Banking on Tellers and Tell-Alls: Leaping in to a love triangle…

The team may have finally found Ben, but there have been major personal and professional changes back at the Project..

It’s 1986: Ben leaps into the body of Lorena, a bank-teller who is about to have a very bad day. The bank in which she works is about to get robbed and history shows that there was a significant loss of life when the police surrounded the bank before the thieves could escape.

Not only must Ben find a way to stop the tragedy unfolding, but the team back at the Project will have to find a way to tell him just how much change there’s been in the ‘three years’ he was missing, presumed dead…



One of the key decisions in this reworked concept is to show far more of the team back at the Project and the fact that the time-travelling aspect of Leaping them has not only separated them from Ben by actual time but by the different experiences/perception of it, opens up the concept more. In the original it was never entirely clear, or standardised but with three years having passed for the team and only minutes for Ben, it allows the narrative to offer tweaks and gut-punches when we, as viewers, have more or less information than one character or another.

But it also opens up the concept to obstacles that feel more artificial. On one level it’s dramatically-interesting that – having experienced three years of grief – Addison slowly moved on from Ben after he was presumed dead and has a new man in her life. It’s also fully understandable that for Ben it’s a devastating, bizarre shock – for him he’s literally just saved his fiance’s life and risked his own to do so merely hours ago. Yet it also feels like something of a soap-opera contrivance (and as my wife noted: Is an addition of a new love-interest more interesting  to the viewers than the Leap?).  To the show’s credit, it does paint ‘newcomer’ Tom Westfall (Peter Gadiot) as a thoroughly decent guy ho is liked by the other members of the team and who wants and trusts Addison to want him and understands that there’s a responsibility – personally and professionally to getting Ben home and assisting him in the meantime. The audience, at this point, wants Addison and Ben to be together and it seems inevitable that somewhere down the line they will be again, so even if the audience grows to like Tom too, there doesn’t seem to be an ideal outcome?

As ever, the show short-cuts some explanations for the sake of pacing. Even with security guards turning up later, was it really that easy to sneak into what must have been the most heavily-guarded operation on the planet at one point? If the operation has been shut down for a year (after two previous years of searching for Ben), why is there so much tech left semi-operational or with ways to circumvent the security – even with Jen’s talents. It’s all just a little too easy (if narratively necessary) to get the team back together so quickly and pick up where they left off. (Though the series does hint that there’s more to Ian’s ‘Hail Mary’ computer program explanation than meets the eye).

All that aside… what about the actual Leap? Ben has gone back to 1986 where he’s now Lorena Chavez, teller at a bank that’s about to be robbed. It’s In a, acting as the Observer, that manages to get through to Ben and explain that in the original timeline, the police assault on the bank killed many of the hostages. Ben – as Lorena – tries to forestall those events or change them for the better, but though it seems to work in the short-term, Ian notes that the changes end up killing more people when the police action accidentally ignites a gas main. Given that one of Lorena’s work-mates Brenda (Janet Montgomery) is the sister of one of the erstwhile but out-of-his-depth bank-robbers (Sean – played by Graham Patrick Martin) makes it all the more complicated as Ben tries to stop the mass casualties and also save Sean from consequences that could see the brother in jail for the rest of his life.  It’s a decent enough situation for Quantum Leap to handle, setting out a predicament, obstacles and working out the dynamics of how to tweak the timeline, (and not the first time it’s placed the Leaper in such a fiscal predicament and – interestingly – he was  a robber in the series premiere) but it’s also a by-the-numbers situation designed to prop up the Project aspects of the story.

Clearly Ben and Teller (see what they did there?) sets up any of the parameters of the coming season – some new faces and new dynamics. Whether it will be the drip-by-drip effect of last year’s run, only time – as ever – will tell.

'Quantum Leap S02  EP02 - Ben and Teller'  (NBC review)
'Quantum Leap S02 EP02 - Ben and Teller' (NBC review)
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