Abandon all hope ye who enter the confines of La Brea‘s second episode out this week from NBC. The pilot episode offered an intriguing mashup of disaster film and supernatural weirdness with an ensemble cast, but the second episode doesn’t right the ship. Instead, it offers a rather tepid continuation of the problems needing resolving for the people trapped inside a hole and rather clichéd government involvement to get them out above ground.
If you’re just finding out about La Brea, the show is about a semi-large group of people who literally fell into a super deep sinkhole in Los Angeles. While falling down, they actually entered a green slice of light, which turns out to have sent them to a place where civilization is gone and animals reign supreme. The main characters are mother Eve Harris (Natalie Zea), her kids Izzy (Zyra Gorecki) and Josh (Jack Martin), and their dad and her husband Gavin (Eoin Macken). Eve and Josh fell into the hole while the father Gavin can see visions of their whereabouts.
That about catches you up to speed as the second episode carries forward the current problem of Josh being horribly wounded by a giant wolf. He needs antibiotics or his infection will likely kill him. Meanwhile, Gavin has his wife’s wedding ring and wants to get to the bottom of where she is by testing it.
The episode follows these two main conflicts, plus a new one with one of the survivors falling off a cliff after being attacked by a saber-toothed cat. The biggest problem this episode has is clunky dialogue intermixed with plotting you can see a mile coming. Starting with the dialogue, the problem is how unnatural it sounds and how geared towards progressing the plot it seems to be. Nobody speaks their truth if it’s not going to progress the plot in some way.
At one point, a young girl upset about her father going missing says, “My father, he needs a proper burial. It’s what God commands,” and you got to wonder if anyone in the history of mankind has ever spoken something so strange. It’s also delivered in a robotic way.
This second episode is also hellbent on slow-building plot development and reveals as if the audience is too dumb to understand where the characters are. In fact, the big cliffhanger is that the people who fell into the sinkhole are actually in the past. If you hadn’t guessed this yet you aren’t paying attention or simply don’t care.
Most viewers had to have figured this out once the ancient birds popped out of the hole in the pilot episode. Save for some kind of government-made time travel contraption this episode gives viewers very little to get excited about or to expand their imagination.
One can guess the budget was a factor in how much is revealed in each episode. One of the bigger scenes involves a herd of camels that are barreling down on a tarpit. The scene is set in a relatively boring-looking valley and the camels are in fact your run-of-the-mill-looking camels probably rented for the episode. Sure, ancient America had plenty of animals that live elsewhere today, but nothing about this scene felt exciting.
La Brea is starting to become a TV show that thinks it’s much smarter than it should be getting credit for. This is partly due to the second episode offering very little new information and rather bland ongoing conflicts. The cast continues to deliver clunky plot progressing dialogue and the supernatural element of the show hasn’t reached anything more exciting than your worst memories of history class.
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