Wednesday, December 6, 2023

REVIEW: 'Quantum Leap' - Ben Leaps to a Time With Relatively Few Details Known About What Happens in 'A Kind of Magic'

NBC's Quantum Leap - Episode 2.07 "A Kind of Magic"

Ben leaps back to 1692 - the farthest he's ever been - where he finds himself on trial for practicing witchcraft. With limited records online, the team must race to save him before he's put to death.

"A Kind of Magic" was written by Margarita Matthews and directed by Avi Youabian

The majority of Ben's leaps have taken place in the 20th and 21st centuries. The adventures are no longer contained to a time when Ben was alive. He's removed from those prior restrictions. That results in an episode set in 1692 where Ben is accused of witchcraft. That sets a new record for farthest back in time he's gone by nearly 200 years. That's a remarkable distinction. One that doesn't feel random. In the first season, it was explained that Ben needed to push the limits of the leaps in order to gather enough momentum to make his trip into the future. That was the only way to stop Martinez. And now, he lands in a town adjacent to Salem, Massachusetts where very few records remain. This season has focused more on the team learning to cope with the reality of their defined roles within the missions. Things have changed because Ben was gone for three years. The work still remains the same.

New connections are being discovered as well. Ben had never interacted with the same person twice before. And now, he trusts Hannah with the details of his mission. He doesn't know when or where he will meet her next. However, that's a guarantee at this point. That improbability has been broken. A new feat is accomplished simply by landing in colonial America. Ben and Ian have many theories as to what happened to cause this town to run rampant with hysteria. A vicious disease could be causing them to lose their minds. A drought has made them desperate over the lack of drinking water. They also leap to accusations when someone does something they don't understand. Ben changes history early on. William was meant to be one of the victims from the outbreak. Instead, Ben saved him by performing CPR in front of the entire congregation. Ben's original mission is easy. However, that's not the only way he can make a difference in this community.

Ben is tasked with preventing Goody from being burned at the stake. That's already a break from history as most witches were hung for their alleged crimes. This is meant to convey an escalation of the drama. It highlights just how desperate this community has become. Their town feels cursed. Someone must be held responsible. That is the only way they can change their fates and earn good fortune once more. They need to prosper. Yet everyone is quick to play into the hysteria. They move with certainty simply because one person in authority makes a damning accusation. People insisting they are not a witch is enough to condemn them to this dire fate. In truth, the water from the well has been contaminated. That's why the citizens continually smell sulfur. A solution is readily available too once the citizens are willing to acknowledge the problem and embrace the solution. Ben needed to solve that mystery. He had to help the town and not just one person. Ziggy is good at analyzing how people will react. That doesn't always have immediate benefits. The process simply must be trusted. Ben must be too despite the unnecessary risks he takes sometimes.

Ben is the one actually interacting with people. He's in charge of altering lives as detailed by the project. The rest of the team monitor his progress through a screen. They are removed from the conflict. They want the best for Ben. He doesn't always make it easy. When people are at a crossroads, he pushes for them to make the decision. He doesn't seek to influence their choices based on what will end the leap fastest. He's engaged with their humanity. He sees their lives full of possibilities. Every leap has to mean something. He is tasked with making a difference or forever being lost to history if he fails. He brings families together. He heals wounds. He saves lives. It's not fair to leave anyone behind. It doesn't matter how they treated others in the past. They deserve more grace and kindness than they may deserve. Ben has always led with that empathy. He wants the entire town to know how irrational they have been acting. They need to trust in one another in order to overcome any adversity they face. They survive and prosper seemingly because of an act of faith. Ben uses that to his advantage. However, Ian could predict that rain was coming. That served as a crucial sign. When people hold onto the past, they simply doom their present.

All of this suggests Ben is willing to move on from his past as well. He is eager to see what a friendship with Addison can be. It won't be easy. He's ready to address those lingering feelings. He always felt secure when she was his hologram. The last few episodes have shown that any member of the team could step into that role. They each helped Ben in their own unique way. It presented this project more as a unified effort to change the world. That offered more complexity to all of the characters. Of course, it was also clear the show was just biding time until Addison could return to that role. It couldn't happen immediately. That wouldn't be true to the emotions Ben was feeling. He has relatively few choices now that he's the leaper. He exerted control in this one area. A break was what he needed. That pushed Addison away. She has felt adrift without a purpose. Magic offered guidance. She isn't exactly given an opportunity to see what else she could accomplish in this project. Instead, she's right back to operating as the main hologram. She made peace with that. She has endured too many changes already. It's back to what has long been known and familiar. Circumstances are different though given her relationship with Tom and Ben's connection with Hannah. Those will have to be carefully navigated moving forward. Both Ben and Addison are willing to do that now.