As far as paranormal events go, the Lubbock Lights are somewhat unusual, in that the initial witnesses were seemingly as credible as it gets. On August 25, 1951, three professors from Texas Tech were hanging out in a backyard when they spotted a formation of around 20-30 lights flying through the air. Then they saw another one.
As charming as this tableau is, I guess it’s not exciting enough for television, because as with “The Flatwoods Monster,” they jazz this week’s story up a bit. In the retelling, an air traffic controller spots something odd on the radar just before the electricity all over Lubbock cuts out.
That isn’t the only event, though. Tom Wilson (Jesse Irving), the air traffic controller, got into a strange car accident that night. His truck looks like he slammed into something, but there was no other vehicle there and Tom has no injuries. Hynek and Quinn visit him in the hospital, but he’s not much of a witness, seeing as he’s in a coma. But even in his comatose state, he manages to grab Hynek and there’s a spark of electricity when they try to pry him loose.
After that, it’s not even surprising when they visit the college and are greeted with a lecture hall’s worth of people who claim they saw the lights. What is surprising is that a professor there has an explanation. Good news, boys–you can go home, because it was just flocks of plovers. See, the newly installed street lights were reflecting off their oily bellies and that’s what everyone saw.
That makes…absolutely zero sense. Okay, sure, bioluminescence is a thing. So I could buy, maybe, that birds’ tummies could reflect light in that way. But then what killed the power? What happened to Wilson and his truck?
After another skirmish with locals–Quinn is making a habit of this–ends with the streetlights going out, Quinn and Hynek drive back to the scene of the car crash. And they see something. Well, they don’t just see something. The electric components in the car start going haywire and nearly fry Quinn. And then they see the lights.
This is about the time that Harding realizes they have a problem. Donald Keyhoe, a former naval aviator turned writer for pulp magazines, is telling all and sundry about the Lubbock Lights. So Harding has some goons haul him in and threaten him.
This puts Harding and Valentine at odds with their boss, William Fairchild (Robert John Burke). He’s furious, because not only is Keyhoe a veteran and an American citizen, but it’s also just dumb. Yes, there is the chance that he could stir up a paranoid frenzy–more on that in a bit–but he writes for what are essentially tabloids. Could you imagine the military threatening whoever wrote something like this cover story? (Our thoughts and prayers to West Virginia during their flying cat siege.)
Anyway, while Quinn unconvincingly decides that Russians are to blame for all the incidents so far, the Air Force has another story. It turns out it’s a prototype American aircraft. Good news, boys–let’s go home! Except Dr. Hynek doesn’t buy any of this.
Harding thinks he’s going to be a problem. You could chalk it up to his being swept up in the paranoia of the era, but yeah. Dr. Hynek is going to be a wrench in the works.
And about that paranoia, Mimi has started seeing a man in a hat following her around. Then spurred on by her neighbors getting one, she buys and constructs a backyard bomb shelter. Thank goodness she had Susie to help her! Otherwise, those Russians might get in.
8/10 – With the television and other media whipping up stories about the Red Scare, nuclear attacks, and other bogeymen, the characters on Project Blue Book already live in a frightening world. Add in more uncertainty and the tension just keeps ratcheting up. I like it! (I still wanna see some aliens, though.)