La Brea Episode 2, while more formulaic than fresh, introduced several new character dynamics that could sustain the series if they were explored. As much as we all loved the mystery of Lost, we stayed, even through that WTF ending, because of the people. We grew to love them, hate them, and everything in between because they were so lovingly written and performed. Although I’m not ready to anoint anyone the next Michael Emerson, I am confident several key characters took giant steps forward this week.
In present day LA
That pesky over patterned problem rears its head the most in the present-day LA segments of La Brea Episode 2. The overly eager Dr. Sophia Nathan is a result at all costs kind of doctor, which spells big trouble for Gavin. After Gavin gave his ring to Dr. Shinn to carbon date, she scooped it and later him up. Her not-so-subtle plan is to have him act as a test pilot and fly everyone into the rip. Unfortunately, as much as we all love a good shady government agency, Dr. Sophia is underwritten at the moment. Is she motivated solely by educational zealotry, or might she know someone lost in time that she is desperate to rescue? Manifest allowed Agent Vance to develop a conscience, and he has become one of the most complex characters in the series. Hopefully, Sophia will be given the same treatment.
Gavin continues to have visions of whatever is beyond the brightly lit rip in time. His plane crash on October 26th, 2018, did not cause his visions. He insists he had them as he was crashing, which seems to indicate the rips act as a Bermuda Triangle of sorts messing with plane instruments and Gavin’s mind. Whether he agrees to once more dive into the fire or whether he will have a choice are two questions for next week. For now, the possibility of his son and wife’s rescue is alluring.
10,000 BC LA
Some moments felt like some of the best kooky moments of Zoo when it stopped taking itself so seriously that I loved. Rohan Mirchandaney’s Scott has charm and comedic timing for days. His genuine thrill at saving 10,000-year-old camels, which he likely studied days prior, has a heartfelt zaniness to it that dovetails nicely with some of the other more ominous story beats. Josh acts as our common man’s point of view. He is a Zoomer with a curious mind and a boatload of anxiety he controls by imbibing. Not only is he relatable but very funny. He is a joy to watch.
La Brea is almost overstuffed with mysteries. Strange family dynamics, particularly with Lilly and Veronica, are intriguing. Not everyone is going to be the altruistic doctor or devoted and seriously in shape mother. There are bound to be some less than savory folks, and despite Marybeth’s selfish attitude or her son’s stash of car heroin, they are nothing compared to Veronica. Lily Santiago(Veronica) oozes with rigid malice. She tightly controls Lilly’s life. There is a reason she pretends the young girl can’t talk. That storyline deserves more time and could quickly become a highlight if it is appropriately paced.
In fact, most of the more exciting components come from the secondary players. Marybeth and the addition of her son are interesting. There is a backstory here that, if done correctly, could swing less Sawyer and more Detective Brass on the original CSI. Comedic duo Tony(Pacharo Mzembe) and Billy(Stephen Lopez) got more screen time in La Brea Episode 2, and their banter and “good guy” vibe are more compelling to watch than overt hero Dr. Sam.
The critical group is all back at camp, with Josh hopefully on the mend. Dr. Sam has an undisclosed back injury that could prove an issue moving forward, and sweet Ty is clearly dying even if he won’t admit it. We don’t know what he has and how the time difference can help him yet but expect to see something from the ecology that will save his life.
The biggest mystery of La Brea Episode 2
The biggest question in La Brea Season 2 isn’t who kidnapped who or what is wrong with Ty, but who laid out Veronica and Lilly’s father in that strange handprint shrine. Is it the shrouded character we saw in Episode 1? Is he somehow related to Dr. Sophia? Someone has to be making the hunting traps and the same hand on the rock near where Eve’s ring was found looks like the hand Veronica’s father was found one. What does it mean and why is it there?
For now, Showrunner David Appelbaum is not giving up his secrets, and that is how I like it. NBC has a nasty habit of pulling the plug early on genre shows. I am cautiously optimistic that this series can find some footing in the ancillary characters before it falls into the great NBC sinkhole of the series that came and went too soon. Find all our La Brea coverage here.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.