Spoilers ahead for the ninth episode of Debris Season 1, called "Do You Know Icarus?"
Debris spent the first eight episodes developing the characters, deepening the mythology, and answering some questions only to pose bigger ones. In this week's game-changing episode, Bryan and Finola went to investigate a case that turned out to be a lot more than met the eye. The episode went full Groundhog Day, but with a Debris twist that resulted in some big realizations and a doozy of a cliffhanger. Fortunately, star Jonathan Tucker shared some insight on what happened in "Do You Know Icaraus?" and what happens next on NBC's sci-fi drama.
The case of the week seemed about as normal as things ever can be on Debris when Bryan and Finola tracked a piece of debris off the coast of Washington, and they discovered a diver by the name of Shelby who revealed that he and his sister had found and used it to be transported back two days in the past over and over again, but this damaged reality to the point that his sister disappeared and was replaced. Determined to fix the situation and bring his sister back, Shelby kept on resetting, even after learning that he was messing with various realities.
The damage became so great that it began to affect the investigation, as Finola disappeared as Bryan's partner and was replaced by a series of others as Shelby went back time and time again. Bryan finally connected the dots quickly enough during one do-over that he followed Shelby underwater and managed to keep his memory in the reset, and the episode ended with Bryan desperate to get back to his reality... and that version of his partner. To do so, he recruited the help of this unfamiliar reality's Finola.
Jonathan Tucker, who played Bryan repeatedly going through the same motions while slowly registering that something was off throughout "Do You Know Icarus", spoke with CinemaBlend about the episode, the cliffhanger, and what happens when Debris picks back up next week. He shared his initial reaction to finding out that the show would introduce a Groundhog Day-style problem for Bryan and Finola with the dangerous Debris twist:
I thought 'This is why I'm doing a Joel Wyman sci-fi show.' When you're working in genre with a writer who knows how to navigate it, your hope is that you'll be presented with these sort of looming daunting challenges. And that's exactly what we have with Episodes 9 and 10.
Former Fringe executive producer Joel Wyman not only created Debris and serves as showrunner, but has also written a number of the episodes of the show's first season. Fringe proved that Wyman had plenty of experience with a sci-fi show chock full of twists and turns, and according to Jonathan Tucker, the "looming" and "daunting" challenges in Episode 9 will continue into Episode 10. Tucker elaborated on the build to these two episodes:
We knew that these two episodes were coming. It was fun to anticipate them, and it was even more exciting to be able to shoot them. We cross-boarded those episodes, and then we would block shoot a lot of the scenes, because we're shooting the same scene four different ways essentially, right, so they're not gonna move the cameras, and complete each scene doing the coverage on the other side. We're gonna shoot all of our stuff, kind of in a row, and then turn around and do everybody else's.
Debris cycled Bryan through enough partners during the resets that it was easy to lose track of the names and faces, and even he wasn't sure by the end. Bryan was doing more or less the same thing with each of those partners, and Debris found a way to film the big sequence that was seamless despite the challenges. According to Jonathan Tucker, a lot of careful planning went into making sure that everything went smoothly:
I will say it's a good opportunity to underscore an extraordinary director named [Padraic] McKinley. I think TV directors can sometimes get lost in the conversation. But this was a good opportunity to underscore what truly flawless work he did in pre-production, so that it was a smooth execution on the day for 9 and 10. As I remember, going to bed like the first or second night and being petrified that somehow we missed a beat or the emotional notes were not right. Or there's just some sort of continuity issue. But I gave him a call, like, at five that morning, I'll say. 'Did you miss anything? Did we get everything?' But we got everything. He had charts, Excel spreadsheets and boxes, and then is just there to be open on the day and present, be a strong supporter for performance.
The smooth execution through the majority of the resets made it all the more striking when Bryan finally realized that something was very, very wrong, as well as established why his latest partner thought he he snapped out of nowhere. Everything happened very fast once Bryan made the dive along with Shelby, and it packed an emotional punch as he came to the realization that he really wanted to get back to the Finola in the reality he'd left behind.
In fact, Bryan came right out and told the new Finola that a version of her was who he was trying to get back to, which was surprisingly emotionally open for him. Even Bryan reacted like his drive to get back to not just his reality, but specifically to that reality's Finola, was a surprise to him. Jonathan Tucker weighed in on whether Bryan's strong feelings about the dynamic with Finola had existed beforehand, or the loss and replacements resulted in the realization:
That's a good question. I think it's the loss that drove it home. I don't think he's the sort of character that can only appreciate a sunny day when it's raining. This is not a romantic relationship. It's a somewhat new relationship. They've been driven together by the sacrifices that they have seen Influx make in order to win. And they've had to recognize that the only way for them to succeed is to trust one another, and to work as a team. But the disorientation, the sense of loss, the inability to muscle out a solution, all of that has made it clear in [Episodes] 9 and 10 how important his relationship is with this other woman.
Debris has developed a complex relationship between Bryan and Finola without turning it into something romantic, and "Do You Know Icarus?" proved that it means a lot to at least one half of the partnership. And I'm guessing Finola would say the same if she was the one in his situation! As for how Debris combined the case of the week and layers of the mythology with the character focus, Jonathan Tucker explained that as a goal for the show:
We've been working towards that the whole season. Trying to adhere to the commitments that we have all made, and for which we're grateful to the network and the studio for allowing us to do, which is to unravel or to reveal these characters, not in just the pilot or the first two episodes, but over the course of an entire season.
Throughout the course of the first season, Debris has drawn comparisons to some other sci-fi TV shows that took their time in building a foundation and went on to long runs on television. A comparison to Fringe with Joel Wyman running the show was natural, but as more episodes have passed, I for one have felt myself thinking more and more about The X-Files. Jonathan Tucker shared his thoughts on the comparison of Debris to other genre series:
I mean, Scorsese talks about the director that influenced him. And so does Tarantino, any director worth his or her salt will reference all the movies that are a part of their repertoire... Scenes that are tip-of-the-hat sequences that they'd like to replicate or offer a nod to. Inspirations. And if you're not willing to acknowledge that every show or performance is in conversation with another then I think you're missing out on a better understanding of how the world and our craft of storytelling works. It becomes particularly important in specific genres. And we are working in concert, in conversation with the shows that have come before us, that have resonated so powerfully with audiences, The X-Files being one of them.
Unfortunately, Debris viewers will have to wait to find out what exactly is in store for Bryan and the show's original Finola after the events of this episode, so only time will tell if the realities can be returned to where they began, with everybody where they belong. It's hard to imagine this case being resolved without some consequences, but only the next episode can tell for sure.
The next episode, called "I Am Icarus," will air on Monday, May 3 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. The mystery is only going to deeper as Bryan and Finola try to right what went wrong and save reality, so be sure to tune in! If you've missed any of the episodes to this point, you can find them streaming on Peacock now.