“Project Blue Book – Episode Six – The Green Fireballs” (2019)
Created by: David O’Leary
Featuring: Aidan Gillen, Laura Mennell, Michael Harney, Ksenia Solo, Michael Malarkey
Red Scare: “This was a period (1947-57) of paranoia about communist infiltration or invasion in the United States. During this period, ordinary Americans were paralysed by a fear of ‘Reds under the bed’.”
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 sixth, follows the pattern of the previous five 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 when it starts to delve deep into the story there are liberties taken with what actually happened with the green fireballs of the stories title.
Green fireballs are a type of unidentified flying object which have been sighted in the sky since the late 1940s. Early sightings primarily occurred in the southwestern United States, particularly in New Mexico. They were once of notable concern to the US government because they were often clustered around sensitive research and military installations, such as Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratory, then Sandia base.[
Meteor expert Dr. Lincoln LaPaz headed much of the investigation into the fireballs on behalf of the military. LaPaz’s conclusion was that the objects displayed too many anomalous characteristics to be a type of meteor and instead were artificial, perhaps secret Soviet spy devices. The green fireballs were seen by many people of high repute including LaPaz, distinguished Los Alamos scientists, Kirtland AFB intelligence officers and Air Command Defense personnel. A February 1949 Los Alamos conference attended by aforementioned sighters, Project Sign, world-renowned upper atmosphere physicist Dr. Joseph Kaplan, H-bomb scientist Dr. Edward Teller, other scientists and military brass concluded, though far from unanimously, that green fireballs were natural phenomena. To the conference attendees, though the green fire ball source was unknown, their existence was unquestioned.[
In December 1949 Project Twinkle, a network of green fireball observation and photographic stations, was established but never fully implemented. It was discontinued two years later, with the official conclusion that the phenomenon was probably natural in origin.
Green fireballs have been given natural, man-made, and extraterrestrial origins and have become associated with both the Cold War and ufology.[ Because of the extensive government paper trail on the phenomenon, many ufologists consider the green fireballs to be among the best documented examples of unidentified flying objects(UFOs).
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, through 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 the past three episodes have essentially let this lie or has been ignored possibly the producers may have bitten off more than they could chew with so many competing storylines.
Like all the episodes so far there is a basis in real life with the sightings of the green lights but everything from that concept onwards is either completely fictional or real life is bent so that Hynek becomes the centre point of the episode. For instance it is Hynek that comes up with the idea of a monitoring station to analyze the green lights which is fine but can be confusing for viewers who believe they are witnessing true events. What we are seeing is the character of Hynek being made more important and smart because of his breakthroughs, both real and fictional, it is a shame that the fictional aspects are taking over the non-fiction parts.
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 in this time period. Speaking of nuclear war in this episode we are also introduced to a testing facility where nuclear warheads were let off to test their destructive capability as well as fall out potential which is a treat as they were towns constructed with families that were mannequins which lends an eerie quality to the show, again something that is reminiscent of “The X-Files” – I sense a common thread running through this show.
One of the strengths of the show is the relationship between Allen and Mimi Hynek which comes to the fore in this episode in a most unexpectant way in two very important elements. The first is Mimi being manipulated by Susie into searching Allen’s office for information about what he is doing for the Government which they do in the form of a diary that makes for depressing reading. Allen in the meantime in one of the more unoriginal parts of the show, again borrowing heavily from “The X-Files” with the introduction of a ‘deep throat’ the character who reveals some kind of truth which for me begs to be made fun of. Allen finds some kind of (alien?) technology and in direct opposition to what we have seen throughout the series so far shares it with his wife who is understanding and now it appears at end of episode six that Allen has found his Scully, which for me is fine as they have the best chemistry in the entire show.
Episode Six – The Green Fireballs
Directed by: Norma Bailey
Written by: Harley Peyton
After mysterious green fireballs nearly cause nuclear disaster, Hynek and Quinn must investigate how it could have occurred.