PROJECT BLUE BOOK – Season 2 Episode 7 – SPOILERS
Hynek and Quinn head to Utah to investigate an incident at a fictionalized version of the Skinwalker Ranch, which in real life has been the site of many and varied reports of paranormal events including UFO’s, cattle mutilations, invisible magnetic anomalies, and sightings of creatures that look like skinwalkers. UFO researcher and billionaire Robert Bigelow bought the ranch in late 1996 for $200,000, and set up continuous surveillance there, but reported finding nothing. In 2016, Bigelow sold the Ranch to a shell corporation called Adamantium Holdings for $4.5 million. Adamantium has since secured the ranch with guards and barbed wire and all roads leading there have been blocked.
The owners of the fictitious ranch are Rex and Laura Chapman (Jesse Hutch and Spencer Grammer), and since moving to the 488-acre property, their son Billy (Liam Hughes) has taken to sleepwalking. As they followed Billy on one of his nocturnal wanderings, they spotted the alien that let to Project Blue Book’s involvement. When Quinn and Hynek arrive, they discover a skeleton wrapped in animal skins hanging from a tree, which is probably what the Chapmans mistook for an alien. A creepy neighbour (Christopher Heyerdahl) is responsible for the hanging figure, and there are more of them. He says they are wards against skinwalkers, but if they are, they are noticeably ineffective. As Quinn put it after they find little Billy cowering in a cabinet hiding from “the alien”: “Blue lights in the woods, could be ball lightning. Effigy hanging from a tree. But boy in the cupboard?”
A possible explanation comes to light when they follow sleepwalking Billy through a very long tunnel that leads from the farmhouse to (the fictional) Fort Duquesne Air Force Base. (There is a Fort Duquesne, about six kilometers away from the ranch, which was closed by the U.S. Army in 1912, and is currently the headquarters of the Ute tribe, whose reservation includes most of Unitah County where the Skinwalker Ranch is located.) They find Billy calmly watching Space Patrol in someone’s office. (It was a children’s show that aired on Saturdays in the early 1950s, though not usually before dawn.)
The office belongs to a civilian scientist (Jo Beth Williams) who was hired by the U.S. Air Force to investigate (she says) earthquake lights. Her experiments involve using fracking to cause minor quakes and induce the release of subterranean ethylene gas, which in turn (allegedly) causes the lights.
Lights in the sky have been recorded in association with earthquakes for a long time. The strength of the quake and the angle of the fault seem to be factors that control the intensity of the phenomenon. In 373 AD an earthquake struck in the vicinity of Delphi and lights appeared in the sky as gas rose from the nearby sea floor. Following this event, the hallucination-inducing ethylene gas that had risen from subterranean limestone into the temple at Delphi since 1500 BC nearly disappeared, causing the Oracle to lose her power to prophesize. (The Oracle’s chamber was located atop the intersection of the Delphi and Kerna faults.)
The psychological effects of ethylene gas could be researched under more controlled conditions, and sleepwalking is not one of the symptoms usually attributed to its inhalation. There is a creature that might be a skinwalker (played by Quinton Boisclair) living in the caverns under the farmhouse. Only Quinn gets to see it, and Quinn apparently isn’t going to say anything about it. (It was no hallucination, because we get to see the creature when Quinn isn’t there.) That civilian scientist mentioned earlier moonlights as a realtor and we see her resell the farm to the Porters, another American nuclear family. Whatever the purpose of her experiments, they must require involuntary human subjects. (The Chapmans must have signed a non-disclosure agreement when they collected the financial compensation arranged by Hynek.)
OTHER STUFF THAT HAPPENS: Susie (Ksenia Solo) gets caught cleaning up Eddie’s apartment by the Generals, who are now very suspicious of her and are having her followed. Mimi (Laura Mennell) is told she is no longer allowed to work in the Blue Book offices. (She notices Faye’s keys sitting on a desk there and might have stolen them; we don’t know yet.) Evan Blake (Kier O’Donnell) of Citizens for Saucer Studies is spooked by recent government activity, and tells Mimi that she and the group should take a break from each other.
Graham Greene (David in “The Scoutmaster“) plays a serial killer known as The Cradle in the psychological thriller A DARK FOE. The film stars Oscar Cardenas as FBI Agent Tony Cruz, who has a morbid fear of the dark because as a child he hid under the floorboards while The Cradle killed his mother and kidnapped his sister. Years later, The Cradle is still at large, and Cruz is still after him, with help from an old friend, Dr. Doris Baxter (Selma Blair) who provides him with advice and medication to cope with his condition. Andrew Stover wrote in Film Inquiry: “Maria Gabriela Cardenas constructs her thriller with shadowy imagery, shocking gore and gripping visual transitions. The depiction of nyctophobia, seen through the muzzy viewpoint of Tony, is really effective. When darkness swallows a hallway, Tony envisions a highly coloured hallucination of blood, as puddles of it drip from the cracks of the walls.” A DARK FOE had its World Premiere at the 2020 Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival, where it was named Best Dramatic Film. A trailer is available on YouTube.
Nadine Lewington (Kelly in “Foo Fighters“) will be Irene Gerheart in the first two episodes of the third season of WESTWORLD. LaToya Ferguson wrote in IndieWire: “Westworld III promises to be a departure from its first two seasons, not just because of the absence of the Wild West theme park…but also because it will tell more of a linear story than the series is known for. And there won’t be time jump — at least not to start, though the William epilogue certainly suggests otherwise, picking up directly after the events of Season 2.” In Episode 3.1, Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood), upon taking up residence in neo-LA, develops a relationship with Caleb (Aaron Paul), and learns how artificial beings are treated in the real world. A trailer is available on YouTube. WESTWORLD Season Three will premiere on HBO on 22 March.