Post Mortems

Debris Boss J.H. Wyman Breaks Down Fringe Star's Surprise Role in Finale, What It Means for (Possible) Season 2

Debris Finale Recap John Noble

The following contains spoilers from the Season 1 finale of NBC’s Debris.

Debris with its freshman finale not only threw a few more twists at Bryan and Finola, it did so while also unveiling a bit of top-secret casting that surely made fans of series creator J.H. Wyman’s previous sci-fi series, Fringe, geek out.

But first, to recap: George led Bryan and Finola to the location of what he has claimed to be a “mapmaker” piece of Debris. At the vast quarry, they discovered random people who had been led to the site to… stand. And stare blankly. And occasionally burst out in emotion, be it by laughing, crying, what have you. Meanwhile, we saw Anson Ash and another INFLUX agent meet up with Otto, played by — surprise! — Fringe favorite John Noble. And Otto, we and Ash soon gleaned, was up to no good inside the gas station mart, leaving behind several… um… reassembled?… bodies.

Back at the quarry, George explained that the found Debris in fact had the weight of a large building, psychologically tethered as it was to the people gathered around. And were they to sever that connection, the people would each have their memories completely wiped in the process. Finola insisted there could be a way to avoid that calamity, but, with Bryan on an errand, George confided that this piece of Debris was no “mapmaker” but a means of transforming the human mind, so they must sacrifice the strangers. And there was “no time” to argue… because INFLUX was en route.

Because George had called them.

Yep, Dad is bad. And sure enough, Otto and INFLUX got the drop on Finola, before using a cylindrical gizmo to emit a pulse that instantly severed the Debris’ connection to the crowd, collapsing an unprotected Bryan in the process. When Bryan stumbled up to the group, Otto excitedly recognized him as “the third man,” before escaping with the pals and the Debris. In the aftermath, a dazed Bryan explained that he and agents Garcia (who we’ve met) and Ming were hit by Debris in a long-ago event, and Bryan has been taking injections ever since to stave off… something.

In the finale’s final sequences, we saw an ominous “Sandman” figure following George and the INFLUX agents… Maddox using the Debris he traded with Irina for, to facilitate a conversation between wife Julia and their son Dario… and the “ball of light”/telesphere making its way to Black Water Grandfather aka Dakheya, who entered a cave to tell Brill, “It’s time” —  to which Sebastian Roche’s character replied, “Let’s begin,” as they both regarded a version of Finola that was held in suspension.

Yeah, it was a lot. (But hey, at least no fragments of Noah’s Ark, right?) Here is what series creator Wyman had to (crypticall) say about casting Noble, the origin of the “other” Finola, and much more.

Debris Series Order NBCTVLINE | As you’re coming up with this show, you’ve got the guy, you’ve got the girl, they’re partners, one of them has an addled father, and there’s weekly weirdness going on…. How do you decide that this is different enough from Fringe?
Well, for me it is because it’s dealing with different things. Fringe was a family sort of show, and this isn’t what Debris is about. Debris is its own thing. Every time you have a show that’s going to have things that are weird, whether its a science fiction show now or in the past, you can’t escape comparisons, but the thematic things I was concerned with in the era of Fringe are not what I’m concerned with now. This is something that allows me to dig into stories that are perfect for the people that are fans of what I do and the kind of science fiction that I like to do. The last words [of this finale] were, “Let’s begin,” sp a part of the fun was convincing people that this was a certain kind of show and then have it expand to include elements and aspects that you didn’t really anticipate.

I learned a lot from Fringe. It had elements of storytelling that went well, and I’m not going to deny that they’d be in my quiver, but thematically [Debris is] scratching a different itch for me.

TVLINE | Simply said, what question were you looking to answer with this show? What ideas were you looking to explore?
I’m obsessed right now with cynicism. I find the cynical nature of what’s going in the world just overwhelming. I think that people have sort of lost their belief in  wonder and awe and understanding the concept that maybe there’s something out there that we don’t know. That there is a possibility of something incoming in the concept of human connection, and how important it is to sort of be connected as human beings.

I’m really very concerned about this, so that’s what I write about. I mean, I’m always writing that life is valued by the human connections that you make, but this is a little bit more broad, to understand that we’re in an era where amazing things can happen, and we should understand that. It should give us hope.

I think that people have lost so much faith in so many things that I want them to believe in the possibility of great things, and the unknown.

Debris Noble ottoTVLINE | As you can imagine, I’m watching this finale and I have to pause and kind of catch myself and say, “Oh, wow” when Mr. Noble first shows up on-screen. Talk about how that came about.
Well, when I created the character of Otto,  I knew that there’s really only one guy — and I know that sounds cliché, but there’s really only one guy — that I really wanted to play him, and that was John. John and I have a very good relationship, and we did so much nice work together. My challenge was to try and find something that would highlight the things that John does so well that I feel are underrated about him. Because this guy’s an actor, man, he’s a deep, deep guy and capable of so much, and I think that was ignored largely during his time on Fringe. I’ve always said that it’s a crime, absolutely criminal, that he didn’t get more accolades for what he did there.

TVLINE | Oh, I watch Fringe‘s “My Very Favorite Thing” scene at least once a year.
That’s so funny, because he told me that he was asked to do [Cameo recordings], and that’s the most requested line. That line is what I used to call my son when he was young, and it made such a big splash. And John just loves that scene.

But I knew that had to give him something that’s going to be really complex. I couldn’t just call him and say, “Hey, I have this thing. Do you want to come and play for a little bit?” I had to give him the details of what was happening and who he was, and how he embodied it and made it come to life in three dimensions is exactly like we talked about, but even better. I’m just so thrilled to be able to have a chance to work with him again. I’m so happy that he’s on board because it’s a great character and where he goes and how he expands is really complex.

TVLINE | Would we be jumping the gun to say that in Otto, you have given a face to the Big Bad of this all?
I would say, one facet, yes. For sure. He’s very, very, very, very, very knowledgeable in those things that nobody else is, and there are reasons for that that we’re going to get into.

TVLINE | Otto at one point puts on goggles with different-colored lenses, and I immediately pulled up pictures of Walter and his Dr. Jacoby glasses.
That’s correct. That’s exactly why we did it.

TVLINE | Now, best I can figure, in the previous episode the Debris rifled through the cases at Orbital in order to build or release the telesphere, and that sphere made a beeline for Dahkeya, and I kind of feel like… that’s all a good thing? Am I on the right track?
Yes, you are. It is a good thing. People have mentioning “the ball of light” since Episode 2. [In the finale] it went to Dahkeya, and the question is why. Who is Dahkeya? The last thing that Maddox said, in Episode 11 when we first met Dakheya was, “As far as we know, Bryan, you’re the first person Debris has sought out.” So, that’s a nudge to like, “Oh, maybe there’s a whole other chapter to this I haven’t seen yet,” which is exactly the case.

TVLINE | Is there anything to read into the fact that Dahkeya is an indigenous person?
Yes. Partly, because there’s a spirituality of belief. There’s a history. You know, it’s interesting because a lot of people have asked about the timeframe [of that sequence] and, like, where is this? Who is [this other Finola]? Is she from another reality? What’s going on? When it comes to the aspects of what we’re getting into,  nothing is off the table, which I think is really fascinating.

Time is our construct. To an extraterrestrial, it could mean nothing. So, it could be a matter of seconds or a heartbeat. There’s a lot of story that’s coming out, and that aspect of what’s going on with Brill (played by Sebastian Roche) and who he is…. I directed people to assume that he was just some sort of interesting character that’s on the side, that we don’t really understand his motives—

TVLINE | I just thought he was just an MI6 stooge.
One who is carrying around, you know, versions of himself like some vampire might carry around a coffin to keep alive. [Chuckles] You don’t know what he’s doing, but ultimately, at the end, he’s the person that tells us very clearly, “Let’s begin.” The first season in my mind was always going to be a story that started with a whole bunch of pieces of debris that fell, and that’s going to allow us to tell cool stories every week. And that is one thing, but that’s not the thing.

TVLINE | Otto brought with him a new piece of mythology by referring to Bryan as “the third man.” Are we going to find out exactly what happened to Garcia and Ming?
We certainly are. We met Garcia when Bryan went to see him to get the tools that George needed, and we saw what happened to him physically. We see that his retinas are like tiny, tiny pinpricks, and his face looks like it’s been put back together, with him just devastated. Ming is a Chinese agent that will come into play, and what happens to Bryan obviously is really very important. And then when Otto says,”I know who you are,” he really does. Him saying that means a lot.

Debris PilotTVLINE | One thing some readers have been wondering, on a very practical level, is how different pieces of a spacecraft would exhibit such different powers. Do you have an idea of why that is?
You have to try and understand, like, how we could travel intergalactically. I mean, it’s so above our comprehension that these people are probably thousands and thousands and thousands of years ahead of us from a technological standpoint, so while people may think of the ship as “a piece of hardware” and ask, “How could a shovel do this?,” well, that’s not necessarily true. That’s not necessarily true. The pieces could be all connected. They could be intelligent. There could be anything that they imagine, and I hope that people go along with it and realize, “Man, this stuff is opening wormholes in Manhattan, it’s exposing dimensions, it’s manifesting people’s dead children….” There are a lot of things going on, in just no possible way that we can comprehend.

Debris Maddox WifeTVLINE | Did you sense that you might potentially test viewers’ patience with the scenes of Maddox (Norbert Leo Butz) at home?
I’m sure people can find faults in everything, but on the whole, thematically, was that important? Was it crucial? And the answer to that is yes. He’s the only person we ever went home with, and the viewers who are really smart are going to look at that and say, “Well, there’s probably a reason why he’s doing this,” and it’s OK to allow people to be with things and figure it out. It’s also OK to whomp people over the head with things they don’t see coming. Norbert is such an incredible actor, and the way that he and Jennifer [Copping] play those scenes… to me, that’s drama, man.

I love the idea that people weren’t trusting him. I love the idea that the end of the season, you still may not be able to trust him. But this is a love story between he and his wife, and she can’t get over something that happened in their past. He wants to make her OK and make her whole again, and that’s a beautiful thing from where I’m coming from.

TVLINE | I do wonder if it’s going to make him a different person in Season 2, now that he’s had some success on the home front.
Absolutely. But then he has to contend with the other gear changes that are going on around him, and what does that mean? What does this tale mean? Where is this going, with his son and his family reconstituted? Where does he go from there? What’s the next step? How long can this Debris work [with Dario]? Is it just to allow his mother to communicate that she loves her son for the last time, or is it an ongoing thing?

TVLINE | What do you want to say about that entity I’m calling The Sandman, who George saw walking alongside the road? Fantastic visual effect, by the way.
Thanks so much, and that’s a really cool name to call him. Basically, that is meant to allow us to understand that OK, there’s something that George and these guys know about. It’s very, very important when George says at the quarry, “There are things that I know about the debris that you have no idea, that you need to know.” And by seeing that creature, the Particle Man, that Sandman, hopefully you understand that there’s a whole bunch of story to tell that will ultimately be connected to George Jones, and we will come to understand he’s being pursued by him. When he wears that shroud of tinfoil to try and block his signal, it’s a bit of a nod to Captain Hook with the alligator who took his hand. It’s basically the idea that this this is pursuing him in a slow pursuit, and George doesn’t want to be found. Let’s put it that way.

TVLINE | And then the very last image, of this “other” Finola, you surely just want us to be wondering about it, right?
The one in suspension, yes. Absolutely, and  that’s a large part of Season 2. How did Brill come upon this Finola? Where’s she from? What does it mean?  It will be illuminated in Season 2, 100 percent.

TVLINE | Because when I spoke to Riann, she seemed to suggest that the Time Loop episode wasn’t done telling its story, so I wonder if that’s a possible lead.
She’s correct, but it’s not in the way that I think people would think. I just want people to entertain as many possibilities as they can. Is she a clone? Is she from another reality? Is she something else altogether? And why does Brill have her? And who is Dakheya? I wanted people to come away from this season with a healthy quest for answers and knowledge that will push them say, “Yeah, I can’t wait to see {Season 2], because I’m really starting to understand these characters and getting invested in their futures.