It takes some mental flexibility to keep up with the twists and turns of Quantum Leap Season 1 Episode 16, wherein Ben initially looks like a patient, turns out to be a detective, but then has to call upon some superhuman abilities.
With only two weeks to the finale, new revelations are flying fast and thick, and everyone’s understandably on edge.
Janis’s return is a catalyst for some strong feelings and her strident conviction that she knows best conflicts mightily with how Magic and Addison see things.
Like on Quantum Leap Season 1 Episode 7, where Ben encounters what appears to be the supernatural, his foray into a mental institution in 1954 is fraught with elements of horror and sadism that smack of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and, most obviously, Girl, Interrupted (from which the episode’s title is drawn.)
The production team does a chillingly impressive job of creating an atmosphere of psychological terror and foreboding for the patients of Georgia’s Island Asylum.
As detective Liam O’Conner, Ben has the deck stacked against him.
Breaking someone out of an asylum while posing as a patient — perhaps the most vulnerable class of person in the facility — is a tall order.
Not only are the patients outnumbered and easily overpowered by orderlies armed with sedatives and straight jackets, but they are also constantly being watched and monitored.
Structure is sanity. If you threaten that, you threaten every patient here.
Ben’s mental health begins to deteriorate in the institution’s environment of restriction and punitive order, which concerns Addison.
The intermittent screaming, constant alarms, and unattended people with legitimate mental health crises don’t help either.
It’s no wonder Addison has a bad feeling about this leap.
In his previous leaps, Ben’s host had at least some freedom of movement. Yeah, occasionally, he’d find himself tied up or drugged, but compared to the harsh scheduling and intense surveillance by Lawrence and his goons, he had liberty.
Ben: Do you know Judith?
Ralph: Sure, nice gal. I haven’t seen her in a few days, though
Ben: A few days? Is that normal?
Ralph: In here, it is. Folks disappear all the time. Especially if they stand up for themselves. Sometimes, when they come back, their eyes are dead. Like something inside them just switched off. Sometimes, they don’t come back at all.
We never learn why Ralph is in the asylum, but as a representative of the general population of patients, it’s clear there is no care given nor helpful treatments administered to those trapped there.
I suspect Ralph, Judith, and the other patients are similar in that they were committed to the asylum by family who won’t be checking up on their well-being. It would serve Mueller’s interests only to treat patients whose families don’t want or expect accountability.
Janis’s energetic return to Quantum Leap headquarters sends some powerful ripples through the team.
If I were Addison or Magic, I’d be right pissed off that she’s known the whole time that Ben and Martinez would only cross paths three times and didn’t warn them.
In fact, everything she’s kept from the team up until now could have been of significant use if she’d shared it earlier.
Janis: I promise you this is what he wanted. He was going to try to find another way to stop Martinez, but if all else failed, he was going to sacrifice himself for the greater good.
Addison: She is lying! Ben swore to me in his video message that he was going to make it back to me.
Janis: Have you ever lied to someone you love, try and make them feel better?
I can only assume that the Ziggy-is-the-mole development will justify her obstructive paranoia.
Still, I wouldn’t fault Addison for punching her out at some point.
We have to suspend our disbelief on a high wire when Addison basically drill-sergeant screams Ben into climbing the maintenance hole ladder with one arm while bleeding heavily.
(I guess Martinez missed the artery? All the arteries? That’s some Star Wars Stormtrooper-level missing there.)
Quantum Leap’s never been great about medical accuracy. But, assuming one can cauterize one’s own wound with a car cigarette lighter, I’d expect one to pass out then and there.
Addison: There’s no foods that you dislike, and it drives me crazy. We both hate dancing except at weddings, and then we love it which totally works out. The first time that you told me that you love me was at Griffiths Observatory.
Ben: No, the first time I told you was at the observatory, but the first time I knew was way before then.
Instead, Ben gets chatty about relationships and memories.
That’s not to say there weren’t some heartstrings pulled as Addison (once again) watches as Ben nears death.
It may be much more intimate than Sam Beckett and Al ever were, but Ben and Addison’s relationship has to be established as strong enough to motivate Ben’s actions and sustain Addison’s belief.
Every time we are reminded of the depth of their love for each other, it builds on the foundation from which Ben leaped.
Addison: The Odyssey. Reminds me of you.
Ben: I hope not. It took Odysseus ten years to get home.
Addison: Odysseus didn’t have me.
Having more than a single scene with Martinez makes for fascinating watching.
Ian’s red herring discovery of the Evil Leaper file is a genius misdirection. Or is it?
The Evil Leapers in the original series worked at cross-purposes to the Quantum Leap project, guided by the antithetical version of Ziggy, Lothos.
Martinez specifically references Ziggy when Addison relates her experience in intelligence gathering and analysis, which indicates he is leaping with another Ziggy — whether from an alternate dimension or time — guiding him.
If that’s the case, then it lends credence to Janis’s suspicion that Ziggy is the “mole” in the project.
There are still a LOT of questions to be answered.
Martinez and Janis have both described the two leapers as if they’re in some sort of race. Martinez told Ben on Quantum Leap Season 1 Episode 14 that he is “going to win,” while Janis refers to the 1954 leap as the last one before crossing the end.
Magic: When I restarted this project, I swore to your father we’d never lose another leaper. Now, I’m sorry if this goes against whatever you and Ben agreed to, but I’m not breaking my promise to Al.
Janis: Well, congratulations then. You’re about to win a battle that’s going to cost you the war.
Janis also calls it a “war” repeatedly. If that’s the case, who are the combatants, and how are both sides using Ziggy? Or is that Ziggy’s using both sides? Hmm…
As you watch Quantum Leap online, knowing the season finale is SO close, what do you think the answers are?
Will we learn who is pulling Martinez’s strings? Who is giving his orders?
Why was he sent to kill Addison? And now that Ben has leaped in Addison’s place (and earlier than she would’ve leaped), doesn’t that change it all?
Hit our comments below with your wildest theories because who knows? You might be right! No one’s predicted anything like this so far!
Diana Keng is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is a lifelong fan of smart sci-fi and fantasy media, an upstanding citizen of the United Federation of Planets, and a supporter of AFC Richmond ’til she dies. Her guilty pleasures include female-led procedurals, old-school sitcoms, and Bluey. She teaches, knits, and dreams big. Follow her on Twitter.