While “The Flatwoods Monster” retains some of “The Fuller Dogfight’s” weaker elements, it’s still a marked improvement over the first episode. For one thing, the case that Hynek and Quinn are investigating (which takes them to Flatwoods, West Virginia) is a lot stronger. Sara (Brooke Smith) and her children (Kiefer O’Reilly and Beatrice Kitsos) claim they saw a spaceship crash in the woods and that there was a ten-foot alien inside. The involvement of children makes finding an answer to this case feel more pressing, especially since they didn’t come out of their encounter unscathed. Ever since that night they’ve found it painful to see in the light and there are red burns around their eyes.
You have to imagine the generals-in-charge are eager to resolve this case, too. Last week, when they weren’t happy with Fuller’s story, they shot him up with some memory serum and whisked him away. Hopefully that option wasn’t considered this time (since apparently you can’t assume it’s off the table all the time) but that does mean they need an explanation.
Hynek and Quinn’s relationship makes no noticeable progress this week, with Quinn continuing to interrupt and undermine Hynek in front of witnesses. Somehow Quinn’s come under this impression that Hynek is incapable of talking to other people, and if he touts his knowledge of psychology one more time… Yes, shows have gone for this dynamic before (Bones immediately comes to mind), but Hynek isn’t that scientist and he’s not being respected.
What’s better about this episode is Hynek gets to follow-up on loose ends and cultivate an explanation that addresses them all. It’s not that the military are more patient this time around. Hynek just lands on a sustainable theory before Quinn can file a report behind his back but, while it’s still implied that there’s more to it and that Hynek’s theory, while feasible, probably isn’t the whole truth, at least the cover story is solid and allows you to enjoy these hints more than when no attempt was made to come up with a convincing alternative.
The conspiracy angle is still the shows weakest link. They’ve got a name now, this group – Men in Hats – though everyone wore hats in the 50’s, so it’s not really telling, and we know there’s at least one woman, Susie. Susie and her associate (Currie Graham) are shown speaking a different language. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to assume it’s Russian, since it’s the Cold War. Susie and Mimi’s adventures continue to be dull while the show’s murder of its other alien witness, Evelyn (Mary Black), is brutal and unnecessary.
How the public reacts to these alleged encounters has been an unexpected and fascinating aspect of the series. Last episode, the example was given of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds which, if you’re unfamiliar, was the radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’ novel in 1938 that many listeners thought was the real deal – that aliens were invading Earth. This episode you have Sara and her family being targeted when their neighbors think they were lying about what they saw. It really demonstrates why there was a need for a group like Project Blue Book to exist. It’s just unclear whether Project Blue Book is being run by people who actually have the public’s best interests at heart.
Project Blue Book airs Tuesdays at 10 PM EST on History.