This article contains spoilers for Quantum Leap episode 2.NBC’s Quantum Leap could secretly be all about rescuing Sam Beckett. Quantum Leap is an unusual time travel series, in that it is typically seen as more of a character piece than heavy science-fiction. The classic series saw Scott Bakula’s Dr. Sam Beckett transported through time, leaping into one body after another, tasked with adjusting his host’s personal history. NBC’s relaunch picks up 30 years later, with Raymond Lee’s Dr. Ben Song stepping into the Quantum Leap Accelerator – and sharing Sam’s fate.
There is a crucial difference between Sam Beckett and Ben Song, however. Sam’s leaps began as an accident, but Ben has intentionally launched himself on his journey. Unfortunately, the experience of leaping has wiped Ben’s memory, meaning he has absolutely no idea why he chose to initiate this. What’s more, it seems Ben was part of a small conspiracy back in his home time of 2022; he’s working with a mysterious woman named Janice Calavicci. Janice’s father Al Calavicci (played by the late Dean Stockwell) was Sam Beckett’s best friend, using holographic technology to transport himself through time and provide much-needed advice and guidance.
NBC’s Quantum Leap is clearly more of a relaunch than a reboot, attempting to continue the story told in the classic series. This raises the possibility its driving mystery is in fact tied to the original project. Ben Song’s goal could actually be to save Sam Beckett from his fate.
Sam Beckett’s leaps in the original Quantum Leap series were something of a mystery. He never learned why his experiment had gone so catastrophically wrong, and it wasn’t until Quantum Leap’s cliffhanger ending that he encountered the being responsible for his journeys. This was heavily implied to be God, who warned Sam his future journeys would be even more challenging as he worked to correct crises and tragedies in the timeline.
In contrast, Ben Song’s journeys are controlled by an algorithm he developed. This algorithm presumably links specific moments in space-time, explaining why Ben had to launch his leaps at a precise moment – so he could ensure he took the desired journey. It’s already clear Ben has chosen some of his missions quite carefully, because it can’t possibly be a coincidence that his second leap gave him a chance of saving the life of his childhood hero. Quantum Leap episode 2’s Atlantis mission strongly supports the theory Ben has charted the course of his voyages very carefully, and at the end of the episode his team realized he had a specific end-point in mind. It’s unclear whether all Ben’s calculations will pay off, of course; there have already been hints of errors in his algorithm.
Ben’s alliance with Janice Calavicci may offer an important clue. Janice is one of the beneficiaries of Sam Beckett’s journeys, in that she wouldn’t even exist without the changes he made to the timeline. In the original timeline, Sam’s friend Al was captured by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. When he was finally released, Al learned his wife Beth – the love of his life – had believed him dead, and had remarried. But Quantum Leap’s cliffhanger ending saw Sam change the course of Al’s life by letting Beth know he was still alive, meaning the remarriage never happened. The timeline didn’t change too much – Al still got involved with the Quantum Leap project, thankfully – but he remained married to Beth, and they had a daughter together, Janice. According to Quantum Leap episode 1, Janice has always been obsessive about Sam, Al, and the original project, which makes sense given she owes her existence to it.
It’s possible, then, that Ben and Janice are working together to try to bring Sam Beckett home. Ben can’t simply leap into Sam and avert the project, of course; the timeline would change too much, and Janice may even be erased from existence, a paradox that could potentially be dangerous. Rather, it’s more likely Ben aims to reach a point where he can interact with Sam, perhaps giving him hints that will help him get home. This would ensure Sam Beckett remains central to Quantum Leap, even if Scott Bakula is currently saying he doesn’t want to reprise the role. The eventuality may simply never arise, of course, because Quantum Leap has always been a show where science can go wrong.
Episodes of Quantum Leap release on NBC on Mondays at 10 PM ET. Episodes are available for exclusive streaming on Peacock the next day.