Debris Star Riann Steele Talks Finola And Bryan's 'Soul Connection' Between Realities And George's Fate

debris icarus riann steele finola jones nbc
(Image credit: NBC)

Spoilers ahead for Episode 10 of Debris Season 1, called "I Am Icarus."

Debris had a doozy of a cliffhanger to pick up on with "I Am Icarus" as the second half of a two-part Groundhog Day-esque plot with some very sci-fi twists for Riann Steele's Finola and Jonathan Tucker's Bryan. While last week's episode focused primarily on the show's main Bryan trying to get back to his version of Finola, "I Am Icarus" switched to largely focus on a version of Finola working with Bryan to set things right. The result was an episode that showcased the connection between Bryan and Finola, added some more twists to the already-twisty Debris plot, and delved deeper into the importance of George Jones, a.k.a. Finola's dad. Riann Steele spoke with CinemaBlend to untwist some of those twists.

Finola had to make a lot of leaps of faith in "I Am Icarus," as the universe was running out of resets before everything fell apart. She and Kathleen did need a few tries to get a handle on things and make contact with Bryan and Shelby in their reality, and it wouldn't have happened if Finola hadn't decided to trust her instincts about Kathleen, the debris situation, and the mysterious man who claimed that he knew a version of her, rather than follow protocol. The fate of the universe came down to four people, writing messages to each other through the windows into other realities.

Those scenes of Finola and Kathleen communicating with Bryan and Shelby packed a lot of the emotional weight of the episode, and Finola especially was juggling a lot as she processed what she was being told and with the prospect of talking to a living version of her dad, since the George in her reality was already dead. Riann Steele weighed in on bringing that emotion to the scenes that required nonverbal communication with Jonathan Tucker's Bryan:

It wasn't any different than every scene we filmed up until now that we're dealing with this debris, this otherworldly element, but it's existing and acting so truthfully in this moment. [It] speaks to the genre like sci-fi that you get to live these extraordinary experiences or this power of this debris, and yet you have to find the emotional truth in that scene. It's not like 'Oh my god, debris!' but you have the mission, and there's always an emotional weight to that scene and their relationship.

For as much as "I Am Icarus" and the previous episode served as a two-parter that was larger and more intricate than anything Debris delivered before, it was still the Debris that viewers have been watching over the past few months and the kind of case that the original Bryan and Finola have investigated together time and again. But it was very much a different emotional situation, not least because the primary Finola in this episode wasn't the usual Finola! Riann Steele elaborated on the scenes shared between realities:

So, even though we're in this world, you're still trying to reconnect a brother and sister together and work out what this debris is doing and you're meeting also Finola and seeing that, even from another reality there is the truth and authenticity to [her and Bryan's] relationship, which is that, even though she looks at him and doesn't know him, that in another reality that they do know each other, and she again follows her instinct and moves away from protocol and decides to help him. I just think speaks to the soul, the connection, the authenticity of their relationship. That it's based on something far bigger than, you know, even this world. It's like a soul connection. And there are so many other elements to it.

For as much emotional weight as the scenes between realities packed in an episode with sky-high stakes, the process of filming four characters split between two versions of the universe was actually straightforward. With all four characters in the same location in their respective realities, the task of selling the separation fell to the actors before the special effects could be added. When asked if she and the other actors were filming in the same room and miming the silent communication, Riann Steele shared:

We were! I mean, I love it. I love it so much. I think that's what it is to be an actor. As a kid you suspend all disbelief, which is so amazing when you watch little kids play together. I used to be a teacher's assistant, so I worked with always four-year-olds and I ended up doing drama with four-year-olds, and they are with you from the second you can say like, 'We are a lion!' and they are with you, walking, talking, thinking they're a lion. And so what I love most about acting is retaining that sense of play. So, you can put me in a room, I can absolutely believe that there is a different alternate reality in front of me, absolutely had to pick up a pen and paper and write. Like, I'm writing these notes there and then and holding it to him. I mean, I believed it. That's just the child in me that has that imagination and sense of play. But if you really look at it, yeah, we were in the same room together writing notes pretending we couldn't see each other.

This two-parter was notable not just for putting the universe at risk by visiting reality after reality, but also for Bryan's realization of how much his partnership with Finola means to him. Jonathan Tucker previously shared with CinemaBlend how much the loss of his version of Finola informed his realization at the end of Episode 9, and the Finola who was central to Episode 10 wasn't the familiar Finola. Riann Steele previewed when viewers will get to see Finola's realization of how important Bryan is to her, and the wait won't be too much longer:

In [Episodes] 9 and 10, we learn a lot of the importance of Finola to Bryan. It will be in Episode 11, and this is a real important pivotal episode that we as an audience get to really learn about Bryan's backstory and who he is and his journey, that it is in that episode that I think we solidify and Finola really, really learns how important Bryan is to her.

A "pivotal" episode is on the way to not only shed more light on Bryan's backstory, but also show more of his importance to Finola. Considering neither character remembers what happened in the other realities of the two-parter, it should be interesting to see their interactions moving forward. Not everything that happened was undone, after all!

For as much as these episodes emphasized Finola and Bryan's bond, however, they also illustrated their differences. Different versions of Bryan varied wildly, with one described as a war criminal without any sign that he had come back from it, while the versions of Finola were more or less consistent, and Riann Steele shared what that says about Finola as a character:

I think at the core of it Finola was always somebody – and she would have been this as a child – just very, very steady. Someone who has a strong sense of injustice, of right and wrong, and is ruled by her heart and her instincts... but the core of each Finola, which I hadn't really realized until I was... really prepping, was that a lot of these slight pivots are based on if in this reality her father was alive or dead. Her father who is her hero, who is her idol, who she has a complicated relationship with. I don't think he was the best father. I don't think he was a great father, wasn't always available and was consumed by his work, but just by him being alive, means you have somebody that is whole and connected and with him dead and not in her life, there is a piece missing, and that while she appears consistent, it was a great opportunity to play around with subtleties.

Fortunately for the main Finola – from a character perspective, at least – her father is still alive in her reality that has now been restored, although he's certainly not the man he once was after everything he went through and was put through. It remains to be seen how much trouble he becomes for her and Bryan, but hopefully Finola won't have to deal with losing him yet again anytime soon.

Find out what happens next for Finola and Bryan with the next new episode of Debris, called "Asalah" on Monday, May 10 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC. If you've fallen behind on Debris or just want to relive some of Season 1 to this point, you can find episodes streaming on Peacock now.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).