“Project Blue Book – Episode Three – The Lubbock Lights” (2019)
Created by: David O’Leary
Featuring: Aidan Gillen, Laura Mennell, Michael Harney, Ksenia Solo, Michael Malarkey
Close Encounter:“An event in which a person witnesses an unidentified flying object. This terminology and the system of classification behind it were first suggested in astronomer and UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek’s book ‘The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry’ published in 1972.”
This new series revolves around secret U.S. Air Force investigations into supposed UFO encounters and unexplained phenomenon, undertaken by astrophysicist, and eventual ufologist, Josef Allen Hynek in the 1950s and 1960s.
This week’s episode follows the pattern of the previous two installments, which is rather enjoyable, it follows yet another true event but it does exaggerate even more than the others how the two investigators were treated as well as their own encounter with a possible UFO. The episode seems to be realistic however it takes a sharp turn when after what must be a fictional account of an interaction with a possible UFO our main characters are brought in to meet the Air Force Generals about what they should be reporting and the entire reason for Blue Books existence, that is to cover up the fact that there is some mystery to what people are experiencing especially with the Cold War in full effect. The Air Force are seen as some shadowy controlling organization that is intent on manipulating almost everyone in the story as well as the population of the US.
It does seem that the show is pivoting heavily onto the home life of the Hyneks in terms of the Cold War with an especially excellent look at the paranoia surrounding the threat of Nuclear War with the abundance of advertising around fallout shelters. In fact Mimi’s neighbour has a brand new shelter which she shows off about which is hilarious as it is above ground, made of wood and possibly has lead paint all over it, undeterred Mimi purchases one and with the help of Susie builds it. Even though all this is occurring there is not one fact uttered about the real nature of these shelters, they were cash grabs by people who knew they offered no help at all except in the mind which is a metaphor for the Cold War which mainly took place in the mind of both the East and the West. In saying that there is a lovely scene at the end of the episode with the Hyneks inside their shelter as the perfect nuclear family, but with none of them making judgements about the other, it is exceptionally sweet.
This week yet another character is introduced, that is the famed UFO writer Donald Kehoe who after some investigation became convinced that the flying saucers were real. As their forms, flight maneuvers, speeds and light technology was apparently far ahead of any nation’s developments, Keyhoe became convinced that they must be the products of unearthly intelligences, and that the U.S. government was trying to suppress the whole truth about the subject. This conclusion was based especially on the response Keyhoe found when he quizzed various officials about flying saucers. He was told there was nothing to the subject, yet was simultaneously denied access to saucer-related documents.Of course here in the world of fiction we are to believe that Kehoe was forced to run all his stories past the Air Force after being threatened at gunpoint which of course is fiction in terms of what anyone else is aware of.
We are now seeing the show take a lot more license with these stories as well as blending non-fiction and fantasy into a seamless narrative that really does reflect what the “X-Files” started out as being. The show has the strength of taking real events as well as movements that were occurring in society both socially and politically bending them into a kind of truth that suits the show moving forward. The only element of this that I find a little misleading is the fact that people may still view this as a completely real story, which of course it is not. The element of either the Russian spies or men in black that are haunting both Hyneks seems to smell of planting some kind of antagonist that the writers have not fully realised and will wait until the possibility of a season two or alter to full explore or explain to the viewers which screams of not only laziness but not planning for the future, only seeming to do so.
Then there is the final element of this narrative which is getting a little repetitive as well as out of date especially since we saw these kinds of endings in the 1990s, that is the cryptic conversations within the ranks of the Air Force where no one seems to know how to treat the UFO phenomenon as well as how to message it correctly or for that matter who was the one that decided bringing a civilian in was the right thing to do. We are still seeing shots of UFO like aircraft in hanger with no explanation, which I find infuriating as it is pretty common knowledge that the Air Force was experimenting with the design of aircraft that ultimately led the US into the space race. In fact it looks like upcoming shows will be commenting on how the US decided to go into space as well as how the ex Nazi scientists played a part in this which will be fun but I still wonder how much fiction will be utilised to tell this story.
I have to say I am enjoying seeing Aidan Gillen playing a good part as a man who has been thrust into the limelight of sorts having to explain to a variety of people very different ideas about who he is and what he is actually doing. It will be interesting to see how his character expands into something else as the series progresses.
All in all “The Lubbock Lights ” is another very good episode that will keep even the casual viewer interested in the subject matter, this may not hook people immediately but it will entice an audience enough to tune in for the next episode which I will be checking out. I have some faith that this show is formulaic enough that it will be very enjoyable especially because it has a sci-fi bent and is a period piece so it is a nice view on life almost seventy years ago.
Episode Three – The Lubbock Lights
Directed by: Pete Travis
Written by: Harley Peyton
The latest episode of Project Blue Book centers around the mysterious case of the Lubbock Lights. Hundreds of local witnesses in Texas spotted strange lights in the sky, including scientists. The show preserves many of the salient aspects of this real-life UFO event.