Episode 6 – The Green Fireballs
The premise of this week’s episode seemed a little far fetched, which is strange considering the show’s subject matter, until I looked it up and found out that it was an actual phenomenon that has gone unexplained for so many years.
The plot is largely based around an investigation at a nuclear missile testing area; one of those fake towns (complete with mannequins and furnished houses) that were built in the USA to analyse the effects of a nuclear detonation. The setting brought back some unpleasant memories of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and that fridge scene.
The area is plagued by flying green lights, witnessed by many military personnel. In real life, these ‘fireballs’ were a worryingly common sight during the 1950s. The US government became especially concerned as sightings were clustered around their sensitive military installations such as Los Alamos and Alamagordo. Sightings were confirmed by many scientists of great repute and no complete explanation has ever been offered. Some people contend that they are ordinary meteorites; others are convinced that they were extraterrestrial probes. In fact, even those who suggested they were naturally-occurring could not account for the fact that they only happened in specific areas. One interesting theory is that they were a result of fallout in the area in the wake of nuclear testing in 1951. Sightings were confirmed further and further away from a starting point, with fireballs even being seen as far away as Los Angeles and Texas. Even the New York Times ran an article about it saying that the fireballs did not fit the behavioural patterns of metros (which was the commonly accepted explanation at the time). Fireballs were also seen in the UK, some near a nuclear power plant
It is scary to think of the repercussions of that nuclear tests that went on in the twentieth century and the uncertainty of the people involved. Prior to the first atomic test detonation in 1945 (The Trinity Test) some of the scientists on the Manhattan project had a theory that the detonation could trigger a chain reaction which would set the entire atmosphere of the Earth on fire. It was concluded that this was ‘unlikely’ so the test went ahead. That’s pretty worrying. I mean, it’s unlikely to rain here tomorrow but I’m not going to bet the lives of every creature on Earth on it. Years later in 1954, the Castle Bravo test in the South Pacific exploded with a yield of 15 megatons; 2.5 times the expected 6 megatons. This was down to a little bit of bad maths somewhere in the planning process. As a result, several small islands were left irradiated for years, a Japanese fishing trawler was caught up in radioactive fallout that killed one crew member and most of the equipment that had been set up to analyse the explosion was vaporised. Scary times! I wouldn’t be at all surprised if these explosions had unleashed some force or other responsible for the green fireballs. They could have ripped open the fabric of reality and let anything through into our world. I wouldn’t have been surprised if UFOs from some distant planet were keeping us under surveillance while these tests were going on, either.
The real life Dr Hynek was involved in an investigation of green fireballs at a later stage. He met with an astronomer named Lincoln LaPaz who had studied them for years whilst looking into a separate UFO case. LaPaz was convinced that none of the natural explanations were solid enough; he also thought Hynek was part of an attempt to conceal the truth.
As far as this episode goes, Hynek is struggling with witnessing Fuller’s self-immolation. He’s increasingly ignoring personal hygiene and even seeing Event Horizon style visions of Fuller’s crispy corpse. His obsession with his work is growing to the point where we are even treated to some of the most emotionally charged scenes we’ve yet had in the series between he and his wife. He becomes secretive, withholding things from Quinn, and also meets again his ‘Deep Throat’. This time he is led to a secret location (another, slightly more comfortable Indiana Jones reference) where he finds a very interesting piece of tech.
There’s also some more Russian spy stuff and more shots of the Pentagon people comparing the size of their oak leaves but that largely passed me by. If anything, I’m just glad to see Hynek and Mrs Hynek having some interactions that don’t feel awkward. Altogether a decent episode but one that, even now I’ve watched it three times, I can’t recall a stand out moment that really wowed me.
Thanks for reading,
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