Monday, March 1, 2021

REVIEW: 'Debris' - Bryan and Finola Travel to Kansas Where the Debris Consumes a Family Defined by Grief in 'Pilot'

NBC's Debris - Episode 1.01 "Pilot"

Two agents, from two different continents with two different mindsets, must work together to investigate when wreckage from a destroyed alien spacecraft has mysterious effects on humankind.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the series premiere of NBC's Debris.

"Pilot" was written by J.H. Wyman and directed by Brad Anderson

The plight of many mythology-driven shows is that the first episode is typically weighed down by so much expedition that then comes at the expense of genuine character development. It needs to establish the premise and set up the rules that will dictate how the show will always operate. It's a huge burden in addition to trying to be entertaining while featuring characters the audience can immediately engage with. The bar is set high. That's why there are so many shows like this out there. It usually takes more than one episode for the audience to figure out if anything is being done with much passion or confidence. Here, it can easily be appreciated that the show doesn't get bogged down with the typical ways of introducing its premise. It's almost as if the audience is catching up through the use of context clues along the way. It still reveals a lot. Debris has fallen to Earth from a mysterious alien spacecraft. The Debris causes significant side effects that the various governments are hoping to study and control. Bryan and Finola are already working together as a team at the start of the series. They have the science fiction tools already in place to determine just how severe a threat from a new piece can be. All of that is already understood by the team. The logistics are in place so that they can just immediately go to the field and start unraveling the mystery. Sure, the show still has to find a way to infer that this partnership is new and their governments don't trust the information that they are sharing with each other. That heightens the tension. However, Bryan and Finola aren't a clash of perspectives where they approach the situation differently. They are still learning more about each other. However, they are an effective team. Of course, more personal details are given about Finola here. She is the daughter of a revered astrophysicist who had one of the first major interactions with the Debris. That represented a turning point in his life. And now, she hopes to carry those ideals forward in the hopes of changing the world. This event has the potential to completely rewrite what is possible. It's exciting. It's also absolutely terrifying. All it takes is one touch for tragedy to occur. That is clear early on with a maid dropping through a dozen floors to her death. Meanwhile, a creepy kid keeps luring women into the same trap over and over again. It requires the team to use their imaginations and think outside the box. They take a lot of leaps when trying to deduce what happened when an average citizen in Wichita interacted with the Debris. Every piece seems to react differently. Some possess the ability to teleport. That may come with no sense of true direction though. That also reveals that a black market has popped up for these pieces. As such, some organization is out there collecting the pieces up. It's positioned as nefarious because the government doesn't have any tabs on these individuals. They are rogue players in this conflict. Of course, the story also suggests that MI6 isn't being truthful with their American counterparts. And yet, the same can also be said of Maddox as he seems to be bringing the Debris back together to hopefully recreate whatever structure it used to be. In the midst of all of this, there is a girl pleading with her mother to return to her because she still needs her in her life. At its core, it's a story about the perils of letting grief consume a person. It's such a visceral and relatable emotion. Bryan and Finola each have their own connections to it. Finola spells hers out while Bryan remains a bit more cryptic about his past. It's still a rather melodramatic climax that fixes all of the damage being done in this area. It comes with no easy story to be used as a cover-up either. The government tries to control the narrative. It may be too extensive and far-reaching for that to be the case. But again, the team is in place to work swiftly no matter where the next Debris pops up. So, the formula for the future is established without having to drag things out or dumb things down. The viewer can appreciate that. More depth and specificity is still needed. Plus, the overall structure needs more to compel the audience to invest. However, those are likely more accessible more quickly than what someone would typically guess. That too sets high expectations for the show. That could also mean it flames out quickly if it doesn't actually aspire to do anything intriguing in a short time frame. That reassurance is still necessary because the viewer has probably been burned too many times by shows like this on broadcast networks. The pieces are here to come together. The writing suggests awareness of issues that have plagued previous shows. That may create new problems altogether. Or this could be a show worth investing in. Again, it's hard to tell based solely on one episode.