Tuesday, January 30, 2024

REVIEW: 'Quantum Leap' - A Selfish Lawyer Makes a Convincing Argument for How Ben Should Live His Life in 'Off the Cuff'

NBC's Quantum Leap - Episode 2.09 "Off the Cuff"

When Ben leaps into a bounty hunter escorting the world's most slippery criminal, a deadly pursuit forces them to go into hiding, but Ben quickly realizes this leap is more than meets the eye. Addison faces a difficult decision.

"Off the Cuff" was written by Alex Berger and directed by Joe Menendez

An algorithm created for a long-defunct government program may hold the key to bringing Ben home. The Quantum Leap team has been working towards that goal for a long time. They gave up after he disappeared for years. They thought there was nothing more they could do. At times, they have believed their assistance on the missions was the extent of what they could give him. Even now, they don't want to provide him with false hope. This new discovery isn't viable yet. Ian cautions everyone that it could take months or years to integrate with the system even if it is exactly what they need. Of course, the audience isn't immune from this false hope. It's a pathway to story for the team in the present day. Their lives are more than just their devotion to the mission. They believe in Ben and want to reunite in person. They haven't found the solution yet. That means they have had to move on with their lives. They can't wait around for Ben to return to pick things up again. That's not fair to them and the sacrifices they've made along the way.

Similarly, the season has provided Ben with love in a new way. It was tangible for him once more. He could physically interact with Hannah. She ignited his passion again. They have had three amazing adventures together so far. It's all happened over the course of a few days for Ben. It's miraculous because the system is bringing them together. However, Hannah goes years without seeing Ben. She previously walked up to strangers hoping to run into the leaper again. Ben promised he would find her. She no longer had to be waiting for him to come around and provide her life with meaning. She has plenty of opportunities to do that for herself. Nine years is a long time though. She still recognizes Ben. Her life has more complications in 1970. She's married. She's a mother. She's proud of everything she's achieved. She still runs into Ben in the middle of the leap. She helps him change lives. Their bond is simply tested in a new way.

Ben wants to protect Hannah from the threats that lurk on the horizon. Initially, he's just meant to deliver Kevin to prison. He will be safe in that environment. Ben doesn't know how that could be the extent of what he's suppose to do. The leaps are always more personal than that. Sure, he would be saving Kevin from certain death. That would simply be trading one prison for another. That's not a life. Kevin isn't beyond redemption either. Everyone is so quick to write him off. He's incredibly smart and crafty. He always aims to protect his interests. He practices radical selfishness. He proclaims that over and over. That dialogue is enforced until Ben and Addison decide to embrace it for themselves. They need to protect themselves in order to withstand all that this mission requires. It may not lead them back to each other. It may offer no comfort whatsoever. It's what they must embrace in order to move forward. That's important because more lives are in need of saving.

Addison has been forced to handle a lot. So many twists are constantly being thrown at her. She discovered the ring. She knew Tom was going to propose. And then, Tom shares that Ben could be coming home. That presents Addison with a choice of which man she wants. To accept Ben like that again, she would be acknowledging that her life would be on pause until he comes home. That isn't a guarantee. Meanwhile, Tom has proven himself as someone helping her deal with so much emotional turmoil. When her life gets complicated, Tom has been there to help her make sense of it all. He's been supportive throughout the relaunch of the mission. Addison asks him to propose. She spoils all his grand romantic plans. She knows how he feels. She is ready to start a life with him. It's full of enthusiasm. That's the mindset a person needs to be in to accept this kind of love and commitment. It comes at the expense of Ben. However, that's the trade off for embarking on the Quantum Leap mission in the first place.

Ben was struggling with his emotions for awhile. He couldn't have Addison as his hologram. That only reminded him of what was lost. Time doesn't move linearly for him anymore. He traverses years instantly. Three dates is enough for him to know he loves Hannah. That's abundantly clear to everyone around him. He can't hide how he feels. He's devastated upon realizing she has built a life in New Jersey. He's also proud of her accomplishments. They still have a shorthand that makes problem solving easy. Kevin questions if they know each other. They do. They just can't explain it. It's because of that genius that they save lives. The criminals are arrested and going to prison. Kevin starts over in South America. That's a different life for him. It's still one full of possibilities. Meanwhile, Ben wants to intervene upon learning Josh is going to die in eighteen months. He wants to save Hannah from that pain and agony. That's a devastating update Addison provides. Ben is powerless to change it. Hannah will survive it all. Her life is capable of having love for many people. It's a complex life that Ben didn't have to reckon with before. Now, he knows that Addison and Hannah deserve happiness beyond what he can provide. Their moments together are still special. They are also limited given how they perceive time. It's rewarding while also highlighting Ben's selflessness. He's unlike Kevin in that way. Being selfish for Ben means protecting himself and allowing others to thrive. He can't stand in the way despite how he feels. That's the way life is. He isn't the only person changing the world. He's just alone in doing so. He relies on people who have the promise of lives outside work.