Debris on NBC imagines a world where the remains of an alien spacecraft fall from the sky and land all over Earth. However, each piece possesses unique properties that defy the laws of science so a special international taskforce is tasked with recovering the remnants of the wreckage before more unscrupulous people who plan to exploit the new technology for their own evil objectives.
The pilot begins with a great opening that is suspenseful and builds upon the mystery of the spaceship wreckage. A pair of shady figures attempt to purchase some debris on the black market when the taskforce shows up. We’re treated to a tense game of cat and mouse and receive our first true glimpses at the wanted items’ powers. When harnessed, the user obtains super human abilities but they can have devastating consequences when not careful.
The introductory segment helps set the stage for what’s to come. Not only do we witness the effects of the space materials, we meet MI6 agent, Finola Jones, who has a strong scientific background. She is paired with jaded ex-soldier and CIA operative, Bryan Beneventi. Though the two get along, there’s the potential of conflict in the future as both agencies are distrustful of the other and have their own agendas. As Jones and Beneventi work closer together, their loyalties will no doubt be tested between their respective organizations and to each other and the cause. The buyers also serve as our overarching antagonists who also are working to obtain the debris.
Afterwards, the show transitions into the familiar case of the week format which involves missing persons reappearing in a catatonic and gravity defying state. They are all linked to a seemingly innocent but creepy boy. What makes him more disturbing is the use of a small motorized monkey playing the cymbals to control his victims. The more the agents investigate the case, the darker the events surrounding it become. The use of the child is a powerful tool to tell a gripping tale about coping with loss that pulls at different emotions.
Beneventi’s handling of the situation shows a layered character that isn’t totally desensitized by his previous experiences. For such a hardened individual, he’s quite moved by the heartbreaking story the young boy’s sister shares. Earlier in the episode, Bryan doubted his partner’s ability to stomach the job but in an ironic twist, he’s the one having problems composing himself. It’s nice to see such vulnerability from a person that tries to carry a tough exterior.
The season premiere ends with some intriguing reveals that should keep viewers coming back. We find what the CIA is doing with their retrieved pieces, which could scare anyone who knew what they are up to. Also, Bryan must keep a secret from Jones regarding her thought to be deceased father, who was also the first to experiment on the spacecraft materials. Yet another thing that could lead to drama between the agents.
It’s hard not to compare Debris to the much-loved science fiction procedurals that came before it such as The X-Files and Fringe. There are many similarities including the completely opposite male/female partners. Although the emphasis on the spaceship remains should help narrow the focus of the series and the international involvement should provide a different slant to the genre.
The pilot is a solid episode that introduces viewers to what to expect in the upcoming season while balancing the case of the week format. The agents solve a dark and emotional case that opens up some interesting possibilities moving forward.
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