One of the most interesting aspects of Quantum Leap is how every episode is its own adventure with its own set of problems. Similar in fashion to how American Horror Stories was with each episode focusing on a different story, if you don’t like one specific adventure, the next week brings something new to the table.
While there are some serial elements to Quantum Leap, the parts that focus on Dr. Ben Song (Raymond Lee) feature a new story and new cast each week. The premiere episode featured an undercover cop and a mission to save the life of one of the thieves involved in the crime, but Quantum Leap “Atlantis” took audiences out of this world for a space story full of drama.
Writing this heart-pounding episode was executive producer of the series, Robert Hull, who has some impressive credits attached to his name. Hull served as a co-executive producer on Gotham, as well as a producer on Once Upon A Time, God Friended Me, and Gossip Girl. Hull wrote on all these shows as well, with additional writing credits on Veronica Mars and the new Fox show Monarch. David McWhirter directed the episode and has directed episodes of The Flash, Supergirl, Blindspot, and Quantico. Sounds like both the writer and director are well versed in high velocity, major impact shows, so did Quantum Leap “Atlantis” have a similar vibe?
[Warning: Spoilers from Quantum Leap “Atlantis” are below!]
A leap to space in Quantum Leap “Atlantis”
As shown rather briefly in the closing moments of Quantum Leap’s premiere episode, Dr. Ben Strong lept from an undercover police officer “Nick Rounder” to space. The flash of a scene showed Ben floating in an astronaut space uniform, outside of what looked like a ship. Talk about an exciting cliffhanger. This scene alone took the premiere episode to a “take it or leave it” hour of television to me needing to see what comes next.
Not long into the episode, we find out that Ben’s currently in the body of David Tamura, a famous astronaut on the space shuttle Atlantis. The year is 1998 and the individual that Ben has to save is none other than David Tamura himself. Not much is known about what happened, but public knowledge is that Tamura died sometime on this space journey.
Ziggy, the supercomputer that runs the Quantum Leap Project, predicts that Ben has to stop David from dying due to space debris, which hits him while on his space walk. Ben initially tries to avoid this part of the mission, however, ultimately completes the spacewalk and changes history!
Tamura no longer dies from loose space debris, which should have triggered a leap for Ben. Except that he is still stuck in Tamura’s body. So what changed? Well instead of killing Tamura, the debris hit the hull of the ship, damaging the heat shield. The crew is low on oxygen with a damaged hull and desperately needs assistance.
Commander Jim Reynolds (José Zúñiga) and astronaut Max (Leith M. Burke) believe the best course of action is to return to Earth. Ziggy the supercomputer disagrees, informing Ben through Addison (Caitlin Bassett) that there is a 100 percent chance the entire ship and all the crew burn up upon re-entry.
Back on Earth
Running parallel to Ben’s adventure in space is the story of how those he left behind at the Quantum Leap Project are dealing with his disappearance. Addison’s struggling after discovering a video from Ben about why he needed to make the jump. She also finds an encrypted hard drive, that she entrusts to Ian (Mason Alexander Park), who believes they should clue in the rest of the team for help.
Addison’s hesitant at first because Magic (Ernie Hudson) had already forbidden her from disclosing Ben’s memories to him due to distrust and a connection to Janis (Georgina Reilly), the mystery individual from the first episode. Janis is the daughter of Al Calavicci from the original series, who was rejected from the Quantum Leap Project because she was a potential liability due to her emotional connections to past individuals associated with the project.
Magic and Jenn (Nanrisa Lee) begin a hunt for Janis, who’s quite hard to track, in hopes of learning more about why Ben made the unsanctioned jump. During the process, Magic reaches out to Beth Calavicci, with Susan Diol reprising her role from the original series. Beth insists she doesn’t know where Janis is but calls her not long after her encounter with Magic. Big mistake and one Beth should have expected.
Eventually, the pair are able to locate Janis’ house but fall into a trap. Janis seems to be one step ahead of the members of Team Quantum Leap, adding to her creepy and sinister vibes. Jenn finds Janis’ hard drive while the house is going up in smoke, however, Jenn is determined to get something from this failure of a mission. While the two only make it out last minute, Jenn managed to get the important hard drive which should provide some important answers.
One small step for man in Quantum leap “Atlantis”
With Ziggy’s knowledge, Ben pushes the team in space to seek an alternative means of survival. Their return to Earth will kill everyone, including Ben who dies if the body he’s in also dies, so instead, he tries convincing them to go the short distance to the Russian Space Station. American Pride and Cold War feelings stop Commander Reynolds and Max from agreeing to this plan, which leads both Den and Samantha (Carly Pope), the second in command and only level-headed individual on the ship, to take drastic measures.
After another spacewalk that elevated my anxiety later, everything works out once and Ben jumps once again. This episode I enjoyed a lot more than the previous one, with more sci-fi elements than the first. The episode also felt incredibly claustrophobic, however, that is natural with space stories.
The drama between Ben and Addison continued to grow, with Addison’s desperation for Ben to remember trumping her training. I loved this aspect of the character because it showed that no matter what, at the end of the day we’re human and it’s okay to have emotions.
The mission that Magic and Jenn went on during “Atlantis” made their characters more likable and began to shape them into individuals who aren’t just two-dimensional. Jenn specifically stood out to me in this episode, as someone confident and not afraid of danger. She was my standout for “Atlantis” and I hope we get much more of her in and out of the field.
Quantum Leap currently airs Mondays on NBC with the next day on Peacock. Have you checked it out yet? What are your thoughts? Let us know on social media! And if you haven’t already, check out my review on Quantum Leap’s premiere!