Quantum Leap’s Writer And Director Breaks Down Ian’s Emotional Monologue And That Major Reveal

Warning! The following contains spoilers for the Quantum Leap Season 1 episode "Let Them Play." Read at your own risk!

Quantum Leap just delivered one of its most powerful episodes so far on many levels. Viewers were treated to an emotional story about a trans teen's journey for acceptance in her high school and a massive twist that only deepens the mystery that's slowly unraveling as the season plays out. This was also a huge episode for Mason Alexander Park's Ian, so it was a fortunate that "Let Them Play" director and writer Shakina Nayfack was on hand to talk out Ian's biggest moments. 

Ian's heaviest moment in Quantum Leap came during a heart-to-heart with Addison, as she tried to help Ben prevent events that might cause Gia, a trans teen on a high school basketball team, from running away. Ian discussed the increased statistics of negative consequences for trans kids who run away, which made it imperative they prevented Gia from running away like Ziggy predicted would happen.

Ian then dropped the bombshell that they tried to commit suicide as a teen, which shocked Addison. The Quantum Leap character said their attempt was influenced by the feeling they were "floating in a gray space" in a world where everyone was black and white. Shakina Nayfack spoke to CinemaBlend about writing the emotional monologue, and discussions she had with Mason Alexander Park about how to present this scene that other trans kids may relate to:

When I had originally written this monologue, it was about everyone being this or that and me not being able to be either. Mason brought forward this idea of 'floating in shades of gray,’ which I thought was such a beautiful metaphor for the trans and non-binary experience before you’re able to express and articulate yourself.

In the episode, Ian went on to say that they were lucky to have a strong support system in place when they attempted to take their life, but others aren't so lucky. Ian explained that Gia's support system was basketball, and without it, she was lost. 

The monologue was written, but it was on Mason Alexander Park to execute and deliver another banger of a scene for Ian. They didn't let viewers down, and based on Shakina Nayfack's description of filming that scene, the Quantum Leap cast and crew knew that from when it was first shot: 

That monologue was such a powerful moment to shoot. It was one of those moments on set where you could hear a pin drop. Everyone was breathless and just, you know, blasting our support to Mason so they could express and expose that vulnerability that we love them for as an actor. This particular episode was so essential to understand the core risk that these kids face, which is losing their lives. And that’s what this episode is trying to stop.

Ian then had a major role in Quantum Leap later in the episode, and this time for a completely mind-blowing and unexpected reason. Magic and Jenn tracked down Dottie, the person Janice Calavicci named as someone who could help unravel the mystery behind Ben's big jump. Magic realized that Dottie, played by Shakina Nayfack, was someone who had been occupied by a leaper. Magic asked Dottie to see a sketch of the individual she'd been dreaming about since "losing time" and was shocked to see Ian's face on the sketch pad. 

We knew there was a future leaper, and maybe even Scott Bakula's Sam is kicking around somewhere in the universe. The reveal that Ian might also be hopping into bodies is a truly surprising twist and could point to them being a traitor to the Quantum Leap program. Shakina Nayfack couldn't share any spoilers on what's to come but did point out it was awesome to pen an episode that featured a major reveal regarding Mason Alexander Park's character:

I will say that since I joined the writers room, I’m always the one that’s like, ‘What about Ian, what about Ian?’ Because I’m there as a trans person representing a trans person, and so we have been waiting a long time to figure out, as we broke the season, where did Ian’s backstory take us? Where could Ian’s backstory take us? And I was so thrilled that we got to concoct that final scene… What I love is that in addition to the whole trans storyline n this story of the leap, there’s also this other like totally trans storyline in the present-day reality of Quantum Leap headquarters.

Quantum Leap just delivered the twistiest of twists, to the point that I'm about to use my Peacock Premium subscription to revisit old episodes to keep a closer eye on Ian. Obviously, there's more to the story here that will be revealed in time, but I can't imagine Ian has a completely valid excuse for hiding secretly leaping from the rest of the team. Just what is going on here? 

Quantum Leap airs on NBC on Mondays at 10:00 p.m. ET. This season is rolling right along, but there's still a long way to go because we're reportedly in for a wild Season 2 once this season wraps up. 

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.