DEBRIS' Riann Steele on Finola's Unconventional Time Loop - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

DEBRIS’ Riann Steele on Finola’s Unconventional Time Loop

May 3, 2021 by  

Debris Riann Steele

DEBRIS — “Do You Know Icarus” Episode: 109 — Pictured: (l-r) Jonathan Tucker as Bryan Beneventi, Riann Steele as Finola Jones — (Photo by: James Dittiger/NBC)

DEBRIS’ Finola (Riann Steele) and Bryan (Jonathan Tucker) are stuck in a miserable day…and it could lead the very collapse of the world.

On the last episode, “Do You Know Icarus,” the MI6 agent and her CIA partner tried to get to the bottom of a new Debris piece which accidentally erased a young man’s sister from existence. Shelby (Keenan Tracey) realized that he could restart the day and try and return his sister back to the timeline by returning to the figurative scene of the crime…but it also meant different realities were spawned each time, with its inhabitants unaware of what was going on.

But when Bryan accidentally restarted the day with Shelby, he was horrified to discover Finola wasn’t with him…and he had an entirely different partner.

“We always knew that [episodes] 9 and 10 were going to be shot together, and we had the basic understanding of it and what was going to happen,” Steele recalls. “I don’t think I fully understood the mountain of work, and what a beast it was going to be, until we got to very few days before and you’re reading the episodes and preparing. You’re like, ‘Oh, my God. You are not only block shooting, but the scenes, which subtly are so different, have the same dialogue that is slightly [tweaked].’ So even that requires a different part of your brain to learn.”

And then there was trying to keep track of the different Finolas. “[It was] making the decisions of the subtleties of that character, and tracking it,” Steele says. “At one point, I had colored pens out, post-it notes; I had it all kind of mapped out, bubble diagrams. Anything you could think of, I did, stuck to my wall. I learned very quickly, when we shot it, this was going to be a very different type of beast. I decided, I’m just going to have to let go and just almost surf this wave with everyone else. Trust that costume’s got a handle on, ‘Are my earrings in or out? Am I wearing this jacket or this jacket?’ This departments got a handle on that, this departments got a handle on that, and just kind of freefell in these episodes.”

“We have a great director [Padraic McKinley] at the helm; the task he had ahead of him to keep track of everything and film everything [was enormous] and we trusted him implicitly,” she continues. “And just let go and live so truthfully within these moments…But it’s still challenging. And you have to build these different realities so quickly. So it was just a gift of an opportunity as an actor to live within these different realities.”

With the show still in its first season, Steele was still leaning the ins and outs of Finola when tasked with creating these alternate personas. As a touchstone, Steele relied on whether Finola’s father was alive in the reality she was currently in—and how that would shape her.

“If in the reality where your father was alive, you’re a very different person, there’s a confidence and a wholeness within you,” she points out. “And how does that ripple out into who she is and her relationships with people and her relationship with the partner that she has at that moment? The one scene, which was very small, and pivotal, for me understanding Finola between these two episodes, was just the one scene where we meet Finola in London, in MI-6, but she hadn’t left [in episode 9]. And in that, we are seeing her father had passed away, and we see a Finola who didn’t make the decision to go to Orbital, to go to America. And who is that person that stayed?”

“She stayed to be with her sister,” she continues. “When we first see [the sisters] speak in episode 2, I think you have Dee going, ‘You have to come home, why can’t you come home?’ And Finola has made a decision, out of survival, that she needs to leave and look after herself. Otherwise, she’s going to implode. Her grieving process requires her to leave and heal that way. And so this is the Finola that didn’t, who listened to her sister and stayed to help.”

That Finola, Steele admits, was moved by Bryan’s call to her. “This is also a testament to [showrunner] Joel [Wyman]’s creation and writing, that I wanted Finola to be changed at the end of story, with this person that she’s speaking to over the phone, that knows her in another reality,” she says. “That reliving the story between the penguin and the soldier, when she puts down that phone, I wanted people to feel that she would go, ‘I’m going to make a change with my life.'”

The moment also proved big for Bryan, who admitted his own desperate reason to get back to the original timeline: he wanted to return to Finola.

“I think she knows [how much he cares],” Steele admits. “In episode 8, when they both are revealing themselves, immediately, at the beginning of the episode [what each] handler has said, they have this kind of explosion. She begins to reveal her true thoughts about Maddox, which she has held on thus far. But the fact that Bryan decides in that moment to align himself with her and go against Maddox, not knowing how it’s going to play out—and she is also worried about him. She says to him, ‘But what about you? What does that mean for you when Maddox finds out that you have disobeyed an order,’ knowing the momentous decision that he made. He is with her throughout the whole journey.”

And while the moment may have been emotional for fans to witness, they weren’t the only ones blown away. “Really and truly, me, Riann, watching that episode 9, at the end, where he says, ‘I’m trying to get back to you’…the way he read that line? My God. My heart,” Steele gushes. “I wasn’t in that scene. The way we film, I wasn’t there speaking with him, [because] I film my part of the conversation and he films his, and then they’re edited together. So I don’t know his delivery until watching that moment. I’m watching, like the audience. It just is the payoff of everything we’ve done and built in this relationship and everything they’ve been through to trust each other. It’s just paid off in that moment. And you just can feel the depth and of their connection with each other.”

DEBRIS, Mondays, 10/9c, NBC


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