The grand unified theory of everything, of course, is that aliens are secretly ruling the planet, controlling our destiny and tracing their influence back to the origin of mankind, itself. The concept of monsters is their entrypoint into the secret extraterrestrial origin of man. It begins simply enough in cryptozoology. The infamous Montauk Monster, which has been fairly definitely identified in recent years as a decayed raccoon corpse, is presented as evidence of genetic weirdness happening, somewhere in the ocean.
A laundry list of strange creatures will appear from Greek mythology, including the Hydra and the Chimera. Loch Ness appears, of course, with its most famous of cryptids. And ancient monsters and demi-gods of Egypt and India. A lingering criticism of the show, to me, is the explicit desire to treat the Egyptian Gods as presented by the artists in a literal sense, as literally looking like animal heads with human bodies. Other cultures gods and demigods are apparently still open to interpretation. One figure of the Mahabharata is argued to be a representative of some kind of flaming nuclear warship, made of metal that “eat snakes” – i.e. has a fuel line like a modern airplane. I guess requesting intellectual consistency from a show that wants to revel in the secret history of the world through the lens of secret alien masters may be a bit much, but it would be nice.
The most interesting part of the show, to me, was the section about the transplanting of body parts. It used the idea of Hydra and Chimera to segue into a scientific moment of both triumph and horror: a scientist transplanted baboon heads in a laboratory in a precursor to transplant surgery that we use to save lives today. (My neighbor had a lung transplant, and it made a huge difference in his life, obviously, because he is, in fact, still alive, and we’re all very happy about that. Real nice guy. Retired history teacher. He took care of our animals while we were in the hospital for our son’s birth.) It was fascinating to follow the camera’s eye around the lab that looked like it was kind of a horror movie setting. What they were describing, surgically, was also pretty horrific. It was an excellent reminder that even good science that makes life better for countless generations will often resemble a mad scientist’s lab to the uninitiated! They held brains and smiled! They had special head transplant chairs!
One thing I know from this show now, more than ever, is that the worst crime any conspiracy theory can commit is being boring. I am pleased that this episode, at least, moved quickly over the dullest bits, and had lots of interesting art and artifacts to show. I even went over to Wikimedia Commons and found one of the art prints they used repeatedly, and it’s such a dynamic, beautiful print, that is clearly a masterpiece. I would love to see a “works cited” page, so to speak, with a list of all the artifacts and art pieces, and where to view them. A tabletop book, for example, with just the art that they use in the show from history would be a beautiful addition to the Ancient Aliens Canon, and probably more interesting than the show, itself.