'Project Blue Book' Season 1 Episode 2: The show's depiction of the '50s is what makes 'The Flatwoods Monster' a must-watch
As the government's attempt to cover-up the conspiracy gains ground, civilians come forward to try their own hand at encountering the truth in Episode 2
History Channel's 'Project Blue Book' is off to a good start roping in around 3.1 million viewers, and a lot of the credit goes to the brilliant presentation of the jazzed-up '50s era the show is set in. Based on true incidents involving the United States' most daunting conspiracies on aliens, the show follows the real-life events of Dr. J Allen Hynek, played by Aiden Gillen, who is hired by the US Air Force to help assist Captain Michael Quinn, played by Michael Malarkey, to cover up the unearthly incidents that seemed to be at its peak during the 1950s.
The show extends far beyond what its content holds, and includes themes such as women's sexuality, discrimination, and probably the most selling theme of them all — a government ploy to keep the truth from civilians.
Keeping the characters grounded to their reality, the first episode of 'Project Blue Book' introduced us to the main characters, including Hynek's wife, Mimi, played by Laura Mennell and the mysterious woman, Susie Miller, played by Ksenia Solo. It further shows Hynek encountering the ever sinister Quinn, who is in complete denial of the existence of aliens, a trait that makes him the perfect fit for the government's plan to cover the unearthly incidents.
Watch the promo for the second episode below:
Tuesdays at 10/9c on @History, go inside cases inspired by seminal #UFO sightings, all while a larger government conspiracy is at play. Join the investigation on #ProjectBlueBook. pic.twitter.com/xnDSCg2LFK— PROJECT BLUE BOOK (@HistoryBlueBook) January 9, 2019
While Episode 1 saw some eerie strangers hunting around Hynek, it also saw a conflict between Hynek who in a way represents the civilians and Quinn who undoubtedly embodies everything that the authority stands for. Episode 2, rightly named 'The Flatwoods Monster', picks up from the duo's hunt as they drive all the way to West Virginia where a woman (played by 'Grey's Anatomy' alum, Brooke Smith) and her children claim to have encountered the presence of extraterrestrial beings. The children, in fact, reveal a sketch of the apparent "monster in the woods" that they see. As the story picks up from this bizarre tale, here are the four things that you can expect from Episode 2:
1. A Game of Truth and Lie
Hynek and Quinn have stood on two different boats but are sailing through the same waters, and their stark difference in perception had, in a way, jeopardized their partnership in the first episode. However, the two quickly mend things up in the second episode when they are called to investigate a strange case in West Virginia. While the focus remains on the case, the story manages to expose certain aspects of the two characters.
Hynek might not believe the story of the children and their mother encountering an alien, but being a scientist, he holds on to the fact that statistically, it is improbable that humans are the only living creatures in the universe.
However, Quinn almost blindfolds himself to every fact as he is clearly a man who is looking out for his career rather than the truth. To Quinn, the woman and her children's story is nothing less than the consequences of the mass hysteria that the government feared would emerge from all the reportage of the aliens. Yet, in the end, even he is unable to entirely deny the things he sees.
2. Women of Scandal
'Project Blue Book', unlike many periodical dramas, is a refreshing take on a conservative era. The '50s might have been the times when women were a lot more liberalized than they were in the '20s but it was not yet time for them to be declared as equal to the men. It was the era when women were still the "second" sex, but when it comes to Mimi and Susie, scandal follows them in every corner of the town. The two started off with a strange relationship as the attraction was immediately prominent but none of them spoke out about it. In Episode 2, the women set out to town and that is where something sparks off.
Mimi and Susie begin to act as foils to each other, and Mimi is almost caught off-guard by the kind of pleasure she attains around this woman. She could have easily been a character who fades to the background by the presence of other significant characters but 'Project Blue Book' has kept this woman under covers, and is only giving us some charming glances to her secrets. On the other hand, Susie might be the clear-cut Russian spy we see in every American thriller, but somewhere she too has an equally compelling story.
3. A Beautiful Paranoia
When 'Project Blue Book' took off in the '50s, it remained undercover for the longest time due to the government's fear of uproaring mass hysteria. However, as always the authority failed to maintain the hush-hush security and it does not take long for secrets to leak out. The show captures these early seeds of hysteria among civilians, as it captures their reaction to the story of West Virginia. Just as the government had feared, people are not prepared to hear things that they are not familiar with, they are not ready to accept what seems unacceptable, and that is exactly what happens when the woman reveals her story about an alien encounter.
Shifting in between the government's ploy and the collective neurosis of the civilians, the second episode gives us the real picture of what happens when the truth is leaked at the wrong time. There are scenes in the episode that almost make you feel guilty about how civilians ordinarily react to news, and it definitely puts a stamp on the fact that we as humans are driven by what the media wants us to see.
4. A Monster in the Woods
The title of the episode clearly gives away the central theme, and we can surely expect to at least get a glance of the terrestrial being who is now the chief concern for authorities. As the children and the mother claim to have witnessed the monster, Hynek and Quinn take matters into their own hands, but once again treat it with polarizing virtues. As mythic as the tale can get, Quinn chooses to hold on to the fact that the monster is only a figment of their imagination, whereas Hynek begins to believe in it. He does manage to unfold the truth for the world, but to him, that was only a mended-up theory that he chooses to provide.
Hynek realizes that his great search for the universal truth has only begun, and if required he is prepared to tread alone on the path. However, it can be expected that he won't be alone and might be visited by some unwanted company.
5. All the Jazz of the '50s
'Project Blue Book' has successfully become the millennials' depiction of the '50s and although this has brought criticism from fans who complain about the artificiality of the show, it can also be treated as the show's biggest advantage. The show does not deviate from all things '50s such as a stylish Bentley R Type, a Buick Roadmaster, silk petticoats, bowknot hats, and of course, as we get treated in the second episode, some old time Jazz. What is even fascinating is that, while the men seem to depict the mood of the era, it is the two women who help bring out the actual essence of the '50s — the era right after the most destructive war in human history.
There is a sense of suspicion looming at large in the mood of the show, but at the same time, the sense of being free after an entire generation is quite prominent. We have characters who are arrogant, spiteful, and above all dishonest — every feature that has characterized the post-war generation, and this is where the charm of Episode 2 lies. The second episode is set to return to History Channel on January 15 at 10/9C, and we cannot wait to find out more about 'The Flatwoods Monster'.