This article contains spoilers for QUANTUM LEAP season 2 episode 5.
When the new Quantum Leap series debuted, a bomb was dropped on longtime fans of the sci-fi series. Al (Dean Stockwell) had died off screen in the years between shows. This of course was done since Stockwell had passed away before the new Quantum Leap had gone into production. Thankfully the character wasn’t forgotten as Al’s wife Beth (Susan Diol) made several appearances in season one which helped provide a wonderful link to the first series.
In the most recent episode of the second season, “One Night in Koreatown,” Beth makes another appearance where it’s confirmed that she and Magic (Ernie Hudson) are in a relationship. A crucial part of what brought them together was, in the years after seemingly losing Ben in time, Magic became an alcoholic. Beth specifically draws a comparison between Magic and Al, stating that what Magic’s going through reminds her of the toll losing Sam (Scott Bakula) had on Al.
Does this mean that Al, after losing Sam in time at the end of the original Quantum Leap series, fell back into his alcoholism? This was a major part of Al’s history in the original series, addressed directly in the season 4 episode “Play Ball.” In that episode Sam recounted the first time he met Al and how he was determined to give him a chance to help with the basis of the Quantum Leap project, despite his problems with drinking. During the original Quantum Leap Al had managed to get his alcoholism under control but did he lose that control after Sam was lost in time?
New Quantum Leap executive producers and showrunners Martin Gero and Dean Georgaris were quick to clarify that they weren’t intending to say that Al specifically fell back into alcoholism. Gero explains that Beth’s dialogue wasn’t meant to be a one to one comparison between Al and Magic. Instead, it merely meant that she understood the unique struggles the two men faced.
“She’s been involved with two people who have lost a good friend to time travel and knew the warning signs.”
The initial idea to bring Magic and Beth together came out of the natural chemistry that Diol and Hudson shared in the first season. Georgaris explains that the characters would be drawn to each other because, “they share a pretty important secret, the notion of Quantum Leap as a project itself.”
When the writing team was crafting season two they were drawn to the idea that Magic, who’d been a rock to the rest of the characters, would suffer and struggle after losing Ben. Who would he reach out to in that case? Who would reach out to him?
“It just made all the sense in the world that Beth would probably be one of those people,” says Georgaris. “The actors have a great chemistry. We love seeing them together.”
With Beth able to visit the usually closed off Project Quantum Leap in this episode, it’s a fair guess to say that we haven’t seen the last of Beth and Magic’s relationship.
It’s also heartening to see the new Quantum Leap address the emotional state Al was left in at the end of the original series. With the bombshell that Sam never got home, of course Al would struggle in all kinds of ways. Even if it wasn’t falling back into alcohol, it no doubt ate him up inside that he couldn’t rescue his best and closest friend. It’s hard to hear for longtime fans, but it makes perfect sense.
New episodes of Quantum Leap season 2 premiere Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.