Janis takes her mother’s love and turns it into a flaw worth drugging her mom over and then stealing from her all the items that Beth kept after Al’s death. Granted, Al wasn’t supposed to be in possession of the items, one of which is his famous handheld device that links to Ziggy. Unlike current hologram helper Addison Augustine’s (Caitlin Bassett) Ziggy link, which looks like a palm-sized Simon Says game, Al’s Ziggy link is inspired by the glorious Gummy Bear. Colorful, see-through, and indestructible, Al’s Ziggy link is now in the wrong hands and has power to interfere in Ben’s leaps in ways that the official Quantum Leap team will not be able to predict or control.
Janis not only has the equipment now, but she also reveals the lengths to which she is willing to go to achieve her desired end as evidenced by her actions against her own mother. When the team learns more about Ben’s lies and covert choices in the six months leading up to his unauthorized leap, they also begin to understand that Ben must’ve been duped into collusion with Janis. While Janis grows more nefarious every episode, Ben reveals his true nature time and again. Ben is an empathetic negotiator and seeks the good in people. Even if the holes in his Swiss Cheese Memory were miraculously filled, it’s possible that Ben wouldn’t know the real reason behind his partnership with Janis, and it is only Janis who holds that truth.
Already Janis is impacting the team’s success in connecting with Ben. Through the thumb drive that Ben was hiding in his bookshelf and that Addison recovered from their shared home, a bug is injected into Ziggy that causes it to slow down and miss important information, leaving Addison and Ben to figure out things on the fly and without all the data and statistical probability that Ziggy uses to help determine the leaper’s best path forward. So far, Janis is always one step ahead of the Quantum Leap Project’s team of military and civilian tech and time-travel experts.
The balance of each episode’s vacillation between the story happening to Ben in the past and the story taking place in the present is unfamiliar territory in the Quantum Leap canon. Much concern, and even consternation, has been raised by modern day fans about the whiplash caused by a focus on the present in this sequel. While it still feels strange to see the present so completely in the new Quantum Leap, and stranger still that certain canonical devices of the present are absent (such as the Waiting Room where leapt-into-bodies were held in the original series until they could return to their time and place), it’s certain that there would be no Janis in this story without the present-day focus. And if there is no Janis, then there is no link to Al Calavicci in this revival of Quantum Leap.
I am willing to suspend all disbelief and concern about this past-to-present conundrum if it means that Al can live on in this story to help one more time from the great beyond to put right what is going wrong. Even if it is his own flesh and blood, whose birth wouldn’t have been possible if the original series had ended in any other way than it did, who is causing so much trouble. Gummy Bear Ziggy is back, though in bad hands…for now.