Television/Streaming review: “Project Blue Book – Episode Seven – The Scoutmaster” (2019)

“Project Blue Book – Episode Seven – The Scoutmaster” (2019)


Ten Episodes

Created by: David O’Leary

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

Deep Throat: “The pseudonym given to the secret informant who provided information in 1972 to Bob Woodward, who shared it with Carl Bernstein. Woodward and Bernstein were reporters for The Washington Post, and Deep Throat provided key details about the involvement of U.S. President Richard Nixon’s administration in what came to be known as the Watergate scandal.”

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 seventh, follows the pattern of the previous six installments, however what is different is that our investigators are separated to follow two very different story elements. The main part of the narrative follows a real case once again however many of the actual events have been altered to what end I am not sure, it could be because of the section of the story that involves children and a scoutmaster which could have been a problem in our modern age, but really who knows?

The actual events covered in this weeks episode concern Dunham Sanborn “Sonny” Desvergers, a relatively new scoutmaster in the area of West Palm Beach, Florida, he thought Desvergers was genuine, and genuinely shaken. Deputy Sheriff Mott N. Partin said, “In all my 19 years of law enforcement work, I’ve never seen anyone as terrified as he was,” after Desvergers scrambled up the embankment, out of the palmetto groves on the night of August 19, 1952.

Desvergers was driving three Boy Scouts home when he noticed a light out in the palmettos, and after protests from the kids, eventually stopped to trek into the darkness and check it out. The boys could see the scoutmaster’s flashlight, and possibly some other white lights pass by (stories conflict here), and then “a series of red lights … a lot like flares.” Desvergers would subsequently come out of the grove with burn marks on his cap, singed arm hair and a story about a “ship” over his head that belched a red ball of flame (or something similar) at him.

As it turned out, Desvergers had a lot of stories, like his four-month-old son being able to walk and talk (he couldn’t), and being crushed by a car and requiring a three-month hospitalization (which the doctor who examined him after the incident found very unlikely). The doctor said the hair on his arms was indeed singed, but saw no evidence of burns on his body.

During the first investigation, Desvergers had made a big deal about keeping things secret if the Air Force wanted him to, despite Ruppelt saying he could talk to anyone he liked. Desvergers continued to tell others he wouldn’t, because, “It’s not foolish to say that it will determine the future of all of us someday.” This didn’t stop Desvergers from hiring a press agent almost immediately.

Ruppelt became suspicious and decided to interview Desvergers and the boys a second time upon finding out the scoutmaster had been “less than honorably discharged” from the Marines for going AWOL and stealing a car (he would later be sentenced to seven years probation for passing phony checks). The oldest scout seemed uncomfortable and just parroted what Desvergers said, and the accounts of the other two diverged somewhat significantly, though did reveal that Desvergers had thought the light might be a “flying saucer” before he even left the vehicle. Further interviews with Desvergers’ brothers and others pegged him as an “exhibitionist” who always had to top everyone else’s stories.

Desvergers’ agent dropped him when learning of the scoutmaster’s sketchy past, and he ended up selling his story to the Sunday newspaper supplement American Weekly, first adding that he had seen a creature in the craft (which hadn’t come up before), and then going so far as to tell someone else he had fought three different aliens on the edge of the saucer. He was overpowering the weaklings until the saucer shifted and dumped him onto the ground.

This was after Ruppelt had already concluded, following the second investigation, this was “the best hoax in UFO history.”

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.

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.

Episode Seven – The Scoutmaster

Directed by: Thomas Carter

Written by: Aaron Rapke & Stewart Kaye

Hynek investigates a Scoutmaster’s disappearance after he and his troop witnessed a strange craft hovering in the woods; Quinn is pulled into a rogue mission for Harding.

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