Spoilers ahead for Episode 5 of La Brea Season 1 on NBC, called “The Fort.”
La Brea managed to raise the stakes even higher for the groups both above and beneath the sinkhole in “The Fort,” with the survivors down below discovering a settlement of seemingly native people who spoke English while Gavin and Izzy learned up in Los Angeles that the opening to the sinkhole is closing in a matter of hours. The show continues to feel more and more like it’s channeling (or trying to channel) Lost, but even as I enjoyed the show adding new layers to the mysteries, I found myself struggling to side with the group of sinkhole survivors who went exploring in “The Fort.” Could that be what La Brea is going for, or is it an unfortunate side effect of the storyline?
On the one hand, the prospect of a settlement of humans in 10,000 B.C. emitting a radio signal was exciting for me as a viewer as well as the survivors on the ground, so it was inevitable that they were going to track the signal into the fort and explore. But it was how they did it that rubbed me the wrong way. Other than Eve putting up a halfhearted protest that they were intruding on the land of the people who lived there, the group split up and started barging into houses and making themselves at home with the belongings, weapons, and food they found there. When Riley started eagerly eating the bowl of nuts that was out in one of the dwellings, I realized that I was kind of hoping that they would get caught. And/or learn a valuable lesson about not eating food when they don't know the source.
Not that I want the major characters of La Brea to be killed off for making what were clearly reckless mistakes rather than being deliberately cruel, but Scott literally raised a point about the native Californians living on that land before Europeans invaded and colonized. That didn’t exactly make it fun to see most of these 21st-century characters going through the homes and belongings of the people who they had every reason to believe were native to 10,000 B.C.
And if I’m being honest, I was kind of with the people who drove Eve and Co. out of their village with bows and arrows more than I was with the group of sinkhole survivors. Even now, knowing that they're almost certainly not native Californians from thousands of years ago, I can see their point. And based on the fact that there are kids who know about the "sky people" from a grandfather, it's probably safe to say that this group has been there for a while.
That said, making themselves at home in the village may teach them a valuable lesson about this new world they’re in, so it’s possible that the show's goal wasn’t actually for viewers to side with the survivors. Their overconfidence could have gotten them killed, so perhaps they’ll be overcautious from now on.
They could certainly use some more caution, since it’s probably safe to say that Gavin won’t be rescuing them all back to the surface in 2021 by the sixth episode of the series. And not siding with the sinkhole survivors who explored the village didn’t turn me against the show, although I am hoping that Riley gets some pants sooner rather than later. This just doesn’t seem like an adventure where a skirt is the way to go!
Plus, the other group of survivors who stayed back at the camp didn’t make the same transgressions, and Ty made some important strides with Lilly, who confessed that she was actually kidnapped by Veronica and her father, and not Veronica’s sister at all. So there are very human problems among the survivors as well as whatever is happening with the English-speaking people already living in 10,000 B.C. and with the sinkhole itself.
There are a lot of layers to La Brea – and some make more sense than others – but at this point, I’m ready to see the survivors who went on the adventure either face some comeuppance or learn some valuable lessons after “The Fort.” At this point, the show seems to be a combination of Lost and The 100, but still working to set itself apart.
See what happens next with new episodes of La Brea on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET, following The Voice. It has been a major hit of a new series for the network so far, and it should be interesting to see how it continues to play for viewers in the fall TV season as the plot keeps on twisting and turning.
Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.
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