April 13, 2024

[Editor’s note: The following contains major spoilers for Season 2 of La Brea.]While the second season of the NBC series La Brea answered some questions, more arose and the seeds of new mysteries were planted. Thankfully, a Season 3 pickup means that fans will eventually learn what’s next for everyone stuck in 10,000 B.C., whether the Harris family will ever get home together, and what it all means.

After watching the finale, “The Journey, Part 1″ and “The Journey, Part 2,” Collider got the opportunity to chat with creator/showrunner David Appelbaum about all the twists, turns, and surprises of Season 2, and what it will all mean going into Season 3. During the 1-on-1 interview, he talked about how he’s always known what he wants the final scene of the series to be, all the detours along the way, the status of the portals, the plan for Season 3, whether it will be the final season, that Jurassic Park moment, possibilities for getting home, and learning how everything fits together.


Collider: You’ve been going back and forth, throughout the season, on whether there would be the chance to go home, or whether this group of people would be stuck where they are. Did you start this series, on day one of Season 1, knowing that ultimate answer, or have you been going back and forth on how this will all eventually end?

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DAVID APPELBAUM: I’ve always known what I wanted the final scene of the series to be. And I’ve always known that it would never leave the characters minds, once they traveled through a portal to 10,000 B.C., that they wanted to get home and back to the lives that they came from. There would be lots of detours, along the way, of surviving and making new friends and having new adventures, but the thought of getting home was always the ultimate end game for everyone.

Eoin Macken as Gavin Harris and Natalie Zea as Eve Harris in Season 2 of La Brea
Image via NBC

How close does Season 2 resemble what you thought you might get to do with the second season, when you started things with this show? Is any of what we saw this season in your initial pitch for the series?

APPELBAUM: When I walked into NBC and pitched the series, I did tell them about seeing a futuristic building in the distance, at the end of the first season. So, I did have in mind that the second season would be about the exploration of what’s inside that building. For the ins and outs of it, there’s definitely a lot that we discovered along the way, but there were definitely tentpoles like that. Also, another thing I pitched, from the very beginning, was that, by the end of the first season, Gavin and Izzy would jump into a sinkhole in modern times and get down to 10,000 B.C. I always knew that, in Season 2, they would be down there, but a lot of the things that happened along the way were discoveries. So, some of the major tentpoles were there, from early on, but you bring in a group of writers who are really smart people, and you wanna stay open to new ideas.

You have this portal in the tower, but then you destroy the tower. And then, you find another portal, but of course that goes awry. When you’re telling a story like this, is their only so many times you can keep these people from going home, before you have to give a definite answer? How do you handle figuring out how to delay that? How many roadblocks can you put in the way? Is there a finite amount of times you can do that?

APPELBAUM: I think so. As we’re getting into Season 3, we’re not gonna run directly to a portal. We’re gonna have different types of stories. The way of getting home through a portal has definitely been taken away. But at the same time, they’re gonna want to get home, so there are gonna be new ideas and new roadblocks and opportunities coming up. The futuristic portal idea is something that we’re definitely gonna do different spins on. That was definitely a Season 2 thing, so we’re definitely gonna try to mix it up, as we move forward. I think there’s a max portal limit. You’ve gotta try other things, and that’s our job, just to keep coming up with new story ideas.

When you figured out what the end of the season would be, did you know whether you’d be returning for a third season? How hard is it to leave on a cliffhanger, and a pretty major one, if you don’t know what will happen next with the show?

APPELBAUM: We did not have the pickup for Season 3, when we were writing the end of Season 2, but we were planning for success. As we were writing the last few episodes, we were setting up new stories that we would and we knew where we would pick up with them in Season 3. That’s one of the things we’re doing. As we’re writing the end of Season 2, we’re also planning the beginning of Season 3. That goes hand-in-hand. We were hopeful that we would get the pick up, and ultimately, we did. We didn’t know how many episodes or a lot of the details, at that time, but you’re always planning for success. You get new stuff thrown at you all the time and you have to pivot, but we’re always hopeful that there’ll be good news, and that’s what we’re trying for.

Nicholas Gonzalez as Levi in Season 2 of La Brea
Image via NBC

So, what is the plan for Season 3? It’s been reported that the third season would be abbreviated to six episodes. Is that a definite thing?

APPELBAUM: It’s six episodes for now, but there might be more. And if they do offer more, we’re open to writing more. Nothing is definitive, at this point.

Has there also been conversation about whether it would be the final season, or are you not looking at it that way?

APPELBAUM: They haven’t said definitively. So, we’re definitely staying fluid right now.

The show got delayed at its start, due to COVID. Now, you’re facing the possibility of a strike, or more than one strike. What are the biggest challenges of planning out a season and making a series with those kinds of things coming up, along the way? Do you have to just stay as focused as you can, without thinking about what might happen, especially when it’s things that you have absolutely no control over?

APPELBAUM: Yeah. You come up with a good plan with the producers and with our studio partners, about when we’re gonna shoot it and how long we have to shoot it, and then you go out and do it. There are only so many things you can control. You can’t control pandemics or strikes. You can just control what you’re writing on the page and what you’re shooting, and we’ve got a really great team. We’ve got a good plan, so we’ve just gotta work really hard, every day, and go do it. Real things happen in the world and we adjust to them. We’ve got a plan right now, and if world events change, we’ll adjust. That’s what we’ve done, all along. It’s been a very interesting process, over the last several years. We’ve managed to get two seasons, and now a third one, so it’s been ultimately pretty successful.

There’s also been mention of the show possibly continuing beyond this, with a new family played by a new cast. And it seems like when you do something with a world this big that has this many characters, you could also have any number of possible spinoffs. Are you thinking about things like that? Is that something you’d ever be interested in doing or seeing happen?

APPELBAUM: Right now, we’re just really focused on this third season. As we get to the end, there are a lot of different options on the table, but we haven’t really committed to what the next season would look like. We’re really just planning this third season right now.

lEoin Macken as Gavin Harris in Season 2 of La Brea
Image via NBC

When you plan out what’s essentially a fantasy death sequence, like the one with Gavin and the giant lizard, how do you figure out what that’s going to be? When you know that you’re sending the characters back in time and resetting things, what goes into deciding what that death scene will be?

APPELBAUM: It really starts in the writers’ room, spitballing ideas and coming up with concepts. And then, we’ll pitch them to our producing partners and studio network, and get their reaction and sign-off. And then, we’ll write the scripts, bring it to production, and shoot it. It’s really a layered notes process that we’re going through. It’s a months-long process of starting with an idea that the writers kick around, and then going through various stages of notes with the producers and with the studio network, and finally getting to shoot it and get it up on the screen. But from the conception in the writers’ room until it gets on screen, it’s six months time for some things. It’s a really long process of work.

What was it like to see how it all ultimately played out, to have this emotional father-son moment that also involves a giant lizard?

APPELBAUM: At its heart, the show has always been about this family trying to get back to each other. We really want that emotional core to drive everything and to always be there. But at the same time, there are these fantastical elements that make the show unique. There’s that science fiction element to it. There are sinkholes and crazy animals, like saber tooth tigers and giant lizards, that make the show fun and an escape. One of the things that makes the show different is that it can hold all these different things in one basket. I think that’s what people like about it. It has a deep emotion to it, but it’s also a lot of fun.

Were you just waiting for the moment when you could just bring in a T-Rex? Are you guys big fans of Jurassic Park?

APPELBAUM: I’m definitely a big fan of Jurassic Park. My daughter loves it, although she likes the sequels more than the original. She’s four. The conceit of the show is that these aurora borealis could really bring anything to 10,000 B.C. At the end of Season 2, we see that that’s really possible, when all these auroras open up in the sky. The most fun thing that we could think of to bring in are dinosaurs, so bringing in that T-Rex, at the end, was the pinnacle of that. That’s just a glimpse of what’s gonna be in store for Season 3.

Natalie Zea as Eve Harris in Season 2 of La Brea
Image via NBC

When you have a moment like you do, at the end of the season, where Eve is the one that gets sucked into the portal and she could travel to any number of possible dates in time, was it always going to be her? Did you consider any other characters?

APPELBAUM: We always knew that it was gonna be that character. The Harris family is the emotional center of the show, and one of the central themes of the show is about it being a divided family, so we’ve always been looking for different ways to divide them, whether physically or emotionally. At the very beginning of the series, they’re divided by a sinkhole. By the middle of Season 2, they’re brought back together physically, but they’re divided emotionally, over several conflicts, one of them being what to do about Gavin’s father, James. By the end of the season, they’re healed in many ways, but we wanted to find a way to divide them physically again, and that’s where the idea came from, to send Eve to a different time. So, Season 3 is really gonna revolve around, how can we reunite them again? It’s that push and pull of, can this family finally be reunited? That’s what’s really at the heart of the show.

When you decided that’s how Eve’s story would end in Season 2, did you know exactly what time she would be in?

APPELBAUM: That was one of the fun things that we pitched in the writers’ room. We do know now where she goes. There had been a couple of different ideas, but we have settled on it, at this point. A few months ago, there were a few different pitches on the table, all of which would have been fun, in their own ways, but now we do have it.

What’s it like to then clue the actor in on what you’re doing with their character? How did Natalie Zea react to everything that will be happening with her character?

APPELBAUM: The actors are really game for a lot of, I think they find they’re really enjoyed the show, they find it really exciting to to read these scripts and to be surprised, like the audience is. When they wanna know something, they ask, and we’re more than happy to tell them. But sometimes, they like to just read and be surprised themselves, and go on that journey. It depends on the actor and their process. Each of them are different, with how they wanna be involved, but we’re open to each different type of process.

Jonno Roberts as James in Season 2 of La Brea
Image via NBC

We now have the mystery of what this new symbol is, and we have this child who’s pretending not to be able to speak English, and we know that Levi is somehow connected to it all. What can you say about all of that? What role will that play, going forward?

APPELBAUM: It’s gonna be a central part of Season 3. There’s a deeper mysteries that exists in 10,000 B.C., beyond the Lazarus building. That was one of the things that we wanted to impress upon the audience. We’re also gonna find out about Gavin and his family’s role. We heard a little bit about Gavin’s sister, at the end of Season 2, and we’re gonna find out that Gavin’s family’s history goes deeper into this than we had thought before. We really wanted to tease deeper mysteries and deeper connections to this world that are gonna be central to the story. I don’t wanna give away too many plot elements, but those pieces are really gonna be pivotal for figuring out what’s going on in 10,000 B.C. You’ll also get a larger sense of how they might actually get reunited and get home.

When someone like James gives a warning about somebody, like he does to Gavin about his sister, should we be even more worried about what kind of person she will be and how she will play into all of this?

APPELBAUM: Yes, but also, can you believe him? He’s a very manipulative character, so was he telling the truth, or did he have some larger purpose in mind? Why would he tell him that only now? Those are some of the questions that Gavin will be pondering and grappling with, as he gets into Season 3. He’s gonna meet his sister, at some point, but there are some deeper questions that he’s gonna be sitting with, as Season 3 starts up.

How suspicious should we continue to be about Levi, who clearly he has left some things out?

APPELBAUM: He has left some things out, yeah. He does know some things that he hasn’t said. He will have some more information to play. He clearly knows more about this group and about this place than he’s let on. I don’t wanna give away everything, but there will be a few more surprises with him, as we get into the next season.

Lily Santiago as Veronica and Josh McKenzie as Lucas in Season 2 of La Brea
Image via NBC

Throughout the season, Lucas has been struggling with where and how he fits into everything. He’s gone from someone who didn’t want to be a part of this community to not wanting to leave this community, and also forming this relationship with Veronica. After everything he’s been through, was it important to really give him a hero moment, on a literal white horse?

APPELBAUM: Yeah. The horse was really a metaphor for him. He says, at the beginning of the episode, that horses don’t like him. He’s referring to a story when he was back in 2021, and he doesn’t think that he can be the guy that he is in 10,000 B.C., back in modern times. So, by him riding up on the white horse to save Veronica, it’s a testament to him that maybe he can be that guy. It was a vehicle to show his change and the steps that he has taken, and it gave him a hero moment. It’s also a cool visual. The white horse has a symbolic place in a lot of film and TV, and we thought it would be a fun thing to adapt into La Brea, as well.

All of these characters have been through a lot and they’ve been tested in a variety of ways. Who are you most proud of, as far as how far they’ve come? Whose journey have you most enjoyed exploring and seeing played out? Has anyone been particularly unexpected?

APPELBAUM: That’s a tough question because a lot of them have and I feel attached to them, in different ways. But one of them that you could point to is Lucas. Lucas and Veronica have probably had the most A to Z transformations. They’re the most different now than they were when we first met them. When we first met Lucas, he was a heroin dealer who was a loner, and now, he’s become the leader of people. Veronica was the victim of a kidnapper who had put that cruelty onto her younger sister. Now, she’s pregnant with a child and is loved and has become a good person. They’ve undergone huge transformations, and tracking those arcs over two seasons has been a really fun thing to work out. So, I point to the two of them, at the top of the list, among many others.

La Brea is available to stream at Peacock.

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