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Debris - Supernova & You Can Call Her Caroline - Double Review

15 Apr 2021

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Debris marches on with two rather dark more serious episodes with Supernova and You Can Call Me Caroline.

Last time we left off INFLUX leader Anson Ash was taken into custody by the CIA. Finola found out from her M16 handler that the CIA believes that Finola's father is still alive and that Bryan knows about it and has been keeping it a secret. We also met a mysterious new M16 agent named Brill (confirmed in this episode) who warned Finola that she can't trust M16 either (which we also come to see Ferris hold Dee Dee at gunpoint and call her sister to get her to come home at the end of 1.07).

This has left Finola in a precarious situation, but still she chooses to follow her handler's suggestions in trying to mislead Bryan and CIA, which Finola begins to do in Supernova, but by the episode's end when Bryan learns that the CIA is going through her apartment and he is asked to find out Finola's password for her computers, he confesses to Finola. Finola then in return also confesses that she knows, they know and that she feels that they can not trust either of their handlers or the agencies that they work for. She sets out with a plan that they have to work together in order to figure out what it is they don't understand about the bigger picture that seemingly CIA and M16 do. Bryan agrees, although he continues on in the next episode being a bit reluctant...

The reason I started with this idea is because it ties into the philosophy being debated at large through INFLUX's Anson Ash. In the last episode we briefly heard him explain to Finola that INFLUX's mandate is the "free" the technology. That is followed through in both Supernova and You Can Call Caroline, as Ash repeats himself to Maddox, pointing out that all the government agencies want with the debris is global domination, and that he believes it doesn't belong to them. This prompts Maddox to believe that Ash believes that means that it should just be left for whoever to find, as he gears up for an new kind of brain-imaging interrogation scene, ultimately proving Ash's point about the brutal nature of the intelligence community and how governments operate with dangerous technology, but in truth Ash never perfectly confirms what he means by free or whom should have the tech, if not the government(s).

However, we also witness Maddox make contact with the Russians again, finally getting a sample of the debris piece he wants. What's sort of curious about this, is we know Maddox seems to have a more personalized agenda in trying to cure his son putting him at slightly at odds with the way Ash presumes Maddox actually is or where his loyalties actually lie (or shows that the two men maybe are not as far apart as they seem), but yet the debris gun in 1.06 seems to have the right kind of properties, where the Russian piece's value hasn't really materialized (on the show yet), outside of showing us it's active and can cause a top to levitate. So it's curious that Maddox hasn't seemed to get his hands on it yet...

It also turns out that Anson Ash is an ex military SAS agent and that's important too because it creates a juxtaposition with Bryan's past that ultimately feeds into the You Can Call Me Caroline episode.

The cases of the week in both episodes were exceedingly strong. In Supernova the Orbital team is called to scene to find 3 missing elderly persons who have been found dead at a kind of rapidly deteriorating state with a lot of high energy static around them. The learn from a local women who was out walking her dog and who found the people, that she also saw teenagers leaving the site.

As it turns out after tracking down other missing elderly and coming to watch two of the teenagers named Clara and Kurt, that they really are not teenagers at all, but rather Kurt was also an old man and once engineer, who found a debris piece shaped around a gun that could reverse the age the process. His wife was in a facility for a debilitating disease and was able to reverse her age and free her.  But the debris gun comes with a stipulation that you have to be in some kind of short proximity to it in order to stay young, otherwise the process is dramatically reversed like a sling shot and one ages and is dead rather quickly. They also come to believe that the more people they have age-reversed, the further away they can all be from the debris, but as proven by the opening scene in the episode, that comes with mixed results. 

At the end of the episode, after Oribital team is able to apprehend two of the newly made teens Caspian and Jose,  and Bryan and Finola try to discuss the ethics with Kurt and Clara, they decide to leave the debris gun behind and go out into the wilderness to die together. (So do we think the Debris gun came like this or did someone on earth create it for someone else to find? I'm on the fence.)

As for Jose and Caspian, the Oribital team thinks they can reverse the process, but so they could be the ages they were before the debris was used. For Jose in particular, who started out wanting to die, he tells Finola that he is so grateful for the debris, because it gave him something back he missing and he is going to fight everyday to stay alive as a long as he can.

The next episode You Can Call Me Caroline, takes Finola and Bryan to main to follow up on Anson Ash's phone call records, which leads them to Maine to man called Liam, who was going to sell some debris he found in the marsh behind his house on the black market, seemingly to INFLUX.

But by the time they arrive a strange event had happened where all of the people at the dock where Liam was waiting all began to freeze, except for a women named Linda and Liam. Linda takes the bag from Liam and leaves. Liam fights for his life, as something is making him point his gun at his own head. He sadly dies. When they catch up to Linda, the bad is missing and she has no memory of the earlier events!

Bryan and Finola then come to meet Liam's brother Luke, a former soldier, and Liam's daughter, Caroline. Bryan begins to build a report with Luke given they share history being in the middle east. 

It doesn't take long for the audience to learn that there is more debris in the marsh and that Caroline has the ability to kinetically fish it out, as somehow Bryan and Finola leave without even exploring the marsh itself.

As it turns out the debris behind the house has some kind of kinetic and mind control properties that are given to those that are in contact with it and that Luke and Caroline both have acquired some of these abilities. For Luke however, his goal is to seek revenge on the US government because of the way they use their soldiers in military operations, believing them to be expendable and for some unexplained reason, Caroline was the only one who could retrieve the remaining pieces, and so he basically had made sure no one, like her mother, would come for her by using the mind control on others. Luke was also then responsible for his brother's death, making sure that Liam didn't sell the debris (some irony though, huh? INFLUX pretty much seems to feel the same way...).

Finola and Bryan almost leave the state before they begin to remember what was happening. Bryan and Finola are able to meet Luke at the air force base where Bryan tries his hardest to reach out to him, but Luke is so upset angry and desperate that he also begins to make Bryan take out his gun and aim it at his head with Finola not able to physically do much of anything. But no fear, Caroline is here! Her will and connection to the debris is stronger, and she is able to override Luke and save Bryan and Finola! By the episode's end she is finally reunited with her mother!

Other things to touch on is, what exactly is going on with Bryan? We saw him have to take blood work "early" in 1.07 and we have continue to wonder if this relates to the "clone" case, or if there could be something older and more nefarious going on here? Luke pointed out that Bryan was in a rather "serious" division of elite soldiers when in Afghanistan, but that the audience sees Bryan struggles to go against Maddox, because somehow Maddox literally saved his life. But with all of these themes about the evil Government using it's solders and warfare in such destructive ways, could it be that Bryan himself is by product of some [debris-related] experiment? After all we have hardly been given any info on his past before joining the military and this would give Bryan's occasional reluctance to get too close, some deeper meaning than simply being a soldier who suffers from PTSD.

These last few episodes have been really quite excellent, balancing a nice serialized aspect with poignant cases of the week that are spawning great ethical and philosophical debates about weaponization, ownership, quality of life, death, grief, fear, bio-terrorism, and ultimately human purpose. I just can't wait to see where this is all going!!

The Fringe Factor

Supernova really combines elements from four Fringe episodes, three of which have been touched on before in previous episodes.  Those episodes are The Transformation, Midnight, and And Those We Left Behind.

Unleashed is the episode where the teenagers discover and unleash something from a lab near the MIT campus.

The Transformation is the case that ties into John Scott's undercover NSA case (and loosely ties back to The Ghost Network), in which Olivia eventually is able to clear John's name. We learn that the operation was leading to man named Conrad, who was interested in this virus that literally turned people into an animal-monster! It was suspected that perhaps this tied into a ZFT cell, but it was never confirmed and the story didn't go anywhere after John Scott finally dies. 

If The Transformation was like a post modern retelling of Werewolf myth, then Midnight is post modern retelling of vampire lore. In this episode a scientist named Dr. Boone is trying to save his wife from a rare disease, in which she needs spinal fluid in order to stay alive. He was no longer able to allow her to consume his, so he would help her find other victims. She also didn't remember what she was doing!

And Those We Left Behind, we have similar situation where a scientist abuses the laws of physics, so he can save his wife, so she can work on her equation, so she can eventually save herself. But before that occurs, his wife has moment of clarity and basically tells him this is not the way and we must accept fate.

You Can Call Me Caroline is bit more thematic and character related to Fringe, more than it speaks to any episode, although The Ghost Network seems to continue on as a kind of conceptual through line (not to mention the way the women Linda took Liam's bag is familiar to the bag on the bus that unleashes the amber).

But ultimately everything about both Caroline and her kinetic abilities and the idea that seemingly the debris chose her, along with the theory that perhaps Bryan is some kind of "super soldier experiment" all plays on Olivia Dunham and the cortexifan trails of William Bell and Walter Bishop. Subject 13 is pthe episode we learn more about the plights of Walter and William, but as David Robert Jones begins to weaponize Olivia, really the entire series showcases what she can all do!

What I'm really curious about is why the debris seems to speak to some people like Caroline and Finola, and what it means that it seems to have different voices with some of the debris being able to mind-control other people. This leaves us with a great debate if the debris was ever talking to anyone at all, or if someone(s) in particular is/are talking through it??? 

Anson Ash definitely feels like he's "tapped" into something, but I can't help to think that Jones could turn out to be a bigger figure head behind INFLUX, but I'm also not ready to let go of my Brill is an alien theory and that the aliens and/or the debris itself do actually have a purpose, one that maybe relates to finding peace...But Finola though seems like she meant to become central to the debris at some point and I am extremely curious if she will ever be able to start doing some truly interesting phenomenon or if her role here will remain more paternal without any great power to other people?

So what did you think? Enjoy these last few episodes? Have a favorite part or theory? Any other easter eggs you noticed (poltergeist anyone!)?? Sound off in the comments below!