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Project Blue Book - The Roswell Incident: Part 1 - Review



Project Blue Book returned for season two with “The Roswell Incident – Part 1” written by David O’Leary and directed by Deran Sarafian whose other credits include House, Buffy, Fringe, Hemlock Grove, and Colony. This new season sees Hynek (Aiden Gillen) committed to finding out the truth and Mimi (Laura Mennell) taking up a new role as his “research” partner. Quinn (Michael Malarkey) remains torn between his military training and loyalty to it and joining with Hynek in his quest for truth. Susie (Ksenia Solo) has turned her affection – and surveillance from Mimi to Quinn. This episode dives right in to perhaps the biggest UFO mystery of all time – Roswell!

The episode begins with a helpful recap and a slightly longer take on Quinn’s encounter with the mysterious spacecraft last season. Jump forward and Hynek is decorating the office with instances of he and Quinn toeing the party line and finding scientific explanations for phenomena. Quinn is trying desperately to convince himself that he didn’t see anything – that Hynek’s theory about oxygen deprivation explained what he saw.

Meanwhile, Harding (Neil McDonough) is called to Roswell. He’s being threatened with exposure on what really happened. Valentine (Michael Harney) seems to be in the dark. Harding wants Project Blue Book to run an official investigation and close the book once and for all on the Roswell incident! He orders Quinn and Hynek to come with him. Harding leaves the room, and Valentine dismisses Hynek. He keeps Quinn back and tells him to call him if he sees anything unusual. There seems to be some tension between Valentine and Harding.

Once in Roswell, General Blackstone (Spencer Garrett) is in charge and is an old friend of Harding. He jokes about the local spreading lies about aliens running around – which is ironic when it seems that’s exactly what happened!

Quinn and Hynek are given access to all the files, which is a joke because they are all redacted! Quinn tells Hynek that they should just rubber stamp it and move on as they said the would. But Hynek wants to know why all the secrecy if it was just a weather balloon? They are interrupted by an alarm going off – there’s an aircraft down and the whole desert is on fire! Which turns out to be a huge exaggeration. It’s really a tire fire.

Hynek, however, finds a locked box with Harding’s name on it. He opens it – using the date of the first incident – July 8, 1947 – to open the lock. Inside are notes accusing Harding of a cover up. The notes also promise to reveal all with proof on the next morning. Blackstone frets that the smoke can be seen for miles and will make the situation worse as it reignites memories of 1947.

Hynek and Quinn say they will get ahead of the panic and will head to the tv station. On the drive in, Hynek reveals that he has a new source, but it’s not until they get to town that we find out it’s Mimi. I really liked how both make phone calls and reveal what the women are up to now. Susie is largely relegated to a passive role and Mimi is the active one – at least so far this season.

At the tv station, the two learn that in 1947 when it was a radio station and they broadcast news about the incident, they lost their license, so this time around they are desperate to simply say whatever the government wants so that they don’t lose it again. The station manager insists that he’s a patriot – and doesn’t that just sound like how Harding would push it?

Hynek fills Quinn in on the “unofficial record” of events – which happens to be quite extensive. There was a storm on the night of July 8, 1947. A rancher, Mike Connors (Matthew MacCaull) found a strange metal all over his property the next day. He informed the authorities and was convinced it was some kind of alien technology – I really liked the special effect of the metal in his hand. Then Harding showed up in Roswell. He was in charge of the investigation – cover up. Two days later, Connor bought a new car and everyone shut up about it. The official story was it was a weather balloon.

Quinn and Hynek stop in a diner for something to eat and continue to argue over their course of action. Hynek says that they have to investigate because the cover up was real. He insists that the two of them are in the best position to reveal the truth. Hynek is sympathetic about Quinn’s loyalty to Harding, but is that still the case? I have to wonder after his order from Valentine.

Harding meanwhile goes to Connor, convinced he’s the one behind the phone call and the box and notes. Connor, however, clearly has no idea what he’s talking about. Harding is prepared to offer him more money, but when Connor insists he doesn’t know, Harding is prepared to call in the MPs to make him comply. McDonough really delivers a great performance in this episode as we finally get to see a bit of nuance in his character. He’s unhappy that it looks like he wasn’t doing his job when conspiracy theories pop up, but it’s also clear that he doesn’t really enjoy what he’s doing. Like Quinn, he’s a military man and a patriot and he’s doing what he has to.

We find out that Mimi has been largely getting her information from a UFO group, lead by Evan Blake (Keir O’Donnell). She’s been going there as “Betty” – but when she picks up Even’s notes on Roswell, another woman their identifies her to Evan. Mimi gives Hynek his next lead…

Hynek and Quinn head to Duncan Booker’s (Zach McGowan) house and find all kinds of evidence. Duncan has obviously been collecting it and investigating himself. They discover that there were actually two crash sites. Duncan runs off before they can talk to him, but they discover an alien ship in back of his house! Or perhaps a recreation of one?

Duncan comes back and denies having anything to do with the tires. He tells them that he doesn’t want to expose anything, he’s just doing research. Hynek says, like building that spacecraft out back… They tell him they just want to hear his story. Hynek tells him that they don’t think he’s crazy, they just want to hear his story. They want the truth. He tells him about parking with his girlfriend, Judy (Emily Tennant) the night of the storm and that they saw the ship crash. They went to look at it but ran away when the hatch started to open. Harding forced them to sign a document saying they hadn’t seen anything. He tells them that Harding threatened to bury them in the desert if they didn’t say it was a weather balloon! Judy, his fiancé, left town and he never saw her again.

Valentine calls Harding and tells him that they have to show Eisenhower their worth. Harding actually shows some compassion for the town, saying they’ve been through enough, but Valentine insists. Harding is angry and hangs up on Valentine, who is never the one actually having to do anything.

Back at home, Susie breaks into Quinn’s apartment. She doesn’t really find anything, but we get some flashbacks that fill in the gaps about how their relationship has progressed. Apparently, Susie has told him she has a boring secretarial job – but she doesn’t give him any details. It’s hilariously ironic when he teases her that it’s a matter of national security and he needs to know what she’s hiding under her dress – as he teases her to come back to bed… Dude! She’s hiding a spy!

Hynek and Quinn drive back to town. Quinn is reluctant to call the US Force criminals without evidence. The two run into a road block. Roswell is under quarantine by Harding’s orders. They are attacked by a shooter. The shooter gets away, but Hynek finally convinces Quinn to go after the truth.

        They go right to Harding, who tells them that it wasn’t a weather balloon. He actually apologizes! And he tells them he’s glad they’re alright. They accuse him of the cover up, and he actually confesses that there was! But the crash was a top secret spy balloon to monitor Russian atomic bomb tests. Quinn is on board that it was necessary and plausible. Hynek is not convinced – a balloon is just a balloon. How could so many people have been wrong?

They find the shooter and he’s a former service member – Stewart Terry (Patrick Currie). Harding wants him alive, and there’s a great shot as Quinn clotheslines him off his motorcycle as he’s trying to get away. Quinn’s neck has a burn and he gets checked out. This is the second reference to Quinn having a burn – is it actually from his encounter? Harding is now eager to leave Roswell as it seems the incident has been wrapped up. The shooter didn’t want to see another cover up – mystery solved.

Evan shows up at Mimi’s house. She apologizes for the secrecy. He tells her that they thought she might be FBI – they think civilian UFO groups are dangerous! He tells her that they are dangerous because they are trying to expose the government’s massive cover up. Evan wants to know how much Hynek shares with her. He tells her that Hynek’s reputation is stellar and he’s happy to pass on information – but he wants to blow the lid off the government cover up!

At the infirmary, Hynek isn’t convinced that Quinn’s explanation that Terry just wanted to be a martyr for the cause. Then Terry is brought in beat to hell. He tells them that Harding had it done, but it’s clear that he doesn’t know who Harding is. He also tells them that he kept his secret. He tells them that there were two separate crash sites – and the second was far more secure. He was stationed to secure the perimeter and he shot a figure he saw running away. When he shot “it,” he could feel its pain. He didn’t tell anyone and went back and buried it – and it’s still out there!

The alarm sounds again – a space ship has crashed in town – and the hatch is opening as the episode ends! It looks like Duncan’s ship, so I’m betting he’s the one about to get out.

The second season is off to a great start with the twist and turns of the mystery and lots of action and intrigue that made the first season so successful. Harding is clearly not getting to go home just yet. This week’s episode is part two, so maybe we’ll get more answers. Will Mimi continue her partnership with Evan? What is Susie really up to? Can Harding lock down the town again – given that the show is following history, the answer here pretty much has to be yes. Kudos to McDonough for a terrific performance in this episode – it’s great to see a bit more depth to his character this season. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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