WARNING: Contains mild spoilers for Quantum Leap season 1, episode 3.The 2022 version of Quantum Leap‘s Al (Dean Stockwell) equivalent, Addison (Caitlin Bassett) has more in common with her predecessor than their role as a holographic guide. In the Quantum Leap revival, Dr. Ben Song (Raymond Lee) has stepped into the accelerator and assumed the role of Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula), leaping through time and changing people’s lives for the better. However, it’s revealed early on that Ben wasn’t supposed to assume Sam’s place, his fiancée Addison was. As a result of this, she takes the narrative place of Sam’s friend and guide, Al Calavicci, with whom she shares a similar history.
Both Addison and Al are Quantum Leap characters who had careers in the military. Al served in Vietnam, and was taken as a prisoner of war during the conflict. Al’s time as a POW had a huge impact on the character, resulting in his separation from his wife Beth and the character’s subsequent womanizing and fear of commitment. 2022’s Quantum Leap gives Addison a similar backstory, which it is still fleshing out, revealing early on that she also joined the military and served in Afghanistan.
Addison’s military career is expanded on further in Quantum Leap season 1, episode 3, “Somebody Up There Likes Ben.” When Ben leaps into the body of boxer Danny Hill, it becomes apparent that the purpose of his leap is to help Danny’s brother Darryl, a Vietnam veteran, with his post-traumatic stress disorder. It’s the episode that best represents the original Quantum Leap‘s appeal, using contemporary eyes to enlighten the past about issues of mental health. The references to the Vietnam War, and Addison’s recognition of Danny’s PTSD gives her a much deeper link to Al Calavicci than simply being Ben’s guide.
Addison’s Connection To Al Is Deeper Than You Realize
Al’s time in Vietnam, and his experiences as a prisoner of war were a huge part of his Quantum Leap character arc. With Al missing and presumed dead, his wife Beth (Susan Diol) eventually moved on, which broke Al’s heart. Similarly, Ben’s secrecy over his reasons for entering the Quantum Leap accelerator has driven a wedge between him and his future wife Addison. Nobody yet knows how long Ben’s Quantum Leap time travels will last, but Addison, like Al, is confronting the knowledge that their significant other has left them behind.
Not only that, but their shared military history is another strong link between the two characters. On NBC’s official Quantum Leap character guide, it’s revealed that Addison’s father also served in Vietnam, and may even have served alongside Al Calavicci. Ernie Hudson’s character Herbert “Magic” Williams is also a Vietnam veteran who served alongside Sam Beckett’s brother, and was also one of Sam’s previous leaps. Addison’s family history, the links to Al’s family, and the involvement of “Magic” proves that the specter of the Vietnam War still casts a long shadow over the Quantum Leap revival.
Sam Beckett gave up his freedom to save Al and Beth’s marriage in the original Quantum Leap ending by assuring her that Al did not die in Vietnam. The new Quantum Leap is increasingly becoming focused on the search for Dr. Sam Beckett, so it makes sense for it to draw these links between Vietnam and Afghanistan. Political commentators at the time drew comparisons between the US conflict in Afghanistan with its futile war against communism in Vietnam, so using it to create Addison’s backstory provides the perfect Al update for the modernized Quantum Leap. That both characters are also pining for their true loves makes their connection even deeper and more tragic.
Episodes of Quantum Leap release on NBC on Mondays at 10 PM ET. Episodes are available for exclusive streaming on Peacock the next day.