Project Blue Book, Episode 6 Review: “The Green Fireballs”
by Rachel Bellwoar
While there’s a chance they may be related, between green fireballs and a nuclear launch initiating and stopping itself, I’d probably let the nuclear launch carry my full attention, but that’s not what they pay Hynek and Quinn the (big?) bucks for, so green fireballs it is.
“The Green Fireballs” is the second episode directed by Norma Bailey (she also directed “The Foo Fighters”) and the visuals at the beginning are quite striking, in a tongue and cheek way, as they seem to ask how far Project Blue Book is willing to go. Have we come to the point where UFOs can freeze time, because that’s what it looks like when the episode opens? A street in suburbia, where nobody’s moving, but water in a bird bath is shaking and military trucks are wheeling in. These details rule out the stillness being a stylistic choice but there is a trick involved – the people are dolls on a missile testing range. They look realistic, which is how the trick works, and I wonder if there aren’t a few real people strewn in (IMDB lists one actor as “mannequin”).
Professor Hynek starts to explain why they’re designed to look like humans but it’s at the same moment Quinn discovers one of the dolls is alive (special guest star, Michael Imperioli, as Rizzuto), so unfortunately his voice fades out. The gist seems to be be that they (the scientists and military) don’t want to lose sight of the human cost, and in an episode where Hynek is haunted by the ghost of Henry Fuller, the human cost is heavy on his mind. So heavy that Quinn and Hynek have a bit of a role reversal this episode, with Quinn wanting to go beyond the parameters of their job to figure out what Rizzuto’s deal is (answer: he’s a Russian spy) and Hynek wanting to stick to the task of proving that the green fireballs are meteors.
Here’s the difference between Hynek and Quinn, though. Quinn has seen the generals act suspicious before but when Hynek goes to Secretary Fairchild instead of them, to get permission to use his camera matrix project, Quinn tattles on him so the generals shut his project down. Hynek, meanwhile, is set on proving the fireballs are meteors but when the science doesn’t add up, he doesn’t ignore the facts because he wants Project Blue Book to be over. He stands by the truth.
It’s the same way Project Blue Book has been truthful about Quinn and Hynek not being friends. Sometimes co-workers are just colleagues, but while you see that more on office comedies, it’s rare for a TV show to focus on two people who are partners and not have them begrudgingly grow to like each other. Since it’s been six episodes and Quinn and Hynek still haven’t bonded (and Hynek is actively searching for other allies now, meeting up with the mystery man and promising to talk to his wife), I’d say that means they’re not getting any closer, and that’s ok. Project Blue Book is more interesting for it.
Project Blue Book airs Tuesdays at 10 PM EST on History.