This week’s Quantum Leap midseason finale took on abusive youth camps as Ben found himself in the body of a 16-year-old named Benjamin Winters.
He and three other “troubled” teens stole a car to escape Sierra Youth Academy, modeled after real-life institutions like Provo Canyon School (which Paris Hilton attended; she detailed the emotional and physical abuse she suffered there in her documentary This Is Paris).
The group’s breakout hit a snag when the car’s tire blew out, and the vehicle was subsequently totaled in a crash. Ben, Stacy (played by Raquel Elena Justice), Roy (Anthony Turpel) and Leah (Ciara Riley Wilson) were then forced to trek to Las Vegas on foot. According to history, they were destined to die of dehydration along the way.
In the present day, the Quantum Leap team dealt with a total system lockdown presumably triggered by Janice as a way of preventing Magic and Jen from catching up to her. The pair wound up trapped in an elevator while Ian worked frantically to get the system back up. That was the perfect time for Magic to try and convince Jen to patch things up with her father, who had a serious gambling problem.
Back in the desert, Ben concluded that this jump was about more than just saving the kids’ lives. After hearing them speak on the abuse they’ve suffered at the academy, he believed he was there to help put an end to the atrocities committed by camp officials.
The group hit several setbacks: Leah broke her ankle, and the creek they counted on for water to combat dehydration had somehow dried up. Ben momentarily lost his cool… until realizing that water was being diverted to a nearby source. That’s when they discovered an empty cabin filled with plenty of food and refreshments.
However, it was a short-lived victory. Sullivan (Eric Lee Huffman) and Ringer (Kurt Yaeger) from the academy soon caught up with them, and Leah turned herself in so the others could escape. But rather than leave her behind, the teens called Leah’s uncle George (Andrew Hwang), who worked at the local news station for help. They arrived back at the academy in time to catch Sullivan and Ringer on camera harassing Leah, thus exposing the institute’s horrific practices.
In more good news, Ian got the systems back up and running, and Jen finally called her father.
Sierra Youth Academy was eventually shut down, and its staff were indicted on multiple charges of child endangerment. An update on the kids revealed that Stacy now manages a casino in Vegas; Roy lives in Boston, has four children and runs a group home; Leah is a rocket scientist; and Benjamin becomes a sculptor. Plus, they all remain friends and even vacation together.
Their promise to stick together prompted Ben to remember why he leapt in the first place: He was trying to save Addison. Before the physicist could expand on that, he made his next leap.
What did you think of Quantum Leap’s midseason finale? Grade the episode below, and then sound off in the comments.