Television/Streaming review: “Project Blue Book – Episode Four – Operation Paperclip” (2019)

“Project Blue Book – Episode Four – Operation Paperclip” (2019) 


Ten Episodes

Created by: David O’Leary

Featuring: Aidan Gillen, Laura Mennell, Michael Harney, Ksenia Solo, Michael Malarkey

Alien: “A hypothetical or fictional being from another world.”

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, the fourth, follows the pattern of the previous three 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 attempt to find answers on a military base that is run by an ex-Nazi scientist that has been taken by the Americans after WWII to seemingly work on the nascent space program, under Operation Paperclip.

What was Operation Paperclip? Operation Paperclip was a secret program of the Joint Intelligence Objectives Agency (JIOA) largely carried out by Special Agents of Army CIC, in which more than 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians, such as Wernher von Braun and his V-2 rocket team, were taken from Germany to America for U.S. government employment, primarily between 1945 and 1959. Many were former members, and some were former leaders, of the Nazi Party.[

The primary purpose for Operation Paperclip was U.S. military advantage in the Soviet–American Cold War, and the Space Race. The Soviet Union were more aggressive in forcibly recruiting more than 2,200 German specialists—a total of more than 6,000 people including family members—with Operation Osoaviakhim during one night on October 22, 1946.

As we move through the first season it is starting to become apparent what kind of show this is turning into, that is a Cold War version of the “X-Files” (1993-present) which as I have stated in the past is not a completely bad or negative thing to be, especially in this day and age of ‘fake news’. What I mean by that is that “Project Blue Book” (2019) is taking real events or at least real reports of reported events that really have not been substantiated, then making narrative leaps in terms of showing them onscreen as well as creating new stories about how they fit into a wider narrative, albeit something of a conspiracy revolving around new technology as well as paranoia. For some people who have watched the “X-Files” some of the stories as well as the narrative flourishes may seem all to familiar but I am actually enjoying it as it is similar to viewing something I enjoyed from a new angle, but I can understood others who may think this is a little bit of a ripoff.

As with all of these episodes we end the show on a revelation that involves a possible government coverup of one sort or another, while the first few it seemed like there might be an alien ship on an Air Force Base, however as this episode reveals it seems like these reveals might be leading up to the invention of new technology, but the question remains how has it been developed and what does it all mean in terms of Hynek’s investigations.

Of course we still have the dual narrative of the possible Russian spy befriending Hynek’s wife which has now been folded into an alien conspiracy plot that links back to episode one, whether or not this ever happened is unknown to me, but I would say not as it adds too much color to the series. That is not a bad thing but it does nicely tie in the entire family to a possible over arching alien conspiracy which is right out of Chris Carters playbook. The other idea that we are seeing even more of is the Cold War plot linking to the ‘Red Under the Bed’ as well as the nuclear war tensions that existed, we even see a Saturday alarm test where people are told to seek shelter. The aspect of this I enjoyed was Hynek telling his wife that a wooden she would not protect anyone, her comeback about making their child feel safe was a lovely touch that really is what people were attempting to do, feel safe in routine even though there were tensions under the surface.

I for one am enjoying this show for what it is, not what it is trying to be which is where many other similar series have failed, it is a period family drama that is hybridized with the sci-fi/horror genre that works well because of the tightness of the storyline and the actors, in particular
Aidan Gillen who is shining as the centre of the show surrounded by very good character actors, I am looking forward to the weeks to come.

Episode Four – Operation Paperclip

Directed by: Pete Travis

Written by: Harley Peyton

A commercial airliner’s bizarre UFO encounter leads Hynek and Quinn to a top-secret program involving ex-Nazi scientists in Huntsville, that has a mysterious agenda all its own.

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