By the Bluebook: Quantum Leap’s Ben feels alienated, seeks ‘Closure’…

Time may be amok, but if it's a case of 'Closure Encounters', why are Ben and Addison drifting apart?

It’s 1949. Ben has made the Leap into Agent Robert Cook, a member of Project Sign, an agency that’s a forerunner of Project Bluebook and which looks into UFO sightings. He has arrived in Starlight, New Mexico after an anonymous caller alerted the agency to a case involving two girls crashing a car after an encounter with a strange flying light.

One of the girls, Melanie Hunt is now in a coma and her friend, Carrie Becker, is under police scrutiny for possible drunk-driving. History shows that Melanie dies of her injury and Carrie is imprisoned for manslaughter. Even Carrie’s grandfather and guardian, the local sheriff, can’t help her.

Ben doesn’t know if the alien story is real or not, but he has enough evidence to suggest this isn’t some drunken joyride and that something else is going on.  However, does a powerful local businessman with a rough-hand powerbase really have the resources to pull something like this off or does the truth have better funding?

Ben needs all the help he can get – from the Project, from an estranged Addison and from a waitress with a surprising grasp of complex physics…



Aliens? Time-travel? Holograms and possible nefarious government forces? Yes, this is definitely a sf show! But it’s also about relationships…

It’s clear that the troubled Ben/Addison relationship will remain a cornerstone of the series for the immediate future. While there’s technically no person at fault, the fact that Addison moved on after two years of mourning and with every reason to believe Ben was dead and that for Ben it’s only been three days – makes it a genuine problem. And I’m somewhat glad that Ben, still obviously hurting, hits Addison with a ‘truth-bomb’ during one of her treaties that she only wants to help Ben get through this. It’s unreasonable for Ben to be remotely okay with what’s happened and it’s understandable that he points out that, logic-be damned, from his time perspective, it genuinely feels like Addison moved on too quickly that she chose to bury him. Though I don’t want this to become a star-crossed relationship-drama at the expense of the time-travel stories , I like that the normally amiable Ben is not simply going with the flow and is actually showing his hurt given he previously risked his life for their relationship.  (“I’m doing this. And if you aren’t with me as my hologram, this will not work. So please, don’t give up on me. AGAIN…“)  Ouch. However, no longer feeling able to fully trust Addison’s instincts, it also makes him somewhat reckless throughout.

Quantum Leap occasionally likes to go full-quirk and embrace those science-fiction tropes yet giving them a twist. This is one of those episodes where despite the winks and surprises in the first half of the story, you essentially know (or at least presume) that it’s not going to be as ‘simple’ as real aliens as the solution at the heart of the mystery – so it all comes down to whether the truth is compelling enough to work within the story. The initial glimpses we get of the girls’ abduction do suggest something more than a crooked local businessman protecting a potential drug-operation (which is the first theory) and we work our way through the possibilities a Ben feels more and more invested in helping people who are in predicament not of their making and paying the price for it. Of course, we find out by episode’s end that it’s all connected to a secret government operation, a forerunner of the secret operations initiatives, just as the organisation Robert/Ben belongs to, Project Sign (which really existed) is a forerunner of Project Bluebook (that looked into early UFO sightings).

Guest-star-wise, it’s always fun to see Louis Herthum (Westworld, The Peripheral) as the Sheriff. He usually plays bad or compromised characters, but here more sympathetic as a man trying to hold his family together in search of the truth, though he’s delightfully tough-as-nails when it comes to his cause. This episode also gives us Eliza Taylor as Hannah Carson, a waitress who had a background into early computing and physics and to whom Ben gives a helping hand by referring her towards a program that he knows would be having openings for women in the 1947 time-frame. At the end of the episode she tells the departingRobert/Ben that she hopes this isn’t a goodbye. Foreshadowing? Those following publicity for the show will know that we will be seeing Eliza again (in fact, Taylor is apparently becoming a regular, not just recurring). how, we don’t know, though show-runner has said Hannah is not a fellow time-traveller, so does she somehow have an important link to how the Quantum Leap project in other ways? We’ll see.

Two episodes in and Quantum Leap knows what beats to play – there’s been no pushing of boundaries so far (except Ben seriously putting his host body in extreme danger, which is never really addressed) but a reasonable amount of fun all the same. Hopefully for a concept famous for being able to pivot to cover different tones and scenarios, we’ll see some more breadth as things continue…



'Quantum Leap  S02  Ep03 - Closure Encounters'  (NBC review)
'Quantum Leap S02 Ep03 - Closure Encounters' (NBC review)
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