Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD for the Season 1 finale of Debris on NBC, called "Celestial Body."
Debris debuted on NBC this year to bring back the kind of layered and mythology-heavy storytelling that arguably hadn't been present on network television since the end of Fringe back in 2013. And it's no coincidence that Debris has been able to pull off what Fringe did so well, as Debris creator Joel Wyman served as showrunner and executive producer on Fringe. In "Celestial Body," Debris delivered a shocker for Fringe fans when John Noble made a surprise appearance as Otto, and Wyman opened up about how it worked out and what it means for the future of the show.
John Noble's appearance in Debris' Season 1 finale wasn't announced ahead of time. His name wasn't even in the opening credits as a guest star, guaranteeing that even fans who were keeping an eye on the bottom of the screen would have had no idea that the man who played more than one incarnation of Walter Bishop on Fringe was about to show his face on Debris. Joel Wyman explained why he wanted Noble for the role of Otto in an interview with CinemaBlend, saying:
I've really gone on the record for explaining how passionate I am about the fans of Fringe and of what I was doing and science fiction that I like, these kind of like-minded people that are really into this sort of thing. And I know it's gonna mean a lot to them. The little nods are all throughout the series... there's a lot of little nods and Easter eggs and things like that. So I was hoping that we could keep it a secret because John is such an amazing actor, and we did such great stuff together. And I've been looking for something that we could do that would be actually worthy for him to sort of expand his tools and use everything he's got as an actor, because he's just mesmerizing. And when I created Otto, my first call was to John.
John Noble is known for his performances in a number of projects, including Season 3 of The Boys for a reunion, Elementary, The Blacklist, and of course the Lord of the Rings films, but his work as Walter Bishop on Fringe allowed him to show just how versatile he is as an actor. According to Joel Wyman, Noble was sold on joining Debris despite the limited role he would play in Season 1. Wyman continued:
I said, 'Okay, I think I've got this thing, it's really fun. And I'd like to talk to you about it.' When we got into the character and who he was, and where he's going, John was thrilled, and we decided to do it. And I said, 'Okay, but the thing is, you only come in Episode 13, but then you'll be a very big part of the series.' And he said, 'Oh, this is fantastic.' He just personified everything I could have hoped for the role. And I can say that that character is going to be absolutely fascinating and terrifying and just multi-dimensional going forward. He's really got a handle on who this guy is, it's fantastic.
In case you somehow weren't already sold on Debris deserving a renewal for Season 2 after game-changer after game-changer in the Season 1 finale, the promise of more John Noble just makes more Debris sounds even better. At the time of writing, NBC hasn't announced a renewal for Season 2, but the stage has definitely been set for the story to continue.
And while there could have been no doubt that Debris would end Season 1 with all kinds of twists and turns, the show managed to keep John Noble's casting for the finale and beyond a secret. As somebody who did a double take when Noble made his first appearance in the Debris season finale, I had tell Joel Wyman how impressed I was that the secret managed to stay a secret, not even leaking on social media. Wyman shared my enthusiasm, saying:
I know, me too! I was amazed. I was just so amazed, but everybody on staff really loves the show. And like on Fringe, it had so many secrets all the time. It becomes like a family. Like, I just love that part of our business that everybody's working towards this incredible thing that's impossible to do. And everybody finds a way to do it. And everybody holds up a piece of the building. When they knew that John was coming, it was a big deal to a lot of them because a lot of the people on the crew worked on Fringe and to see him again, to actually have him work with us, it was so great. And I just said 'Okay, everybody, you have to keep it really quiet.' And they did, and everybody helped out and our partners at NBC really helped out. And like you said, in this age, it's very, very difficult.
Big twists on TV shows and movies can be hard to keep completely secret nowadays, and John Noble joining the cast of Debris didn't even leak when he was filming, and it remained unspoiled all the way through to the broadcast of the finale on May 24. The whole Debris team deserves kudos for pulling off the secret, which is sure to delight Fringe fans. And hopefully everybody else as well!
There can be little doubt that John Noble would make a stellar addition to the Debris cast in the event of a renewal for Season 2. The actor showed off his versatility on Fringe, and when I asked whether Otto on Debris would reveal a side of Noble that even Fringe fans haven't seen before, Joel Wyman explained:
Oh, my gosh, yeah. Totally different. As you can see from the finale, there are some very, very dark questions about him and what he's capable of, and who he is and where he comes from. And he's got this amazing ability... I gave him this laundry list of qualities that Otto has, and they were so detailed and difficult. And he was like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay, got it. Yeah. What do you need with this one? Okay. Yep, got it.' And then shows up and just crushes it and you're sitting there, you're watching, you're going, 'Oh, my God.' The guy's got such an ability. I mean, I personally think he's such a tragically underrated actor. I feel like it's criminal that he didn't get more accolades for his work in Fringe and what he did. But fortunately, now we'll be able to continue our journey together as collaborators. And hopefully we'll get a chance to show Otto to the world in ways that will blow their minds.
As a Fringe fan myself, I have to echo Joel Wyman's statement that John Noble deserves more accolades for his work as Walter Bishop, so hopefully Debris will continue and give Noble another run on a sci-fi TV show that makes the most of his considerable talents as an actor. For now, however, we can only wait for the news of whether or not Debris will return for a second season on NBC.
The first season is currently available streaming on both Peacock and Hulu, if you want to go back and rewatch earlier episodes with the knowledge from the answers that were delivered in "Celestial Body." If you're in the market for some upcoming TV options, our 2021 summer TV premiere schedule can point you toward some shows that are on the way soon.