Project Blue Book, Episode 8 Review: “War Games”

by Rachel Bellwoar

Hynek: Are you angry with me? Feelings of hostility? Mistrust?

Quinn: What, more than usual?

With “War Games,” Project Blue Book follows its most squared away episode (“The Scoutmaster”) with its most outrageous – highlighting the two different shows Project Blue Book wants to be. One is factual, the other feeds into speculation, but the result is a show that keeps canceling itself out, instead of being one or the other.

Aidan Gillen and Michael Malarkey (Photo by Eduardo Araquel/HISTORY)

That’s a good way of putting it, too, because a nonfiction show about aliens is still going to deal with the unexplainable. Unexplainable goes with the territory. The trouble is Project Blue Book goes too far, inventing twists to point towards the existence of aliens instead of letting real events initiate debate (and if I’m wrong, and certain liberties haven’t been taken with the “alien” object and Corporal Wells (Jonathan Whitesell), then the show hasn’t done enough to confirm these details are true).

It’s not that there aren’t facts in “War Games.” In fact, one thing the episode does exceptionally well is set-up what a challenge it’s going to be to come up with an explanation for the soldiers’ behavior. Since they exchanged gunfire with some unidentified lights (the soldiers shot guns; the lights, according to one soldier, were armed with a death ray) they’ve been quick to turn on each other. The students in “The Lubbock Lights” had an easier time understanding that witnesses can have different recollections of the same event.

More seriously, though, the soldiers are being driven to kill each other and if Hynek hadn’t shown up, they would’ve murdered Quinn. That’s something that happens on Gotham (the Riddler gets a chip in his head that makes him kill people), not real life, so you really aren’t sure a scientific explanation is coming. When the show provides one, then, it’s truly impressive, and that’s the show Project Blue Book has the potential to be. It just keeps getting overshadowed by the show’s more blatant grabs at science-fiction.

Other thoughts on “War Games:”

Laura Mennell (Photo by Eduardo Araquel/HISTORY)
  • Project Blue Book has two, prominent, female characters. It can’t afford to fail them both, yet while Susie has it slightly better, two of Mimi’s scenes this episode are of her staring (at her son; at the gun she’s wrapped in pink tissue paper). They don’t even feel like complete scenes, yet her other big moment is a cringeworthy ultimatum, where she asks Hynek to choose between his family and his job.
  • I’ve written before that I don’t mind that Hynek and Quinn don’t get along, and that hasn’t changed, but they need to fully embrace being enemies already, especially Quinn. If he’s not going to realize the generals aren’t stand-up guys than the show needs to stop teasing out a possible epiphany for him, or maybe it’s that Hynek has to stop giving him second chances and stand up for himself. He saved Quinn’s life, yet Quinn never acknowledges that. Instead he complains that Hynek disobeyed his orders, when those disobeyed orders are why he’s still alive.  

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

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