Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Quantum Leap: Secret History

When it comes to time-travel, timing is everything. Poor Dr. Ben Song is understandably disappointed when he leaps into 1955 Princeton, a few weeks after the death of his idol, Albert Einstein. It is also ironic that this episode features villainous Nazis, who are usually the safest possible choice for bad guys, right when so-called “peace protesters” keep praising Hitler at their street rallies. We need Dr. Ben Song to fix our own current history and somehow prevent this wave of jew-hatred, but first he must work out why he is in 1955, but he gets some unexpected help in “Secret History,” the latest episode of Quantum Leap, which premieres tomorrow night on NBC.

Obviously, Song will be more comfortable during this leap, especially since he leaped into the body of one of Einstein’s close physicist friends, who also happens to be a D-Day veteran. Shockingly to everyone back at Quantum Leap, Song also meets an “old friend” of his “own,” Hannah Carson, who he encouraged to apply for the physics program at Princeton, with a little bit of coaching from his historical perspective, back during “Closure Encounters. Song definitely recognizes her, but he cannot help wondering if she is getting any déjà vu vibes from him.

Regardless, Song and Carson must work together to find Einstein’s lost notebooks, which just might hold the secret of cold fusion, or something similar. Of course, the same people who killed the friend of Song’s host at the top of the show (not Einstein, but another physicist, who were apparently dropping like flies at Princeton in 1955) are also looking. At first, they assume it is the Soviets, but then their suspicions fall on Nazis. In this case, organized sleeper agents admitted under Operation Paperclip.

For those currently studying at Princeton, the Nazis were actually bad people. They wanted to exterminate the Jews, homosexuals, and the Romani people, which was evil. That is what genocide really means—and it is Hamas who are now trying to commit genocidal crimes.

Everyone on the same page now? That cannot be said for the team at Quantum Leap this episode. Things get so chaotic, Tom Westfall, Addison Augustine’s new romantic interest, must step in as Song’s holographic guide. It is super-awkward, but as a Princeton grad, he knows his way around the place. Song will also break one of the cardinal rules of leaping, but it is for the sake of setting up a potentially interesting ongoing subplot.

Ernie Hudson’s Magic Williams had this leap off, but Peter Gadiot has his best episode thus far, as Westfall. Any fans still resenting him out of loyalty to Song will feel a real pendulum shift in their sympathies this episode. He is also a veteran, like Williams and Augustine, which makes him more likable than Song, when you think about it.

There are also some big, potentially world-changing stakes involved in this leap, so the time-travel really matters this time around. As a result, it ranks with “This Took Too Long” and “Closure Encounters,” as the better written episodes of season two, so far (however, Tim Matheson’s guest-starring turn in “Lonely Hearts” was certainly a highlight too).

Raymond Lee and Eliza Taylor do a great job developing Song’s mysterious chemistry with Carson. It will be interesting to see them keep that going, when presumably Song encounters her again, in yet another body. Like Leaper X before, it adds greater possibilities to each leap (but in a much more pleasant way for Song). Highly recommended, the “Secret History” episode of
Quantum Leap airs tomorrow night (11/15) on NBC and streams the next day on Peacock.