After seeing “What a Disaster!” I can see why the producers shuffled the order of things, moving this from the pilot to the sixth episode of the season. That’s not to say “What a Disaster” is bad, so much as to say asking the audience to invest as much in Ben’s background in episode one would have been a larger ask.
Ben leaps into a John, a man facing imminent divorce from his wife, just moments before the San Francisco Earthquake in 1989. The series is doing well at having Ben cover his initial confusion upon entering a person’s life mid-drama, and this week is no exception. Ben having to cover for gaps in his knowledge of John’s wife as his wife asks for divorce works well enough, though I keep wondering why no one notices that Ben is focusing on Addison and her advice from the future.
Speaking of Addison, can I just say that I liked the handlink used here a lot more than the one we’ve seen until now? If there’s one aspect of the original pilot they can and should use again, it’s the link.
Back to our story. Turns out John is there to save the couple’s son from dying and reunite an estranged mom and son. This mission has a personal note for Ben, who once got B’s on his report card because he was tired of his mom telling him he was special and then after they got in a huge fight about it, she died. So, Ben’s carrying around a bit of guilt over that (as one would) and it all comes bubbling back.
Some of the better emotional beats of the original series came when Sam connected with the leapie due to some emotional connection. So, Ben’s connection here worked, as did his call to his mom seconds before he leaped.
I do find it interesting that Addison admits she finds Ben in the past a bit more open and less guarded. It makes me wonder if we might see a flashback of what Ben was like before he left the present and what the implications of this are for his character long-term. We are told that Ben doesn’t discuss his family much with Addison and the fact that we don’t see his father on-screen or hear much about him leads to me believing this could be something pivotal down the road. Given how the relationship between Sam and his dad had a big emotional impact on the original, I could see the new series leaning hard into something similar in future installments.
Meanwhile, in the present, the team is scrambling to find answers to “leaper x.” Three scenarios are presented – another country, a rich benefactor, or the leaper from the future. Turns out that we’re leaning heavily toward the third one, for now. We track down leaper x in our timeline and he’s serving in the military and seems an all-around great person. It could be interesting to see what will lead him to start leaping in the first place and why he tells Ben to stop following him.
Of course, this brings up a lot of time-travel conundrums that you can try to wrap your head around. For one thing, have Magic and company put the other leaper on alert because they visited him and acted mysteriously? Or by keeping him under survellaince will they change history and not send him down a road that leads to leaping? Also, if he’s from the future, does he have a piece of the puzzle as to why Ben leaped?
Of course, I do find myself wondering if the team allowing Janice to have free-range in Ziggy is starting to hinder Ben’s chances in the past? The original series often had Al call out to Gushi or Ziggy to center him on a certain character in order to lead Sam to him or her. I feel like the reboot tends to ignore some of Al’s abilities (for lack of a better term) and just has Addison follow Ben around like a lost puppy. At some point, we’ve got to have her do more than just be an exposition dump and sounding board for Ben.