‘La Brea’ Bosses Tease the Mysteries Turning Everyone’s Worlds Upside Down
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the La Brea series premiere.]
A massive sinkhole opens up in Los Angeles, and those who fall in — including half the Harris family (Natalie Zea‘s Eve and her son, Jack Martin’s Josh) end up in a primeval world, one inhabited by creatures.
Up top in La Brea, Gavin (Eoin Macken) and Izzy (Zyra Gorecki) have to figure out if they’ve lost the others. A clue comes in the form of Gavin’s visions, which the rest of the family had written off … until he sees the world where his wife and son are, and the same bird that flies out of the sinkhole. He finds proof for his daughter in the form of Eve’s wedding ring (which she’d been wearing around her neck), buried in the ground.
As the premiere ends, the audience sees the survivors aren’t alone and Eve realizes they’re still in Los Angeles when she spots the Hollywood Hills while on a supply mission to help her injured son.
TV Insider turned to showrunners David Appelbaum, Bryan Wynbrandt, and Steven Lilien for as many answers as they could give. (We’ll have to wait to find out why people landed where they did when they fell through the green light and why not everyone survived.)
The survivors have somehow ended up in the past. What can you say about when they are?
David Appelbaum: That’s one of the big mysteries particularly in the early episodes. You’re going to get answers to that question early, and I think you’ll be rewarded, because it’s a really interesting answer. … It’ll be satisfying and it’s going to expand the scope of what the show is and make it a really interesting place to come back to.
What can you say about that mysterious person in the woods? Is he tied to the Mojave incident or something we have yet to hear about?
Bryan Wynbrandt: These are great questions and they’re also exciting questions because you’re honing in on the things we want you to be asking. … There’s a big spider web of connections in the show. Is he connected directly to the Mojave event? You’ll find out pretty quickly what his connection is.
Appelbaum: Everything that you’re seeing is really intentional and this is someone who’s going to play a pivotal role moving forward in the show.
Steven Lilien: The take away in the moment though is they’re not alone down there. There is a mystery and at least we know there is one other person out there. It’s going to expand the storytelling and open up the world.
Wynbrandt: And we are going to give you an answer this season.
Is it at all possible Gavin might know him due to what happened when his plane crashed in the desert three years ago?
Lilien: You’re dialed in. I love it. I don’t know if it’s about whether Gavin knows him or doesn’t know him. Right now as the story unfolds, that character is feeling the world down below, and Gavin’s dealing with his own story and his focus really is about his family and how to get down there. What’s compelling about the up top story is that we’re going to be unpacking a mystery up there that’s going to hook the audience, not just on an emotional level of a father and a daughter who are desperately trying to figure out how to get a mother and a son home, but also why Gavin is seemingly connected to this world in a way he can’t explain why he’s having visions.
Because the pilot doesn’t say which desert he crashed in, right?
Appelbaum: That’s right.
Speaking of those visions, how does it change the family dynamic now that they know they’re real?
Appelbaum: In a really big way because no one no one believed that they were real. They thought that everything that Gavin was seeing was a hallucination. Gavin’s been going through, preceding the story, a very difficult period in his life. Now that we know that it’s real, it gives Gavin a new confidence in himself. It gives his daughter Izzy a new perspective on Gavin. It really sets him up to go on this epic adventure to try to figure out what happened to his family and how he’s going to bring them home. It’s really creating in him this drive and this need to find them now that he knows that what he’s seeing is real and he is seeing that world. It’s going to increase the stakes of everything.
What can you say about the dynamic between Dr. Nathan, Gavin and Izzy, since it seems like they’ll be running a parallel investigation into what’s going on to the government’s?
Wynbrandt: That’s a fun relationship and dynamic that evolves over the course of the season because what Gavin is trying to do is prove himself to the government and the government has their own information, so there’s a nice nexus of information kind of joining. They are on this parallel track, but at some point they become more on a singular track because they want the same thing: They want to get to the bottom of where all these people are and what is going on with this green light.
Is there going to be any way for Eve and Josh to realize Gavin’s having these flashes of them?
Appelbaum: One of the really important parts of the show is that the story of Gavin and Izzy and the story of Eve and Josh are speaking to each other, that they’re not each happening in a vacuum. We’re going to find lots of different ways that we connect these two stories. They are interconnected stories and they are going to speak to each other in ways that are going to be really unexpected and exciting.
Lilien: Clearly the father and the mother are separated. You want to speak to the idea of, what happens when Eve and Josh do find out the truth, if they do find that truth? How would that change things? How would that change the relationship? What does going home now mean?
What did you want to do with the way that you’re unveiling the creatures?
Appelbaum: The most important thing is that we want them to feel visceral and real. We’re working with some fantastic visual effects houses. Mr. X is a visual effects company in Australia who’s designing our animals. We’ve done a lot of historical research to see what animals might look like so we can model them after them so that when you’re seeing these animals, the audience is there with them. [There’s also] the fun adventure story that you never know what’s going to be around the corner.
Lilien: These characters are asking the same questions as the audience. If you see a sabertooth tiger at the end of this pilot and leading forward, the characters are gonna ask the same question the audience is: Where are they? When are they?
Wynbrandt: Also the idea that this modern group of people is thrust into a world where nature is their enemy in a way that they’re not used to dealing with is one of the more fun aspects of the show. You can put yourself in their shoes. What would you do if a wolf was chasing you? That’s not something people in Los Angeles have to deal with. They’ve got to deal with traffic, but not wolves chasing them. It’s thrusting them into these situations that are so otherworldly, and there’s an explanation for all of it.
Can we trust any of the survivors as being 100% honest about who they are?
Appelbaum: They [all] have their own mysteries. We start to hint at that in the pilot, meeting the character of Ty. He’s at a really troubled place [before the fall, hinted at by him having a gun] and he’s contemplating suicide. One of the questions we’re going to be asking is why, and we’ll get a really satisfying, emotional answer to that. For a lot of the characters, we want to be unpeeling new layers of them as we go along. Some characters will be trustworthy, others won’t be.
Wynbrandt: The dangers don’t just come from the animals. There are characters and people in the clearing who aren’t necessarily law abiding citizens. So there’s definitely that element as well. We want it to feel like that Lord of the Flies element where you’re not sure who you can trust all the time. When survival is thrust upon you, how you behave and how you act is just heightened because it’s survival of the fittest at that point.
I love the title card.
Appelbaum: That’s something that we put a lot of thought and planning into. We only have five seconds to have a really striking visceral image and a few things going on within it. One is the idea of the world tipping upside down. It starts with this skyline of Los Angeles and you see it rotate on its axis and land in 180 degrees. In a way, it mimics the idea of these people falling in from Los Angeles through the sinkhole into this other world. But it’s also on a deeper character level, the worlds of our characters are being turned upside down for everyone. And the story really revolves around who these people are once they’re stripped down and we’re understanding the different essential natures of them, so we tried to pack a lot of metaphor into that one image.
La Brea, Tuesdays, 9/8c, NBC