'Project Blue Book' Season 2 Episode 6 Review: Robertson panel confronts Hynek's legacy but Quinn saves the day
In a fast forward to the 1970s, we see what Hynek's life is post-Blue Book as Mimi takes us through the government propaganda they have had to overcome
Spoiler alert for Season 2 Episode 6 titled 'Closed Encounters'
In an ideal world, aliens and humans live happily together, hand in hand, striving towards flourishing - or that's what the aliens want humans to be assured of, as per a mysterious eye witness and alien contactee's testimony. Sadly, all of this conviction and reassurance doesn't work with the CIA conducted Robertson panel that Dr J Allen Hynek and Captain Michael Quinn find themselves answerable to, in Season 2, Episode 6 of 'Project Blue Book' titled 'Closed Encounters'.
The episode opens with Hynek (Aidan Gillen) back in the future - a fast forward to the late 1970's when the movie 'Closed Encounters of the Third Kind' is being shot and Hynek is actively participating in the production of the movie. When a reporter approaches him about the titular investigation and its eventual fate, Mimi Hynek (Laura Mennell) joins in the conversation. She refers to how the government tried shutting down Blue Book and Hynek and Quinn's investigation as propaganda to debunk the UFO reports and stresses on the plausible explanations behind each sighting. This is when we are greeted with the past, where, at the time, the investigation was being threatened by the Robertson panel that aimed at addressing the public's growing interest in UFOs.
The flashback sees Hynek and Mimi in their home, back in the 1950s, when a mysterious man who claims to have a message for Hynek from the alleged alien, who approaches him after befriending Mimi in her UFO group meetings. Called David, the man claims he was at a swamp site going about his usual fieldwork when he saw time and space cease to exist right before a UFO landed and out came an iridescent beam of light through which aliens landed on the ground. These extraterrestrial beings filled him with an inexplicable sense of peace and calmness and ask him to reach out to Hynek as he was the only one who could deliver the aliens' message to earthly authorities.
David claims he is the only one who could save Hynek and Quinn's investigation and in an odd sequence of events, the very next moment, the two Blue Book members receive news that the CIA is conducting a panel to investigate the need for their project going forward. A skeptical Quinn doesn't buy David's claims of the alleged sightings but Hynek believes he can actually help them through the panel hearing - something that foreshadows the betrayal to come from one of Hynek's most trusted associates later in the episode.
When the hearing finally happens and Hynek sees all of his findings bear no concrete fruit for the future of the investigation, he relies on the testimony of their trusted CIA counterpart - Daniel Banks. Sadly, Hynek doesn't expect Banks to ambush the Blue Book members and dismiss all of their findings, asking for the reports to be classified as CIA property. So naturally, the giant betrayal propels him to use their last resort - David himself, who mysteriously finds his way to the hearing without Hynek or Quinn requesting his help.
In his testimony, David once again explains his encounter with the non-earthly beings, claiming they come in peace and just want to work with humans for a harmonious future. But none of this does any benefit to the investigation until the biggest twist in the history of Blue Book happens and it is Captain Quinn himself vouching for the need to investigate and explore more. Quinn gives an impassionate speech highlighting that instead of shutting down the project, it would help if they continued investigating and debunking the sightings with prosaic explanations because, at the end of the day, that's what the government wanted - to reduce public interest in the concept of UFOs altogether.
Back to the future, when Hynek recounts his tales of the panel to the reporter, he credits Quinn's speech as the reason their investigation survived the axe and reached heights acclaimed enough for films and TV shows being made around the concept. But speaking of saving the day, there is another particular flashback happening parallelly alongside the investigation that comes to mind and really showcases the ballsy spy that Susie Miller is. This episode sees the return of Ksenia Solo's undercover Russian spy and her sketchy protege - Edward Rizzuto; Susie breaks into Rizzuto's house and threatens him to help her transport her daughter safely and secretly from Russia to the US. Rizzuto has other plans of course, as he tries to threaten her with a gun and right when you're terrified that maybe this is the end of our beloved spy's story, Rizzuto's gun doesn't work.
Of course, Susie has unloaded the gun when he wasn't noticing - giving the most befitting spotlight to a character-specific arc that has been interesting at every single twist and turn it has navigated. The same rise for the better doesn't reflect in Hynek and Mimi's future though, as the episode ends with the couple - now grey-haired and clad in the heights of 70s fashion walking off into a fictional sunset being mushy with each other.
Maybe after a life devoted to astrophysics and debunking UFOs, Hynek finally has the time to pursue the romance between him and Mimi, but his response to Mimi's "None of this would have been without you", with "I would have been nothing without you" is a little too cheesy for the couple that has always maintained the bare minimum when it comes to displaying affection. And mind you, this isn't the finale, so one can only estimate the giant dollop of cheese that things might turn into toward the end. We aren't complaining though, not much.
'Project Blue Book' Season 2 airs on Tuesdays at 10 pm only on History.