Wednesday, November 15, 2023

REVIEW: 'Quantum Leap' - Ben Reunites With a Friend Who Loves Albert Einstein as Much as He Does in 'Secret History'

NBC's Quantum Leap - Episode 2.06 "Secret History"

At Princeton University in 1955, Ben must find a formula hidden by Albert Einstein that holds the key to nuclear energy before the Nazis get it. He's surprised to run into a familiar face on campus.

"Secret History" was written by Drew Lindo and directed by Pamela Romanowsky

For the first time, Ben encounters someone for a second time during a leap. It's in a completely different time and setting. It's not a situation like Martinez. He isn't battling an evil leaper targeting him and the team. His interaction with Hannah is something different altogether. She continues to move through time linearly. Ben just happens to meet her again at a different point in her life. She was placed on this path because of his advice at the diner. She was deserving of a greater future. She was helpful in the former mission investigating potential UFO activity in New Mexico during the 1940s. However, she wasn't the core focus. She wasn't the person Ben was tasked with saving. He felt a connection nevertheless. The leap wasn't done until he helped her too. And now, that bond continues to build. Both of them recognize immediately that this isn't a coincidence. It's all happening for a reason. They may not know the full extent. They trust the process.

At first, Ben is tasked with discovering a missing formula Albert Einstein solved before he died. It potentially holds the key to unlocking a sustainable energy source. That would dramatically alter the future. The team recognizes the major potential ramifications of this discovery. The seventy years that followed would be completely different. The stakes of this mission are more consequential than any other leap. The stakes always remain personal. Ben inquires about Hannah's future. He wants more for her. Her accomplishments should be recognized. She shouldn't be destined to always have credit taken away from her. Of course, that requires more agency and dimension on her part as well. Ben offers that by confusing his truth. He confides in her the true nature of his mission. He's not some visiting professor who has nothing to do with her past. He's encountered her before. And now, they have the potential to build on that relationship.

Jenn theorizes that Ben may just need a friend. She has no answers for why this is happening. She offers guidance as the hologram early on. She later gets distracted. Instead, she has to help Ian with their latest security threat. They rely on trust. That's the only way they can continue dealing with the threats as they come up. Ian discovered that information from Quantum Leap was being stolen. They stopped it from happening. They don't have complete control over the system. They have to fight to regain it. It seems relatively easy right now. It doesn't present as a significant problem. All the trappings are there to suggest that this isn't the end of the conflict. Ian and Jenn have simply averted the worst from happening at this particular moment. They handle it by themselves. Rachel is a crucial asset as well. She is willing to help Ian when they're actually honest with her. That's the true display of love. It's still an overall storyline where the basic plot points are being hit instead of allowing the audience to feel the emotions alongside the characters. It's tangential even though the outsized nature of the threat is obvious to see. The connections aren't present to rise to the level of concern for everyone across the narrative.

Everything moves quickly between Ben and Hannah as well. This is only the second episode focusing on them. That's essentially the same amount of time the show has devoted to building this new external threat to Quantum Leap. And yet, the adventure in the past feels more grounded and personal. It's based entirely in character and their emotions. Sure, Ben is fighting to save Hannah's life. That takes over as the mission. He has to prevent her death. If she inputs the formula into the research project, she will die in a fiery explosion. The government is only interested in this research to build bombs. Moreover, the project is compromised because former Nazi scientists have been trusted with power. They haven't renounced their views. They are still motivated by destroying their enemies. They simply must act more covertly now. They were given the opportunity to thrive. It came at the expense of so many who trusted the government to hold them accountable for their crimes. The team recognizes that threat. Hannah is protected. She's trusted with this secret. She doesn't believe this will be the last time she interacts with Ben. Their reunion is certain. Plus, she now carries Einstein's formula thanks to her photographic memory. Her future research will be guided by that discovery. She will chart the course for how it's utilized instead of the weapons others strived to create.

People deserve to be honest with one another. Ben has to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders all the time. He's fighting to prevent death. He aims to save lives. He isn't a soldier. He's not trained like Addison and Tom. He acts with compassion. He's still often trapped in dangerous situations. His actions have consequences for everyone involved. It isn't easy for Tom to step in as the hologram. It's the only viable option. Ben can't focus with Addison serving that function. He and Tom are alike in that way. They mourn the people they love. Tom's wife died. Him sharing his grief provided clarity for Addison when she was going through the same process. She doesn't want him to forget the past and what his wife meant to him. He shouldn't hide her away. Those feelings are valid. They don't take away from the present. Ben is constantly living in the past. An attempt to go to the future doesn't work for very long. That too invites plenty of consequences to the timeline. Ben is careful and precise with his actions. He's furious over what's happening with the team while he's gone. He's protective of them. He's also far removed. Hannah is someone he can tangibly connect with right now. As such, those feelings present as the more viable option despite the uncertainty and the constantly changing nature of his mission. He accepts that even though he still wants to return home soon.