'Project Blue Book' Season 1: Dr Hynek is probably the only honest man on the show, and here's why
On the show, we see Dr. Hynek as someone who is increasingly becoming obsessed with the investigation because the rest of the authorities involved aren't taking it seriously.
History's latest series 'Project Blue Book' is a wonderful amalgamation of true facts and nuanced fiction from Oscar-winning director Robert Zemeckis. And despite the show introducing new angles and characters alongside the actual developments of the real-life investigation, it excels in its portrayal of Dr. J Allen Hynek - the only civilian involved with the project back in the 50. Played by the 'Game of Thrones' actor Aidan Gillen, History's version of Dr. Hynek is not always true to the real-life Dr. Hynek. In that, there are several things he does or opines on the show that couldn't have been farther from reality, but in the end, Dr. Hynek comes off as pretty much the only character on the show who isn't blinded by manipulation or exhibiting tendencies stemming from ulterior motives.
The real-life investigation began in the 50s and went on for almost 20 years after a sudden spurt in alien and UFO sightings being reported in the Washington DC area around that time. The US Air Force undertook the project and Dr. Hynek was brought on board to look for a possible scientific explanation behind the mysterious sightings, and the biggest difference that sets the show apart from reality is the character's demeanor about the investigation.
In the series, Dr. Hynek comes off as a curious astrophysicist on board to explore the truth behind these sightings, whereas his compatriot, Captain Michael Quinn (Michael Malarkey), is a staunch disbeliever in the idea of extraterrestrial beings. Inspired by several Air Force captains involved in the real-life investigation, Quinn's character is meant to represent the government's lack of faith in aliens, and also their supposed attempt at keeping the matter hushed.
In reality, things were slightly different; Dr. Hynek was, in fact, a staunch skeptic regarding the investigation. It was actually Quinn - based on Captain Edward J. Ruppelt - who believed much more in the existence of the extraterrestrial than his partner. A probable far-fetched speculation regarding why the show decided to turn facts around this blatantly would be to highlight the element of contrast between the polarized characters of Dr. Hynek and Captain Quinn. It offers room for friction between the two as they work hand in hand to investigate the alien sightings, and also leaves scope for some drama.
But what it also does is brilliantly etch how selfless Dr. Hynek's involvement with the project is, and the quest to unravel the truth behind everything was. On the show, we see Dr. Hynek as someone who is getting increasingly obsessed with the investigation because the rest of the authorities involved aren't taking it seriously, and the man just wants to know if this poses a legitimate threat to the society.
Almost as if beyond his time and contemporaries, Dr. Hynek is a man of logic, as opposed to Quinn, who is doing things out of his principles of law. Quinn goes about the scenario with his position in the Air Force always pinpricking his mind. He leaves scope for the authorities to mold and maneuver him in the way they want - project their disbelief and speculate cover-ups through his staunch demeanor as he engages in Dr. Hynek's obsession. Gillen shared in a recent interview with Collider that Dr. Hynek was an 'open-minded' man filled with "thoughtfulness, determination, consistency, warmth, and empathy for the people making his reports" - something that he admitted drew him to the character.
This comes off as quite the contrast when one compares the show's Dr. Hynek to the rest of the characters. We have his wife, Mimi (Laura Mennell) openly indulging another gorgeous woman to flirt with her just because she is lonely, owing to Dr. Hynek's increasing involvement with the investigation. The show omits any scope for Mimi to actually be seduced by the other woman, Suzie Miller (Ksenia Solo) because she is happy in her marriage and isn't openly established as gay either. But her actions speak otherwise; Mimi almost comes off as someone who doesn't think too much of Suzie's speculated feelings or the prospect of hurting them, as long as she herself is having fun with the companionship.
Speaking of Suzie, her character is an undercover Russian spy, who is using her budding bond with Mimi as a probable ploy to discover what the latter's husband knows about the alien investigation. Set in post World War II era, in the brewing days of the Cold War, it isn't surprising that Russia would send a spy to the United States to find out what they know about aliens - so quite naturally, much as Quinn is doing whatever he is out of an obligation to the people he works for, Suzie is no different from him either.
In a way, the three main characters, are going through their share of personal frustrations and struggles surrounding the investigation for individual, personal gains: Quinn and Suzie for their jobs, and Mimi as a distraction. This, when tallied with Dr. Hynek's involvement with the project only, paints him in a saintly, savior light. There is no personal motive involved, not for the longest part of the show's debut season that is. Like Gillen also shared with the outlet, "he stayed in within the system so that he would have access to the material, to the files and to the research. It was probably the best place for him to be, but it was ultimately frustrating, having your most interesting cases and investigations be the ones that your superiors wanted you to bury. That made him become more and more interested in the cases and finding reliable witnesses. There were quite a lot of cases that couldn’t be explained."
In a way, Dr. Hynek - who had spent his entire life in discovering and explaining all things mysterious and unexplained - did not have to go out of his way, leave his family behind, and get roped into the investigation, which he also believes is using him as a pawn to cover up the reports. But he does that because, in his journey from skeptic to believer, he feels there's something darker, much more dangerous lingering around the reports. He's just a driven man who just wants to find out the actual truth to help the people, nothing else.