Monday, October 17, 2022

Quantum Leap: Salvation or Bust

Leaping into the Old West is some serious Bill & Ted stuff. Dr. Ben Song shouldn’t be able to do it, but apparently, he can, thanks to the new algorithm he mysteriously uploaded just before jumping. Nobody is more confused by these new rules than the staff of the Quantum Leap project. Song already leaped beyond his own lifetime. Now he leaps well beyond that of his predecessor (Dr. Sam Beckett) in “Salvation or Bust,” tonight’s episode of the Quantum Leap continuation series.

Unfortunately, Song is an annoying pacifist, unlike his lover and holographic guide, Addison Augustine, who learn is a military veteran. Apparently, the need to forcibly stand up to aggression is the only thing they ever really argued about. Rather inconveniently, Song now finds himself in the body of an aging Mexican-American gunslinger, whose granddaughter expects him to stand up to the outlaws trying to run-out the good citizens of Salvation. Unfortunately, even if Song did not have a hang-up regarding guns, his host body just isn’t what it used to be.

Meanwhile, Magic Williams and his team have to handle a surprise visit from a member of their congressional oversight committee. Of course, she wants to talk to Song, who obviously isn’t available. Again, Ernie Hudson makes the most of his screen-time as the smooth-talking Williams. If this series shifted its primary focus to him, we would be entirely fine with it.

The Old West stuff is done relatively well, not entirely vindicating the viewpoints of either Song or Augustine. In fact, this is a good episode for her character development, revealing dimensions viewers can appreciate. Augustine, along with Williams, give viewers two very sympathetic military veterans to identify with, which is well above average for most of science fiction television produced recently.

At this point, we’re hooked, especially given the kicker at the end of “Salvation” that obviously has enormous long-term implications. The stakes keep rising and the supporting characters continue to enrich the series lore. By jumping back to the Old West, it shows the continuation series can explore time-travel options not available to its predecessor, while still respecting its tone and spirit. NBC just added an additional eight episodes to their first season order, so there will definitely be more to come. “Salvation or Bust” engages in some truly old school time travel, so it is a good place for reluctant fans to start. It airs tonight (10/17) on NBC and then streams with the rest of the series on Peacock.