"The truth is like the sun. The more you look, the more it blinds." [SPOILERS AHEAD]
The third episode of Project Blue Book, "The Lubbock Lights", portrays a straightforward looking UFO encounter, witnessed by hundreds of people in Lubbock, Texas. An air traffic controller is on the phone with his sweetheart when the power goes down and a v-shaped craft with blue lights sails silently and closely overhead. This is an excellent portrayal to what was witnessed in real life by hundreds of residents in and around Lubbock, Texas for 2 weeks in 1951. The Larson Air Force Base there reported an unidentified craft on radar flying 900 miles an hour at 13,000 feet. No positive identification could be made for what it was. TV's town of Lubbock was just baffled and scared by what they saw.
The seriousness of UFO talk and alien encounters in 1950's society becomes apparent when a TV interview of author Donald Keyhoe is shown. Based on real events of the author and researcher's life, and a video of the interview which you can view online (thanks YouTube, as always), the scene ends with him and another man who claims he's a witness of the Lubbock incident are photographed from afar. Clearly Keyhoe has too much dangerous information if he's being surveilled. We're already aware of the government's necessity to keep all this research from the public, and the big guys at the scary eagle table, General Hugh Valentine (Michael Harney) and General James Harding (Neal McDonough), have Keyhoe brought in and roughed up as a warning. The warning seems to be the wrong approach though, as we see a new plainclothes man talk to them about the criminality of what they've done and how it's unacceptable. Harding's intent on keeping all this mystery under cover seems to be the stronger of the two, and his intentions are left rather unsaid at this point. He may end up being a more dangerous character to our main cast than we originally supposed, especially if he's willing to go to more violent means for this end.
Mimi Hynek is still having issues and/or a friendship with Susie, the Russian spy and lipstick expert. After an awkward attempted breaking and entering into the Hynek's house from Susie, the women reconcile after their strained night at the beatnik bar where Mimi ran out. I have never had a friend attempt to open my door as secretly or difficultly as Susie was portrayed as doing, but maybe Mimi is super forgiving. It is the era of not locking doors for them, after all. The secret stalker of Mimi is growing bolder and closer to home. He's spotted at the hardware store and again at the end of the driveway as she's putting together her new Atomic Bomb Shelter (made of wood, how efficient). The creepiness is extended as we're not sure of Susie's reaction to the man; is it one of understanding or fear? Is he part of her Russian spy ring or someone else entirely who's watching them both?
Meanwhile in Lubbock there are many witnesses to the initial strange UFO encounter, all willing to share their incredible stories. Standing in the street taking photographs, however, is another matter, as Quinn and Hynek end up trying that evening. The neighborhood ain't havin' them Commies in their parts, and approach the researchers with baseball bats and intimidating glares only found in rural Texas. Quinn takes one bat and easily breaks it over his leg like a twig. Undeterred from their observation of the sky, Quinn and Hynek head to an open field to see if they can have a UFO encounter of the first kind for themselves. The feeling of mid-century America is really well fleshed out in this episode, from the Communist and A-bomb fear, to the little #metoo nod we get from Mimi at the hardware store, taking no bull from the mansplaining store owner. Nice touch, History Channel.
I'm glad this episode gave our main characters a real shock to the system, finally. They're not just investigators anymore, they're witnesses to the strange activity they've been looking into. It isn't just a strange sight or sound either, it's a silent encounter, save for the electrical vibration and shudder of the car Captain Quinn is sitting in. His experience is far more intense than Hynek's, who's standing far enough away not to notice what's happening right away. Hynek sees the blue v-shaped lights sail across the sky, whereas Quinn gets out of the car just in time to see them fade over the horizon. Sure enough though, our main characters escape from their encounter unscathed physically, whereas the airline control tower worker who's experience was similar has been left in a hospital, catatonic.
This episode's "what was it" turns out to be a flock of Plovers, a bird who's feathers apparently reflected light from some newly-installed street lamps. The government gives this information to Quinn and Hynek to give to the public, with their explanation being a top secret military craft they're testing. Quinn and Hynek do not fully believe this explanation either, citing the rolling blackouts through the town every time the UFO is seen overhead. The public buying the bird explanation with a great sense of relief is incredibly far-fetched, and now Quinn and Hynek have to put their own experiences aside to sell it to the public in their reports while keeping the top secret military aircraft under wraps as well.
It's fair to say it was high time we saw or heard the words "cover up", especially with the government participating in the false narratives for the public and hiding information of their own. Written and underlined in Hynek's notebook, we're handed the conspiracy theory storyline on a platter. It doesn't come across corny in any way though, and reinforced with Aiden Gillen's incredible acting, it is only more believable and mysterious. This opens the doors to what lengths the government higher-ups will go to keep their agenda intact, and how far Hynek (and maybe Quinn) will go to figure out the truth. It's only episode 3 and the mystery is murkier and murkier in all the right ways.
🛸 Project Blue Book airs every Tuesday night at 9pm EST
on the History Channel.
I'll be reviewing each episode of Project Blue Book after it airs every week. If you liked this review, please subscribe to the blog to be notified of new posts. A like or share goes a long way!