How Quantum Leap’s Emotional Trans Support Group Scene Came Together

Warning! The following contains spoilers for the Quantum Leap episode "Let Them Play." Read at your own risk!

Quantum Leap's latest episode featured a massive reveal for Ian that fans are likely still talking about, though there were certainly a lot of moments from "Let Them Play" that deserved further discussion. NBC brought a groundbreaking trans story to primetime television and gave the sci-fi drama's audience a firsthand look at the struggle that trans kids face, as well as the community efforts that go into maintaining such resources. One such example was a support group scene featuring several trans kids and their parents, which writer and director Shakina Nayfack was kind enough to break down for CinemaBlend.

I had the pleasure of speaking to Shakina Nayfack, the Quantum Leap writer who penned and directed the latest episode, "Let Them Play." I asked Nayfack if she could break down the support group scene, in which we saw actress Josielyn Aguilera's Gia loosen up and joke about Hunger Games with some friends. It was a far cry from the attitude the character displayed at her high school, and made for a touching scene overall. Shakina Nayfack shared with me why she wrote the scene, and how it hopefully helps to further educate anyone on the trans experience: 

It was really important to me with this episode that we challenged the tropes and trauma and singularity that we so often get with trans stories, and really show Trans-joy and Trans-community. And I wanted to create as many opportunities for Trans young people as I could and also show the diversity of Trans young people.

Shakina Nayfack wanted to touch on the positivity that exists and flows through the trans community, and the often prevalent sense of understanding, which is exactly what made the support group scene shine. It also featured a touching monologue from a parent voicing her wishes for society to see these children the way they wanted to be seen by others.

Originally, the actors playing Gia's friends in Quantum Leap had a larger presence in the episode. Shakina Nayfack ultimately changed her mind on that, and came up with an awesome idea that made for one of the most unique scenes of Season 1 thus far. Nayfack took CinemaBlend inside her reasoning for how the scene played out, and the decision to have each of the younger characters stare directly into the camera: 

I knew there was going to be a support group scene and I had written a bigger scene for the kids and stuff. Then I thought, ‘No, we just need to see them playing.’ So I talked to our Director of Photography about doing these sort of living portraits underneath the monologue…It was really the last shot we filmed of the whole episode was just these Trans kids standing and looking straight into the camera and breathing and letting themselves be seen which is so radical. It was so moving.

The scene was very powerful, and admittedly moved me to tears. It's wonderful that Quantum Leap's revival has continued the tradition of telling stories from all walks of life, which is hopfully a trend that carries on into Season 2, which has already been teased as being "wild" and full of twists

That's not too hard to believe such claims, given the end of "Let Them Play," in which Magic and Jenn discovered Ben was in contact with a person named Dottie before jumping. Now it appears as though Dottie was being possessed by another leaper, and that leaper was Ian. Are they a traitor to the Quantum Leap program, or have they been hiding some other big secret this whole time? We can only wait and see as this mystery continues to unfold. 

Check out the trailer for the next episode, airing on NBC on Monday at 10:00 p.m. ET. 

This season is really heating up, but we seemingly still have a long way to go before anything is known about this big mystery surrounding Ben's leap.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.