Wednesday, October 4, 2023

REVIEW: 'Quantum Leap' - The Leaps Continue With Ben Unable to Rely on the Team for Support in 'This Took Too Long!'

NBC's Quantum Leap - Episode 2.01 "This Took Too Long!"

Instead of leaping home as expected, Ben finds himself in 1978 aboard a top-secret military flight, transporting mysterious cargo. When the flight comes under attack, the plot deepens as Ben and the crew discover the sobering truth behind their mission.

"This Took Too Long!" was written by Martin Gero and directed by John Terlesky

The Quantum Leap team believed Ben would step out of the quantum accelerator after defeating Martinez. That was his mission. That's why he stepped into the machine in the first place. That wasn't the plan. He lost his memory. Only pieces came back to him at a time. It was enough to ultimately prevail. He did so without having to break his pacifist ways either. The future was saved. Ben fought to protect the people he loves. And yet, something still went wrong. He didn't return home. The leaps continue. It's devastating after everyone got their hopes up.

The first season didn't always do a wonderful job at balancing the stories of Ben's leaps with his team back at Quantum Leap headquarters. Some stories were hampered by the fact that half the narrative had to be devoted to figuring out that grand mythology. Every leap had a purpose for Ben. They each led him to the next step of his goal. He's not home. Everyone wants that. Ben is given a private moment to grieve at first. He's quickly thrown back into the familiar pattern. He arrives in a new place in time with the need to help someone. He's always been aided by Addison who could pinpoint when he was and what he needed to accomplish. That resource isn't there. He knows what's expected of him. He just has to figure it all out on his own. He has no control over what happened elsewhere. He is just meant to be of service to an Air Force unit that has been shot down in Russia.

Ben has learned a lot from these leaps. He trusted the team to guide him back home. Their expertise helped him prevail during some dire situations. No one was willing to let him get trapped in the past. He broke the laws of the project by traveling to the future. He disrupted the system. More memories are coming back to him now. However, that only makes him miss the team more. Memories are the only way he remains connected to Addison, Ian, Jenn and Magic. No one appears until he has completed the mission and prepares to leap again. That includes its own bombshell. Ben was presumed dead. He was lost in the quantum accelerator just like Sam was all those years ago. Sam hasn't been seen since. Ben's story is different. He still emerges to realize his world has completely changed. The project was shut down. Once again, he has no time to process this news before leaping to the next adventure. That's what this life of service has become.

Addison was suppose to be the leaper. She was chosen for her military service. She understands the need to sacrifice herself for the greater good. Ben's journey has been different. She stood alongside him every step of the way. She still inspires him into action. He has to trust what she has taught him. He's learned from her from the first day they met. They worked on this project together. They are still a team. No time has passed for Ben. He experiences it differently now. The past is more vivid. The present is full of constant danger. The Air Force crew was deployed on a suicide mission. The military didn't care how many of them survived. They are successfully rescued. That allows each of them to showcase their commitment and devotion to service despite the military choosing to segregate them for who they are. They have the skills to survive. They just need the proper motivation.

Ben ensures history is rewritten. The Quantum Leap team often gets the readouts of what happens in the lives he altered. They are always consequential. That's why the missions are chosen in the first place. Ben helps a lieutenant see the power in her service despite her superiors dismissing her for her gender. She is just as capable of leadership as every generation that came before her in her family. She seeks to honor their memories. She risks her life to save the people in her unit. At first, she's devoted to protecting the mysterious box no matter what. Ben is right to question just how significant this mission is. It's weird the military would trust them with it. Those suspicions are confirmed. It's not a reason to give up. This unit could be killed. They each choose to fight and survive. They are all required to make sure that happens. That's a heavy-handed theme when it comes to disarming a landmine. It's still thematically potent in delivering the story Ben needs right now.

Ben is reminded of this noble service. The motivation was always so clear for Addison. Ben had his own purpose. Now, he must be committed to the actual mission of Quantum Leap. The leaper is tasked with saving lives in the past. The mission comes at the expense of the leaper and those they leave behind. The team spent three years not knowing what happened to Ben. He has no idea why no one is responding to his pleas. He solves the mission. Everything gets a little worse before it gets better. That is expected. It's still inspirational. Ben leads with knowing what the future holds. He knows acceptance is possible for women and queer people in the military eventually. That is only possible because of the inspiration set in generations past where people chose to serve despite the discrimination and isolation they faced. It was all in the name of something greater. Ben feels that impulse too. It's more complicated now because he plays around in time. He may never get home. He has yet to fully accept that. Ian knows Ben is alive. They will alert the team. The project ended after two people were lost in the accelerator. The mission hasn't ended though. Ben still needs help. His team can't give up on him either. They haven't spent every day of the last three years waiting to see if he would ever return. They couldn't live in that stasis forever. It just guarantees more changes once the mission returns to more normalcy in the episodes to come.