Watching Close Encounters is a lot like binge watching a season of your favorite TV show in one go. That's because the narrative technique it employs is episodic.
Imagine your favorite TV show with a continuous storyline—Dexter, Breaking Bad, The Wire, Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, whatever. Each episode you get a little information about each character's story. The characters might bump into each other and their stories merge, but other times they don't do anything together for a whole episode. Then at the end of the season, all of the storylines come together for the season finale, concluding the various conflicts and setting everything up for the next season.
Whichever your favorite is, chances are it follows this formula closely—unless, of course, it's Game of Thrones. Winter is coming; it's just taking its sweet time getting here.
CE3K follows a similar formula in its narrative approach. Each scene (read: episode) gives us information about the UFOs or the characters and their individual conflicts. When taken as a whole, each scene moves the larger story forward, but each character's story is largely self-contained.
Roy's family drama has no bearing on Lacombe's search, and Lacombe finding Flight 19 or the Cotopaxi doesn't affect Roy in the least. The scene at Indianapolis Air Traffic Control Center is entirely self-contained. Jillian and Roy occasionally help each other in learning about the UFO phenomenon, but the major events of their stories—Ronnie leaving Roy and Barry's abduction—are handled separately.
Like a show ramping up to its season finale, all the stories begin to merge around Devils Tower. Roy and Jillian team up to sneak into the evacuation zone. Roy meets Lacombe for the first time, and sharing his experiences gives the French scientist an important piece to the UFO puzzle.
The season finale is, of course, the arrival of the mother ship, an event that brings all the characters together and resolves each character's conflict. Jillian reunites with Barry, Lacombe makes first contact with the alien visitors, and Roy journeys into space with the mother ship to discover the truth.
Even Roy's family drama comes to resolution, as they'll all likely be very old or dead by the time he finally returns to Earth. So… yeah, glad they never made that sequel. That seems dark.