Throughout the happenings at Princeton in 1955, there’s an insidious feeling that Quantum Leap Season 2 Episode 6 will grow in significance as the season progresses.
On the surface, it’s an exciting quest adventure, marrying the historical enchantment of the National Treasure franchise with the life-threatening pursuit by universal baddies of the Indiana Jones adventures.
But it also includes several pivotal moments for Ben and the Quantum Leap team as the secret of time travel has been revealed, and major events are set in motion.
Of course, there have canonically been others who have known about Ziggy and Quantum Leap. The O.G. series had Lothos and its Evil Leapers. Even Quantum Leap Season 1 had Martinez and his murderous military/government bosses. And, of course, there’s Janis and Beth Cavalicci.
But sharing the secret of quantum time travel has always been understood by the team as something they cannot share outside the inner circle, to the detriment of their intimate relationships with civilians.
Who knows about Quantum Leap?
Jenn perfectly illustrates this aspect of their lives on Quantum Leap Season 1 Episode 1, explaining to her co-workers the cover story she gave her clueless date.
Magic: Jenn, I just met a guy named Chris at the bar, says he’s your date. Why does he think I’m a video game designer?
Jenn: Would you prefer I told him you run a top-secret time travel project?
We’ve watched Ian’s relationship with Rachel implode repeatedly as they have kept various bits of the truth of their work from her.
Despite that, Ian and Rachel are the epitome of modern #RelationshipGoals. Independent individuals with brilliant minds who love each other beyond anything logical and willing to give up everything to help the other out.
Watching Ian face their Big Bad head-on with Rachel at their back and Jenn as their wing-person is an incredibly satisfying moment.
However, I can’t help but suspect Rachel’s faceless boss won’t be so easily kept from the intel he feels he’s entitled to have. Furthermore, most powerful genius types might be a little miffed by being outplayed by a bunch of government employees and a subordinate.
So, yeah. As mentioned above, significant.
Addison: When I lost Ben, hearing about your grieving process really helped me with my own. But since we’ve been together, you’ve stopped talking about Kate. I want you to know that you can, especially when you’re walking around the place where you two met.
Tom: I appreciate that. But if I don’t, it’s just because we’re on mission and it doesn’t help me to focus on the past right now.
Shining a spotlight on Tom and Kate
While we’re kicking around HQ, let’s shine a quick spotlight on Tom and the artfully unfolded exposition on his late wife, Kate.
Tom jumping in as holo-guide is probably the most unexpected choice, although Ben’s reaction is predictable.
The dynamic between the men is understandably prickly, to begin with, but they manage to find some neutral ground — understanding, even appreciating, each other’s position and perspective — by the end.
Tom’s vulnerability as he spends time observing and feeling the sense of place and memory on the Princeton campus is a marked departure from the coolly capable and in charge D.O.D. agent we’ve seen so far.
That humanity forces Ben to see him as a real person versus the faceless enemy who stole Addison from him.
Our future is just someone else’s past, isn’t it?
And again, that sneaking sense of significance flits through the edge of our vision as we’re left wondering if all this foreshadows a future leap where Ben crosses paths with Kate, knocking Tom even further off his control pad.
Jenn: Is anybody else’s brain melting with the possibilities here? I mean, if Ben discovers the secret to fusion in 1955, won’t that massively change the course of the twentieth century?
Addison: No more gas pumps. No more global warming.
Jenn: Magic picked a hell of a day to take off. This is the butterfly effect to end all butterfly effects. Our cars are going to be flying by the time this is over.
If Jenn’s mind is blown by the idea of nuclear fusion becoming a reality, Tom’s heart will be ripped out of his chest when he realizes Quantum Leap could save Kate’s life.
Hannah Carson and her unique abilities
But the true import of this outing drapes itself all over Eliza Taylor’s Hannah Carson and her unique abilities.
With a photographic memory, her proficiency in translating ancient Greek, and a razor-sharp brain for science, she’s a woman far ahead of her time.
NAS fellow: You can’t do that. Fellows only.
Hannah: Relax, I just saved you a day’s work.
Ben: What was that about?
Hannah: NAS Fellowships. It’s a total boys’ club. They sit around all day, pretending to be brilliant and collect fat research grants.
Even more unusual for the era, she knows her value to the field of science and the world at large.
And if all that wasn’t already enough to mark her as extraordinary, she possesses some extrasensory ability to recognize Ben even when he’s changed hosts, a faculty only animals and the insane have had heretofore.
Ben: What are the odds of me crossing paths with the same person in two different leaps?
Jenn: I mean, I’m not Ian, so I don’t have a weirdly exact number for you, but I’d say the odds are crazy slim. Maybe the accelerator just decided you needed a friend.
Quantum Leap’s grand design
If there is a grand design behind the leaps, it would make some emotional sense to provide Ben with a companion in his solitude, especially now that he and Addison have parted ways.
But here’s another theory: What if Ben, having broken ties with Addison, is somehow directing his leaps into Hannah’s path?
What if they are entangled on a molecular level? Cut from the same cloth, with a bond that transcends time, space, and lifetimes?
Ben: This is my life. I can’t get home. I just keep leaping. And I meet all these amazing people through time, but I never see them again.
Hannah: Except me. You don’t really think this is the last time you’re going to see me, do you?
Fiction has provided us with this pairing to great effect before.
To wit, The Time Traveler’s Wife explores the many complex issues arising from a temporally unbalanced relationship as Henry randomly pops in and out of Clare’s life.
Furthermore, one of the most remarkable feats of time-travel love shenanigans is when The Doctor meets River Song for the first time on Doctor Who Season 4 Episode 9, which is simultaneously River’s last adventure with her long-time soulmate.
So, what does this mean for Ben and Hannah?
(Is it too soon to start calling them Bennah? Yeah, probably. I apologize.)
Hannah: Woah. A guardian angel sent from the future? That’s gotta be the most, the most romantic bit of physics I’ve ever heard.
Ben: That’s it? You’re on board with the time traveler thing?
What’s to come for Ben and Hannah aka Bennah?
Well, Hannah’s probably the only person Ben could’ve told the truth of his existence to with some assurance that she’d keep his secret, seeing as she’d be laughed out of scientific circles if she shared it.
And now that Hannah knows his real name, there’s a possibility she could track him down in the future. Of course, if she’s twenty-five in 1955 (just to keep the numbers neat), she’d be nearly a hundred years old by the time Ben leaps.
But nothing says that they can’t play out their relationship within Hannah’s lifespan.
So, how do they make that work? And what does it mean for the mission?
Ben: Agent Robert Cook! He’s the one that told you to come here. You met him in a diner and you talked about Einstein and angular momentum and yoyos. And you helped him save a young girl. And you told him not to say goodbye just see you later.
Hannah: How do you know all that?
Ben: I know it the same way I know what will happen to you if you leave here with that formula. I’m a time traveler.
The Leaper’s life is a lonely one.
Although he knows he has a team working every angle to get him home, Ben’s resigned to his transient existence.
Which isn’t to say he can’t find joy in the leaps he takes.
From his pleasure in food, evident on Quantum Leap Season 1 Episode 13, to his love of Neal Russell on Quantum Leap Season 2 Episode 4, Ben brings himself into the equation every leap, and that’s what’s made the difference.
You’re asking me to do nothing. I’m not good at that.
But he doesn’t carry the secret alone anymore. Sharing it with Hannah is giving one of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century a puzzle to solve.
Just as Ben committed to finding Einstein’s secret formula, it doesn’t take a time-traveling physicist to see that Hannah won’t rest until she solves Ben’s leaping dilemma.
Tom: You all right?
Ben: Yeah. Never punched a Nazi before. Felt pretty good.
Also, it’s never a bad day when Nazis get punched and sent to jail.
ICYMI, a lovely bit of fan service is embedded in the evening Ben and Hannah spend brainstorming and fan-boy/girling over Einstein.
In toasting Einstein, they raise a glass, “To Al,” which refers to Hannah’s familiarity with Albert Einstein, but fans of the original series will catch the salute to Al Cavalicci, the late Dean Stockwell.
Hannah: Read me something from the journal.
Ben: Okay. Well, Al was wrestling with some premonitions. ‘Mankind’s innovation, absent of conscience, only brings us closer to catastrophe.’
How will they cross paths again? What progress will Hannah have made in the interim? How surprised was the real Professor McCoy when he returned to consciousness in the midst of kissing a very young lab assistant?
Hit our comments below with your hottest takeaways and coolest theories on where this season will take us, and stay tuned for an exclusive interview with Raymond Lee and Eliza Taylor on the future of Bennah! (Yeah, I said it.)
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 X.