‘La Brea’: In which they steal the whole Michael betrays and kills his friends thing. For the second time.

La Brea
“The Return”
February 14, 2023


A poorly rendered prehistoric rhino is peacefully enjoying his breakfast when there is a small green flash, helpfully low to the ground, and some backpacked dude falls through it. They don’t show his face, but it’s gotta be Levi, right? And if it is Levi, WHY DOESN’T HE HAVE ANY SUPPLIES WITH HIM? MY GOD, THESE PEOPLE CAN NOT PLAN FOR SHIT.

Meanwhile, Eve is still recovering from her head boo-boo in the hospital-bus. Josh and Izzy come in ostensibly to check on her, but it quickly devolves into a spat over whether or not their dad can trust his dad and Eve is like, “Y’ALL, I HAVE A HEADACHE. I CAN’T DEAL WITH THIS BICKERING.”

Outside, Lucas asks Veronica to move in with him — and by “move in” with him, he literally means into his car, which lololololol no gross. Maybe these dingalings should start thinking about building some actual shelters? Because it seems like they’re going to be there for a minute? ANYWAY, Veronica has a similar response and runs away.

But also …

So Scott, this fucking idiot, he’s on surveillance duty on the tower that they built — so they CAN build some structures that might allow the survivors to sleep in something other than a Nissan Altima — when that Virgil guy climbs up and offers to take a turn on lookout. Scott agrees without any pushback, because, again — fucking idiot (and lazy writing) — and Virgil immediately ties a red bandana to a post, obviously signaling something to someone.

And sure enough, in the nearby woods, Taamet and his people receive the signal and come tearing into the clearing, chasing the survivors all over the place, and herding people into their car-homes. Josh and Izzy are shoved into one car, while Eve and Scott find themselves locked together in the hospital-bus.

Meanwhile, while Lucas is looking for Veronica, he spies the bandana and Virgil coming down off the tower, and even this idiot can put 2 and 2 together, SCOTT. Lucas grabs Virgil and throws him into the costume truck where he demands to know why he’s working with the Exiles, and Virgil confesses that he wasn’t given a choice. Virgil also confesses to killing Wyatt in a panic after Wyatt caught him looking for something in Caroline’s bag on Taamet’s orders. As for what he was looking for: “a brown moleskin book with a green binding.”

Out in the wilderness, Gavin is on his way back to the Tower when he runs into his old friend/rival, Levi, whose hair is not lightly greyed. And I’m old enough to remember when we spent an entire season figuring out how to send someone back into the past, but apparently we’re just Ubering back and forth through time all willy-nilly now.

Right, so Levi explains that he came through a sinkhole in 1998 — while it’s only been a week since Gavin last saw Levi, it’s been ten years for him. Levi explains that when he returned, he joined the DOD on a mission to close the sinkholes, but since he just came through one like an automatic door at a grocery store, it’s clear Gavin’s plan to destroy the machine didn’t take.

And I’m just going to pause here for a minute to wonder if all these sinkholes continue to show up all over the place (certainly all over Southern California, but as far north as Seattle as well, and WHO EVEN KNOWS WHERE ELSE) and apparently all over time, why aren’t more people falling into them? Why are only our core cast using these sinkholes like elevators?

And why am I trying to apply logic to this VERY STUPID SHOW?

Gavin reveals to Levi that he’s working with his father, James, and suggests that Levi join him — he’s on his way to the Tower right now.

As they make their way to the Tower, Levi assures Gavin that he’s not back to steal Gavin’s wife. For Levi, his relationship with Eve is ancient history. Instead, he explains, in the ten years since he saw Gavin last, he fell in love with a colleague, Marissa, married her, and she died. After she died, he vowed to finish what she started which is how he ended up back in this CGI-predator-infested shithole.

Also out in the woods wandering around trying to get themselves killed are Dr. Sam, Riley, and a bunch of redshirts. They’re looking for Taamet, I suppose? While they’re wandering around, Riley tells her dad about Caroline hiding Dr. Moore’s notes and not telling Josh about it, and Riley asks him to keep it a secret. He’s clearly not going to keep it a secret.

The group finds an extinguished campsite, and soon after, they discover a woman in modern clothes tied up and blindfolded. She reveals she is Jane, Virgil’s wife, and that the Exiles told Virgil they would kill her unless Virgil worked with them.


Dr. Sam, Riley, and the Redshirts run into Gavin and Levi and inform them of the whole Virgil situation and explain that they need to return to the clearing right now.

Back at the clearing, Izzy snaps off a rearview mirror from their car and she and Josh attempt to run to the security tower, but can’t get past some Exiles. Scott and Eve watch from the hospital-bus with worry for their safety, until Eve passes out because head injury. So Scott grabs a screwdriver and runs out of the hospital-bus to distract the Exiles, allowing Izzy and Josh can get to their target. It’s successful, but before Scott can return to safety, he finds himself face-to-face with Taamet. Scott tries to stab him with the screwdriver; it only pisses Taamet off, and he orders the Exiles to take Scott away.

Lucas sees the Exiles manhandling Veronica and Ella, and yells at them to stop: he has what they are looking for: a “brown moleskin book with green binding.” But Taamet doesn’t believe him, and demands to know what is in the book.


And that’s when Veronica pipes up: the book has a bunch of numbers and symbols in it, and she and her sister buried it with their KidnapperRapistFakeDaddy, who, somehow, had had it on his person when they came through the sinkhole. Taamet announces that Veronica, Ella, and Lucas will go with his men to dig the book up, but if they’re not back by sundown, Scott’s gonna die.

Meanwhile, Izzy is using the rearview mirror to try to message her father to return to the clearing in the very unlikely event that he turns around and looks back while on his way to the Tower.

What even is this show?

Josh and Izzy notice the Exiles taking Lucas, Veronica, and Ella into the woods, and Izzy realizes she needs to change her message and tell their dad to “target the small group first.”

OK. What the fuck.

First of all, as far as Izzy knows, Gavin is out in the woods by himself. If Veronica, Lucas, and Ella can’t handle their captors, how is one man going to do that?

SECONDLY, this seems like a whole lot of information to convey via Morse code to a person who may or may not even be looking in your general direction. First, she has to tell him that the Exiles are in the clearing attacking his people, but then add that despite that, he shouldn’t come to the clearing, at least not first, because there is a smaller group of Exiles that he — and he alone — should go after instead.

This show only makes sense.

Fortunately for Izzy, Dr. Sam and Gavin and the rest are already on their way back to the clearing to save everyone, when they see the mirror flashing, and Gavin takes notes: “ATTACK EXILES EAST.”

And somehow, from those three words, they figure out that there is a group of Exiles headed east that Izzy wants them to take out first before returning to the clearing.

And all of this could have been so much easier if ANY ONE of these idiots had thought to bring walkie-talkies and some batteries back with them. BUT WHATEVER.

Also luckily, Dr. Sam and Gavin’s group happens to go directly to where Veronica, Lucas, and Ella are digging up KidnapperRapistFakeDaddy just as they recover the book. Fortunately, Levi did think to bring a gun back with him this time; unfortunately, he chooses to waste three bullets, shooting into the air to get the Exiles’ attention and encourage them to give up. THERE HAD TO BE A BETTER WAY TO DO THAT, LEVI.

At the clearing, Taamet tells Scott that time’s almost up, and Scott delivers the dumbest retort that is supposed to sound smart that I’ve ever heard:

“As a cultural anthropologist, I’ve had a unique opportunity to study your group from a number of different ethnographic perspectives: cognitive, political, developmental, psychological, even transpersonal. And I have to say that on every level, you are all an epic fail.”

We’ve discussed this before, but are Paara and Taamet and the rest of them supposed to be indigenous to 10,000 B.C. or are they modern people who fell into a sinkhole and turned native? Because we haven’t heard any evidence for the latter, but if it’s the former, how do they speak fluent English? Additionally, if they are indigenous, do they understand the English words “ethnographic, perspectives, cognitive, political, developmental, psychological, transpersonal”? Much less the early 2000s slang, “epic fail”?

But apparently, Taamet understands this well enough to know he’s been insulted and he lunges to kill Scott, only to have Dr. Sam and Gavin return to save the day at the perfect moment. Taamet runs into the woods; Scott follows with a big knife with Lucas close behind. As Taamet is about to kill the wounded Lucas, Scott stabs Taamet, mortally wounding him.

Dr. Sam and Gavin arrive in time for Dr. Sam to slow the bleeding long enough for 1. Lucas to give the book to Gavin, 2. Gavin to realize these were the missing Dr. Moore notes that his father sent him to find, 3. for Gavin to ask Taamet who sent him to find the book, and 4. for Taamet to tell him it was Kiera. Then, and only then is Taamet allowed to die.

And who’s Kiera? GOOD QUESTION. Because I’ve been watching this stupid show from the beginning and had no idea either.

Turns out, she’s the severe blonde lady at the Tower.

But before we get to all that, after she freaks out about the fact that KidnapperRapistFakeDaddy clearly had been in 10,000 B.C. at some point before, and marveling that “none of this makes any sense” …

… Veronica agrees to move into Lucas’ car with him. And Eve finds out that Levi is back — and Levi confesses that his plan, which he has not shared with Gavin, is to kill Gavin’s dad. Eve makes goo-goo eyes at him.

But back to this Kiera person. Over at the Tower, she helps Ty prepare for his therapy session with James by giving him an electronic tablet on which to take notes. Ty requests an old-fashioned legal pad instead, and when she obliges, she has written him a note: “DON’T TRUST JAMES. FIND OUT ABOUT PROJECT BLUE MOON.”

As for the therapy session itself, James reveals he hasn’t slept in a month. When Ty presses him on when the insomnia began, James claims he had a dream about a delivery of some trees before hurriedly excusing himself.

Before he leaves the Tower, Ty checks in with James again, and calls him out about the tree dream being a lie and is like, “Dude, you’re the one who asked me for therapy, so you need to be honest.” James finally opens up that he had a nightmare about Isaiah not being in his bed. This brought back his feelings from when Isaiah was taken, and how at the time, he tried to kill himself, but his gun wasn’t loaded. James laments that Gavin will never truly trust him, before showing Ty some pictures young Isaiah drew as a child, including one of a BLUE MOON.

Kiera walks Ty out of the Tower, noting  that James had scheduled more sessions with him. She then assures him that they are out of the Tower and can speak openly, at which point Ty asks her what this “Project Blue Moon” is. But Kiera doesn’t know; it’s the first Lazarus project she’s been locked out of. Ty mentions Isaiah’s blue moon drawing, and Kiera explains that she thinks James might want to fix the machine to “start over” and prevent Isaiah from being taken from him in the first place. Ty is horrified by this: if that happens, Gavin and Eve will never meet and their children will never be born! But Kiera points out that it also means there will never be a sinkhole and Ty will never come to the Tower to be cured of his cancer.

Except … not.

Because whatever happened, happened; you can’t change the past, Goddammit.

Look. The first thing we have to assume based on Kiera’s statement is that she is worried the machine will be fixed in the present, allowing James to go back to the past and keep Isaiah from being kidnapped. But along with that worry, Kiera seems concerned that the machine will be fixed in the past and into the present. The only way the sinkholes won’t happen and Ty won’t return to be treated for cancer is if the machine is fixed before the point in the timeline when the La Brea sinkhole opens. Right? Still with me?

But here’s the problem: if the machine is fixed so that James can go back in time, it will be because adult Gavin (or someone) helped him fix it by finding Dr. Moore’s notes. But if James goes back and prevents Isaiah from being abducted in the first place, Gavin will never come to be, and therefore can not help his father to fix the machine and send him back in time. This creates a paradox.

Ok, but say someone else gives James Dr. Moore’s notes, like Caroline or Dr. Sam, eliminating adult Gavin from the equation altogether. The problem here is that the notes themselves come from a future that has to happen so as to go back to the past. Dr. Sam, for instance, might give James the notes to fix the machine in an attempt to get back to 2021 (or 2023, or whenever the hell “now” is at this point). But Dr. Sam only can access these notes if this timeline happens: he can only give James the notes if he falls through the sinkhole along with KidnapperRapistFakeDaddy who has the notes.

But even if we make it more complicated, and, say, James fixes the machine with the notes, goes back in time, and somehow convinces this Dr. Moore to share his notes with him in the past, preventing the machine from ever malfunctioning in the first place … the problem there is that is still predicated on James going back in time in the first place, which brings us back to the problem above: he can’t do that without adult Gavin’s help (or whomever gives him Dr. Moore’s notes).

With time travel, you can’t change the past in an attempt to change the future because that fixed future is how you got to the past in the first place.

Of course, I don’t know why I’m arguing with a show that has demonstrated that they are more than happy to alter the past — that the 1988 sinkholes seem to have taken everyone from 2021 by surprise suggests that these writers are more than happy to hurl time travel logic right out the window.

But you know what? I haven’t watched ahead, so I’m going to save more of the whole “whatever happened, happened” vs. we can change the past! debate that was waged on Lost for later, because who even knows where they are going with this. Instead, I will end by pointing back to what I mentioned in the last recap: that they stole the utterly shocking revelation on Lost that Michael had killed Ana-Lucia and Libby so that he could free Ben Linus in exchange for his son. Previously, I compared this to what they did with the Scott/Lucas/Taamet story, and that was partially accurate. But this Virgil story, in which the Others Exiles take his son wife hostage and he actually kills a fellow survivor, is a little more on the nose.

And I have two thoughts about this: 1. These writers are so unoriginal that they are reusing their own plots, but 2. It also demonstrates what cowards these writers are. What made the Michael storyline on Lost so shocking, so devastating, was that Michael was one of the original survivors whose story we knew; he was a character we connected and deeply sympathized with. And his victims were characters who we were definitely getting to know and care about, and who seemed to have real futures on the show.

But with Virgil here, he’s just some guy. He’s not one of the main characters, but rather some minor character they picked up along the way. And his victim was so unmemorable, I called him “Wiley” throughout this recap before I stopped and double-checked his name. There was no risk in making Virgil a murderer, and no risk in killing off Wyatt. We weren’t invested; it wasn’t important; we don’t care.

Safe and lazy. But what else is to be expected from this dumb show?

La Brea streams on Peacock and will somehow return on NBC in 2024.

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