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La Brea Creator Teases Dinosaurs, Twists and "Balancing Act" of Crafting the Final Season
With only six episodes to wrap up Season 3, David Appelbaum promises closure, emotion, and so many dinosaurs.
With two seasons under its belt, and a third on the way, NBC's sci-fi drama La Brea has been chock full of time travel, surprise portals,10,000 B.C. beasties, and plenty of human drama. But while the estranged Harris family of Los Angeles — parents Eve (Natalie Zea) and Gavin (Eoin Macken), and their teens, Izzy (Zyra Gorecki) and Josh (Jack Martin) — have been the primary protagonists of the series, La Brea has always been an ensemble piece too.
Creator David Appelbaum and his writers have made it a series feature to follow the every day stories of the other unexpected time travelers, who are also trying to get back home alive from this terrifying prehistoric pitstop. Every kind of personality type is represented, including sincere Dr. Sam Velez (Jon Seda) and his daughter Riley (Veronica St. Clair), nerdy grad student Scott Israni (Rohan Mirchandaney), and even reformed heroin trafficker Lucas Hayes (Josh McKenzie).
With the third and final season premiering Tuesday, January 9 at 9/8c on NBC, we went straight to Appelbaum to get some intel on how they're going to bring closure to these characters, and whether it ends up happening in the ancient past or (hopefully) the present.
Figuring out how to end all the storylines of La Brea in six hours
For two seasons, Appelbaum and his writers typically crafted their seasons intentionally answering mythology questions while seeding new mysteries and problems. But NBC's announcement that La Brea's truncated third season would be its last meant that Appelbaum and his team had to craft a season that tied up most of their outstanding story threads and provide closure for their characters: a big task to accomplish across six hours.
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"I always had an idea of where I wanted to end it for certain characters," Appelbaum told NBC Insider. "But some of the other characters were on a different different journey in Season 2, so we really approached it from where do we want to bring all the characters emotionally by the end of the season?"
Working out the "jigsaw puzzle" of stories that makes La Brea so unique
Appelbaum said he and his writers started crafting the season from the end. "We went through all the characters, and started from that place of where I knew I wanted to end the series for certain characters, and the Harris family, and then worked backwards from there," he explained. "We picked up some of the threads that we had left from the end of Season 2, and then went through the normal process of creating stories. But it really started with figuring out what do we want the end for all of these particular characters to be?"
Acknowledging that La Brea is very much a jigsaw puzzle of interwoven storylines, Appelbaum said their biggest challenge for Season 3 was trying to service all of the characters well, while knowing that "not everyone can shine in the same way."
Season 3 of La Brea will be a balancing act of mythology and intimate stories
Because La Brea is a big mythology series with lots of complex, sci-fi set pieces, Appelbaum wanted to make sure the audience would be able to follow both the intimate and epic stories clearly. "You also want the audience to come in and be emotionally invested and not be confused by what's happening," he laughed. "I think really it's always a balancing act."
He cites the surprising evolution of Lucas and Veronica's (Lily Santiago) relationship from strangers to lovers and now parents-to-be. "By the end of Season 2, they find out they're pregnant, so what does it mean to potentially become parents in 10,000 B.C.?" Appelbaum said of that big storyline explored in Season 3.
"But then there are other deeper mythology stories, like the symbol that we see at the end of Season 2 and understanding Levi (Nicholas Gonzalez) and Scott's connection to it," he continued. "Those stories demand that the audience get a little bit familiar with the show, if they really want to understand that aspect of it. So, if you like the show, then doing a little catch up before you jump into the season is fun."
Speaking of catching up, you can currently stream Seasons 1 and 2 of La Brea on Peacock