THE BIGFOOT FILES : Chapter Twenty-Three/ ‘The Mystery of Bigfoot’

“The Mystery of Bigfoot” is a 2013 episode of the History channel series titled America’s Book of Secrets. It begins with the 2012 death of Randy Lee Tenley on a highway in Montana. The 44-year-old man reportedly tried to create a Bigfoot sighting by appearing on the side of the highway dressed in a ghillie suit, but two motorists accidentally struck him with their vehicles.

After opening with the tragedy, the episode hits the high points of the Bigfoot phenomenon with interviews of eyewitnesses and anthropology professors before asking if the elusiveness of the cryptid is part of a U.S. government cover-up. The evidence of a conspiracy is thin, although the episode offers an interesting theory.

Citing the negative impact on the timber industry after the northern spotted owl’s addition to the endangered species list, the episode posits a similar aftermath if Bigfoot is discovered, legitimized, and added to the list. So, in order to protect the logging industry, the government tries to erase Bigfoot evidence. I’ve heard crazier hypotheses.

However, “The Mystery of Bigfoot” avoids a deep dive into the cover-up speculation and veers into the more familiar territory of following a Bigfoot hunt with high-tech equipment. It also features the Falcon Project, a nonprofit research endeavor using “an unmanned aerial vehicle outfitted with cutting edge videography equipment and deployed over ‘hot spots’ of reported activity.”

The episode mentions the 2008 Montauk monster corpse that washed up on a shore in New York. From there, it speculates that the nearby Plum Island Animal Disease Center is believed to conduct secret experiments on animals. The episode then jumps to the question of whether Bigfoot is an animal created in a government laboratory.

“The Mystery of Bigfoot” also covers the 2010 discovery of a finger bone in Denisova, Siberia, from which DNA testing indicates Neanderthal-like hominids apparently bred with modern humans thousands of years ago.

With a runtime of 43 minutes, “The Mystery of Bigfoot” asks interesting questions but fails to deliver any meaningful answers. For the believers, it does not offer any compelling new evidence. As one skeptic said in the episode, “We just need a body.”

NEXT UP: Chapter Twenty-Four: Sasquatch. I review Episode 1 of the 2021 Hulu series.