This article contains spoilers for Quantum Leap season 2 episode 7.
“His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear.”
This description, which accompanied the introduction of most episodes of the original Quantum Leap, firmly set in stone the in-show rules for a hologram from the future. There was only one person, Al (Dean Stockwell), who could help Sam (Scott Bakula). Very rarely did the original series change this and the same held true throughout much of season 1 of the new Quantum Leap series, with Addison (Caitlin Bassett) as hologram to Ben (Raymond Lee.)
Towards the end of the first season, however, the new show began to experiment with this long held paradigm. Without the constraints the original series had, that Al’s brain waves were linked to Sam’s and thus it was difficult for anyone else to contact him, other members of the new Project Quantum Leap have taken on the role of hologram. This increased in season two, with Ben not comfortable having Addison around after their time travel induced breakup. Different members of the team have taken turns as a hologram every episode, each lending their expertise to Ben. But up to now it’s mostly been one person taking on the role of hologram per episode.
That changed in the most recent episode of season 2, “A Kind of Magic” where Ian (Mason Alexander Park), Jenn (Nanrisa Lee), and Addison all got a chance to be the hologram and help Ben avoid death after being accused of witchcraft in 1692. First up was Ian, who used their ability as a hologram no one else can see or hear to listen in on gossip around the town to get Ben up to speed on what he was dealing with. Jenn, after researching the history of the town, runs in to advise Ben on how to get out of being put on trial. Addison even gets back into the mix after being on the sidelines for much of the season when she’s the only one who can explain to Ben what he needs to do to keep the town from killing him.
This use of different characters jumping in and out of hologram duty was not just a blast to see; it provided some much needed connection between the usually separate plots of what’s happening on the leap and the goings on at the Project. Instead of Ian and Jenn off on some B story, they’re involved with the leap and their scenes are directly impacted by how they’re helping Ben. With Ian as hologram, Jenn is forced into their usual duty of research, made doubly difficult for her because there aren’t any computer records so she’s forced to use archives at the library. This leads to a hilarious comedy bit where Jenn, lugging a giant stack of books into the Project, yells at Ian about what she’s learned. She has to rush into hologram duty because there isn’t time to explain.
Even when they aren’t acting as Ben’s hologram we get fun ways being on the leap impacts them. Ian conducts a séance to try and get help from their grandmother while Jenn rolls her eyes at it all. Addison, left on the sidelines, has a heart to heart with Magic where we finally get some insight into her diminished role at the Project. First she was supposed to be the leaper and now, forced out as a hologram, she describes herself as “the worst intern ever.” While Ian and Jenn bicker, Addison puts the pieces together on how to save Ben and since the other two can’t explain it properly to him, Addison is forced to go in.
At the end of the episode Ben finally gets past the awkwardness with Addison and asks her to be his hologram. This makes it seem that Addison will be back to full-time hologram duty but we hope that isn’t the case. The variety in this episode was a great change of pace and it let the underutilized characters of Ian and Jenn shine. In the future it’d be great to see more of the different dynamics and viewpoints multiple leapers would bring to a plot, best of which being that for Ian and Jenn? The idea of being a hologram is super fun! The two actively compete over who gets the honor of doing it, which helps keep a sense of fun in the series not just in the Leap plots but in the Project scenes as well.
This may sound like an indictment on Addison as the hologram but this season has demonstrated that giving her material to work without outside the leaps gives her more depth as a character. Spreading the role of hologram around to everyone in the cast, even Magic (Ernie Hudson) and Tom (Peter Gadiot) got turns earlier in the season, would lead to a more fun, dynamic, and better structured Quantum Leap moving forward.
New episodes of Quantum Leap season 2 premiere Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.