This article contains spoilers for Quantum Leap episode 16.
Quantum Leap has finally revealed the identity of the traitor in the project, and it redefines both the NBC relaunch and the classic TV show. Starring Raymond Lee as Dr. Ben Song and Caitlin Bassett as his fiancée, Addison Augustine, NBC’s Quantum Leap relaunch picks up where the original TV series left off. 30 years after Scott Bakula’s Sam Beckett first stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator, Dr. Ben Song follows in his footsteps, and he’s transported through time on a similar series of misadventures.
The new series of Quantum Leap has more than justified its existence, with season 1 deliberately subverting the familiar formula. Unlike the original series, Quantum Leap isn’t just about history; roughly half of every episode is set in the present day, with viewers getting to know the project team supporting Ben and Addison. It gradually became clear this present-day narrative was essential to understanding the story – because Ben had begun his leaps to save Addison from an unspecified tragedy. Even more disturbingly, though, his decision to keep his motives secret strongly suggested he believed the Quantum Leap project was destined to go bad. Evidence hinted at a traitor within the project itself, but nobody guessed who the traitor really was. In a shocking twist, Quantum Leap episode 16 reveals the villain is actually the supercomputer behind the project, Ziggy.
Ziggy Is The Real Traitor In Quantum Leap
Time travel in Quantum Leap is a hazardous affair, with leapers plunged into unexpected situations. Fortunately, both Sam Beckett and Ben Song have been assisted by a supercomputer named Ziggy. This supercomputer is responsible for tracking the heroes through time; it then searches historical databases to give them advice, calculating probabilities to ensure things turn out for the best. Quantum Leap episode 16 demonstrated just how important Ziggy really is, as it manages to pull up building plans for a mental institution and figure out a safe escape route. Both Sam and Ben would have failed a hundred times or more without Ziggy’s help.
But if the Quantum Leap project is destined to go bad, it stands to reason Ziggy is as well. It takes Georgina Reilly’s Janice Calavicci to join those dots together; she knew Ben believed there was a traitor inside Quantum Leap, but she found herself cooperating with the team, and she struggled to believe the worst of any of them. Finally, at the end of the episode, Janice takes Ernie Hudson’s “Magic” Williams by surprise when she destroys his phone, before telling him the shocking truth. He’s naturally taken aback, but even as he reacts, the episode spins away to show Ziggy – the supercomputer’s databases illuminated in a red light.
Ziggy’s Red Light Is Reminiscent Of The Original “Evil Leapers”
The color is particularly significant, given Quantum Leap episode 16 calls attention to enemies of Sam Beckett known as the Evil Leapers. Introduced in Quantum Leap season 5, these are best understood as the polar opposites of the original project, because their goal was to put wrong what had once went right. If Sam and Ben are on the side of the angels, they are the devils of history. They only crossed paths with Sam Beckett three times, and on one occasion Sam successfully redeemed one of their operatives, proving that good always triumphs over evil.
Sam and Ben both leap in a flare of blue light. Highlighting the difference between their version of the project and Sam’s, the Evil Leapers jumped through time in a flare of red light. It is therefore quite significant that Quantum Leap episode 16, which takes the trouble to remind viewers of the Evil Leapers, ends with Ziggy illuminated in red. The clear implication is that Ziggy is the traitor in Quantum Leap, destined to become the source of the Evil Leapers.
The Quantum Leap Project Is A War Through Time
This revelation has massive implications for the original Quantum Leap series. It means Sam wasn’t only working on behalf of the Quantum Leap project; he was also working against another future iteration. The Evil Leapers weren’t just a mirror image of the Quantum Leap project, but rather they were the project’s future. Time travel was bringing these two forces into head-on collision, with both groups working alongside the same supercomputer.
NBC’s Quantum Leap relaunch, meanwhile, has officially became a war through time. Quantum Leap’s mystery leaper, Walter Perez’s Richard Martinez, is presumably working for a project designed to counteract Ziggy; he’s fighting on the side of the angels, presumably trying to leap to a precise point in time where he can destroy Ziggy. Addison is destined to die as collateral damage in his attack. Ben knows some of this, but not necessarily all of it; Janice suggests even he may have been unaware of the traitor’s identity, meaning he has no idea how massive a threat the world faces now Ziggy has gone rogue. It’s perhaps no coincidence Ziggy’s suggestions almost caused World War III in Quantum Leap episode 14, and would have done so if not for the quick thinking of both Ben and Martinez. Ben knows only that Addison is destined to die if Martinez succeeds in his mission; he has no idea what will happen if he fails.
Fortunately, Quantum Leap’s model of time travel means the past, present, and future are all fluid. Ziggy may have gone bad, but the supercomputer can still be stopped. The fascinating question, though, is just what will happen to the Quantum Leap project if Ziggy is somehow shut down. Ben will wind up continuing his journeys, now without the supercomputer whose guidance helped him figure out how to change time for the better. NBC has already given a green light to Quantum Leap season 2, and that second season is now being set up as an even bolder continuation than the first.
Episodes of Quantum Leap release on NBC on Mondays at 10 PM ET. Episodes are available for exclusive streaming on Peacock the next day.