La Brea is the kind of show you want to be good, but all of its moving parts don’t quite fit. It’s clearly a similar show to Lost — it even referenced the iconic supernatural survivor show in an earlier episode — but the story feels rushed, the dialogue can be clunky, and the CGI of ancient animals is shoddy at best. The fourth episode airs tonight and it offers a few new elements that improve on the overall experience, but it still has half-baked melodrama to sit through.
The latest episode, titled “The New Arrival,” juggles three plots all kicked off by the arrival of Levi (Nicholas Gonzalez). He flew through the glowing green crack inside the sinkhole that started this mess for everyone. The plane crashed in the last episode and now Levi and the rest of the survivors are even more stuck in the long-ago past.
Much of the episode of La Brea is devoted to new information Levi and the group discover as well as the complicated relationship he has with Eve (Natalie Zea) introduced in the last episode. Levi is a sharp-looking and mellowed-out soldier type who can take charge, but he’s as in the dark as the rest as far as this strange world they’re stuck in.
The second plot revolves around drama with one of the survivors who is in the group that’s headed towards Levi. It turns out Lucas (Josh McKenzie) is pinpointed as the guy who was carrying loads of heroin in the back of his car in a previous episode. It’s odd anybody would care about drugs any longer knowing they’ve been time-warped to the past, but it adds a relatable threat to fellow survivors Scott (Rohan Mirchandaney) and Josh (Jack Martin).
They’re hiding Lucas’ secret and are aware he had the drugs, plus he has a gun. It’s hard to believe they’d be so scared of Lucas just because he has a gun and has illegal drugs given the group could be attacked by wild animals and are literally attacked by a giant snake at one point, but it does add a new layer of drama.
The third plot involves the mysterious death of a survivor close to the main camp and a little girl who is sworn by her older sister to not speak or help anyone. This plot is by far the most annoying of the three, in part because Veronica (Lily Santiago) straight up slaps her little sister Lilly (Chloe De Los Santos) across the face when she disagrees with her. I dare you to watch this scene and not laugh out loud as it’s incredibly clichéd and forced.
These sisters are super religious, just had to bury their father, and seem to have a secret of their own. Their guarded nature is hard to believe given the circumstances they’re in and they seem to hold a secret simply to add additional mystery to the plot. It comes off as an annoying subplot since it’s manipulating the audience to care. That said, Lilly reveals something that adds a new threat for the survivors to contend with in the next episode.
Technically there’s a fourth plot involving Gavin (Eoin Macken) and his daughter Izzy (Zyra Gorecki), but it’s so forced and drawn out it’s barely worth mentioning. Gavin has been given very little to do in the series and frankly, you could omit him up to this point and lose very little. Given the setup between his friend Levi sleeping with his wife Eve, one can already see the machinations in place to have Gavin save his family and forgive his friend. This episode has Gavin and Izzy heading off to save the survivors via a well-placed file and some quick googling by Izzy. You’ll roll your eyes at this subplot.
The big cliffhanger to the episode adds some much-needed validation that there’s an ancient human society nearby. This mystery has been teased for so many episodes now it’s nice to know there could be some answers. There’s also some weirdness going on with a signal that may suggest there’s more to these ancient people.
La Brea is a show that has the right premise and pieces to be truly great, but it continues to fold in bad dialogue and forced conflicts. The fourth episode ends up being a better episode thanks to new reveals and conflicts that are more relatable, but sadly it continues to be laugh-out-loud bad at opportune times too.
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