DEBRIS Post-Mortem: J.H. Wyman on that Final Moment Twist, Heartbreaking Betrayal, the Unexpected Guest Star, and More - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

DEBRIS Post-Mortem: J.H. Wyman on that Final Moment Twist, Heartbreaking Betrayal, the Unexpected Guest Star, and More

May 24, 2021 by  

Debris season 1 finale

DEBRIS — “Celestial Body” Episode: 113 — Pictured: (l-r) Tyrone Benskin as George Jones, Jonathan Tucker as Bryan Beneventi, Riann Steele as Finola Jones — (Photo by: James Dittiger/NBC)

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for the DEBRIS season 1 finale.]

The DEBRIS finale delivered a number of WTF-worthy twists in its final season 1 hour, as Finola (Riann Steele) was betrayed by her father, John Noble popped up as the mysterious Otto, and Brill (Sebastian Roché) was way more involved in what was going on than previously believed.

So what the heck comes next? Creator J.H. Wyman broke down the biggest moments and what that could mean in a potential season 2…

There is the haunting moment at the end of the hour with the second Finola. What can you tease about how that will play into season 2?
It was designed to allow you to come up with a whole bunch of theories, and hopefully none of them will be correct. [Laughs.] It’s supposed to allow you to understand that Brill, who we thought was pretty much a secondary character, actually turns out to know maybe more than everybody else. That there’s an intriguing mystery behind him and what he knows. And Finother, as I’ve been calling her, is also really, really, really important. So it opens up the possibilities of where we’re going to go, because you know I’m really specific, so I know exactly what’s happening and where I’m going to go. To introduce our story elements and new characters that you’re like, “Wow, okay.” The last line of Brill sort of sums it up, which is, “Okay, let’s begin.” Because it’s the end of [something and] the beginning of something new.

We saw a bit of alternate timelines/universes in the two-parter. How much should fans be looking back at that arc as a clue to what is going on in season 2?
Not at all. As far storytelling and things like that, really allowing me to be open-mind, like wow, it can happen on the show, that’s so cool, I think that that’s the greatest lesson, that these pieces are capable of incredible things. We’re going to see more of that as far as storytelling.

But as far as what season 2 is, that was just an element of the capabilities of the debris, and what is going to sort of be moved to the side is more of the case of the week that doesn’t relate directly to the mythology that’s going on. The entire purpose of the season finale also was for you to look back at season 1 and recontextualize everything you’ve seen. People mentioned the ball of light in episode 2 and 11. Basically, everything you saw was for a reason, the debris figuring out this emotional trajectory and understanding of what’s going on and getting to the apex of emotional convergence that George is very interested in. And where that’s going to take us beyond this direction I’m pointing everybody in.

Finola had to contend with her father’s betrayal in the hour, as well. How does this change her mindset going forward, in the face of that betrayal?
Yeah, it’s a big, big odyssey for her, because she starts out this person who lives in a sea of regret, that she couldn’t really get the relationship that she wanted from her father and then he’s gone. Then the possibility of this brilliant man being alive allows her maybe another chance to get the attention and sort of connection that she wants with him by becoming now a new role. And that new role is savior for him. Now, once she did that, she’s like, of course, now he’s going to realize my value, now he’ll really understand me and be forced to have this relationship that I’ve always quested for. Only then to have that sort of turned on her and realize that this incredibly brilliant man has depths and darkness that she didn’t even fathom.

Now, moving forward, is all going to be about her taking her own father down, which is a very, obviously, psychologically complex situation. But that’s what the goal is [now]: to take her own father down. So much is going to weigh on that, because he’s such an incredible man, and such a formidable opponent. Does she have what it takes to even approach being successful at that? It’s a really dynamic sort of mirror she’s going to have to look in and face some pretty, pretty heavy terms in that in that second part of the odyssey.

Speaking of complicated father figures, John Noble popped up as Otto, a mysterious figure. Outside of your FRINGE connection, how did that come to be?
It’s funny, because John Noble to me, as you know better than anybody, he holds such a dear place in my heart. I asked him—because he’s so talented and such a beautiful human being and we always said we were going to continue to work together.

And my challenge was coming up with something that would be worthy of John’s ability—not just some character that comes in and comes out and people can see his face. No. I know the things he was pulling off for us as Walter, and I wanted to be able to give him something that is as complex, in other ways, and is a different guy.

So, when I created Otto, I immediately thought of John. I said, “Okay, well, there’s only one person who could bring this guy to flesh and blood the way I’m imagining him, and that’s John.” So, I reached out and I said, “Hey, I’m thinking about this, what do you think? This is what I’d like you to do.” And he said, “Aw, man, I love it.” So he really sort of created this character that’s just fantastic. And Otto plays a very significant part in season 2 and the whole mythology of what’s going on. He’s a really, really important character.

Do you envision him to be a regular fixture in a possible season 2?
For me, the whole odyssey of what that character is, and the journey of what that character is, is really important to the show. The chapter that I would tell in season 2, he’s definitely involved in, and important to. Usually, we’re getting 13 episodes, so he would definitely be a part of it. And I would say, it wouldn’t end there.

Obviously George was a different kind of father dynamic for the show, but what was it like getting to write John into scenes with him?
John read everything and knew every element of the script, and knew what everybody was doing and understood what’s going on. I knew that, in reality, George is nothing like Walter. He’s definitely much darker and [more] narcissistic than Walter was.

Having them work together was really interesting, because the memory of what John was and what he played in that role, and then you see all the interesting stuff that Tyrone [Benskin]’s been doing in very different ways. Anything with John is amazing to watch, and we just love working together.

Bryan (Jonathan Tucker) had the big reveal that his shots were actually protecting him from some of the debris effect. How will that play into his arc going forward?
He’s going to go a long way. He’s got a lot of questions to be answered, especially with what I have planned. There’s a lot more cards to be turned over on the table; there’s a lot more revelations that are coming. He’s going to realize his place in things in a unique way. He’s going to have to confront his own journey, his own reasons for being, his own impressions and interpretations of the world around him. Why are we here, questions [like that].

This is the end of the beginning, and everything we’ve learned about him was valuable to know, and that will be in your toolkit when you’re watching, but he’s got some serious road ahead to realize what happened to him and unwinding what that is—or was—and how it’s going to affect him in the future.

Maddox (Norbert Leo Butz) has been a mysterious figure this season, but it certainly seemed like he was the lesser of evils by the end of season 1. Should we trust him, at this point?
It’s funny, because it’s a show about perspective. Everybody is doing something that is in some way bad has a reason for it. This man is an interesting character to me because of his history and his involvement in the CIA, his involvement in the war on terror, and involvement all these things that have tons of gray area. He believes he’s doing right, he feels that things he’s saying are true, that the United States needs to defend itself. And to some degree, he’s correct, because we have other people that are getting this stuff, somebody can open wormholes in their basement. But in other ways, he realizes there is going to be loss, but, you know, better them than us.

He definitely is somebody that believes in his own journey and feels—it’s kind of hubris of him. He believes that people should be on the need to know, and information is power, and that if people knew everything, they wouldn’t be able to sleep at night. He’s going to be the withholder of information. But that comes with a lot responsibility. And even though what he’s doing may ultimately be altruistic, what we’re seeing is a love story between he and his wife, because his wife was so destroyed by her responsibility and what has fallen on them, that she just can’t get over it, and he’s just trying to fix the family, just trying to make her okay again, and be able to have their son hear that she loves him one more time.

He’s also pulled in all directions. So, I think everybody’s perspective has changed. Alliances have changed. Now he realizes in order to get something out of life, you have to give, and it may be painful to find the strength and vulnerability. He’s changed. Finola has realized that maybe all the things that she thinks are not correct. Maybe there are things in the world that are evil, that are dark, but it’s not going to chip away at her hope and faith in the world; that might be a harder job than she first thought.

You’ve got George who has changed. So everybody’s sort of dealing with these other sides of their personality and confronting things that they didn’t really know they were going to confront.

So I do find him a trustworthy character to his own agendas, let’s just say that. Whether his agendas are in line with what you want, we’ll see how it rolls out.

INFLUX, meanwhile, seems to have more power than ever. How dangerous are they going forward?
They’re really dangerous. You haven’t seen anything yet. Them trying to open up a wormhole in Manhattan, you’re going to start to realize that they have much more understanding about the debris and what’s going on than anybody could have thought. And that’s going to be a really bad thing for humanity. [Laughs.] Or in George’s opinion, a good thing. We’re just scratching the surface of those guys.

Right now, the show is awaiting to hear its fate. How confident are you feeling about a second season?
NBC has been an amazing partner to me. They really, really have. And it’s not often you can you can say that with such oomph. They’ve allowed me to do what I want, allowed me to let my vision come out onto the screen in the way that I wanted it to. That is a great thing.

I’ve always said I believe that the people that enjoy the kind of art that I do, they’re out there, and they’re the kind of like-minded [people who] want to see sci-fi in this realm. I believe there’s nothing like this out there, because I do think it has a fingerprint that’s unique. And I know they’re out there, because if it weren’t for my fans, as you know, on FRINGE, I wouldn’t have had season 3…I mean, the fans are everything.

I was hoping that people would be like, okay, well I want to get back into that kind of story; I want to get back into that kind of beauty that has a little bit more, that requires a little bit more thinking, that has that bar that FRINGE fans expect. NBC has been nothing but great about allowing me to to put that out there and test that theory, that people will come and see.

It is what it is. I had 22 episodes a season in FRINGE to grow an audience and to tell the story. I only have potentially 12 episodes, plus a pilot, to sort of try and get people to realize, “Well, Joel tell stories that aren’t really, at first, [what they seem]. They might seem one way or another, but you have to invest, listen, and pay attention to detail.” It’s hard to get those people in 12 episodes. So I was really hoping that fans and word of mouth and people saying, “I know the kinds of things he does, and I really, really loved his messages, and what he’s talking about, as an artist, and I want to show up and support it.”

I’ve had a lot of that, but that’s what it takes to get ordered: you need the fans to say, “Yeah, I want more of this. This is the stuff that feels good, and I want more.” And so we’ll have to see.

It is a weird time in television…it’s strange to find an audience, it’s hard. The best thing I can do is try and make awesome, unique things that are really in line with the way I see the world, and what I want to put out there. And hopefully enough other people will want to see those things. I don’t really know what the answer is; I think that they have to make the decision based on whatever it is they’re figuring out, but it’s tricky times. It’s really tricky times. So we will see. But they’re very supportive of the show. They love the second season pitch. I love them, so they know everything about where I’m going, like every detail. And they seem to love it, so that’s the best we can get is to put it all forward and see. But the fans need to be noisy.

DEBRIS, Mondays, 10/9c, NBC


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