Television/Streaming review: “Project Blue Book – Episode Eight – War Games” (2019)

“Project Blue Book – Episode Eight – War Games”


Ten Episodes

Created by: David O’Leary

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

Remote Viewing: “The practice of seeking impressions about a distant or unseen target, purportedly using extrasensory perception (ESP) or “sensing” with the mind.”

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 eighth, follows the pattern of the previous installments, which is rather enjoyable, it follows yet another event but it does exaggerate even more than the others how the two investigators approach the ‘victims’, as well as the event itself which is almost entirely fictional in its setting as well as the outcome . The episode, as with the previous, seems to be realistic as that is how it portrays all the happenings, however it takes a sharp turn when dealing with the minutiae as well as the macro events instead this episode to create an entirely fictional investigation, the first time this has occurred.

In this episode, “War Games” orbs of lights seemingly attack a group of Army Rangers, this story is completely fictional, not based on any entry in the ‘Project Blue Book’ files at all, this is the first time this has happened in the series, so we are witnessing the largest divergence yet from any kind of factual narrative. However, several of the situations referenced, although very “X-Files”like as well as conspiratorial do have their roots in reality. The parts that are based in reality are that the military carry out tests using their own personnel. In 2015, several veterans sued because of lasting effects due to experiments they had been a part of. One Army scientists explained that at least one of these tests was related to learning how to induce “fear, panic, hysteria, and hallucinations.” One veteran explained how he hallucinated for 40 hours. During that time he had thought there were bugs under his skin he wanted to cut out with a razor, and he says he saw “animals coming out of the walls,” including “a huge rabbit” with red eyes. What this means and what the episode alludes to is that no matter what you may think about aliens the most terrifying stuff happening to people is a result of other humans.

As we move further through this first season (now renewed for a second) 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 Cold War 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.

One of the major aspects of “Project Blue Book” is its visual style, the cinematography as well as the overall production design is excellent, even for a series that is on the History Channel. There has been some serious investment so that in the surface at least it looks as good as it can as well as feeling authentic. The special effects have been excellent throughout the season, this episode is no different with some great use of CGI.

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.

An aspect of this episode as well as something it had in common with earlier episodes is the expiration od the relationship between Susie and Mimi which indicates a possible sexual on in nature, something that would have been considered unusual for the 1950s. In this episode, yet again there is a scene in which it seems like Susie is going to attempt to kiss Mimi. In this case, Mimi is feeling vulnerable, so she asks Susie to help her learn how to shoot a gun. During the training, Susie touches Mimi lightly like a gentle caress and stares into her face longingly. It seemed as though an attempt at a kiss was imminent, but it didn’t happen. I still wonder, is this going somewhere.

Episode Eight – War Games

Directed by: Norma Bailey

Written by: Thania St. John

Hynek and Quinn investigate a film documenting an Army platoon under UFO attack, and find the soldiers not only suffer from the physical effects of war, but psychological ones as well.

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