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When Ben leaps into one of five people in an elevator at a 1962 nuclear reactor, he must figure which one triggers a bomb that kills them all. Each time the bomb goes off, he leaps into another one of them and the scene resets on a fine loop. If the loop runs out, Ben dies for good.—NBC
That’s the summary of Leap. Die Repeat
It’s fun to see Robert Picardo again (this time in the role of Dr. Edwin Woolsey). Sometimes the show draws an ace.
There are five people in an elevator going down to the control level for what is supposed to be a nuclear reactor that is part of a sustainable energy project. In the order that Ben leaps into them:
Army Colonel Jack Parker (played by Matthew Glave)
Nerdy assistant to the doctor Eugene Wagner (Joe Dinicol)
Reporter Mallory Yang (Highdee Kuan)
The previously mentioned Dr. Woolsey, the head of the project
Janitor Moe Murphy (Mike Wade)
When the reactor explodes for the first time, everyone in the room dies including Ben. His life monitors at Quantum Leap go dark. Then they come back on a few moments later. Something about the energy of the leap interacting with the reactor causes Ben’s leap to reset, but he can’t leap into the five different bodies for an infinite number of times. After the fifth leap, if Ben hasn’t stopped the bomb, he dies.
The first leap is just that setup. Ziggy doesn’t even know why Ben leapt into that time and place.
In trying to understand the loop, the team discovers that only Janis (or Janice) Calavicci (played by Georgina Reilly) wrote the one serious research paper on time loops so Magic decides to trust her. After a brief speech, she decides to help with the understanding that she doesn’t trust any of them. Even Ian’s supportive speech doesn’t melt her.
In Ben’s second leap (see the list above), the nerd finds the bomb but it goes off anyway, presumably set off by his tampering. It also has a radio receiver but it’s only powerful enough to receive a signal from as far away as the control room. So one of those people not only has a serious motive for blowing up the reactor, but to kill all five of them.
As the reporter, Ben discovers a taped message she made earlier accusing Woolsey of hiding something and the project being a fraud.
As Woolsey, he could have stopped the demonstration but for all he knows, that will cause the explosion.
As the janitor who is a huge science fiction fan, pretending to clean an office he finds the missing pages from Eugene’s logbook and a secret memo (torn up in a trash can which is terrible security) saying that the sustainable energy project is just a front for using the reactor to make weapon’s grade nuclear material.
The Colonel catches Ben and accuses him, or rather Moe, with being a spy. Moe accuses Eugene of planting the bomb.
There were several plot points. The first is the janitor cleaning up a spilled soda can on the control room floor. When Ben leapt into Moe, he didn’t clean it up. Woolsey slipped and fell, buying Ben five or then more minutes. The second was Eugene’s pen running out of ink. It was really the detonator and as Eugene, Ben must have accidentally set off the bomb when he was trying to use the pen.
Eugene had been with Woolsey for years and was outraged when he discovered the project is really about weapons manufacture. Woolsey said the government was going to take his reactor away from him if he didn’t agree.
Now here’s a major flaw. Ben leapt into Moe, a black janitor in 1962. Yes, Moe loves science fiction but he delivers a heartfelt and highly informed speech to Eugene saying things he shouldn’t have known about. Also, even by the episode’s end, no one questions how Moe knew the things he said.
It didn’t work and Eugene was about to set off the bomb. The Colonel shoots him and Ben as Moe catches the pen before it could detonate the bomb.
Happy ending time. Even back at Quantum Leap, Janice decides to trust Addison because the team trusted her (grudgingly). Here’s the end
Janice: When it mattered most, your team gave me the benefit of the doubt. So, I’m gonna give you a name.
Addison: A name.
Janice: The name of the person who told Ben to leap in the first place.
Of course we don’t get to hear the name as the scene fades to black.
Right before Ben leapt, he recalled Eugene’s statement about great technology falling into the wrong hands. Ben questions the possible misuse of Quantum Leap.
We don’t get to see who he leaps into, but here’s the synopsis for next week’s show Let Them Play.
Ben finds himself in 2012 in the midst of the Mendéz family as they help their transgender daughter, Gia, who dreams of playing on her high school basketball team. Magic and Jenn discover another piece of the puzzle of why Ben leapt in the first place.
I wrote about next week’s show last November so click that link for my commentary. As you can see, there’s already buzz about it on twitter.