Ok, we need to talk about this week’s episode of Debris. For several reasons.
If you watched April 26th’s “Do You Know Icarus?” then you’ll know the episode ended on a pretty spectacular cliffhanger that saw Bryan admitting to Finola that she was essentially his penguin, and he was her soldier before we smash cut to black and the credits roll. But what does it all mean? Let’s take this one from the top.
Things kicked off with Bryan and Finola stashing Dad George in a safe place with an old army pal of Bryan’s. Next, the duo realize that they can’t stay on the run, but must appear to behave as if everything is business as usual. With no one alive or present to say quite what happened during George’s attempted assassination and subsequent rescue by Finola, the pair decide to check in to their next assignment — a chunk of debris in the ocean next to a beachfront mansion.
It’s when Bryan and Finola knock on the door that things take a turn. It seems the house’s occupant, a young man named Shelby, has met both Orbital agents before. Many times in fact. Not only that, but apparently Finola has drafted in George to help him with his particular debris-related problem in many previous encounters.
It seems Shelby has accidentally erased his own sister from existence by repeatedly interacting with the underwater debris. The fool! The siblings discovered that the object creates a new version of reality for those who use it, and were happily and obliviously rewinding their day and starting over with subtly different outcomes … until Shelby found himself in a reality that didn’t feature his sister, that is.
Sometimes Shelby reappears in a timeline that features a little brother. Sometimes it’s a different little brother. Sometimes there’s no brother at all. But whatever he does, or doesn’t do by interacting with the debris, he can’t manage to bring back his sister or restore his original reality.
Via concerned phone call, George advises against using the debris any further. By his estimation, young Shelby is unravelling the very fabric of reality in his repeated attempts to get back to what he lost. However Shelby is undaunted and races off to try again — this time pursued by Bryan.
Shelby spectacularly swan-dives into the ocean, followed by Bryan, also spectacularly. I’m not sure if these actors are doing their own stunts, but bravo to whoever is doing the plunges. Bryan and Shelby struggle underwater, but Shelby manages to make the debris do its thing, and both are affected by the next reality switch up. That is to say Bryan suddenly finds himself in a new reality that doesn’t have Finola in it.
We watch, in a comedic montage (more of these moments please Debris writers) as Bryan repeats his day over and over again with a plethora of different agents — some familiar Orbital agents, others we have never seen before. Only Bryan is aware that none of these realities are his, and as Shelby uses the debris again and again, Bryan’s day is reset. We watch as his panic grows, especially upon discovering that George is deceased in many versions of his personal Groundhog Day. Eventually his latest partner, Grace, decides to call in the situation team because Bryan “has become affected by the debris.”
Interestingly, Maddox gives Grace full reign to stop Bryan using the debris again at any cost. Wow, thanks Boss! Maddox is a shoot first and ask questions later in every reality kinda guy.
Thinking quickly, Bryan makes a call to MI6, and asks to be put through to Finola Jones, who, luckily for Bryan, exists in today’s version of reality, although as an operative behind a desk. And in a terrible suit. And looking a little depressed. Like she’s wondering what life might have been like if she had joined as joint task force and worked with a wise-cracking sexy former CIA agent and had daily sci-fi adventures against somber rain-soaked backdrops. I feel you, Finola.
Bryan explains his predicament, and tells her he’s “trying to get back to someone who’s very important to me.” He then references a story about a penguin and a soldier George mentioned earlier that convinces Finola his wild story might just be true.
In the story, a penguin who is lost (like really really lost) finds herself in the desert (so so lost) and asks a soldier to guide her through to the other side. The soldier obliges. Apparently he does this a lot, risking his life to guide others to their “hearts desire” without ever wanting anything for himself and oh my God this story is totally a metaphor for Bryan and his tragic past and his inner pain. How did you know, George?
The penguin makes the following observation — “You fight so bravely because you want nothing. Because you are afraid to have something to lose. Because if you did your heart would no longer be steel.”
Finola attempts to explain what that means, but Bryan is way ahead of her. “You can spend a lifetime hiding from yourself what you truly want.”
Finola aks Bryan who he is trying to get back to, and he answers simply “You.”
Is Bryan admitting a love connection to Finola? If he is, isn’t this development coming a little out of left field? Recent episodes have worked hard to pit Finola and Bryan against each other as pawns in a bigger game between the CIA and MI6. With mistrust and lies forcing both Bryan and Finola to view each other in an unsavory light for some weeks now, it was only when Bryan committed to saving George that the pair found themselves back on the same trust footing. The connection doesn’t feel quite earned at this point in the show’s first season. I mean, I’m all for it, but couldn’t they make us wait four respectable seasons like every other show on broadcast TV?
On the other hand, Bryan and Finola don’t know each other very long, so Bryan’s statement about spending a lifetime hiding what he truly wants couldn’t feasibly apply to Finola unless the show’s writers really want us not to look too hard at that one. Perhaps Bryan just wants a penguin of his own he can finally love?
Or maybe too many dips into debris-tainted waters have simply driven Bryan insane?
The unexpectedness of Bryan’s eyebrow-raising admission aside, this was definitely one of Debris’ better episodes, with a bookend instalment “I Am Icarus” coming on Friday, that will hopefully see our favorite duo reunited.
Goodbye Grace. We hardly knew ya!
The show is also teasing more on Bryan’s backstory in May 5th’s “Asalah” and if you want to see Army Bryan (rocking a humungous beard) check out our photos from the episode here.
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