Written by: Brent V. Friedman & Bryce Zabel
Directed by: Tobe Hooper
Original airdate: September 21, 1996
American pilot Gary Powers, flying a reconnaissance mission into Russia, encounters a UFO and crashes behind enemy lines in 1960.
A year later, John Loengard and his girlfriend Kim Sayers begin working for the US government, with John eager for any work at all. He’s given the job of looking into redundant government agencies that might be cut in order to save money, the first of which is Project Blue Book which deals with UFO sightings. After meeting with Betty and Barney Hill, two self proclaimed alien abductees, and hearing their story, he is assaulted by some men who had bugged the Hill’s home. The men are led by someone named Captain, and Loengard is left shaken by his words to forget the assault ever happened and to mind his own business. When Loengard goes to work the next day, he sees a report on his desk saying that Project Blue Book is fine and not worth anyone’s attention. John has apparently signed it, even though he did not write it.
Loengard begins investigating the Captain, eventually discovering his name as Frank Bach. He later confronts Bach after Gary Powers is finally released by the Russians at a press event. Loengard tries to bluff information out of Bach, but Bach turns it around, offering him the truth, and warning that it comes with a price. He takes Loengard to a secret location and reveals the existence of an alien material he conceals around his neck, and an actual dissected alien corpse. Bach welcomes Loengard to the secret agency known as Majestic, saying that there is no going back now.
Loengard’s first assignment is to go investigate a farmer who has discovered a crop circle in his field, but while examining it, the farmer becomes erratic and tries to kill him. Bach and his men come to his rescue, killing the farmer. During the autopsy, a squid-like alien emerges from the farmer and tries to attack several men but is eventually contained. Bach mentions that it matches a specimen they found inside the aliens, known as The Greys, during the 1947 Roswell UFO Incident. Doctor Herzog experiments with the creature, now called a Ganglion, causing a monkey to start acting erratically. The chimp ends up escaping its cage, and actually thinking strategically, grabs a gun and shoots one of the Majestic agents.
Loengard’s boss, Senator Pratt, begins talking with Kim and questioning her about John’s activities. This later leads her to ask John why he seems to be lying and appearing distant. The two argue and end up sleeping apart from each other, only for Kim to awaken in the middle of the night to several aliens surrounding her, and quickly abducting her from the home. She wakes the next morning tired, confused and with a bloody nose.
Elsewhere, a group headed by Bach discuss the monkey incident, and it’s believed The Greys at Roswell were hosts to the Ganglion, controlled by them to do their bidding. A procedure is described about how to extract a ganglion from a host, but it has always been fatal. Doctor Herzog has another non-fatal procedure, but it is in its early stages at this point.
Amidst the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kim keeps feeling off, not remembering the abduction. Loengard confronts Bach about the crisis, reasoning that if President Kennedy and Russian President Kruschev knew about the existence of aliens, they wouldn’t be putting the world into such dire straits with their weapons. Bach says that the President knows what he needs to know, explaining that the previous president gave Majestic the authority to decide which president should be let in on all the secrets.
Pratt meanwhile shows up at Kim’s place and begins explaining the alien singularity that is coming, revealing that he has also been possessed by a Ganglion. John returns home and the two fight, with Pratt falling out a window and dying on the ground far below. John rushes Kim to Doctor Herzog and begs him for the alternate procedure which involves several chemicals. They go to an abandoned house where John tries the procedure, but Kim fights against him, becoming more influenced by the Ganglion. Eventually the alien exits her body and John kills it, saving her. Loengard tells Bach he wants out of the agency but is denied yet again.
John and Kim devise a plan for Kim, who has been working with the First Lady, Jackie Kennedy, to get proof of alien existence to the president himself. The president’s brother and State Attorney General summons John to talk with him about the evidence, commenting that the president cannot act on it right now because he is up for re-election and needs to focus on that, but after that, he will do something about it. Unfortunately, their meeting has been surveilled by Bach and company, and days later the president is assassinated. John and Kim decide to go on the run, hoping to get the truth out there while avoiding Bach and Majestic.
History As We Know It:
The pilot director, Tobe Hooper, is best known for directing Texas Chain Saw Massacre, and the sequel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. He also directed movies such as Poltergeist, The Mangler, and The Toolbox Murders. He also directed other shows like The Equalizer, Freddy’s Nightmares, Tales from the Crypt, Taken, and Masters of Horror. He passed away in 2017.
Mark Snow scored the pilot episode. He is best known for his work on The X-Files.
Songs from the episode include:
This Magic Moment by The Drifters
Stand By Me by Ben E. King
Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree by Brenda Lee
Stop Children What’s That Sound (What It’s Worth) by Buffalo Springfield
Born: August 17, 1929
Died: August 1, 1977
Francis Gary Powers was an American pilot whose Central Intelligence Agency Lockheed U-2 spy plane was shot down while flying a reconnaissance mission in Soviet Union airspace, causing the 1960 U-2 incident. He later worked as a helicopter pilot for KNBC in Los Angeles and died in a 1977 helicopter crash.
The primary mission of the U-2s was overflying the Soviet Union. Soviet intelligence had been aware of encroaching U-2 flights at least since 1958 if not earlier but lacked effective countermeasures until 1960.
Powers was shot down by an S-75 Dvina surface-to-air missile over Sverdlovsk. A total of 14 Dvinas were launched.
When the U.S. government learned of Powers's disappearance over the Soviet Union, they lied that a "weather plane" had strayed off course after its pilot had "difficulties with his oxygen equipment". What CIA officials did not realize was that the plane crashed almost fully intact and that the Soviets had recovered its pilot and the plane's equipment, including its top-secret high-altitude camera. Powers was interrogated extensively by the KGB for months before he made a confession and a public apology for his part in espionage.
The CIA, in particular, chief of CIA Counterintelligence James Jesus Angleton, opposed exchanging Powers for Soviet KGB Colonel William Fisher, known as "Rudolf Abel", who had been caught by the FBI and tried and jailed for espionage. They thought Powers was defecting to Russia. Barbara Powers, the wife of Gary Powers, was often drinking and allegedly having affairs. To avoid bad publicity for the wife of the well-known CIA operative, doctors tasked by the CIA to keep Barbara out of the limelight arranged to have her committed to a psychiatric ward in Augusta, Georgia, under strict supervision. The CIA feared that Gary Powers languishing in Soviet prison might learn of Barbara's plight and as a result reach a state of desperation causing him to reveal to the Soviets whatever secrets he had not already revealed. Thus, Barbara unwittingly may have aided the cause of the approval of the prisoner exchange
Powers initially received a cold reception on his return home. He was criticized for not activating his aircraft's self-destruct charge to destroy the camera, photographic film, and related classified parts. He was also criticized for not using a CIA-issued "suicide pill" to kill himself. He would later divorce and remarry, having one child.
Barney and Betty Hill
Barney Hill Jr.: July 20, 1922 Died February 25, 1969
Eunice Elizabeth Barrett: June 28, 1919 Died October 23, 2004
Barney and Betty Hill were an American couple who claimed they were abducted by extraterrestrials in a rural portion of the state of New Hampshire from September 19 to 20, 1961. It was the first widely publicized report of an alien abduction in the United States
The incident came to be called the "Hill Abduction" and the "Zeta Reticuli Incident" because the star map shown to Betty Hill could possibly be the Zeta Reticuli system according to some researchers. Their story was adapted into the best-selling 1966 book The Interrupted Journey and the 1975 television film The UFO Incident. Most of Betty Hill's notes, tapes, and other items have been placed in the permanent collection at the University of New Hampshire, her alma mater.
Arriving home at about dawn, the Hills assert that they had some odd sensations and impulses they could not readily explain: Betty insisted their luggage be kept near the back door rather than in the main part of the house. Their watches would never work again. Barney said that the leather strap for the binoculars was torn, though he could not recall it tearing. The toes of his best dress shoes were scraped. Barney says he was compelled to examine his genitals in the bathroom, though he found nothing unusual. They took long showers to remove possible contamination and each drew a picture of what they had observed.
Betty’s dress was torn at the hem, zipper and lining. Later, when she retrieved the items from her closet, she noted a pinkish powder on her dress. She hung the dress on her clothesline and the pink powder blew away, but the dress was irreparably damaged.
There were shiny, concentric circles on their car's trunk that had not been there the previous day. Betty and Barney experimented with a compass, noting that when they moved it close to the spots, the needle would whirl rapidly. But when they moved it a few inches away from the shiny spots, it would drop down.
Debunkers point to an Outer Limits show that aired a week before the incident that had similar looking aliens.
Mac Brazel is mentioned in connection with Roswell. The Roswell incident occurred amid the flying saucer craze of 1947. On Saturday night, July 5, 1947, rancher W.W. "Mac" Brazel made a trip from his remote ranch into town, Corona, New Mexico. Brazel connected debris he'd found tinfoil, rubber, and thin wooden beams scattered across a square mile of the ranch three weeks earlier with the flying disks in the news. The government said it was part of a weather balloon, however in 1979, the official in charge of the investigation, Major Jesse Marcel said: "They wanted some comments from me, but I wasn't at liberty to do that. So, all I could do is keep my mouth shut. And General Ramey is the one who discussed – told the newspapers, I mean the newsman, what it was, and to forget about it. It is nothing more than a weather observation balloon. Of course, we both knew differently.”
The Cuban Missile Crisis was a 35-day confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, which escalated into an international crisis when American deployments of missiles in Italy and Turkey were matched by Soviet deployments of similar ballistic missiles in Cuba. Despite the short time frame, the Cuban Missile Crisis remains a defining moment in US national security and nuclear war preparation. The confrontation is often considered the closest the Cold War came to escalating into a full-scale nuclear war.
Cuba's alliance with the Soviet Union was the main reason the United States viewed Castro as a security threat–a fear that was arguably vindicated during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Pretty quickly, it became clear that the reforms that the Cuban revolutionaries were determined to undertake would harm U.S. business interests on the island. A series of escalating confrontations drove the U.S. and Cuban governments apart, and Castro turned instead to the United States’ greatest rival and enemy, the Soviet Union, for support.
After several days of tense negotiations, an agreement was reached between Kennedy and Khrushchev and weapons were disarmed.
The Warren Commission, named after Chief Justice Earl Warren, was to investigate the assassination. Its 888-page final report concluded that President Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald and that Oswald acted entirely alone and also concluded that Jack Ruby acted alone when he killed Oswald two days later. The Commission's findings have proven controversial and have been both challenged and supported by later studies.
Allen Dulles was on the commission and is seen in the opening moments of the episode. HE was a reshoot due to the original actor (Paul Gleason) in heavy makeup and prosthetics not looking quite close enough to Nelson Rockefeller. Also reshot was the scene where Loengard gets orders about the Crop Circles.