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Alert! Here be spoilers!
Last night I watched Quantum Leap season 1, episode 4 A Decent Proposal guest starring Justin Hartley and Sofia Pernas. Since I knew Ben would be leaping into a bounty hunter, in preparation I watched the original series episode A Hunting We Will Go in which Sam (Scott Bakula) leaps into a bounty hunter. Turns out the two episodes have little in common. I was looking for a connection.
I should have watched The Leap Home Part 2 (Vietnam) April 7, 1970 but I’ll explain that in a bit.
It was fun to see Hartley again. He played Oliver Queen/Green Arrow in the Smallville TV show. In this episode, he plays Jake, fellow bounty hunter and would-be fiancé to the woman Ben leapt into Eva Sandoval (Anastasia Antonia). Yes, this is Ben’s first leap into a woman which didn’t seem terribly awkward for him. Incidentally, Sofia Pernas who plays Tammy Jean in the episode is Hartley’s real-life wife.
The writers had a field day with this leap, though. Addison was incredibly amused by the fact, especially when some guy at the bar Ben was sitting at tried hitting on her…uh, him. As Ben is going through Eva’s purse, he pulls out a taser, to which Addison remarks that every woman she knows carries a weapon. It was like this was some sort of revenge against males in general for all the stuff they put women through. If I wanted to see that, I’d watch Disney+’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law. By the way, I’ve only personally known a few women who carried a gun.
At one point near the start of the show, Jenn remarks to Magic that if Ben had to wear pantyhose, he wouldn’t last an hour. When Ian comes into the room, he laments that he had to be troubleshooting Ziggy while Ben was having a “gender creative experience.” This is the first time that gender fluid Ian (and gender fluid actor Mason Alexander Park) said anything relating back to their identity and interests.
Fortunately, the jokes at Ben’s (and all men, really) expense die down quickly.
Yes, Ziggy is still having issues and no, amazingly the smartest computer in the world and the federal government can’t figure a way to lock out Janice. What she is doing is using Ziggy to find out what the Quantum Leap team is going to do in the near future based on their encrypted personnel files. Ian needs to see everyone’s and Magic says he needs to talk with Ian privately.
Back in the bar, the jerk Ben brushed off turns out to be the person he and Jake are after. They give chase and catch him.
Going back to Eva’s Dad’s business, it looks like there’s been a break-in, but that’s a ruse. Jake used it to surprise Eva by proposing to her. Ben is stunned and Addison with her lame connection to Ziggy has no immediate clue what he’s supposed to do. Ben says “I need time” which continues to be Jake’s sore point through the rest of the episode.
Their next assignment is a woman named Tammy Jean Jessup, who is wanted because she skipped court over $500 in fines for parking tickets. You send a bounty hunter after someone like that? Turns out things are a lot more serious for Tammy Jean. As Ben and Jake confront her, noting that she was about to skip town for Mexico, two hitmen come supposedly to kill her. Ben and Jake help her escape but eventually have to stop because one of the hitmen shot out a tire.
While Ben and Jake are arguing during the tire change, Tammy escapes. Addison says that Ziggy is 100% sure that if they don’t capture and turn in Tammy, Ben will never leap.
Throughout the episode, through dialog, we establish that Jake and Eva are in love. In the original timeline she says “no” to the proposal, but Ben thinks Eva made a mistake. It would have been awkward but funny if Jake had tried to hold or kiss “Eva” but fortunately for Ben, they argue a lot instead (Also, Hartley is straight but I have no idea about Raymond Lee since his IMBb and Wikipedia bios are terrifically thin).
Addendum: Raymond Lee’s Instagram reveals he’s married with at least one child. Okay, he’s straight, too. That would definitely make a “love scene” between he and Hartley awkward
On those occasions when Sam leapt into women, he complained bitterly about the experience. Ben, except for his reaction initially after the leap, really didn’t seem to have much of an issue with it. I wonder if the difference is audience and writer expectations between the 1990s and now?
In the present, Magic takes Ian to a food truck in a park so they can have some privacy. Ian thinks Magic’s records are sealed because he did something bad. Ian once again acts in the role of nurturer but it’s not what Ian thinks. Magic remembers when Sam leapt into him in 1970 in Vietnam. He experienced it as blacking out, but for years afterward, dreamt of Sam’s face.
He made a mistake (the writers did actually) saying that when he made Admiral, he found there was a classified government file on him. Since Magic was in the Marines, he couldn’t have been an Admiral but rather a General. The writers were probably thinking of Al (played by the late Dean Stockwell) who served as a Naval pilot and was eventually promoted to Admiral.
Another Addendum: I goofed. From memory, I thought Sam had leapt into Magic as a Marine, but having re-watched The Leap Home Part 2 last night (10-13-2022) I discovered he was a Navy SEAL, thus he would have been promoted to Admiral. My bad. I have to say comparing this week’s episode with “The Leap Home Part 2,” the older show had more emotion, more heart. I know the current show is shooting to engage the audience emotionally, but it doesn’t make the same connection, at least so far.
Magic pulled some strings and discovered that Sam leapt into him as part of the then defunct Quantum Leap project. That was the motivation for him to reactivate the Project. After this confession, Ian finds out Jenn also knows about Magic and Ian said they weren’t going to let what happened to Sam happen to Ben. Good luck.
What Magic didn’t seem to remember was the Waiting Room or encountering any of the original Quantum Leap staff, but as has been pointed out, his memory would have been “swiss-cheesed” and maybe not everyone experiences being leapt into in the same way.
Back in 1981, Jake and Ben track Tammy to the club they were at the previous night. Turns out the guy who hit on her and who they caught owns the place (he must have made bail because he’s out) and also ran afoul of a drug cartel. Also turns out the guy is Tammy’s boyfriend. However Tammy is the head of the gang and murders her “ex” in cold blood. Jake and Ben witness the killing and barely escape.
Jake figures out that the reason Eva won’t give him an answer about the proposal is that she loves being a bounty hunter and doesn’t want to leave her career or Los Angeles. He drives off in a huff. Now Ben is stuck, but Eva’s Dad puts the clues together for her and says Tammy’s probably at the train station.
Sure enough, that’s where Ben finds not only her but Jake. He figured out the clues too and doesn’t want to give up on Eva. While Jake is able to get rid of her goons, Tammy takes him captive at gunpoint. Ben uses Eva’s taser to zap Tammy and she’s caught.
With Jake conveniently out of the way for a few moments, Ben tells Addison that his memory is clearing up and he remembers that she is his girlfriend. She tearfully nods “yes.” This could be a disaster for at least some of Ben’s future leaps.
In the original series, Sam didn’t remember he was married except for the one time he temporarily leapt home. Once he leapt back to save Al, his memory “swiss-cheesed” again and he forgot about her. That enabled him to have romantic relationships during some of his leaps. Now Ben will be inhibited if he is ever in a “compromising” situation with a woman (or man) during a leap.
This is probably a disappointment to everyone in the show’s fanbase who wanted Ben to have hooked up with Janice and not Addison. Janice seems like a more interesting person in a number of ways and it would have been a wonderful (though for Addison, tragic) twist if things worked out that way. Addison is still having trouble with the knowledge that for the past six months before Ben leapt, he continually lied to her about where he was going when he was meeting with Janice and working on the new code for Ziggy.
After Ben utters his confession, he leaps, making me wonder if recovering that memory was the real reason for this week’s leap. It all tied into the romantic and troubled relationship between Eva and Jake so it’s not beyond possibility.
This time, Ben takes his furthest leap back in time to the year 1898. Sam leapt back further only once that that was into a direct ancestor, but it was an anomaly since normally, he could only leap into people during his lifetime. Ben’s code removed that restriction.
Again, the “leap” part of the episode is what you would typically expect, an adventure wrapped around a human-interest story. No encounters with Janice and the episode’s big reveal is Magic telling Ian about being leapt into. The audience already knew this, so the only thing added was a first hand account of Magic’s experience.
Oh, I found out that the current series has been extended by six episodes by NBC. That’s good news for the show and the fans, but I wonder how it will affect the writing, especially regarding the Ben-Janice mystery and why he leapt? Unlike a novel, TV shows are at the mercy of how many episodes they are granted and the coming and going of actors. That means the story arcs can be sabotaged without much effort.
I guess we’ll find out.
Right now, the mystery of Janice and Ben’s unplanned leap are, for me, what’s keeping this show alive. Also, it will be interesting to see how far back in time Ben can leap. History TV pieces cost a fair amount of cash and even in this episode, although it’s supposed to be 1981, critics have said that the clothing and other styles looked more late ’80s to early ’90s. It’s tough to capture what at my age I’d consider the relatively recent past.
Overall, the episode was entertaining but not spectacular. The one problem with Ben’s leaps is that the story has to share time with what’s going on at the Project in the present. In the original series, almost 100% of the show was focused on Sam’s leaps, allowing for more story and character development. Especially since the current show also has its “guest stars of the week” aspect, it would be all too easy to create wooden guest characters and bland stories.
I’m still trying to warm up to the show and frankly, I’d like to see more of Janice and what she’s up to.