Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Quantum Leap: Ben & Teller

One excessively indulgent hostage negotiator can create unrealistic expectations for the next negotiator. There is no way these bank robbers are getting a helicopter, even though some Fed out in Arizona apparently rustled one up the week before. Obviously, this hostage standoff ends badly, because Ben Song leaps into it in “Ben & Teller,” tonight’s episode of Quantum Leap.

After three years of silence, Ian Wright finally picked up Song again, but from the leaper’s perspective, no time had passed since the season one finale. To support Song, Wright gets all the old gang back together, including the eternally cool Herbert “Magic” Williams, who is supposedly retired now, but the showrunners’ statements to the media assure us he isn’t going anywhere. Addison Augustine is also back, sort of. Its complicated, for reasons involving this week’s embargoed character.

Regardless, the pressing issue will be guiding Song through this leap, since the clock is quickly ticking down. Emotions are perilously high, because one of the armed robbers is the screw-up younger brother of assistant branch manager Rebecca Egan, who lost patience with his self-pitying loser behavior long ago.

“Ben & Teller,” written by Aadrita Mukerji, is a reasonably compelling hostage drama in its own right. It also does a nice job exploring the issues springing from Song’s three-year disconnect from the Quantum Leap team. Time is clearly one of the show’s central themes, but this is a different way of twisting and shifting it.

It is nice to have Ernie Hudson’s charismatic and stabilizing presence back as Magic Williams. Raymond Lee and Caitlin Bassett also have some interesting scenes adjusting to the new developments, setting up plenty of drama for future episodes. Most importantly, this episode and last week's season premiere focus squarely on speculative time-travel business rather than making statements or teaching lessons. Still highly recommended for genre and franchise fans, “Ben & Teller” airs tonight (10/11) on NBC and streams tomorrow on Peacock.