'Project Blue Book' Season 1 episode 8 review: Hynek's scientific temperament proves to be the voice of reason in 'War Games'

Once again, it is Hynek's personal curiosity and the need to seek the deeper truth without any ulterior motive that helps them arrive at a solution of sorts


                            'Project Blue Book' Season 1 episode 8 review: Hynek's scientific temperament proves to be the voice of reason in 'War Games'

This article may contain spoilers for 'Project Blue Book' season 1 episode 8: 'War Games.'

History's ongoing show 'Project Blue Book' is just eight episodes old now, and if anything, the story based on the titular real-life investigation revolving aliens and UFO sightings in the 50s, only gets more complex and darker as the plot progresses. Mingling both facts and nuanced fiction together, the show does a remarkable job at portraying the real-life phenomena that caused widespread panic among civilians and army men alike in America.

Much like the title of the eighth installment, 'War Games,' suggested, portrayed was a lot of post-traumatic stress the soldiers underwent as a consequence of the preceding World War II, and also the eventual panic that had risen as a result of the brewing Cold War at the time.

In all of this, however, it is Dr. J Allen Hynek (Aidan Gillen) - the real-life astrophysicist and the only civilian onboard the investigation - who emerges as the voice of reason on the show, as the rest of them finally drop their inhibitions and decide to see facts for what they truly are.

The premise of the episode, as revealed by the official synopsis, revolves around Hynek and his counterpart, Captain Michael Quinn (Michael Malarkey) investigating an army platoon who have recently suffered what they claimed was a UFO attack, but that isn't the only thing plaguing them. These soldiers are also suffering from both physical and psychological effects of the war they have recently fought in, and are simultaneously also being afflicted by a strange virus (as Hynek and Quinn discover later in the episode) that seems to turn the most social of animals into hostile creatures out to attack their fellow beings.

The episode begins with recorded clips of flickering lights aiming dangerous beams at these soldiers, to which General Harding reacts with his usual nonchalance about a possible extraterrestrial force targeting them. But what is also totally unmissable in 'War Games' is Harding's absolute conviction about the soldiers' reactions being just product of war.

In that, Harding seems more curious about the threat the lights are posing and the prospect of "how to kill them," than seeking out some sort of solace for these soldiers suffering from trauma related to war. Harding seems to have no problem commodifying his soldiers, and once again, it is Hynek's personal curiosity and the need to seek the deeper truth without any ulterior motive that helps them arrive to a solution of sorts.

Hynek (Aidan Gillen) (L) and Quinn (Michael Malarkey) (R) try to investigate the platoon of soldiers afflicted with war trauma. Source: A+E Networks.
Hynek (Aidan Gillen) (L) and Quinn (Michael Malarkey) (R) try to investigate the platoon of soldiers afflicted with war trauma. Source: A+E Networks.

It is Hynek's personal interest in doing what he was brought along for, i.e. offering a scientific explanation to these mysterious sightings and phenomena, which leads him and Quinn to figure out the possibility of a virus behind the chaos that's going on.

It is interesting how Hynek is able to spot that the virus that caused a friendly flock of birds to attack each other, was the same one that afflicted the soldiers too. And even if the inference drawn doesn't seem like rocket science, had it not been for Hynek's curious nature, neither the quarantine arrangements would have been done, nor would we have the usually skeptical and dubious Captain Quinn, finally see the light and their farcical approach to the investigation.

The other significant development we were treated to in the episode was Mimi Hynek (Laura Mennell) and her new BFF-slash-undercover-Russian-spy Susie Miller's (Ksenia Solo) friendship reaching a new milestone. No, the two are definitely not giving into their apparent desires and urges behind Hynek's back, but Mimi is a lot more open about confiding in Susie than she was before.

She confides her fears and drops her inhibitions when it comes to allowing Susie to teach her how to use a gun, and the fact that this comes right after there was no sight of them in the preceding episode, makes it all the more special to witness.

Laura Mennell as Mimi Hynek in Project Blue Book episode 8: War Games. Source: A+E Networks.
Laura Mennell as Mimi Hynek in Project Blue Book episode 8: War Games. Source: A+E Networks.

Sadly, however, Susie's work-related problems are still a thing, and no matter how sporadically portrayed that subplot is, it just comes off as a side prop to add something to the character's storyline apart from being a potential love interest for the main character's confused wife.

We aren't entirely complaining, however, because as tempting as the unraveling of an enemy spy might seem, there are far more sinister matters to be addressed and defeated as was laid down by 'War Games.' And, at this point, we can only imagine how much more dangerous Hynek's journey is going to get, in his search for the truth behind the sightings.

'Project Blue Book' returns Tuesday, March 5, at 10/9c only on History.