Quantum Leap Episode 5 Review: Salvation or Bust
Another leaper enters the fray as Quantum Leap confronts some big questions from the original series.
This Quantum Leap review contains spoilers.
Quantum Leap Episode 5
Leaping through spacetime is not solely the domain of quantum physicists Ben Song (Raymond Lee) and Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula). In this week’s installment of Quantum Leap, episode five “Salvation or Bust,” an unknown leaper appears just as Ben and Addison (Caitlin Bassett) are celebrating their success at putting things right in Salvation, a diverse Old Western town built for outcasts circa 1879.
The revelation that there are other leapers doesn’t require any suspension of disbelief since “other leapers,” specifically evil ones, were a part of the Quantum Leap universe thirty years ago when Sam was bounding through history. In fact, many humans today experience a form of quantum leaping regularly when driving their cars with the help of the Global Positioning System (GPS). GPS engineers tally the spacetime continuum in relation to a satellite’s orbital speed and position along with the impact of Earth’s gravity on the satellite. Clocks on the GPS satellites perceive time in acceleration due to the way that gravity warps space, and so our smartphone’s map function can predict exactly when we should turn right or left in our vehicles. This is only possible if the satellites are directing us from a future point in time, even if it is only seconds in the future.
No matter how common quantum leaping is, the unknown leaper is not happy about Ben following him through time and warns him to stop. Although it’s not explicitly stated what kind of leaper this mystery time-traveler might be, the menacing tone, coupled with this leaper’s ability to enter a time and place at will to hold a direct conversation with an intended subject, is reminiscent of the “Evil Leaper,” who was the focus of only three episodes in the original series’ canon.
The original “Evil Leaper,” Alia (Renée Coleman), leaped in red light splashes, rather than blue like Sam, and her missions focused on doing harm. When her missions failed, she was tortured by an evil entity, heavily hinted at as being the Devil himself. But Sam and Alia share one hope: that the next leap will be their leap home. They both relied on a hologram support person and used a computer to predict outcomes of their interventions in history. Sam and Al had Ziggy, and Alia and her evil hologram counterpart, Zoey (Carolyn Seymour), depended on an artificial intelligence called Lothos.
Lothos may be Ziggy-adjacent in function, but the evil computer operating system controlled the red leaps. In the original series, Lothos was more advanced than Ziggy because Lothos could launch a leaper intentionally to a specific time and place. Sam subconsciously (with God’s help) controlled his leaps to places where good was needed but not to a pinpoint on the map of time and location.
The Quantum Leap revival points to Ziggy’s technological advancements as it is now well-known that Ben is leaping along a defined trajectory, which he manipulates by employing a gravitational slingshot maneuver allowing him to leap back farther into time and outside of this own lifespan while following a mapped-out plan of historic points, people, and places. Dr. Ian Wright (Mason Alexander Park) discovered this and described it in episode three, “Somebody Up There Likes Ben.”
The mystery leaper at the end of episode five confirms that Ben is leaping by the power of computer coding, and not just by his subconscious, when he accuses Ben of chasing him through spacetime. It’s not clear yet that this other Quantum Leap project is evil, but the few words spoken by the new leaper certainly place Ben on an opposing team.
No fan of the original Quantum Leap is likely to forget that Sam was able to convert the evil leaper, Alia, to the good. The last time we saw Alia leap, she went out in a blaze of blue glory, like Sam always does. The visual of her leap was no longer marked by the evil, red light of Lothos.
A big question arises when the audience meets this other leaper at the end of “Salvation or Bust.” How did he find Ben? Sam’s efforts to protect Alia from her evil hologram, Zoey, provide a possible answer. Sam hypnotized Alia, causing her to forget who she was entirely, this shielded her brainwaves from Lothos’ and Zoey’s detection, and they couldn’t find Alia to force her back to the dark side as a result of this amnesia-induced, brainwave-shield.
As the holes in Ben’s Swiss cheese memory are filled with remembrances of his childhood, personal hobbies, and his love for Addison, his brain waves become stronger and more perceptible to other artificial intelligences navigating spacetime. The more Ben knows himself, the more that awareness is tapped into by other entities in the quantum paradigm, making him knowable and, therefore, trackable.
This acceleration of memory and brain waves implies that the audience, and Ben, will likely meet this other leaper again. The more they interact and push up against each other in conflict, the more likely we are to learn what Ben is doing and why. Ben’s improving amnesia will hasten the unveiling of the reasons behind his risky, unauthorized leap. The Quantum Leap project team needs full access to this truth in order to navigate Ben back to the place…and the people…that he calls 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.