Conspiracies, mysteries, theories abound.

Nothing gets me more curious, investigative, and intrigued than a controversial, unsolved murder mystery or event in time. It’s almost as if I play investigative journalist when such events happen and wind up browsing the depths of news articles and Google — searching hundreds of different keywords to try and find something new or informative. During the last three major tragedies of the United States — the Aurora movie theater shooting in July 2012, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012, and the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013 – I was glued to the computer with a TV on a news network within earshot.

I’d use websites like Wikipedia, Twitter, and Reddit to try and get my news straight and try and formulate things myself, as if I was being paid to do such a thing. And all for what? A few less hours of sleep and a few more thoughts clouding my mind it seemed. It’s only serendipitous that I’m reviewing the new EPIX exclusive documentary TWA Flight 800 days after Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash-landed in San Francisco, California, with a cause yet to be determined.

TWA Flight 800
Kristina Borjesson
Tom Stalcup, Hank Hughes, Bob Young
Release Date
July 17, 2013
Influx Grade: A-

If I was alive in the summer of 1996, I’d probably be doing similar things when I heard about the TWA Flight 800 exploding in midair, killing all of its passengers (two-hundred and thirty) instantaneously. Since it happened, the cause of the explosion has been unknown, but the “official” consensus is a stray spark lead to the fuel tank exploding. However, the consensus amongst hundreds of eye-witnesses seems to be an object ascending from the surface struck the plane’s wing, causing it to explode. TWA Flight 800 takes a number of FBI specialists and accident investigators and allows them to tell the story the way they believe it happened.

The first questionable instance is when one specialist states that a number of pieces from the wreckage of the aircraft were sent to Washington D.C. for further investigation and then never sent back, one piece being the wing with a large hole through it. The second is that the FBI interviewed all the witnesses, not the National Transportation Safety Board, which one would assume would handle an elaborate investigation like this. Upon interviewing subjects, the FBI did not copy down the witnesses’ testimony verbatim, instead, summarizing them in their own words and not allowing video recording of the subjects. During the NTSB hearing, the eye witnesses were prevented from speaking and one man stated that their testimonies are “mass misrepresentations.”

Whether or not the TWA Flight 800 missile theory proves to be truthful or not, the documentary will remain memorable because of the fact that it shows widespread, blatant censorship of a very important group of people. Rather than encouraging public perception, the FBI and NTSB seem to loathe the very thought of it, canceling their involvement with the hearing, disregarding hundreds of witness testimonies, and offering facile justifications to their own story.

I do not consider myself a conspiracy theorist by any means, although I do experience a nice adrenaline rush and feeling of curiosity when searching them. The TWA Flight 800 missile theory is the closest theory I’ve come to believing; here we have several very smart, very credible individuals revealing information that is often smothered or disregarded with great detail and exposition. The film features diagrams, graphs, and several pieces of animation from both sides of the fence, going as far as to attempting to disprove the other side which only a handful of documentaries do nowadays.

At one point in the documentary, they discuss how the FBI tried to say that the object in question that was reportedly ascending was actually the back part of the plane when the nose flew off. When the nose broke off, it caused the remaining parts of the plane – the wings, the body, and the tail (all intact) – to rise up significantly and appear to stall before being consumed in fire. The film shows using a flight simulator program just how inane that idea really is. It’s gravity-defying and, dare I say it, impossible to believe.

A documentary trying to convince the public what they’ve been told from this point on is a lie and that they house the truth is unfathomably a tough documentary to make and a tougher one to sell. The conspiracy theorist-mindset is one that is still largely frowned upon in America, with many people believing they know all the answers. TWA Flight 800 passively welcomes another extremely likely point of view of the tragic plane explosion, attack, whatever you want to call it, and I applaud its bravery and its stunning amount of convincing evidence. The documentary ends with several of the specialists who have walked us through their theories speaking to the families of the tragedy’s victims. One of the family members states, “it’s frustrating because nobody gives a s*** anymore.” I have good news for her; this writer, previously ignorant to the events of the TWA flight, now, can confirm, he does indeed give a s*** about what happened.

NOTE: TWA Flight 800 premieres on the EPIX website and the cable channel July 17, 2013, the seventeen year anniversary of the incident.

Grade: A-

Reviewed by Steve Pulaski

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