Project Blue Book: Roswell Part 1 Review

Project Blue Book is back for Season Two and they’re kicking things off with a massive two-parter that takes us all back to where it all began in Roswell, New Mexico.

The hard thing about season openers is that you have to spend time bringing new people up to speed and setting the scene for those who saw the finale.

I thought they picked an odd place to start – back in the cockpit with Quinn chasing down the lights over Washington. At first, I thought we were going to pick up where we left off, but it turned out to be a Quinn memory. And now – some months later – he’s having second thoughts about believing what he believed back then.

The show doesn’t say how much time has elapsed between the final episode of season one and the opener of season two, but a few things have changed, so I’m going with several months.

After Harding “practically kidnaps” the boys and takes them to Roswell, they both stop to make very revealing phone calls.

Side note: was Aidan sick when he filmed this episode? His voice sounds so scratchy, or is it me?

Hynek calls Mimi – who looks so adorable in this episode – and we learn that she’s been helping him in his work. This is something the real Mimi Hynek did, so nice nod to reality. Turns out Mimi has been hanging around a group of UFO conspiracy theorists and has been using their research to help Allen on the sly.

Really really on the sly, since even Quinn doesn’t know that she is Allen’s secret source.

And talk about keeping secrets – Quinn calls home to break a date with guess who – Susie! Apparently, they’ve been sleeping together which opens us up to even more questions!

Does Quinn know Susie’s a spy and this is a trick to keep an eye on her? We know he was suspicious of her last season, are we to believe that she’s charmed him into tossing his instincts aside? I’m not so sure.

But when Quinn comes out of the phone booth all flushed – he lies to Allen about the reason which makes me think he is suspicious of her, otherwise, why keep his association with her a secret.

And here’s a left-over question from Season 1 – has Allen ever met Susie? Not that we’ve seen but it’s possible. And is Susie still hanging with Mimi?

SPOILER ALERT: if you’re hoping for more SusieQuinn action – you’ll get some in part two and they aren’t the only ones sharing a kiss and a caress in the next episode.

Okay, back to Roswell!

Turns out Roswell is kind of a sore spot for Harding so when someone starts pushing his buttons, he’s all over it despite Valentine’s warning.

For you Michael Harney fans, look for Valentine to take a more active roll this season, shedding his grandfatherly voice of reason roll for something much more interesting.

On the rewatch, check out the look of confused panic on Quinn’s face when Valentine asks to speak to him alone. It’s priceless.

Let’s talk about the change in Allen Hynek in this season. Right off the bat, he’s openly confrontational with Harding and his contempt grows when he’s handed the redacted files.

The Hynek who checked out all the angles in the season one, now seems dead set on finding anything that will make fools of the military. As if proving he’s right is now more important than discovering the actual truth.

Note the smug smile on Hynek’s face when he reads the warning message in the box just before the opening credits. This is one of several scenes where he seems almost gleeful. And throughout the episode he smiles more than we’ve ever seen before but it’s not always nice.

After a little investigating, our boys have a heart to heart in a diner. Hynek again eagerly pushes Quinn to see things his way, saying it’s their duty to take Harding down if he was involved in a cover up. Quinn reminds him that they agreed to stick together and keep their heads down so they don’t get “cut off.” Want to guess who wins this battle of wills?

Here’s the tough part. Putting right and wrong aside, Quinn is an officer in the Air Force, choosing to speak out against his commander has ramifications that could cost him everything – including his freedom. Quinn’s spent his entire adult life in the service, he believes in duty and honor and it’s not so easy for him to throw that away. And finding out that his commander is less than honorable – that’s gotta hurt.

But as we’ve seen time and again on this show, you can’t believe everything you see or think you see – so expect a few more twists and turns in Harding’s story before it’s all over.

NEW! Midway through the episode we get our first good look at Quinn’s apartment as Susie wanders through and has a fond memory of their last encounter. Quinn offering to make blueberry pancakes – how can anyone say no to that. And in a fun throwback moment, Susie asks Quinn to zip her up – remember the double zipper scene in the first episode of season one?

And that closeup on the lipstick  – could it be a cleverly placed bug? I think Susie is falling for our dear Captain but she’s still has her orders so she has to find out his secrets any way she can.

Meanwhile, back in Roswell, the town is under quarantine, our boys get shot at and when they confront Harding he admits the truth – yes, there was a coverup in 47. Of course there was! To hide a classified government program and keep the public safe. No aliens. Makes sense to everyone but Hynek. He’s still hanging on by his fingertips even as Quinn suggests he’s more worried about his own pride than revealing the truth.

 My ‘what the heck’ moment of this week is the burn on  Quinn’s neck after he tackles the shooter. It’s so odd it feels like  maybe Malarkey actually got hurt doing the stunt and they wrote it in.  

The random officer who says “get that burn looked at” and why the back of the neck? If they needed him to be hurt (which they did for the story) why not give him a gash on the head from the fight. A burn on the neck is so specific without explaining how it happened.

The burn does get us to the hospital so the boys can uncover the final big reveal for the episode; it wasn’t just a ship that crashed all those years ago, there were small aliens, too. Want proof? Dig up the body and show the world, we aren’t alone in the universe.

Cinematically speaking, The Roswell Incident works with an entirely new color palette. Pay attention to the color story from the moment the boys touch down in Roswell. Blown out lighting, all muted tones, and not a drop of color, it has the surreal feel of an old German silent movie. Very cool.

I also love the lighting in the hospital scene when Quinn and Hynek are questioning the shooter. The lights from the cars outside crossing their faces. It’s beautiful.

And you can’t beat the shot of that ship crashed in the center of town.

As usual, the costume department rose to the occasion with new, summer clothes for the boys. We love those suspenders on Hynek! And Mimi’s new, more youthful looking clothes and hair are so much fun.

Overall, The Roswell Incident part one is a good start, but not as exciting as I had hoped for the premiere episode. They do spend a lot of time recapping the history of the original Roswell incident and introducing the new characters. And then there’s the time spent reintroducing all the original characters and getting the audience up to speed. That eats up a lot of time but don’t worry – things are going to ramp up fast in part-two now that the groundwork has been laid.

Next week, we’re going to get what we’ve been promised; more time with HyneQuinn and more twists and turns in their relationship. And if you think you know what’s going on, think again. The Roswell Incident Part Two will have you constantly changing your mind about who is wrong and who is right. It’s a nailbiter that you won’t want to miss.

Project Blue Book returns next week on January 28th with The Roswell Incident: Part 2.

Now it’s your turn. What did you think of the season premiere? Is Harding a bad man. Did aliens really land in Roswell? Does Quinn know he’s sleeping with the enemy and do you like the new look and the new Hynek?

Until next week, keep watching the skies!

(2) Comments

  1. Marie says:

    My review! Project Blue Book Season Two Premiere

    The look of the show… From the 1950s cars, outfits, and hairstyles, to the military uniforms and planes, to the homages to 1950s UFOs, this desert-centric Roswell episode– and the series– is one of the best looking shows on television.

    CW level characterizations. After a promising season one, Hynek isn’t a scientist or a complex character in this episode. He runs around screwming “we have to expose the cover-up” (Cover up….Of WHAT? He’s not puzzling over what IS the truth. He’s a scientist after all)… “We have to bring down Harding!” (When did THAT become Hynek’s primary agenda? Did I miss an episode? Bring down Harding and reveal… WHAT? Hynek’s partner Michael Quinn is clearly in denial after he’s had an encounter at 20,000 feet with a UFO– but Hynek never presses him on it? After all their talks about trust, Hynek won’t tell Quinn about his source and he’s cool with it?

    Quinn and Suzie. HOT COUPLE. Mimi and Evan. COLOR ME INTRIGUED.

    Things happen because… Reasons! UFOs are sometimes the most credible thing on the show! “Shoot to Kill” orders! (Uhhh, that’s a war crime, not to mention homicide, Harding.) You have a man shooting at US military personnel and he’s neither handcuffed to the gurney and there’s no MPs? How is it that the UFO stuff feels real and the military stuff feels like BS? I want to believe!

    The cast and the season long trailer. Maybe this episode was just a rah-rah exciting start and they’ll try and dig into character and logic a bit more as the episodes progress.

    The Directing. The attack on the shack, Quinn fighting the guy on the motorcycle, just felt poorly staged. But the pace was pretty good. Never bored one time.

    1. Cynthia says:

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments! I (Cynthia – writer of this review) agree with a lot of what you said here. That scene with Quinn tackling the shooter was so odd when it should have been very exciting but I heard in the podcast that they had to keep stopping because the smoke from the grenades kept making it so they couldn’t see. So that may have impacted that scene.

      The powers that be said we’d get more characterization this season and there is more of that in Part Two now that a lot of the fact work is done. Part two, which I had an opportunity to preview) is a much better episode than one. I hope you’ll agree. I am also a bit perplexed by this almost maniacal Hynek. I think it’s supposed to be a product of him feeling more in control now that he has a plan to uncover the truth. There’s a very interesting discussion about “the truth” between him and Quinn in Part Two that speaks to this.

      The season trailer promises a lot of action and intrigue in the new season which is great. To me, the hardest part of doing a UFO show is you can’t just keep pointing at the sky and saying, hey what’s that for two seasons and expect it to stay exciting. I’m confident the showrunners have laid out a plan for this season that will make it much more compelling from a character standpoint which is what I want to see.

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