Project Blue Book, Episode 3 Review: “The Lubbock Lights”

by Rachel Bellwoar

Nothing will ever supplant the flying saucer, UFO-wise, but Project Blue Book deserves credit for mixing things up and injecting some variety into its first three episodes. Similar to “The Fuller Dogfight,” lights are back, but instead of Fuller being the only person who’s seen them, there’s a classroom full of students from Texas Tech University who claim they saw the aircraft, too. There was a power outage beforehand and Hynek and Quinn even see the UFO firsthand, with Quinn pulling the short stick and getting doused with electricity for being inside the car at the time.

Laura Mennell (Photo by Eduardo Araquel/HISTORY)

Why is this happening? Hynek can’t say, but he’s not buying the super-secret military airplane the generals pull out of nowhere to shut down speculation. While Quinn is allowed to respect authority, his deigning not to mention that he was electrocuted (because that’s not what his bosses want to hear) is pretty ridiculous. If the plane is an experimental project, then they should want to know all the facts, and Quinn isn’t the first person who’s been electrocuted (which is why they went to Lubbock, Texas in the first place).

“The Lubbock Lights” doesn’t have much time for its shock victims, however, which could be seen as one of the episode’s weaknesses. Besides never checking in on the first victim (Jesse Irving) again after visiting him in the hospital, Hynek (who gets shocked himself at one point) is so absorbed with his conspiracy that Quinn’s health is an afterthought (he literally breaks from helping Quinn get out of the car to stare at the UFO – Quinn has to get himself out).

Will the electricity have any lasting effects? Is this even electricity? If Project Blue Book were a sci-fi show, I’d be wondering whether Quinn was destined to become a metahuman, after the scene where he pops the light bulb and the radio goes dead, but since it’s not, I’m going to say it was just a dramatic way to close up the episode.

Despite Hynek’s failure to get Quinn out of the car, they do seem be getting along better this episode. There’s no particular reason why, and while the episode could’ve done something with Quinn’s sense of loss, at having missed out on college because of his military service, they go for the lowest fruit possible, by having him flirt with college girls.

Mimi gets her first decent storyline this episode with her backyard bomb shelter purchase. The Cold War paranoia is strong here, and I like that they showed her standing up for herself at the hardware store. If Hynek is frustrated with the government’s lack of transparency, he should know how his wife feels, not understanding the nature of his new job. This isn’t a matter of information being classified. Hynek’s leaving her in the dark and the show isn’t going to make her one of those TV wives who gets vilified for being upset that he’s shutting her out.

Other thoughts on “The Lubbock Lights”:

Ksenia Solo and Laura Mennell (Photo by Eduardo Araquel/HISTORY)
  • Another historical figure this week: Donald Keyhoe (Adam Graydon Reid), who really did write the article, “Flying Saucers Are Real,” for True magazine in January 1950.
  • The confusion begins: “men in hats” was always going to be a vague name for a group of men in the 50’s and, sure enough, Keyhoe’s attackers, while hat wearers, are employed by the government instead (unless the men in hats are working for the government…). I’m not appreciating the bursts of violence the show is throwing in, either, unless that’s how it really went down.
  • Lest the government come across as completely compromised, “Lubbock Lights” starts to try and mark out one person as having a conscience: Robert John Burke’s William Fairchild.

Project Blue Book airs Tuesdays at 10 PM EST on History.

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