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Project Blue Book - War Games & Abduction - Review

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My apologies for getting a bit behind on the reviews for this show – it’s definitely not because my interest has waned! This will be a very quick look at the last two episodes as we head into the season finale this week.

Project Blue Book “War Games” was written by Thania St John and was directed by Thomas Carter. This episode centers on an army training session at Sedalia Air Field that looks like the soldiers came under attack by UFOs. It turns out that there is a lot of intrigue going on between the various factions. Harding (Neal McDonough) and Valentine (Michael Harney) show Hynek (Aidan Gillen) and Quinn (Michael Malarkey) a movie of the incident and send them in to investigate. I really liked how the title resonated with the war games the soldiers were training for, the “games” between the Generals and Fairchild (Robert John Burke), and ultimately, the “game” being perpetrated on the soldiers who were actually being subjected to nerve gas against their will.

It turns out that Valentine and Harding have their own “weapon” – Corporal Wells (Jonathan Whitesell) – who they try to use to contact aliens. He manages to get away from Harding and Valentine after seemingly receiving messages from aliens and he is drawn to the artifact that Hynek has brought with him in the trunk of his car. He steals it and runs off into the woods with it.

It turns out that Fairchild was baiting Harding and Valentine to find out if they were still running their program of weaponizing soldiers who had seemingly made contact. Officially, Fairchild had shut it down, so Harding and Valentine end up in hot water.

There are a couple of great scenes with Quinn and Hynek. I really liked the scene in which they are watching the murmuration of starlings, but even better is Hynek saying during the exam of the dead bird that he’s “winging it!” I also loved when Hynek finally admits that he lied about the artifact, and Quinn is so happy to be vindicated – because he knew Hynek was lying!

When Hynek and Quinn report to Valentine and Harding, it’s clear that Harding and Valentine really didn’t know what was going on. More importantly, Quinn lies to them – and that’s a huge step for him. He later tells Hynek he only lied to protect himself. There’s more truth between the two as Hynek finally tells Quinn about the Fixer (Ian Tracey). Hynek also points out that the military are lying to them. Quinn wants to know if the Fixer is going to help them get to the bottom of it, but Hynek just doesn’t know. Wells is found dead in the woods and at the end of the episode, we see the Fixer pick up the artifact in the woods. Did he kill Wells? Did the aliens? Did the artifact?

On the home front, Mimi (Laura Mennell) continues to feel less and less safe, particularly after Jack (Kurt Evans) drops by to ask her if she’s seen Donna who has gone missing. Mimi asks Susie (Ksenia Solo) to help her buy a gun and learn how to use it. Susie uses the opportunity of Mimi worrying about what happened to Donna to plant the seed that you never know what your neighbors are hiding. There’s a very intimate scene as Susie teaches Mimi how to use the gun. It’s increasingly clear that Susie is attracted to Mimi.

When Hynek finally comes home, Mimi is beside herself. She tells him about Donna being missing and possibly having run off with another man. She’s worried about their marriage, and Hynek trying to brush her off with a “we’re ok” doesn’t help. Mimi insists that he chose between his home or his work.

Project Blue Book “Abduction” was written by Sean Jablonski and was directed by Alex Graves, whose other credits include Homeland, Game of Thrones, and The West Wing. Not surprisingly, this is another beautifully shot episode!

It looks like Hynek is quitting, and as he packs up his part of the research, it’s a terrific re-cap of the show so far. Mimi calls as he’s packing up and asks if he’s having second thoughts. He tells her yes and then no, and then that he can’t talk. He leaves his resignation letter on Quinn’s desk just before Quinn arrives and surprises him.

The episode is bookended by two scenes (creating a mirror image) in a car with Susie and her Associate (Currie Graham). Both scenes are shot similarly, essentially from the backseat. The first is in daylight, the second at night. In the first, the Associate is looking at the intimate photos that Susie took of Mimi. He essentially orders her to get compromising photos of herself with Mimi so that they can blackmail Hynek and get him to turn traitor. Susie looks like she’s coming on to her Associate and then tells him to hit her – when he hesitates, she grabs his crotch – hard! – and he belts her.

At the base, Quinn walks in as Faye (Jill Morrison) is telling someone they need an appointment. When Quinn finds the letter on his desk, he asks if it’s a joke – and then tells Hynek that he can’t take any of the research because it all belongs to the project.

The two are interrupted by Thomas (Malcolm Goodwin – of iZombie!) and Valerie (Khaliah Joi) Mann bursting in. It turns out that he’s been trying to get Quinn’s attention for quite a while and now resorts to pulling a gun. He’s clearly in a lot of pain and just wants their help because he tells them he was abducted.

Hynek is much more sympathetic and gets Thomas to tell them his story. He tells them about driving alone at night in New Hampshire when he was accosted by three lights and then a larger ship. He was paralyzed and then blacked out – as he gets to the end of the story, he falls into some kind of trance only to wake violently. Valerie explains that this happens when he relates the story and has been happening more frequently lately. Thomas tells them he doesn’t remember anything and woke up the next day 100 miles from where he started. Valerie shows them some of the drawings he’s been making. She tells them that he’s not the same man – he’s not eating or sleeping.

Hynek notices a sheet with a series of dots on it, and he immediately recognizes it as the star chart that they have on their evidence wall. However, Thomas’ version is backwards – meaning that he could only have seen the stars like that from the other side – from deep space – or someone saw it anyway. I loved that Hynek used Valerie’s compact mirror to figure it out – and that it resonated with the scene at his house.

Mimi is packing up Hynek’s office – and I’d be pretty angry if anyone packed my stuff up so willy nilly! Susie shows up at the door with her bloody lip and Mimi immediately invites her in and tries to help. The two sit in front of the mirror in the bathroom. It’s a wonderful visual metaphor for the fact that their relationship is also backwards. Are they really friends? Do they see their relationship in the same way? Is Susie just using Mimi or does she have actual feelings for her? It’s all perspective. Susie makes sure that everyone is going to be out, and then suggests that the two of them get very drunk.

Hynek seems convinced that Thomas may be telling the truth. Quinn, meanwhile, runs a background check on Thomas and discovers that he returned from the war and got a section 8 discharge for shell shock. Thomas continues to insist that the spaceship and his abduction were real. Hynek suggest hypnotizing Thomas to discover the truth – and when he does, it certainly seems like Thomas was abducted and experimented on. Thomas comes out of the experience remembering that there is something implanted in his neck.

Valerie holds the gun on Quinn and insists that Thomas is telling the truth. She loves and trusts him because she’s known him for 15 years. When she asks if Quinn has anyone in his life like that it’s clear that he doesn’t – giving us a little inside information on Quinn. It’s also telling that it certainly isn’t the kind of relationship he even has with his superiors anymore.

When the hypnotism results in Thomas’ memories putting him in agony, Valerie rushes in and Faye goes for help. Thomas manages to get the gun and forces Hynek and Quinn into the room where Hynek was hypnotizing him. Hynek is even more convinced by the hypnotism. He declares that they’ve been through the first two stages of alien encounters and now have proof of the third: contact! Apparently, Hynek is the one who came up with the scale!

Hynek is packing up the recording – he figures he owns it if he doesn’t work there anymore. Quinn is angry and reminds Hynek of all the times he almost got fired because of him. Hynek points out that if he didn’t lie, he’d be just as bad as his bosses. The argument devolves into a fight.

I loved the way the three threads of the episode are interwoven at this point in the episode, emphasizing both the physicality of what’s going on and the fact that they are all explorations of a kind. Hynek and Quinn fight – and Hynek ends up drawing blood on Quinn. Quinn even comments that Hynek fights better now than when he first met him. The two really discover that they are actually closer and are partners. Quinn is angry that Hynek wants to leave and Hynek is frustrated that he is supposed to according to his promise to Mimi.

Thomas meanwhile has Valerie remove the disk from his neck, freeing him from pain.

And finally, Mimi and Susie have gotten very drunk, but Susie needs to break down Mimi’s inhibitions even more. The two have already had an interesting conversation in which Mimi apologizes for not noticing something was wrong with Susie. Susie points out that no one really knows what happens behind closed doors – unless you are bugging the place! They share a problem – the men in their lives. Especially as Susie is in love with Mimi!

Susie roofies Mimi’s water and then takes her to bed. We see bits and flashes of her undressing Mimi and then kissing her. Does it go further? We can’t be sure. Does she take the photos she’s supposed to? We can’t be sure. Does Mimi remember her alien encounter any more than Thomas remembered his? Susie slips out before Mimi wakes up, leaving her a note.

Valerie shows Hynek and Quinn the disk, which Hynek examines. Quinn wants to brush it off as shrapnel. There’s a flash of light, seemingly from the disk and then the power goes out. At first it seems that the disk may have done it, but it’s actually the MPs. The phone then rings as they try to free the hostages. Hynek back tracks a bit and suggests that a foreign body could affect body chemistry – that may be all that Thomas is suffering from. Suddenly, Thomas seems to be doubting his own story. Or is he simply trying to save himself and Valerie – has Hynek thrown him a lifeline to do it?

When the phone stops ringing, Thomas goes to the window to investigate – is he trying to get shot? Quinn tackles him so that he is only wounded and not killed. We see the disk flashing and then going out.

Quinn takes the disk and the tape from Hynek and reminds him that he didn’t sign his letter of resignation. Quinn has been summoned to Washington by the Generals. He tells Hynek that he hopes he’ll reconsider. He tells Hynek that if Hynek had taken Thomas’ initial call, which Quinn brushed off, they wouldn’t have ended up there, acknowledging Hynek’s different approach. He tells Hynek that he’s better when Hynek’s around. Hynek is good at keeping him honest – and Quinn appreciates and values that. Hynek asks if Quinn believes Thomas, and Quinn says that it doesn’t matter what he believes. And he’s right – it’s all about what they can objectively prove.

In the mirror scene to the one with Susie and her Associate, we are back in the backseat of the car. He doesn’t believe that she’s done what he asked and got the compromising photos of Mimi. In another mirror image, it looks like she’s trying to seduce him again – and I loved the way he recoiled back away from her at first! He grabs her by the throat, and she tells him to keep both his hands there. Clearly, he thinks she’s into erotic asphyxiation – but really, she wants it as proof of self defense – and she shoots him! Mirrors reveal the truth in this episode. What Thomas saw. Susie’s true feelings for Mimi. Who Susie really is.

When Hynek arrives home, the Fixer is waiting. Hynek is furious that he’s on the street where he lives. The Fixer insists that Hynek is going to have to trust him. Hynek takes a page out of Quinn’s book and slams the Fixer onto his car, telling him that he’s put Hynek in enough danger. The Fixer tells Hynek something big is about to happen – what Hynek’s been waiting for since taking the job – real proof. He gives him a plane ticket and tells him to hurry.

Hynek rushes into the house and tells a worried Mimi that he’s flying to Washington! Mimi reminds him that they’d said no more secrets – and it seems he tells her because she’s suddenly ok telling Joel (Nicholas Holmes) that Daddy is going on a business trip.

I thought “Abduction” was one of the best episodes so far. I’ve been really enjoying this series and I’m happy to see it get a second season. What did you think of the last two episodes? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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