Wednesday, October 18, 2023

REVIEW: 'Quantum Leap' - Ben Explores the Possibility of Aliens Causing a Car Accident in 'Closure Encounters'

NBC's Quantum Leap - Episode 2.03 "Closure Encounters"

Now a government agent, Ben investigates unexplained extraterrestrial activity. After a mysterious incident in New Mexico, two young girls' lives are on the line. Ben meets Hannah Carson, who may be more than she appears.

"Closure Encounters" was written by Romy Loor and directed by Chris Grismer

The quantum accelerator pinpoints the precise moment and person Ben needs to leap into to accomplish his mission. He often has enough time to get a sense of his location, the time period and the identity he has assumed. Then, it's quick to the action. He hardly has any time to rest. He can't reflect on anything that has happened on this crazy adventure. That shifts as he is given his first road trip since stepping into the accelerator. He receives clarity right away that he's a federal agent tasked with investigating possible UFO sightings. He debunks the theory. Then, he must spend several hours of driving. It's inconvenient for his overall mission in the late 1940s. It's also the precise opportunity he needs to actually sit in his feelings for a little bit. He's not exactly ready to talk with Addison. The feelings still rise until they explode.

Ben has just been told this bombshell. The team gave up on him. It's only been a few days since he's started leaping again. Everyone else had to move on. Even though they are glad he's alive, they still dealt with those emotions over a long period of time. At times, it seems as if Addison is the only member of the team who has changed. She had the most to grieve. She found a way to move on. Ben now feels betrayed. He doesn't understand how everything could shift in the blink of an eye. It was instantaneous for him. It was a slow-moving process for the rest of the time. They failed. They don't want to lose Ben again now that they have this second chance. And yet, that makes all of them much more cautious. That's in contrast to Ben who suddenly becomes more reckless with his life and the person he has leapt into in the hopes of saving the world for a few people.

The season projects this sense of transformation through the interior lives of the main characters. Overall though, the basic function of the show hasn't shifted at all. The desire is still strong to deliver the same kind of stories as before. As such, that still limits the show to talking extendedly about the time jump without actually making it feel emotionally earned. It's a difficult situation. The show wants the risk of dramatically jumping ahead so Ben feels off as the person who didn't jump to the future. It also wants the satisfaction of saying that three years isn't enough time to alter who these people are or their function on the team. It's a delicate balance. One that purely seems to create obstacles. It highlights Ben's isolation on this mission. He had to make that first leap knowing he may never return home. He has to accept that now. It's futile to continue pinning over Addison. Time will help heal these wounds. They just need the space to actually communicate about their feelings. That's a rare luxury in this line of work. The team still has fun. It's often wrapped up in the dire need to always keep Ben safe. The team left behind often feels that more acutely than him. It just works when it's in the moment as the characters react instead of simply sharing new backstory that's suddenly important.

Of course, the stoicism Ben displays is different than former generations. It's still destructive to let it fester. The comparison is still obvious. Ben needs help from the sheriff in order to uncover the mystery of what happened when two teenage girls crashed their car. One was sent to prison for manslaughter while the other was stuck in a coma. They come from influential families within the community. One just so happens to wield more power than the other. The sheriff comes from a long line of law enforcement. He's also lost every family member besides his granddaughter. He wants to protect her no matter what. That means even entertaining the possibility of aliens. Something unexplainable happened. He needs help to make sense of it. Ben arrives to provide that perspective. He's not meant to discover the aliens. That would please Ian who recognizes the probability of other intelligent lifeforms in the universe. That's not what this story is about. It's focused on bringing families together and saving lives. The team has to move in support of that mission. Ben is living it every single day. It's toughest on his body. He needs support now more than ever. No one has the capacity to hesitate for a single moment.

All Ben needs to do is remain conscious enough for Addison to explore the military facility that is secretly operating nearby. He's drugged. That wear and tear on his body has the potential to do lots of damage. The show heightens those threats. It's all relatively fine in the end. Everyone seemingly worries over nothing. He knows what he's doing. Even if he's making a bad decision, he expects his support system to continue providing guidance to make his plan a reality. That is a dangerous mindset as he continues on this journey. It has always served him so far. He has prevailed in every mission with Addison by his side. She questions if she is still the right person to be the hologram. Other members of the team have stepped into that role when required. Ben and Addison's connection is still real. They just have to find the right balance. They do so when exposing the military base and the abuses being done on this town. However, Addison has the comfort of returning home to Tom. Meanwhile, Ben only leaps after reaching out to Hannah, the diner waitress, to ensure she's set on the path to a more prosperous future worthy of her scientific talents moving forward. Those human connections are necessary to support and enrich even if they don't immediately come across as the core objective of what must be done.