Monday, March 20, 2023

Quantum Leap: Ben, Interrupted

In the original Quantum Leap series, Dr. Sam Beckett encountered “evil leapers,” who were trying to set wrong events that had gone right. Dr. Ben Song’s rival, Richard Martinez, a.k.a. “Leaper X,” insists he is not one of them, but he would say that, wouldn’t he? Regardless, Song finds himself reluctantly working with his presumed antagonist in “Ben, Interrupted,” tonight’s episode of Quantum Leap.

This time around, Song’s host is a private detective going undercover in a notorious 1950s mental asylum, sort of like Nelly Bly did, but without a good exit strategy in place. Fortunately, Song has the Quantum Leap team and their AI, Ziggy, to help guide him. His mission is to rescue his client’s sister, who was committed by her husband, for the sake of a quick and easy divorce. However, Song probably won’t be able to leap if one or both of them is lobotomized.

As a further complication, Martinez leaps into the body of one of the thuggish orderly-enforcers. He claims he wants to help, but Song is understandably wary. Nevertheless, he does not have a lot of options.

This is the first episode in a while that really digs into the “Leaper X” subplot. In addition, there is also more intrigue and drama involving Janis Calavicci, who apparently assisted Song make his unsanctioned leap. That means this episode really involves time travel, rather than mere small-bore family melodrama. The stakes are also huge, at least for Song.

Happily, “Ben, Interrupted” suggests the continuation series has recovered its footing, after a few mid-season stumbles. It ranks with some of the better episodes, like “S.O.S,” “Decent Proposal,” O Ye of Little Faith,” "Leap, Die, Repeat,” and “Fellow Travelers.” The asylum setting is appropriately creepy, Ernie Hudson is cool as a cucumber as project director Magic Williams, and Walter Perez makes the most of his best scenes yet playing Martinez.

This is a tough leap, but time travel should be a tricky business. Viewers never lose sight of that fact at any time during this episode. Highly recommended for fans of the series and time-travel in general, “Ben, Interrupted” airs tonight (3/20) on NBC and streams tomorrow on Peacock.