Project Blue Book time travels to the future in this episode where we go behind the scenes of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Hynek and Quinn take on the Robertson Panel and an alien “messenger” appears.
Project Blue Book is one of the most well-written shows currently on television. Yes, I say this every week but the episodes keep getting better and better. What I enjoy the most about it, is the fact that no stone is left unturned.
There are callbacks to Season 1 and creator David O’Leary and his writing staff clearly have a game plan. Which is refreshing in an era where some sci-fi programs seem to fly by the seat of their pants with plotlines that defy logic.
This week, the audience gets a glimpse into the future when we are transported to 1976 for the purpose of going behind the scenes of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Dr. Hynek was a consultant on the film.
The Robertson Panel convenes to determine if Project Blue Book stays open, an alien “messenger” appears and Hynek develops his classification system for extraterrestrial encounters. Here are 4 important highlights from this episode.
Please be aware that there are spoilers ahead.
The Creation of the “Hynek Scale”
Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind put Hynek’s Classification Scale on the map and became a part of the pulp culture lexicon. Based on his findings while working cases for Project Blue Book, he developed this system as a way to “categorize” UFO sightings and encounters with extraterrestrials.
Here are the components of the Hynek Scale:
- Nocturnal Lights: Lights in the night time sky that are not planes, stars or planets. They are usually very noticeable because of their erratic patterns of movement.
- Daylight Discs: Traditional flying saucer shaped objects that are metallic and capable of disappearing in the blink of an eye.
- Radar-Visual Cases: Radar screen confirmation of UFOs that corroborate eyewitness accounts.
- Close Encounters of the First Kind: A UFO is within 200 yards but has no interaction with people or the environment.
- Close Encounters of the Second Kind: Physical evidence that is left after a UFO sighting.
- Close Encounters of the Third Kind: This component refers to visual confirmation of aliens.
Hynek as Hollywood Consultant
In 1976, Hynek found himself acting in the capacity of advisor to Steven Spielberg when he was shooting Close Encounters of the Third Kind. His expertise based on his years with Project Blue Book was invaluable to the production. The movie had an authentic feel to it because it was based on some of the UFO sightings that the Professor had documented over the years.
What is interesting to note is that Hynek was more than likely, the inspiration for the Richard Dreyfuss character in Spielberg’s film. He even had a cameo in the movie.
The Robertson Panel
Some background on the Robertson Panel: This inquiry came about because the CIA wanted to take control of Project Blue Book. Howard Percy Robinson helmed the effort. He was a physicist by trade, an employee of the CIA and director of the Defense Department Weapons Evaluation Group.
Dan Banks returns to assist Hynek and Quinn. At first, the pair think that he set them up but Banks assures them that he had no clue this inquiry was coming down the pike. In fact, he lets them know that scientists will be looking into the validity of the project’s work.
As the panel drags on for days, Hynek and Quinn provide the committee with what they think is convincing evidence that the UFO phenomenon deserves to be studied. They show the members a film of the 1950 Mariana sighting in Great Falls, Montana. However, they notice that no one is paying attention.
When the pair try to call members out, Robinson and the panel inform Hynek and Quinn that most of their case files can be explained. Pulling out a last-ditch attempt to save their jobs and the Air Force’s reputation, Quinn asks Dan to present his findings and corroborate their cases.
What happens next, stuns the Captain and the Professor. Dan betrays them. He says that they were careless, staging UFO invasions and inciting panic in American citizens. Dumbfounded the duo can’t believe that they were deceived.
David: Alien Messenger or Con Man?
Bronson Pinchot guest stars as David, a celebrity of sorts in the UFO community who joins Mimi’s group so that he can meet Allen. Apparently, he was given a message from the aliens specifically for the Professor. Without his help, Hynek and Quinn will never survive the Robertson Panel.
David has some evidence that he wants to present to the pair so they take a trip to his home. He shows them a picture of a craft with extraterrestrials disembarking to prove that he has had encounters. Of course, Quinn is skeptical and Hynek is a little more open to the possibility that he is telling the truth.
Eager to show the duo that he isn’t conning them, he takes them to the landing spot for the aliens. What he finds is a diagram of the symbol of the “Program” from Season 1 on the ground. This was the Greek inverted triangle that represents, “musical ratios upon which the foundation of the Universe is built.”
Important to note:
- This symbol was seen on the obelisk in Antarctica at the end of Season 1. It was also part of the mysterious effort that involved several former members of the military who were being used as conduits for alien contact. Which leads us to think that perhaps they belonged to MK-Ultra like William.
- Since David is aware of the symbol, does he have some connection to MK-Ultra as well?
- Also, could the reference to musical ratios imply that the art form could be used as a means of communication with alien beings? Hence the John Williams theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind?
Catch Project Blue Book Tuesdays on the History Channel at 10 p.m.
What did you think of tonight’s episode? Is Dan really Hynek and Quinn’s enemy? Let us know in the comments.