New show episode includes nods to the classic while riffing on The Exorcist
Through a wave of nostalgia, I watched some originals quantum leap episodes from last week. And by a few, I mean the entire 9-episode first season, a handful in the second, and then “The Boogieman” from season 3, which originally aired October 26, 1990, because it was Halloween. Hey, I was really tired, okay?
2022 quantum leap had the chance to broadcast on Halloween and “O Ye of Little Faith” certainly provide thrills and chills. The episode makes it sound like the creative team said, “Let’s do The Exorcistexcept it’s quantum leap.” Ben jumps on Father Davenport, a priest who was called in by a wealthy 1930s family to exorcise the demon that possessed their 18-year-old daughter, who is now confined to her bed. Report creepy voices, roll your eyes, levitate out of bed, and other classics Exorcist-demonic possession style signs.
For those who don’t remember, 1990’s “The Boogieman” also started with a creepy old house. Sam has jumped into a 1960s horror writer, and one by one people are starting to die around him. The episode is old enough to run for the US Senate, but just in case, *spoiler alert*, the culprit turns out to be the devil. Yes, the real devil. I didn’t see it coming in a sci-fi show but looking back on it, the original quantum leap could almost be considered fantasy.
Rewatching the original series, it’s striking how unironically Sam Beckett believed he was doing God’s work, that God was the one hopping him from person to person to make things right. The 2022 show, on the other hand, simply says that it’s the “computer” that makes Ben jump like there’s an unknown scientific algorithm behind it all. Notably, Ben himself is a non-believer, and when Addison first tells him that his job is to perform an exorcism, he scoffs.
Addison’s hologram is cut for mysterious reasons, leaving Ben to figure out on his own how to save the day. On the one hand, he is skeptical and he is sure that there must be a rational explanation for the apparent possession of the girl. On the other hand, he’s starting to see some really weird things…
The seventh episode of the 2022 show finally brings the focus back to Ben’s adventure in the past, with the 2022 storyline whittled down to a handful of scenes. Perhaps because Addison wasn’t here to pine, Ben actually seemed fully invested in his quest this time around, and for that reason, as a viewer, so was I. What happened to this poor girl and what’s going on with this strange rich family? How is Ben going to get rid of this demon when he barely believes demons exist? I actually felt the stakes this time; I really cared how he was going to solve this problem.
“O Ye of Little Faith” is absolutely a worthy successor to “The Boogieman” (and a worthy homage to The Exorcist), with enough ghosts and terror to satisfy many horror fans. In fact – dare I blaspheme? – I would say it’s better. Mainly because the plot makes more sense and the ending isn’t so… fancy (I mean, the heck?? Really??? I’d still re-watch the classic Halloween episode…). It’s also one of the best episodes of this season thanks to its commitment to its adventure storyline in the past.
The episode hints at more 2022 shenanigans that will likely shift that balance next week. I’m not opposed to more time being spent on this storyline, especially since the classic series is almost over. lack of a contemporary storyline was always a bit odd (the narration told us that Sam was hoping to get home, but Sam never seemed to care much…telling isn’t enough if you don’t show, writers!). I just hope we don’t get a repeat of the dynamic of the sixth episode, where even a fantastic guest star and expensive disaster-movie-type special effects couldn’t make Ben’s adventure in the past feel like mattered.