La Brea creator talks the finale's sinkholes, mysteries and if we're headed to the '80s in season 2
La Brea (TV series)
Warning: This article contains spoilers about Tuesday, November 30's episode of La Brea.
Have the events of the La Brea finale sunk in yet?
After 10 episodes of sinkholes, prehistoric creatures and a whole bunch of questions, the NBC supernatural drama aired its season 1 finale on Tuesday night, leaving us with, well, more questions.
The final episode of La Brea's first season, titled "Topanga," saw Eve (Natalie Zea) succeed in sending Isaiah (Diesel La Torraca) — who will one day grow up to be her husband, Gavin (Eoin Macken) — through the portal to 1988. But he wasn't the only one to disappear into the light. Indeed, sinkhole/portal hopping was pretty much the theme of the episode. Not only did Josh (Jack Martin), Riley (Veronica St. Clair) and Lilly (Chloe De Los Santos) somehow get unintentionally sucked into the Topanga portal, but Gavin, Izzy (Zyra Gorecki) and Ella (Michelle Vergara Moore) chose to leap into one that had just opened in Seattle, hoping it would reunite them with their families. Elsewhere, Scott (Rohan Mirchandaney) left behind his newly-found cow to follow Aldridge (Ming-Zhu Hii) to a mysterious tower.
Like we said, so. many. questions! So we turned to La Brea creator, executive producer and co-showrunner David Appelbaum for some answers.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Before we get into the finale, where did the idea for this show initially come from?
DAVID APPELBAUM: The genesis of the idea was really an image of a sinkhole opening in the middle of Los Angeles. That was an image that I couldn't shake and I didn't have a story associated with it yet, but I knew there was something to pursue. I started asking so many questions: who are the people that fall into the sinkhole? Where do they lead? Who are the people that are left behind? Soon, more questions beget more questions and over time you start to build out a world of characters and situations. After several months of thinking and developing the idea, I brought the idea to Keshet, who are my producing partners and we have a first look deal with NBC. Then we brought it to NBC together and they liked it and they asked me to write the script and we were off to the races.
So how far ahead have you planned? Do you have an end game in place for this show?
One of the great things about this show is that it had a very long gestation period. We started shooting the pilot right before the pandemic, and then we were shut down and then we didn't get a series pickup until a year after that. So over that year, we started our writers' room to develop more scripts and went at a pace that allowed us to think more deeply about the story and the long game over the seasons. So yeah, the answer is, we definitely have a lot planned out and know where we want to go. I think that's really important with shows like this, but it's also important that you keep yourself open and flexible to new ideas because you never know where inspiration is gonna come from. But having certain signposts along the way is important, but giving yourself the flexibility along the way to make moves and go in different directions is always important, too.
This is pretty much an action show with some drama in there. What has been most challenging about shooting it? You filmed in Australia, right?
Yes. Shooting in Australia has been an amazing experience. They have this beautiful natural terrain that really suits the environment of 10,000 B.C. in every way. The challenge is really the scale of the project. We have 13 series regulars. We have a huge computer graphics/visual effects budget. There's just a lot of moving pieces. Those are probably the biggest challenges, the scale and scope of the project. But I think with anything, you just manage it piece by piece and break it down into individual parts and then things start to become more manageable.
What I like about this show is, as much as new mysteries arise weekly, we are also getting some answers along the way. Basically, it moves at a good pace.
That was always one of the driving ideas of the show, that the show is a thrill ride. You never know what's around the next corner. So I think along with that, revealing new mysteries and surprises as much as we can gives the show a unique energy and keeps the audience on the edge of their seat. So that's always been one of the driving philosophies of the show: to push forward to surprise. We do want to find moments where characters can be reflective, but generally it's about the drive and momentum of this adventure story.
How much did the cast know throughout season 1? Did they know in advance where the season ended?
Generally, when we started the season, they had, I believe, four or five scripts that everyone had when we began shooting and we didn't tell everyone where the season was going. People wanted to know, but they were generally respectful of the writing process. Also, I think it helps actors to be in the moment, too — if you know the end game, then you might change the way that you're reacting at any given moment. So we didn't want to give too many answers, but we did want to give them a little sense of where the show was going, but didn't give away the whole enchilada from the beginning.
The luxury of a second season is being able to get into the backstories of your characters. Will there be flashbacks in season 2 to provide that context?
We're always open to doing flashbacks. We did flashbacks for the family in certain episodes in the first season and we'll continue to do that. It's never going to be a show based around flashbacks and we're definitely open to that idea. But certainly un-peeling mysteries and layers to all of these characters down there will be an important part of the show. Also, unveiling new mysteries and layers to the world that they're in. Those two ideas will definitely be at the center of the show in season 2.
So will we get to see the '80s next season? If Isaiah made it there?
I don't want to give away exactly what the story will be, but there will be a new world that the show is moving into. I don't want to give away exactly what we're going to see, but there would definitely be some new worlds to explore.
Okay, let's talk about some of those finale cliffhangers. Is Marybeth (Karina Logue) really dead?
She is dead.
Oh, no! I thought maybe it would turn out she's survived.
She is dead, yes.
Ugh, okay. How much is that going to mess up Lucas (Josh McKenzie)? Will he listen to her last words and make something of his life or is he going to spiral from here?
Well, I mean, the death of a parent certainly has a huge effect on anyone and Lucas is going to be struggling with, especially as we begin season 2, thinking about all the ways that their relationship went wrong and having his heart broken just as they were starting to mend fences. So it's going to be something that he's really going to have to reckon and it is going to influence his story. I won't get too deep into that, but it is going to be a big emotional part of the adventure that he begins in season 2.
He's gonna have to forge some new relationships then, since he's pretty much alone now.
Yeah, there will be new people that he's forming relationships with. One of the fun things about ensemble shows like this, is the pairings of characters. That's another thing that we're getting into in season 2: the different pairings of characters that we didn't see in season 1. He's going to be with characters you might not expect him to be with. Josh McKenzie, the actor who plays Lucas, is such a dynamic actor. He's from New Zealand and has so much energy and dynamism, I'm really excited to expand the story.
Okay, another big question from the finale: what is that massive building that Aldridge has brought Scott to? I have a feeling you're not going to tell me, but is it at least something we'll find out early in season 2?
Well, that giant building is definitely something that's going to be explored in season 2 and, like with the first season of the show, we're going to give you answers and we're going to allow you to really get into the mystery of it. As far as what exactly it is, I don't want to say because there's some big surprises and reveals in there. But we're gonna go to the building, we're going to go inside of it. We're going to to see ... who was there. And there are going to be a lot of fun twist and repeat.
So we'll learn more about Silas (Mark Lee) and Aldrdige's connection? And the scientists in general?
Yeah, that'll be one of the big driving forces of season 2 as well — what is Aldridge and Silas' connection and their connection to Gavin.
So if Gavin has now arrived in 10,000 B.C. just as Isaiah left for 1988, does that mean that those two versions of the same person cannot physically be in the same place/time at once? Would something have happened to one or both of them if they'd both, say, been in 10,000 B.C. at the same time?
[Laughs.] I don't want to give away too much of the story, but there's fun in playing with the rules of time travel. It's something we're always interested in exploring on the show. I don't want to give away exactly where the story goes. We're open to lots of different possibilities, but I can't say what will happen to them.
This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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Supernatural drama following an ensemble of characters through time.