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Every single time the Quantum Leap people say “this is the episode that’s the best” and so forth, why, oh why do I find that they aren’t quite right?
The Quantum Leap season 1, episode 16 show Ben, Interrupted aired on Monday, March 20th.
Of course, the title is no mystery, it recalls Girl, Interrupted (1999)
Based on writer Susanna Kaysen’s account of her 18-month stay at a mental hospital in the late 1960s.
It also recalls the original series episode Shock Theater. Ben leaps into private detective Liam O’Connell who deliberately has himself committed into a 1954 mental hospital to free a woman named Judith who was committed by her husband for “hysteria,” possibly because she kept miscarrying when they tried to have children (I’d love to have seen that cretin come to justice).
The obvious source I certainly hope everyone who wrote this episode read was Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Next. I probably read the book before any of them were ever born.
However, because I’m old, I remember an episode of the old show Lou Grant called Psych-Out (1977). Reporter Joe Rossi (Robert Walden) has himself committed to a mental hospital in order to investigate stories of abuse. He suffered because even if you’re sane, when everyone treats you as if you’re crazy, you start to feel that way.
Bet the writers never saw that coming.
According to this episode’s review at Matt & Jess TV Commentary, I expected a lot more that this episode didn’t deliver, at least not completely.
Okay, classic chamber of horrors mental hospital in the 1950s. Not just the usual abuses, but the head guy Dr. Mueller (Patrick Fischer) was performing his own macabre experiments a la Josef Mengele (for those of you who insist on keeping ignorant on the realities of the Holocaust) is torturing his patients, sometimes to death.
One of the unsolved mysteries is who drew a map on Ben’s cell wall that described a way out through secret tunnels? What does Ian have against hot chocolate? Why was Jenn sent home so Ian had to work Ziggy and internal security (she shows up briefly toward the end of the episode for no particular reason)?
I’ve been complaining about the lack of Janice (or Janis) for the past several episodes. Finally, Magic says he sent her home with an ankle monitor.
Oh really. She’s breathtakingly brilliant. Probably smarter than Ian. Magic sent her home with an ankle monitor? Plot hole/irrational, unrealistic detail one. Of course she slips it but to the degree that the QL project detect it, she wants them to know.
Ben makes contact with Ralph who, for a mental patient, seems pretty lucid. He even sacrifices himself as a distraction so Ben and Judith can make contact. They agree to meet later in the library.
Okay, in the common room, they have assigned seats and are watched like hawks, but in the library they have autonomy? How odd.
Magic goes to see Al’s widow Beth (Susan Diol) and of course Janice is there, not even trying to hide. Janice, as usual, acts the wounded victim. Why isn’t she kept up to speed on when Ben and Martinez meet in the past? Once she realizes that Ben is in 1954, she says that this is his last chance. We also find out that Martinez is destined to kill Addison during one of three events, the first being on board the Montana.
That’s nuts because although Martinez was on the Montana, Addison was a hologram. Her Dad was there, but Addison was already a toddler, so killing him then would do nothing. Yet it’s also revealed that Martinez only leaps if he helps someone, so how can you say, as the hype suggests, that he’s an evil leaper?
Ben is told by Addison/Ziggy that he’s there just to save Judith. However she won’t leave Ralph and the others behind in that house of nightmares. They have to steal the doctor’s records so they can present them to the police and have him arrested.
In spite of Addison’s objections, Ben agrees.
They find out that the doctor goes to Bible study at 5 p.m. giving them an opportunity to break into his office.
Oh, here we go. We know that the entertainment industry has “issues” with all Christians everywhere and I believe this was a dig of the QL writers and showrunners at how Christians are sadists and evil. Good going, Quantum Leap. As a Christian, my desire to watch your second season is continuing to fall based on prejudice and bigotry.
In the present, Ian’s program is working. It suggests that Martinez is about to leap into the same situation.
We later find out that Ziggy figures out it will take two leapers to fix this problem, but are they working at cross purposes? Are other leapers involved? How much does Ziggy really know about this future leaper?
After creating a scene which gets Ben and Judith isolated on mop up detail, Ben finds a vent, which Ziggy has revealed to him, into the doctor’s office, which is also a chamber of horrors.
Martinez shows up but he’s there to help. However the doctor and his thugs find them with records. He orders Judith to have a lobotomy and injects Ben with truth serum.
Ben spills the beans about being from the future, his leap to save Judith, and that the doc is a monster.
This is actually sort of like the old The Time Travel episode The Day the Sky Fell In when scientists Tony Newman (James Darren) and Doug Phillips (Robert Colbert) land in the Japanese embassy in Honolulu the day before the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. They are both injected with truth serum and also spill the beans. Predictably, they aren’t believed either.
In the present, Janice, back at Quantum Leap above Addison’s objections, says they need to stop Ben from leaping in order to save his life. If Martinez can complete the mission, both he and Ben will leap. Unfortunately Ziggy says that working alone, Martinez has about a 10% chance of success.
Martinez finds Ben in a straightjacket in a cell about to be assaulted, but he had to leave Judith about to get a lobotomy to do it.
Ben comes up with a plan with Martinez to free her and actually manage to get into the escape tunnels.
Martinez climbs a ladder, breaks a padlock and he and Judith climb to freedom. Judith’s sister (who originally posed as Ben’s wife to commit him) is waiting and Ziggy says if they can get into a care and cross a bridge, they’ll be safe. But instead of helping Ben, he cuts his throat and leaves him in the tunnel to die. Who the hell is Martinez anyway?
At this point, the video playback of the show totally cuts out. When I try to get it to work, it sends me into about ten minutes of commercials. I’m telling myself if I can’t recover the rest of the episode, to heck with the season, to heck with the series, and to heck with NBC. I’m not going to jump through hoops for a single TV show.
Fortunately, I manage to get it to come back, but this is the dark side of streaming.
If Liam dies, Ben dies.
Addison turns into a useless pile of mush as Ben is bleeding out. Magic convinces her to keep going and she talks Ben into climbing the ladder. Somehow they make it to the surface and get into an unlocked car. Big romantic moment when Ben asks Addison to tell him about their relationship. I know that was supposed to be touching, but this guy is going to die. Survival beats romance every single time, and yet the writers at Quantum Leap have their characters, particularly Ben, get all “warm and fuzzy” at exactly the wrong times.
Ben passes out and Addison falls apart again. She sees what appear to be nurses in the parking lot and manages to get Ben to honk the car horn. They run toward the car, but Ben leaps before they can reach him. Even if Liam dies now, Ben should be safe.
In the present, outside of the project, Magic tells Janice that Liam survives and goes on with his PI career. Judith moves in with her sister and adopts a child (her commitment apparently annuls their marriage). She makes it out with the doctor’s records and he loses his medical license (what, he isn’t prosecuted for his crimes?).
Janice has complained bitterly that QL keeps her out of the loop, but she has tons of secrets she’s kept to herself. Finally, she reveals that the reason she told everyone not to trust anyone in the project is that the mole is Ziggy. What?
It’s a computer. AI isn’t really Skynet. It’s programmable. Yes, an outside influence could have compromised Ziggy, but it doesn’t have a will or motivation of its own, not in real AI anyway. Janice throws Magic’s phone to the ground and she steps on it to keep Ziggy from listening in. Problem is, breaking the screen doesn’t necessarily break the entire phone, so Ziggy could still monitor.
Also, if the big, big problem is “don’t let Ziggy know what I know,” then they could all go on a camping trip or even to lunch to get away from electronic surveillance so she couldn’t carry on with this woefully contrived “I can’t tell you my secrets” storyline. If Janice is that smart, she’d have found a way before this. Also, in the episode O Ye of Little Faith when Janice contacted Ben via an alternate imaging chamber, she was trying to warn him before he leapt. Presumably it was about Ziggy, but if that’s true, Ziggy would still have known. It makes no sense.
Other reviews mentioned the “evil leapers” from the original show suggesting they appear, but they never do. Also, in a number of reviews, including the one at TellTale TV, the alternate version of Ziggy is called “Lothos.” Where did that come from? If it’s a reference to the original show, then I’m sure I missed it, but it wasn’t in this most recent episode.
As far as representation is concerned, this is a 1954 mental hospital and only one nurse is black, and not a particularly sympatric character. The only thing, and I mentioned it before, is the “dig” at Christians which could easily be passed over, but I believe was deliberate and significant. Let’s see them make fun of the Koran and Muslims next time.
Two episodes to go. This one offered some interesting but also baffling (and unreasonable?) revelations. How will things ultimately conclude by April 3rd? We’ll see in two weeks.
5 thoughts on “Review of Quantum Leap Ep 16 “Ben, Interrupted””
I just watched this episode and it’s so interesting to read another person’s view and some behind the scenes on the episode because I don’t really think about plot holes when I watch it, I just enjoy the story.
Unfortunately, as a writer, I am really aware of plot holes because when I write, I’m obsessed with avoiding my own. It doesn’t always work, but it’s easier to see those issues in someone else’s writing than your own.
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“Why was Jenn sent home so Ian had to work Ziggy and internal security (she shows up briefly toward the end of the episode for no particular reason)?”
Jenn was sick and did not appear in this episode (Nanrisa was also sick during the filming of this episode). She was only shown in footage from a previous episode.
“We also find out that Martinez is destined to kill Addison during one of three events, the first being on board the Montana.”
Marinez was not planning on killing Addison during those three leaps where he crossed paths with Ben. Janis was just saying that those leaps were Ben’s chances to stop Martinez before he reaches his final destination, which is where he’s going to try to kill Addison.
“Also, in the episode O Ye of Little Faith when Janice contacted Ben via an alternate imaging chamber, she was trying to warn him before he leapt. Presumably it was about Ziggy, but if that’s true, Ziggy would still have known. It makes no sense.”
Janis stated in this episode that she only just realized about Ziggy being the mole, so she couldn’t have been warning Ben about Ziggy in O Ye of Little Faith. Maybe she was warning him not to trust anyone at the Project, or maybe she was warning him about Martinez.
Thanks, Kelly. All that was pointed out to me in a conversation on twitter, but I do appreciate you coming here directly and correcting me. When I watch these episodes, I’m taking notes at the same time, but obviously I get things wrong.
You’re welcome. I usually watch the episode a second time to pick up on stuff I missed the first time around.