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Debris - Asalah - Review

14 May 2021

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Bryan Beneventi has been a bit of an enigma, who tends to keep his feelings close to his chest, but after the time loop episodes have at least exposed Bryan's deeper feelings for Finola, so does this episode expose a deeper trauma from Bryan's past and begins to explain Bryan's reluctance to connect.

But the episode isn't perfectly a flashback episode either. Instead it used a geology teacher from Maryland whom stumbled upon some debris as a messenger to Bryan, but then also as transmitting conduit recounting conversations from Bryan's memories while on mission in Afghanistan, as Bryan becomes unconscious in some kind of neurological state, but where he is present and basically extrapolating through his memories.

It's revealed that the picture of a women that Bryan carries around was named Asalah. They began to make a connection when she repeatedly made contact with Bryan where his unit was stationed and pleaded to him to help her save her grandfather, essentially the only person she has left. Bryan is there to infiltrate and take out higher Taliban insurgence. And while Asalah shares her dreams of one day going to America and her love for music--the idea that music is food for the soul, she also swipes a camera and comes back to show Bryan that Taliban soldiers he's after are in her village, but again pleads for Bryan to save her grandfather.

Bryan eventually tells her where to take her Grandfather and that he will meet them there after the fighting is done, but for some reason Asalah came back to the village to warn Bryan about something and he accidentally shoots her in the raid! He takes her body to her grandfather...

But like I mentioned before, this isn't exactly Bryan just remembering. Throughout the flashback sequences Bryan sees and hears things going on at the CIA Orbital facility. At the end of the memory the Geology teacher appears again. Bryan keeps asking her why is she making him go through this again--and just at the moment he is about take her hand, Bryan is shot out of his extrapolation and wakes up (and the geology teacher dies!

Finola and Maddox had been trying to figure out what was going on. And although we have never really heard Finola admit her feelings for Bryan, there have been instances in her reactions, like in this episode, that are very telling of Finola having similar feelings. Finola fears for Bryan's life---being able to very quickly figure out that the pieces of debris' energy was able to transfer over into this teacher and theorizes that the clone of Bryan that another piece of debris made, also stored Bryan's memories and that the debris itself can communicate with other pieces and transfer data! But Finola is afraid that this state could kill Bryan and Maddox agrees, so they decide to use shock therapy to try and disconnect Bryan from the debris energy.

But whether Finola's theory is entirely true or not remains to be seen, as Maddox clearly has his own reasons for not wanting Bryan's past to continue to exposed. After all, we also learn that shots Bryan gets was meant to block debris connectivity, despite that Bryan doesn't believe it had anything to do with the shots (nor do we yet know exactly what they are), but moreover this may suggest a much longer connection with the debris than just the Bryan clone transferring his memories on!

As for Jones, the episode sets in motion his road trip by himself across the country from Oregon to Virginia, where he is off to get satellites he needs to boost his scanner's signal for some super dangerous piece of debris. The La Gaurde files also come through, but viewers are going to have to wait for debris' final two season one episodes to see where this is all going!

The Fringe Factor

As mentioned before Bryan has some elements that are similar to whatever Peter Bishop's original backstory was going to be, as the Pilot episode also has Peter doing business in Afghanistan before Olivia finds him, but his personality and other story elements point to his character being closer to Olivia. The fact that they are both soldiers, have trouble with long term relationships, despite being good with the average person, and both may have been experimented on with some kind of metaphysical substance (Cortexifan in Olivia's case), put the characters in a similar story bracket. 

But what we don't understand about Bryan's mystery shots (but did I hear something about "space dust"???) now makes me wonder, if he is not also about to go into Observer territory (Peter with Observer implant territory!). The Observers weren't aliens on Fringe, but advanced humans from a point in one future of a blue timeline, despite their look probably comes from David Bowie film, The Man Who Fell to Earth. And for a while now I had speculated that perhaps M16 Agent, Brill might be an alien from outer space, given the way he needs to use his alleged debris-clone for spare parts, suggesting that Brill either has radioactive degradation from being exposed to too much debris or perhaps the atmosphere on Earth doesn't suit him, but I admit my speculation may derive from a place where I just would like to see Roche` less as villain, and more as a complex anti-hero, more than having any hard evidence.

However, after this episode, the thought crossed my mind if maybe the aliens are going to be present in this story, then maybe they exist inside the debris itself and perhaps they need "hosts" to survive--this might also explain why some of debris might clone too--a way to maybe get a body without necessarily taking away too much from someone else---but I also wonder if maybe this is something that has already happened to Bryan? I almost half expect a story where we learned Bryan died, only to mysteriously have come alive again, but Bryan himself was never quite the same as the original Bryan.

The reason I've come to this idea is because it's easy to see that debris *can be used to make people, better people--Sure, Finola is one of the warmest characters in the series and a lot of the changes we have seen from perhaps Jones and Bryan are definitely inspired by her friendly compassionate motherly openess (and I definitely think the debris will come to center around her for this reason), but I also feel like the debris helps to open people up to other people--a kind of metaphysical heart trigger!

I also wanted to point out a connection to J.H. Wyman's and Bad Robot's TV show that came directly after Fringe ended, Almost Human

Almost Human was a buddy cop show about a hard on his luck injured detective who pairs up with an android-cop in the future. The series was pushing for story where perhaps a charming android exposes the good, bad, and the ugly of human nature, and where perhaps the android DRN (Dorian) pushes the disgruntle John Kennex to become a better person. 

While Fringe was all over David Bowie references, Almost Human started to make Elton John references. So it was curious to see Elton John resurface as something Bryan shared with Asalah--and how Asalah brought a metaphysical construct of music being food for soul into the preview of the series. Elton John's Benny and "The Jets" was featured in the episode, but Elton John has a lot about traveling somewhere else or 'space-travel' related songs from Rocket Man, Take Me to The Pilot, or Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.

Of course music as a metaphysical construct to explain away the nature of the universe(s) is metaphor that Bad Robot has used often, but none more so than LOST (See Daniel Faraday). The past two time loop episodes definitely felt like a bigger shout out to the Island-mystery-series, but even Asalah has some shades of Sayid's backstory/flash forward story of himself and Nadia--and his love story with Shannon (Sayid accidentally shot her!). One of Bryan's comrades was also named Jensen. Jensen was not a know character on LOST, but that surname appears as one of the Candidates on Jacob's Lighthouse Wheel!

And lastly, the way the geology teacher spat out parts of conversation also reminded me of Rebecca Madder's LOST Fringe character Jessica Holt. At the end of season four (Brave New World Pts 1 & 2) Holt seemingly was working for William Bell in effort to catch September--but at the end of the episode, Walter is able to hook a dying Holt's conscious to special equipment and they are able to get very cryptic vague information from her that leads them to William Bell. (I also theorized for this plot and John Mosley's plots from season 1 to work, I thought maybe Holt, Mosley, and S4 Bell were basically time traveling terrorists, but no light was ever shed on this...).

This is also similar to her role on LOST where a time-flashing Charlotte Staple Lewis' conscious becomes dislodged from all of the time-travel-jumping, being exposed to too much radiation given she was raised on the Island as a child, and begins to say things from her past self, including childhood.

Is Bryan maybe a heavy time traveler and the shots stop him from jumping in time? Is that where this debris thing going next? I guess we will all have to wait and see!

That's it for this week? Dis you enjoy the episode? Have any theories out there? Any other easter eggs? Sound off in the comments below!