Warning: The following contains spoilers from the season 1 finale of Project Blue Book. Read at your own risk!
No, the aliens aren’t coming to Project Blue Book.
In the HISTORY period drama’s season 1 finale, Dr. Hynek (Aidan Gillen) and Captain Quinn (Michael Malarkey) investigated a mysterious flying light around the Washington Monument, which ended up garnering tons of national attention. Needing a closer look at the UFO, Quinn jumped in a jet and took to the sky; however, when he tried to engage the aircraft, he lost control of his plane and his perception was altered.
In the wake of this incident, Quinn firmly believed he encountered something in the sky that definitely wasn’t a Russian aircraft, and he said as much when he and Hynek are called to testify before Congress. Hynek, on the other hand, testified that what Quinn witnessed was simply “temperature inversions,” while attributing Quinn’s confusion to “hypoxic dementia.” Why exactly did Hynek lie? Because he realized that the only way they were going to get to the truth was to convince the Powers That Be that they don’t believe. “Because if we don’t believe, then we’re not a threat,” said Hynek, affirming that he does believe “more of them” will come. “And every time they do, however impossibly, their arrival will pose the same question…Do they come in peace, or do they come for war?”
In the last scene of the season, the Fixer, a.k.a. Unseen, which is what he was called in the writers’ room, traveled to the Antarctic, where he found an obelisk that started to glow when he pulled out the Artifact. However, before viewers jump to conclusions, showrunner Sean Jablonski wants them to know the final scene isn’t confirming the existence of aliens and the Fixer didn’t just turn on some satellite to lure them to Earth.
Read on below for what’s actually going on in the final scene and what to expect from season 2:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What should we take away from the final scene of the episode?
SEAN JABLONSKI: We have been setting it up. These have been little Easter eggs we’ve sort of setup all season. [Antarctica’s] coordinates were part of the numbers that he heard in the mind control lab early on that led us there. To me, to us, to the show, the Antarctic holds a lot of secrets and ties back to Operation Highjump, which happened in the early ‘40s following World War II when our government [and] military felt that the Nazis had discovered alien technology and bases in the Antarctic. There’s a lot of sort of energy around it now — by that I mean, a lot of curiosity about what’s going on in the Arctic right now where you can see pyramids on Google Earth. There’s a lot of mythology that we’re trying to tap into.
I will say that in terms of when you see the object glow and the obelisk glow, we are not setting a stage for, “Okay, we just turned on a large antenna and have called the aliens to come down.” We want to get people excited that we’ve expanded the mythology and get them curious as to what that allows us to do in terms of peeling back the layers of the larger cover-up going on next season. We want to feel like we’re closer than we’ve ever been before in terms of discovering something. I can say this from being in the room breaking the first episode for season 2: we do address it. We don’t kick the can down the road. It does have some very real world explanations.
What went into the decision to end with the country reacting to this phenomena in the sky and Project Blue Book gaining national attention?
It was a very conscious decision when we were breaking the season to start from singular witnesses [and] isolated incidents [that feel like] they can be slightly crazy and therefore less credible, and gradually build to more credible witnesses, multiple witnesses, greater contact. To me, this is one of those events in not just UFO history but in American history [that] people aren’t that aware of. When you explain to them what’s going on, you go, “Look it up. Look at the newspaper headlines from the day.” It’s huge! It’s fascinating! Timeline wise for Project Blue Book and the study of UFOs, it was sort of the last big seminal event before there was a shift. The CIA sort of came in about six months later; Eisenhower came into office; the government was restructured; the way Blue Book was tasked with looking at cases changed. This felt like a great capper for our guys to experience.
Also, it’s a delicate line to keep giving them cases and offering up this evidence and have them keep their eyes closed the whole time. To put Quinn up in an airplane and have him experience it for himself, gives him the real belief now that maybe there is something more going on. So giving them that energy at the end of season 1 to say, “Okay, we have to keep our mouths closed and look at the real investigation,” which is: What is the cover-up going on? By doing that, this allows us to follow that larger investigation and not just the cases themselves.
Has it been hard walking that line between the characters suspecting that there may be aliens and the show not believing?
Yes, that is a hard line because you don’t want your audience to feel like they’re ahead of the characters or you don’t want them to feel like, “God, how much more do you have to see? We’re already on board.” Or, “We’ve seen it for ourselves. You guys look like idiots.” So, when you look at the actual case files, there’s always going to be some logical, earthly explanation for what they see. So, we always need to find a way to offer something up not just to the audience but to our characters that can explain that away. And the shift you’ll see in season 2 is, if there is more going on, who knows and to what extent are they covering it up? Because there’s only so many lights in the sky that you can investigate to make things interesting because you want to get into the larger investigation of what is the truth of what’s going on.
Will season 2 immediately dive into Quinn and Hynek having to deal with the CIA changing the project’s entire mandate?
That’s exactly it — meet the new boss, it’s the same as the old boss kind of thing. But [the CIA comes in] and usurps the generals in that way. What they did historically was that they wanted to come in and say, “Look, between us, we’re probably responsible for a lot of what people see in the sky. We’re developing all of these experimental aircrafts,” which ties out to what was then-called Groom Lake, which we now know is Area 51. What it allows our guys to do is actually investigate some of the earlier cases that predate Blue Book by a few years that are sort of the origin of how the whole wave a paranoia and sightings kicked off. I’m talking about Roswell. I’m talking about the Maury Island incident. Things that even casual fans are going to recognize as like, “Oh Roswell, that was the first time we saw aliens?” We want to put our guys in the middle of that and sort of go, “How did this all begin?”
At the end of the episode, Hynek is seen reading a letter. Is that letter from Unseen?
Yeah. That letter and that scene where Hynek is reading that letter, we initially had shot another scene where Hynek was looking through the telescope that he had bought Joel in episode 1. When you saw it just in the scope of the series, it just feels small. That scene where Hynek is driving up to the observatory and then going in and you have the big telescope was originally something we shot for episode 1 and was related to a slightly different story point.
It was a way of introducing his character in the very first episode. The letter that he brings in, obviously, had nothing to do with Unseen saying this, so we VFX-ed out what was there and put something else in and added that voiceover, which was part of the older script. We were like, “We can basically play the same idea on a larger scale and bring in this idea” for a set that we, honestly, never got to use before. Maybe that’s my proudest moment; we got to use the set we never got to introduce him in and we literally bookended it in the very last scene of episode 10. You’d never know that was one of the first few days of shooting on the series was that scene, and it played as the last scene of the season finale.
Project Blue Book has been renewed for a second season on HISTORY.