When several bodies are found in a cabin in Tennessee, their corpses desicated but with with unusually high static readings, it’s clear something unusual has happened and likely to be connected to further extraterrestrial debris. Further investigations suggest that the dead bodies could be linked to the apparent abduction of several senior citizens from nearby senior care-facilities. Finola and Bryan are leading the initiative to find out exactly what happened and what connection there is a group of teenagers seen in the area? Could they be killing the senior-citizens – and if so how and why?
The group of teenagers meet with another lonely old man, Subash, who is pondering whether his life is worth living. Konrad, the boy who seems to be in control of the debris, questions Subash and is told his family are out of contact and he has little to live for…
Konrad says he can help him with that…
“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are…” – Carl Jung.
‘Supernova‘ – yet another episode title that appears to have zero relevance to the episode, which is becoming frustrating – at least keeps the pattern of having a technical problem with an empathic core. At first it seems like the teenagers being pursued by Beneventi and Jones are the bad-guys of the piece, but it doesn’t take too long for the viewers to see there’s a twist in the tale. This week’s emotional beat is the idea of lost youth and second chances, with the debris actually helping revitalise the cell-structure (and mental health) of a handful of people in the twilight of their lives… with conditions. It’s essentially Golden Years meets Cocoon, but with an Awakenings edge.
The moral questions raised are interesting and there might be several viewers who would be totally behind the ‘teenagers’ of this scenario and feel they were the unfortunate or the oppressed of the bizarre situation that the team is trying to curtail. (Would you really give up a second lease of life knowing that you would die, or worse, be confined back to the half-life of dementia? That would be a hard choice). There’s a lot of potential here to say something deep and meaningful about state of health and state of mind but it largely pays lip-service to the idea, giving it a rather formulaic melancholy than anything profound or new or exceptionally inciteful.
One of the other real problems we noted with the show’s fourth episode ‘In Universe‘ was the maguffin/deus ex machina that was pulled out of nowhere to solve that dilemma of the week. It was a convenient/temporary fix… and here we see why that IS an ongoing concern: there’s really no reason (or at least no stated on-screen reason) why exactly the same solution – a debris with time-freezing ability – couldn’t have been applied (or at least have been suggested) to solve this week’s problem. The conceit-of-the-week is that debris is de-aging those who come into contact with it, but – subsequently – the people can’t go too far from the debris without withering to dust and dying. When a workaround is constructed by the team, it would still only return the people to their true age, so the two main ‘affected’ of the week Konrad (Dylan Colton) and Clara (Paloma Kwiatkowski) decide they want to die instead of returning to a lonely, dementia-like state. Surely, the same stasis device as seen in ‘In Universe‘ to prevent consequences to debris-removal could have been the solution again, keeping them frozen in a particular moment prior to death… but isn’t even referenced (a line of dialogue saying it wouldn’t work for some handwavey reason might have sufficed). Frankly, if you are going to use debris as the magic get-out for one week’s story, then you have to explain why its mechanism isn’t consistently used thereafter.
Viewers wondered how long the disinformation schism between Finola (Riann Steele) and Bryan (Jonathan Tucker) was going to continue. Thankfully Bryan – feeling ever-more uncomfortable with deceiving his partner and the escalating invasion of her privacy – decides he has to tell Finola the truth (that he knows her father is alive) and she subsequently meets him halfway by explaining how she‘s been asked to deceive him. This basically takes us to the ‘Trust No-one‘ aspect that resonated within The X-Files and it will be interesting to see how this moves forward. There’s potential for it to get more interesting and yet equal potential for it to turn into another convoluted mess. The same is largely true for the connected conspiracy situation with rogue scavengers Influx. Scroobius Pip, as their captured operative, gets several times more lines of dialogue than in all his previous appearances combined but gives away very little to Agent Maddox about Influx’s actual agenda. So, ultimately, the result of the episode is a lot of people looking shifty and situations looking dubious and our heroes furrowing their brows as they try to work out who knows what, who doesn’t know why and how it affects them. There’s a couple of things that are shown that haven’t been referenced before: does Bryan have some sort of underlying medical condition we don’t know about? He undergoes a blood-test that he indicates would normally have been routine apart from its timing – and this is a show where nothing is routine, so expect some repercussions or further implications down the line…
But for a series about the unknown and seemingly random information, titles and weird audio at the end of each outing, it’s all feeling a little random and made-up-as-we-go-along so far and with only thirteen episodes in this run, we now need to see some of those elements coalesce into something other than abstract technobabble and general weirdness. All the elements are there to make it work, concept, cast and scope… but it would be a shame for Debris to be yet another NBC show that starts off strong and then lose momentum once the initial pitch is done…
- Production Design / VFX8