Wednesday, October 25, 2023

REVIEW: 'Quantum Leap' - Ben Risks Everything in Pursuit of a Grand Romantic Gesture in 'The Lonely Hearts Club'

NBC's Quantum Leap - Episode 2.04 "The Lonely Hearts Club"

Ben leaps into the body of an ambitious Hollywood assistant whose famous client, Neal Russell, is in danger. As Ben realizes that Neal's circumstances may shed light on his own, his working relationship with Addison reaches an inflection point.

"The Lonely Hearts Club" was written by Kristy Lowrey and directed by M.J. Bassett

As the new addition to the team, Tom could easily function as a disruptor to the normal patterns developed over a season. The team notes how life-saving he was when it came to grieving Ben's disappearance. Everyone loves him. He has the authority to bring the project back to life with full support from the Department of Defense. He has grand aspirations to prove to the federal government the necessity of this project. His actions also showcase his good deeds. He sees the value in letting others take the lead. He recognizes his place. He offers more bureaucracy by auditing the inefficiencies of the program. He comes in questioning everything. That highlights how secrets are still being kept. However, he too has a role to play. He's aspirational while recognizing how powerless he feels despite playing around in time. It's a learning curve for everyone. And yet, they are all welcoming of Tom which eases whatever consumes the viewer may have about this newcomer to the world of Quantum Leap.

Moreover, Tom investigates the central purpose of the entire series. He wonders if the quantum accelerator was purposefully designed to never let the leaper return home. Sam has been lost for thirty years. Ben entered the chamber to save Addison. He saw that as the only way to protect her. He succeeded in that mission. The leaps didn't stop. He still has a role to fill. He can still make a difference in countless lives. Everyone just has to stop believing in the notion that he will one day return home. This is his new normal now. It's not just an adventure that will define one chapter of his life. He sacrificed everything to be of service to others. Magic understands that countless people will continue to make that choice regardless of what happens to Ben. They have to approach the project with a different perspective. The team is personally attached to Ben. He simply may not be the only person who enters the chamber to maintain the good work the federal government now expects.

Those are the big questions being posed this season. One aspect of the mission failed. The team grieved Ben's loss. They learned how to move on with their lives. Ian never lost hope of finding Ben. Because of his actions, the whole process has started over again. It came at a significant cost though. People have always reassured Ian of their good intentions. They still hurt the people they love. They kept a secret from Rachel. Their relationship blossomed once more because Ian was willing to be more vulnerable. Ian relied on her connections to develop the technology to enhance the search perimeters for Ben. Their crazy theory worked. It just created a security breach at Quantum Leap. Jenn knew the truth of what Ian was doing. She helped them gain access once the project ended. It's not a secret they can afford to keep any longer. Magic knows Ian and Jenn are always scheming. It doesn't bother him until the threat rises significantly. That's how he manages the team. He trusts their instincts. That's how they've survived this long. Vulnerabilities have opened up because Ian was willing to risk it all to save his friend. That's a truth that requires some significant reckoning and introspection as well.

Meanwhile, the last two leaps have been emotionally grueling on Ben. Everything is suddenly different for him. He has to be okay with all of it immediately. As a result, he encourages actor Neal Russell to pursue the big romantic gesture of reuniting with his ex-wife. That's not what this situation requires. Ben's judgment is clouded. His personal connection with Addison has always fueled their partnership as leaper and hologram. Things are different now. Addison can no longer reliably serve in that role. They have this shared history. That helped Ben overcome many obstacles previously. At this moment, her presence is a distraction. No one wants Ben to get stuck in the past. He deserves to succeed in every leap. That way he can continue changing lives. He doesn't get to live one in return. Addison is thrilled by the prospect of more Neal Russell movies to watch. Ben won't be able to join her. Instead, it's a new experience she gets to enjoy with Tom. That's the relationship that is tangible. It took an entire season for Ben to physically interact with the people he trusts completely once more. The loss of that connection was brutal. And now, he's suffering even more so. He's lost Addison even though she still offers support during the leaps.

Ben is tasked with mending relationships. At times, those are so consequential that they can dramatically shift the course of a person's life. Ben believes his mission with Neal has to be more than getting him to an appearance on The Tonight Show to promote his memoir. It has to delve deeper into the complexity of this human being. Once again, Ben sees his journey mirrored in the person he's tasked with saving. He projects what he wants the situation to be. However, it's much more valuable for Neal to connect with his daughter. That's a relationship that can still become something nurturing and healthy. All hope is lost as it pertains to Neal's ex-wife. She has moved on with her life. She's happily getting married to someone new. They are destined to last. Addison has that clarity. Ben has to be willing to listen. Similarly, he has to be willing to share that their partnership no longer works. Other members of the team are capable of stepping in as the hologram. They have done so before. That has been Addison's core job though. That's her role on the team. And now, she's tasked with being something new. All of this is much harder than they expected. Tom trusts Ben and Addison to take the lead. They have to set the tone for how this is going to work. They can't be completely professional. A change is needed. It's just heartbreaking as they both arrive at those points of clarity. They are combative and emotional. This is what they've been driven to based on the obstacles that have appeared on the mission. Acceptance is powerful. That doesn't make it easy.