Quantum Leap Season 1 Finale Recap: Does Ben Return to the Present?

Image Credit: Trae Patton/NBC

NBC’s sci-fi drama ‘Quantum Leap’ concludes its first season with an explosive finale, leaving the audience on a massive cliffhanger. After leaping around in the past, Dr. Ben Song finally arrives at his destination in the future, but it is not what he had imagined. The true reason behind his decision to leap is revealed, and the entire team scrambles to send help to Ben through time. Ben is forced to make difficult decisions that could seal his fate forever. The final scene leaves him and the team on very uncertain terms, leaving the viewers to wonder what the future holds for their favorite characters. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Quantum Leap Season 1 Episode 18: “Judgement Day” Recap

Image Credit: Trae Patton/NBC

After all these leaps, Ben finally lands in the future. The year is 2051, and it is bleaker than he’d imagined. Luckily, Ian is still around to help him. The machine was not built to send people to the future, so it keeps pulling Ben back. Ian has little time to give him an equation that could make things easier for him. Soon after, Ben leaps and finds himself in 2018. This time, he has leaped into his own body, which he hopes would make the task easier.

Around the same time, Martinez arrives in 2018. He leaps into Magic’s body, which makes it difficult for Ben to convince his team where the real danger lies. Ben is also warned not to change anything in 2018 as it could have irrevocable consequences. However, in the end, Ben is forced to choose between keeping the past intact and saving Addison. It gets more troubling when Martinez reveals that his mission is more than just killing Addison. He is targeting the entire Quantum Leap team.

Quantum Leap Season 1 Finale Ending: Is Ben Done With the Leaps?

Ben Song was never supposed to get inside the quantum accelerator and leap in time. This task was assigned to Addison Augustine. A few kinks needed to be cleared out before she could be sent into the past. But before that could happen, Ben leaped without telling anyone on his team about it. Due to the loss of his memory, Ben forgot why he’d leaped, but when his memories start to come back in fragments, he realizes that all of it was to save Addison. However, he cannot remember what the danger was.

Image Credit: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

In the future, Ben meets an older Ian, the only one from the Quantum Leap team who survived the nuclear holocaust. He reveals that the government sent Richard Martinez back in time to undo everything that the Quantum Leap project achieved. Ben and his team used it to do good things, but the lives they saved created ripples in time that the government did not appreciate. In the end, the Quantum Leap project became a scapegoat for them. They blamed it for all the bad things happening in the country, not their policies or anything else they’d have to take responsibility for.

The government decided that not only did they want the project to be shut down, but they also wanted it to be erased completely. So, they sent Richard Martinez back in time so that he could arrive at the point before it all started. Addison was chosen as the leaper in the original timeline, so Martinez was tasked with killing her. However, they discovered that killing Addison didn’t solve the problem. One way or the other, one of the members of the project would survive and keep it going. So, it was decided to kill all of them.

After Martinez leaped, the quantum accelerator was destroyed so no one else could leap, and anyone who had already leaped could not return. When Ben tells Martinez about it, the latter reveals that it was his idea because he had no delusions about returning home. This shows how dedicated he had been to the task. Being inside Magic’s body makes his job easier, but the team soon figures out that he is not really their boss.

Image Credit: Ron Batzdorff/NBC

In a scuffle to stop each other, Ben and Martinez enter the quantum accelerator and are thrown back in time. One by one, they go back to the leaps where their paths had crossed — the asylum, the naval ship, and the Wild West. Fortunately, before all of this, Ben shared the code that future Ian had given him. The 2022 Ian tries to understand what it might mean, but it isn’t until 2018’s Ian comments that it looks like a cheat code to a game that they understand what future Ian was trying to do.

In 2022, before Ben leaped, the quantum accelerator still needed a lot of work. They hadn’t figured out the amnesia problem or the ability to leap to a specific point in time. Without the latter, the leaps would be random. Ben couldn’t solve that problem entirely, but he did come up with a code that could allow him to use the random leaps to land himself in the future. By 2051, Ian figures out the code that would allow Ben, or any other leaper, to jump at a specific point in time.

When Ben jumps to 2018, he is warned not to change the past at all. He chooses otherwise, leading to him fighting with Martinez and ending up inside the quantum accelerator, forever changing the course of history because his 2018 self never makes it to 2022. During the leaps, he and Martinez fight, and when they reach the Wild West leap, Martinez almost kills Ben. The latter is saved just in time by another person shooting Martinez first.

Meanwhile, 2022 Ian and 2018 Ian figure out that inputting the code in the quantum accelerator is a two-person job. Future Ian told Ben that they needed each other. The Ians realize they must input the code simultaneously, but the task seems impossible because they are years apart. This is when Addison remembers Ben’s statement about quantum entanglement. According to it, any two entities who have shared an experience are bonded by it so that they don’t remain separate entities anymore. They become one.

Ben meant it romantically, but Addison puts it in the context of the three Ians, all of whom are one now because they have shared the experience of meeting the 2022 Ben, getting the code from him, and having their life threatened by Leaper X. This awareness tied the three Ians through time. They input the code into the machine at the same time. This is when Ben leaps and lands back in 2018. Now, he has the chance to set everything right. He doesn’t have to worry about Martinez this time because he died in the 1800s, so he is gone for good.

Having saved Addison and put everything right in 2018, Ben’s mission is finished. He leaps again, and because he completed what he set out to do, everyone assumes that it means he will be back home. The machine whirs, and there is a bright light. We see a hopeful expression on Addison’s face, but we never see Ben come back to 2022. What happened there? Did Ben come back? Probably not. The expressions on Addison’s face turn from hopeful to disappointed by the time the credits start to roll. This means that Ben didn’t return.

The exact rules of quantum leap and time travel are still unclear, leaving room for an explanation as to why Ben didn’t come home even though he finished his mission. Previously, Sam Beckett leaped into the past, and despite completing all of his missions, he never found a way to come back home. The same problem persisted with the 2022 quantum leap machine. The team was working on it and had come close enough to prepare Addison to become the next leaper. They wouldn’t have hired her for the job if they weren’t sure she was coming back home.

Ben leaped before these rough edges could be smoothed over, so he is still stuck in time. Another thing that confirms that Ben isn’t home yet is that ‘Quantum Leap’ has been renewed for a second season. If the story were to end with the first season, we would have seen Ben back in his own timeline. But because the story is to continue, Ben’s return is delayed. He has many more leaps to go before a solution, if any, is found.

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