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Debris - In Universe - Review

25 Mar 2021

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On this week's episode of Debris a storm is brewing, and I don't just mean the weather!

Bryan and Finola are taken to a farm in Nebraska where a new piece of fallen debris has made an atmospheric radius around parts of the farm and when some of the farmers step out of it, they begin to suffocate to their deaths!

It doesn't take the Orbital science team long to figure out that the debris is actually terraforming the space around the farm into a mostly chlorine-based atmosphere and that somehow the farmers inside have also somehow been transformed or acclimated to be able to breath the new atmosphere.

While this episode may not have been quite as good as last weeks, and I think earlier parts of the episode suffered from being a bit too systematic, it still had quite a lot to offer.

At the heart of the case is a man trying to get back to family, who is stuck inside the the farm. He's not the wife or the father of one women and her two young children, but rather her dead husband's brother, Efraim.

At one point he tells Finola he used to not really understand his brother for wanting to settle down and have kids with so many more mouths to feed, but after his brother died and he promised to take care of his brother's wife and her two children, that changed. And he couldn't imagine not caring about anything else.

As for Finola, her ongoing story with the possibility of her father being alive makes some big strides when her M16 hnadler makes a call a third of the way through the episode to tell her about it, and oh, also that Bryan and the CIA knows and have been hiding it from her and M16!

For Bryan, it was clear in last week's episode that he was pretty frustrated over not being able to tell Finola about her father, but this seems to be taken to new depths, as Finala begins to give some serious cold shoulders, -- and he is coaxed to put his foot down from an old military friend also working the case!

Everything in the episode comes down to finding a way to get the farmers out alive without killing them, as they need to remove the debris before the storm expands and engulfs more people. That is what Bryan's ultimate argument is, but Finola is not having it.

She recalls a piece of the debris, number 489, that had some kind of stasis properties, but it had never been tested on people. She doesn't care. If there's a chance of saving these people, then she is going to take it! She goes behind Bryan's back and calls the CIA. Finola also reconsiders how she handled Efraim, who was instructed not tell him the truth about what was going on.

By the episode's end, Bryan sees what Finola is really made of, as not only does the debris show up and actually work in saving the people's lives, but Efraim is given the opportunity to reunite with his family and joins them in stasis, despite that his family doesn't exactly know what's going on.

As mentioned above, I didn't think this episode was as good as last week's due to some execution issues early in the episode, but also because I feel like we don't have enough good recurring characters to ground Bryan and Finola in their universe better. Last week Munz really helped elevate the episode and while characters like April Han or Reed helped shape the episode a little bit, they were not used enough to make the audience really care about who they really are. I'm hoping more and more Oribital characters will reccur and will become a deeper fabric for the show.

But some of the other things I really loved about the episode was a combination of factors that etched between great cinematography, pushing Finola to place we have never seen her go before (Riann Steele just killed it), and the double entendre on "aliens", whether we were talking about the terreforming technology of the debris itself or the subtext back on South American & Mexican immigrants, who come to America to make a better life for themselves and offer something beautiful in return. This episode was reminder of humanity at both it's best (Finola), and it's worst (Agent Reed), --and the way some people get caught in the middle (Bryan, Efraim) and find themselves in unexpected ways.

Agent Maddox too, also continue to show more of human side to himself, as we see him at home with his physically challenged son. His wife, Julia tends to make him out to be paranoid in the scene after he answered her phone. It's hard to say if this a red herring about Julia or not, considering in last week's episode she panicked about their daughter not returning home when she was suppose to, but given the way INFLUX and M16 have been kept at arms length from the audience, I do feel like a shoe should drop there.  The other thing that is curious to note, is that Maddox is the one who approved for Finola to get the other piece of debris and Finola breifly mentioned that the government was interested in one day use it for curing diseases such as cancer. It stands to reason that maybe one reason Maddox is so invested in Oribital, is because he hopes he can help improve his son's condition...

I suspect given the fact that the farmers and their families were put in stasis, suggests that there will be a part two or semi-related episode somewhere down the line! And it's great that show is really trying to world this early on!

The Fringe Factor:

There were a handful episodes that kind of played with the notion of something alien. Earthling is one such episode where a cosmonaut brought back a shadow entity form outer space, that acts like a parasite, looking for hosts, but not before reducing human bodies to ash. This is one of the very few episodes that really had a kind of X-Files feel, being a rather stand alone episode that doesn't materialize and it ends in a tragic way where they had to kill to a man before the entity could jump again. This really plays on the  ethical debate Bryan and Finola had in this episode.

Similarly there is also the episode, Night of Desirable Objects, which is about a "creature" that is pulling people down tunnels in a cornfield. As it turns out, it was a story about a family who wanted a child, but the mother could not conceive, so the father, a geneticists, mutated the babies genes that made him a super mutant that needed to feed on people in order to survive. Again this episode ends tragically with a police car killing the super-baby mutant. (This is also the episode that introduced Megan Markles' Agent Jessup, which fans were quick to dislike as a potential Olivia rival and so she didn't last too last too long!)

I definitely feel like that the Debris' writing team might be counteracting some of these Fringe episode's in thematic subtext. While Fringe eventually had some great successes, there were surely a lot of episodes early on that were pretty tragic and so far, especially given Finola's fortitude, Oribital has been pretty successful.

But as I mentioned in the Pilot, I feel like a lot of Debris' story elements kind of feels like jumping into Fringe's third season both in the sense of piece-mealing the wave sync device together and because of what happens to Olivia and how Peter ultimately mistakes the red Olivia for the blue Olivia, begins to have an intimate relationship with her, while the blue Olivia is looked up in the red universe. It's not that Finola or Bryan have yet earned that kind of romantic relationship, but because Finola is so empathetic, more open, and seemingly trust worthy, it's easy to feel for her pain or disgust toward's Bryan. The turmoil is just so familiar, but I think it's fair to say we don't really know or understand Bryan much at all and that perhaps makes this situation a bit more intriguing.

Food also continues to be running gimmick. Much like how Walter brought food levity to Fringe, does Bryan do so here, (and not as well as Munz last week), but his thing seems to not just be a junk food eater, but things that are rather stale!  (And a side note: Slusho is brand featured in Cloverfield franchise, but it ran through a lot of Bad Robot's work including Fringe, but actually made it's first appearance on Alias. Very curious that Bryan had to have slushie at the beginning of the episode.)

One other Bad Robot connection to be made is that the episode was directed by Karen Gaviola, who also directed two episodes of LOST (Left Behind, The Whole Truth) and one episode of Alias (S.O.S.).

Well that's it for this week! Enjoy the episode? Have any theories or easter eggs you would like to share? Sound off in the comments below!