by Chuck Duncan
Guest Cast: John Noble, Sebastian Roché
Well that's one way to guarantee yourself another season ... or piss off the fans when the network decides to not renew the show. Of course when the season finale of Debris was being filmed, there was no clue as to how the series would fare in the ratings. It's not unexpected that the season would leave off on a major cliffhanger or two, but the show remains on 'the bubble' -- along with a few other NBC series like Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist, Good Girls and Manifest -- that have not received any renewal or cancellation news thus far even though the network's Fall 2021 schedule has already been announced. But the episode did give us a few answers and left us with more questions.
Let's get the minor storyline this week out of the way, shall we, and we'll pat ourselves on the back for assuming Maddox was going to use the debris to help his son in some way. And it came probably in the nick of time. The scenes with Maddox at home were also a little perplexing because the last time he was at home, there was a packet of divorce papers on the table and his wife and Dario were gone. And that was after several time loops that had finally reunited Bryan and Finola. So now we're kind of left wondering exactly which of the universes we saw during those jumps this episode is taking place in (and that also comes into play in the last scene). We knew from the previous episode that Maddox was about to meet with his Russian contact Irina. They did meet, and there were two cases, one that we saw with a piece of debris. Maddox told Irina that she was not leaving with that case, but there was another door open to her. She must have accepted the cryptic offer because he went home and Julia, who had been trying to communicate with Dario through flash cards, had gone to take a nap, looking over a table full of medication. When Maddox arrived, it seemed she wasn't going to wake up, but she did and she was happy to see him, saying she almost made a terrible mistake. But he took her to Dario where he also had the debris set up and activated, and Dario said "Mom" to her. Now we don't know if the debris is just a short-term solution, but for the moment it has made Julia very happy, and Maddox seems to believe this is how to save the marriage.
The rest of the episode centered around the debris that George had located. While waiting for Bryan and Finola to pick him up from the antenna station, he saw what looked like a humanoid figure made of particle, possibly more pieces of debris, walking toward the station. He told Bryan they needed to leave now, but would not specify the urgency. He directed them to a quarry nearby, one that we saw at the top of the show where people had begun to gather. Seeing all the cars when they arrived, they also found the people, standing and staring, occasionally exhibiting an outburst of emotion, from tears to laughter to anger and surprise. (Incidentally, does anyone else think this quarry looks like the same mountainous area from Bryan's Afghanistan flashbacks?) They find the piece of debris and conclude that it's somehow drawing energy from the emotions of the people who were drawn here. And all of the people there from within a 25 mile radius all have newborns, so their emotions are already running high which made them perfect targets.
Bryan assumes they need to shut down the debris to help the people and goes off to get the MUs, but George tells Finola that shutting it down won't work. They can't move the debris in its current condition because being tethered to the people has given it the weight of a large building ... and disconnecting them will completely erase their memories. But that is the only option they have because Influx is coming and they need to move the debris. Finola is confused as to how George knows Influx is on the way but the answer is quite simple -- he called them. George has been working with Influx the whole time! Talk about a betrayal. And we know Influx is coming after we are taken to a gas station where Ash and Loeb are waiting for someone. I assumed it was going to be Brill (Sebastian Roché), but it was a huge surprise when we saw who the man was that exited the gas station -- John Noble, aka Walter from Fringe (a show created by Debris' creator J.H. Wyman). But he's not Walter (although that would have been a delicious twist to learn this was a continuation of Fringe ... and how many times have I compared this show to Fringe, and I didn't even know the Wyman connection?), he's Otto, and he seems to be one of if not the Influx big bad.
They arrive at the quarry and manage to sneak up on Finola, disarming her. George tells them they have to break the connection now so they can move the debris, and Finola asks what happens to Bryan? George just says he'll be making a noble sacrifice because this debris isn't a map-making piece of tech, it actually enhances the human consciousness, and they cannot let Maddox and the US government take it to weaponize it, or any other nation for that matter. They are going to use it to change the world, and from the sound of it, George seems to believe it can be used to create some kind of harmonious utopia. George takes Finola's phone and calls Bryan to tell him the MUs won't work but to stand by as he formulates a new plan.
Otto sets up a metallic cylindrical device (and dons a pair of goggles with red and blue lenses, a nod to the red and blue glasses Walter wore on Fringe, which was a nod to Dr. Jacoby's red and blue glasses on Twin Peaks) and they all ingest something that George tells Finola will keep her memories intact. She refuses at first, but George has Ash force it down her throat, and the cylinder is activated, sending a blast of blue light toward the gathered crowd, knocking them all to ground including Bryan. The debris is now light enough to move, but they're all surprised when Bryan shambles to their location, physically damaged (his right side seems impaired) but his memories are still there. They are all baffled by this but Otto isn't. He approaches Bryan and says he knows him, calling him 'the third man'. He holds his hand over Bryan's head, seemingly to read his thoughts, and says it was nice meeting him. George has tried to convince Finola that he knows things she needs to know about the debris, and that she belongs with her father, but after everything she's just been through she says he is not her father and opts to stay with Bryan. As they head down the highway, George and Loeb see the 'particle man' walking along the side of the road. They both look scared. Otto looks smug (I don't know if Ash saw him). As the car drove past, the creature stopped and turned around, walking in the same direction which the car was traveling.
She asks Bryan if he's okay and how he survived the blast and he finally reveals the truth about those injections he's been taking. Early in the arrival of the debris, he, Garcia, and Agent Ming (whom we've not met yet) were hit by debris. The injections he's been taking were prescribed by Maddox to keep ... something from happening. It looks like something just did. Perhaps is was the injections that kept Bryan from losing his memories. But where do they go from here? Finola can no longer trust George, Finola hasn't been in contact with MI6 since she got the Ligari files for George, and now it seems that their distrust for Maddox may have been slightly misplaced because while he's working with Orbital to weaponize the debris, he's also probably known more about George's involvement with Influx than he let either of them know. Is there a possibility that Maddox is an ally?
Then we get to the final scene. No one has seen or heard anything about the mysterious ball of light that flew out of the Orbital facility. The final scene revisits that head-scratching moment with the Indigenous man sitting in the desert. And here comes the ball of light, stopping at the man who identifies himself as Dakheya (identified as Black Water Grandfather the first time we saw him). He says the orb has been on a long journey and he walks to a cave with the orb following. Inside the cave is Brill. Dakheya says, "It's time", and Brill says, "Let's begin". The camera pans to ... Finola, contained within some sort of force field which looked like the different portals that were opening up in Shelby's house after all of the time jumps. So, is this a clone of Finola (she mentioned in a previous episode that if the debris downloaded all of Bryan's memories when it cloned him, then it has hers as well), or a Finola from another universe?
That question will only be answered if NBC (or some other entity) renews the series for a second season. Debris took a little time finding its footing, with the first three or four episodes acting as just another 'debris of the week' episode, but of course each episode was designed to show us what the debris can do. The over-arching mythology really began to get rolling with the fifth episode (where Influx was about to make half of Manhattan disappear), and kicked into high gear with the two-part time loop episodes. It's been great to see the stories go from mediocre to very gripping -- much as an 'origin story' does -- leaving us with an episode that is a real game changer for the series moving forward. Now we just have to hope that NBC will feel confident enough in the show to keep it going either on the network or on Peacock. They could even pair it with the excellent Resident Alien on Syfy. Come on, NBCUniversal, let's keep this show going!
UPDATE MAY 27, 2021 - NBC has cancelled Debris after one season.
UPDATE MAY 27, 2021 - NBC has cancelled Debris after one season.