'Project Blue Book' episode 7 review: The Scoutmaster's encounter brings out a new side to Captain Quinn and Dr. Hynek
While we missed Mimi Hynek and her newly acquired confidant, Susie, on this episode, the new angles to Dr. Hynek and his counterpart, Quinn, made up for it
Spoiler alert for 'Project Blue Book' season 1 episode 7: 'The Scoutmaster'
History Channel's ongoing series 'Project Blue Book' does a brilliant job at blending historical facts from the titular real-life investigation with nuanced fiction, and this week's episode 'The Scoutmaster' is no different. But as we progress through a slightly differently-told version of the real Scoutmaster DS 'Sonny' DesVergers' encounter with what he claimed were aliens and UFOs, we also come across a very different side of Captain Michael Quinn and Dr. J Allen Hynek — the main characters of the show steering us through the investigation.
The major premise of the episode happens to be one of the most striking phenomenons that had happened in the real-life 'Project Blue Book'. The biggest reason behind its uncanny, sinister nature being the fact that unlike the other sightings that had led to the investigation undertaken by the US Air Force in the 50s, this one wasn't just a sighting. It was more of an unwarranted attack on the Scoutmaster, following his detour into the South Florida Everglades on an August night in 1952 that left him burned and barely coherent.
DesVergers was on his way home driving a group of Boy Scouts when he came across a bright light over Military Trail near West Palm Beach, Florida. The scoutmaster assumed it might be a plane or car crash and pulled up on the highway to go take a closer look. Leaving the boys in the vehicle and instructing them to inform local residents if he didn't return in 15 minutes, DesVergers carried a machete and flashlight to the spot where he had seen the light. He later claimed that he was met with a nauseating smell accompanied by the eerie sensation of being watched. That is when an oven-like heat started emanating from directly overhead, he looked up to see the mysterious round object, "dull black, with no seams, about 30 feet in diameter with a height of 10 feet, a convex dome atop it and the bottom edge lit with a phosphorescent glow."
On the History show, however, not only is the Scoutmaster's name changed but Dr. J Allen Hynek (Aidan Gillen) — the real-life astrophysicist who was the only civilian onboard the titular investigation — is sought out to help them explain the Scoutmaster's disappearance. Of course, the scoutmaster comes back after 48 hours in the same singed and injured manner that had happened within just hours in real life, but by that time Hynek has already interrogated the scout boys and also obtained a camera from the site of his disappearance where a mysterious orb-shaped object can be seen.
Speaking of the interrogation, it is heartwarming to witness how effortlessly Hynek seems to squeeze information out of the young boys. While this shouldn't come as a surprise considering his own child back home, what really jumps out here are the nurturing elements in his character. He is not dismissive like the other investigators and granted, he is not one himself, but considering his habit of taking everything with a pinch of salt and also having been a curious skeptic all along, this is was a whole different side of him to witness. Especially since in the very next interrogation, when the Scoutmaster recounts the incident, Hynek is so quick to dismiss facts and kind of reroutes the witness of what is believed to be the most sinister encounter with the extraterrestrials by then.
Speaking of interrogation, however, it is Captain Michael Quinn's (Michael Malarkey) personal demeanor about it that strikes as incredibly articulate, intimidating, and frankly speaking — absolutely, and undeniably hard to overlook. In the spare few moments of Quinn's interaction with the communist propagator Edward Rizzuto (Michael Imperioli), he punches the man, warns him how much he enjoys breaking traitors, and eventually lands with the bitter realization that it is he himself who is on the blind side of the whole investigation.
The big reveal Quinn is met with on this episode of 'Project Blue Book' reminds us once again just why we fell in love with the character from the get-go, despite him being a stark opposite of what Hynek stands for. Quinn was asked to interrogate Rizzuto by his superior, General Harding, and at the end of the interrogation, he realizes that the tables had been turned long ago. In simpler terms, Harding was tapping the interrogation and trying to find out what Quinn's, and consequentially Hynek's, personal take on the sightings and the culminating investigation is. Needless to say, as righteous and earnest as Quinn wants to remain to his job as the Air Force captain, this is probably one of the pivotal sparks of dubiousness in him — something that could eventually help him turn over to Hynek's side completely.
Pivotal elements and unforeseeable twists aside, the seventh installment of 'Project Blue Book's debut season is just as crisp and compact as they have always been — especially at encompassing the real stories behind the sightings that had occurred in and around the Washington DC area back in the 50s. The drama peaks but is also paced out by a casual slice of life portrayals, and oddly enough, there is no mention, neither any sight of Hynek's wife, Mimi, (Laura Mennell) or her new best friend and Russian spy, Susie (Ksenia Solo). This also strikes a little odd because in just the last episode we saw Susie threatened by her partner in the case to pick up her game. Some action on that storyline was definitely expected in this episode, but we are going to cut the show some slack because the Scoutmaster's encounter was quite heavy on its own. And 'Project Blue Book' has once again delivered justice.
'Project Blue Book' airs on Tuesdays at 10/9c only on History Channel.