Frank and Finola have to decide how they are going to proceed with their own conspiracy. George Jones may be alive but may not remain so for long if the CIA and MI6 learn of his survival. The agents take him to a fellow Orbital scientist Gary Garcia who may have the equipment Jones Snr. needs – though he’s a man with inner and outer scars and who has every reason to have mixed feelings about Orbital and Jones in particular.
Needing to keep their superiors convinced that it’s business as usual, Beneventi and Jones head to a potential debris zone a few hours away where they meet a young man called Shelby who tells them that he’s discovered the wreckage they are after. The problem is that Shelby tells the agents this isn’t the first time he’s met them or had this conversation. After diving into the nearby lake – where the debris remains submerged – too many times, he and his sister Kathleen didn’t both make it back. It looks as if Kathleen has been erased from the timeline – Shelby now has a young brother rather than a twin sister. Shelby prepared to help them, but not until the time-line can be righted and Kathleen brought safely back.
But George Jones thinks Shelby is lying and the repeated attempts to find answers risk a catastrophic break in reality.
Will Beneventi and Grace agree on how to get things back and… hold on…wait… who’s Grace?
The last episode of Debris seemed to suggest that our favourite caught-in-a-conspiracy agents (sorry Mulder and Scully, I think we should see other people) were now on the run from the separate agencies they serve. However it seems that might be premature as they are convinced that while they might have slightly upset their respective bosses, immediate suspicion about their activities might have been stymied and the knowledge that George Jones is still alive is still our heroes’ secret. But the series avoids having to answer the obvious questions that have arisen after last week’s rescue mission by creating a debris-mission that’s going to take everyone’s time and attention in the short-term – and long-term, if you look at it from another angle.
While Bill Murray was far from the first person to get caught in a time-loop, the Groundhog Day concept of has been a go-to for countless dramas – characters searching for a resolution to their problems by having to relive a set period time and time again until there’s a physical or cosmic way out. The X-Files did its take in 1999 episode Monday and for this Monday’s episode it was/is/will be Debris‘ turn.
Stop me if we’ve had this conversation before… but while it’s all a time-twisting, interesting premise, there’s also huge pit-falls. Debris’ dilemma here, like productions before it and especially in the decision to make this a cliffhanger episode / two-parter – is a) is the eventual resolution worth the journey of over 90+ minutes of screen-time full of fun but repetitive quirks and also b) will there be actual consequences thereafter? For instance, elsewhere we’ve seen subtly different iterations of events with George and Garcia at the latter’s home (and ‘loops’ when we’re told George is dead) but how many of those conversations will remain in continuity if some of the Frank/Finola/Shelby ones do not? We’ve seen Maddox discover his wife is having dinner with a lawyer to discuss a divorce but – structurally – will that stick? Did it just happen in our regular time-line or in the one we saw immediately previously as Shelby yet again re-set the sequence? Will any final loop really reset things to the original or will we be, by default, in a different one, simply one that’s very close to the one we know – which, arguably, is still a problem? (And remember, our first experience of the loop was already a variation according to Shelby who immediately tells Beneventi and Jones that he’s already met them before). The rinse/repeat plot-device can be seen as letting viewers know information that the characters are not aware of or simply eradicate such moments so there IS no consequence. That’s a thin narrative-logic line to tread, one that’s got a history of causing mind-bending migraines and it will become difficult if the show wants to play it both ways. Again: all head-splodey stuff!
There’s the obvious potential for fun in Do You know Icarus? (again – an obscure title with the only seeming connection being that Shelby has flown/swam too close to the sun/extraterrestrial wreckage to escape without consequence?) . Though there’s some obvious tension and drama in the central dilemma, the sudden cuts to scenes/realities devoid of Finola but with other random agents (who may have clearly been teamed with Beneventi for a long time but are totally new to us) also has some comedic value and reminds me of a certain Quantum Leap episode, 1992’s A Leap for Lisa, where Dean Stockwell was momentarily erased in favour of Roddy McDowall. Even in their brief scenes, the guesting actors here, including Byron Noble as ‘Neils’, Carlo Yu as ‘Alvin’ and Aliyah O’Brien as ‘Grace’ all feel like lived-in characters we might have watched and rooted for. That being said, in all the versions we see not one of the alt-realities has Finola as a constant rather than Frank being AWOL, so read into that what you will.
Tyrone Benskin gets to flesh out George Jones some more and Zak Santiago as Gary Garcia clearly has potential, but it’s hard to know how things will progress beyond this story.
Will Frank get Finola back? Will Maddox get his wife, Julia, back? Will Shelby get his sister, Kathleen, back? Is Shelby the original deal or is there more to Kathleen’s original disappearance? Do You know Icarus? is a fun, diverting jaunt, feeling more like a Twilight Zone than an X-File, per se… but the second part (yes, to be called I am Icarus) will really need to be seen to evaluate the mini-arc as a whole.
So far, so diverting…
- Production Design / VFX8