LEAP -- “Atlantis” Episode 102 -- Pictured: Raymond Lee as Dr. Ben Song
Photo: Ron Batzdorff | NBC

This Quantum Leap review contains spoilers.

Quantum Leap Episode 2

Quantum Leap episode one may have underwhelmed viewers with a heavy lean on backstory and character introductions, but episode two, “Atlantis,” picks up the pace and fills in some of the holes left unfulfilled by the pilot.

Just like Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) in the original series, Dr. Ben Song (Raymond Lee) is a victim of Swiss Cheese amnesia, a side effect of his time-leaping jumps through the Quantum Leap Project’s massive accelerator. While Sam’s memory deficits were encouraged to help shield him from knowledge that may impact his missions adversely, like the fact that he had a wife in the present, Ben’s memory-holes are a matter of national security. Until the Quantum Leap Project’s team knows more about why Ben jumped, they don’t want him remembering either…just in case his intentions are nefarious.

Team lead and military man, Herbert “Magic” Williams (Ernie Hudson) laid down this law in no uncertain terms and, as a result, those who work under him squirm and try to find their footing. More than once, team members note that Ben was the glue holding them together, always knowing what to say and how to navigate the political waters of government, military, and civilian. Without Ben, the team does split, with Magic on one side, and Addison Augustine (Caitlin Bassett), Ben’s hologram helper and jilted fiancée, on the other. That leaves security guru Jenn Chou (Nanrisa Lee) and tech wizard Ian Wright (Mason Alexander Park) to meet in the middle and establish a new team dynamic that has them tag-teaming and playing their corners: Jenn-Magic and Ian-Addison.

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The writing in “Atlantis” allows us to see Ben’s skills as a negotiator, and not just tell us about them, when Ben, in the body of a doomed astronaut aboard a ship with a damaged heat shield, convinces the shuttle Commander to send an S.O.S. to the Russians, who are also in space and not too far away. Ben’s aptitude as an intermediary between disagreeing factions in a life-or-death situation is further highlighted by his courage when he flings himself through the abyss and uses his body as a door knocker. For the first time, a real similarity between Sam and Ben is clear: both men have hearts of gold and are willing to risk it all for hope in the common good.

Not only do the viewers begin to understand that Ben can be trusted, Addison also remembers that, no matter how mysterious and problematic their current circumstances, Ben is on a mission that must be good and necessary because that is his nature. Apologies eventually abound between heavy-handed Magic and sleight-of-hand Addison. As the team coalesces, Magic realizes just how critical Addison is when she hands over the key that is the first clue in unlocking Ben’s true intentions for his mysterious, unauthorized leap. And Addison, who has been training for years to be the leaper flying solo through dimensional time, realizes she can’t solve the problem alone. The Quantum Leap Project’s team is finally working together.

In fact, a lot of things in this Quantum Leap sequel are starting to work. When Ben unbuckles his seatbelt on the shuttle Atlantis for the first time and drifts weightlessly up to the sky window, he appears to be entranced and stargazing to his fellow astronauts, but he is also using the reflection to gaze into his new face. When his space journey ends and he leaps into his next body, he quickly receives just punishment for running off from his engagement party to meet another woman who assists his leap into the great beyond.

This “other” woman is confirmed in “Atlantis” as Janis Calavicci, the daughter of Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell), the original holographic sidekick. Janis (Georgina Reilly) is fairly creepy when she comes on the screen and is in Ben’s and Addison’s home, searching the bookshelf where hours earlier Addison found Ben’s hidden thumb drive that would unlock part of the mystery. Apparently, Janis knows more about Ben than Addison does. That can’t sit well, but it serves to enliven the drama that must ensue as Janis continues to clash with the team. Even though it’s clear that Janis is well-equipped to thwart the team, what’s not clear yet is whether she can be trusted. For instance, Janis tells Magic in their phone conversation that Ben reached out to her, not the other way around. Yet, Magic has gone through Ben’s finances with a fine-toothed comb and there is no evidence that Ben was paying Janis or funding their illicit work.       

There is much to look forward to as Janis’s intentions and plans are further revealed. Showrunner, Martin Gero, confirmed to TVLine that Magic’s experience as a body leapt into by Dr. Sam Beckett in season 3 of the original series will be explored in the sequel’s episode 4. As all these links between the original show and the sequel are unveiled, we draw one step closer to bringing our leaper home.

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.     

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3.5 out of 5