Debris season 1, episode 11 recap – “Asalah”

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: May 11, 2021
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Debris season 1, episode 11 recap - "Asalah"


“Asalah” delves deep into Bryan’s backstory in a well-performed episode that is also the most potent blend of the show’s favorite themes.

This recap of Debris season 1, episode 11, “Asalah”, contains spoilers.

Debris has always been about the relationship between Bryan and Finola and to a slightly lesser extent the debris’s relationship to them. One of the big takeaways of “Asalah” is that the various extra-terrestrial components are discovering and interacting with us in the same way we are with them. In Debris episode 11, they choose to do so specifically with Bryan, giving the obligatory “main character’s backstory” episode an intriguing in-universe twist. Thus far, Bryan’s experiences overseas in Afghanistan, a shady, presumably traumatic past that he has tried to bury ever since, have only been hinted at. Here, they’re thoroughly unpacked, and Jonathan Tucker, complete in some flashback scenes with long, straight hair and beard, rises to the task of shouldering the burden.

For the most part, the overarching plot is shuffled into the background. George is heading to Arizona and still actively seeking out aluminum foil for some unidentified purpose. Finola is on the lookout for some files that, by the end of “Asalah”, she gets courtesy of Ferris. But these are brief bookends to the core story of schoolteacher Mariel Caldwell (Erin Karpluck), who has suddenly entered a trance-like state allowing her to see all of Bryan’s wartime memories from the perspective of the titular Asalah, a young Afghan woman whom Bryan promised to help, and whose death – and his role in it – he never got over.

With Bryan and Mariel, Debris episode 11 is explicitly linking its two favorite themes of sci-fi discovery and human connection. The development of the CIA protecting members of the Taliban as assets speaks to another of the show’s long-running themes about the general untrustworthiness of government institutions, especially intelligence organizations. But it also fleshes out Bryan’s relationship with Maddox and rationalizes his unwillingness to turn on him despite his obvious love for Finola and her incontrovertible evidence that he was keeping things from both of them.

But, as stated as the top, the most interesting discoveries of “Asalah” are a presumed shared connection between the pieces of debris and the larger idea that humanity is essentially being “studied” through it; with access to our most closely-held secrets and our deepest traumas, what impression might an alien race get of humanity as a whole? It’s a question worth asking, even if it might yield uncomfortable answers.

There’s also an important question to ask regarding the purpose for which we might need to be studied. Extermination? Harvesting? Assimilation? An alliance? It’s too early to tell. But these are big, intriguing questions and the consistent way that Debris season 1, episode 11 manages to weave them into a very well-performed tale of human experience proves that this show is becoming more than just an action-oriented sci-fi adventure.

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