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Just How Bad Was the Ending to 'La Brea'?

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 21, 2024 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | February 21, 2024 |


la-brea-dinosaur.jpeg

I was on vacation last week when the La Brea finale aired, but I feel like I owe it to our beloved readers to provide some closure. As someone who quit early in season two and has only watched two of the final season three episodes, I feel as if I am well-suited to provide that closure. And it starts with … a dinosaur?

A what? A T-Rex? In 10,000 BC? I know! That was my first thought, too! Dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago. Why is there a dinosaur in La Brea, which is set in 10,000 B.C.? Good question! I backed up and scanned the penultimate episode to see, and there are no dinosaurs in that episode (although Levi dies at the end of episode 5. Womp womp). Then I found this article from the network itself: “La Brea Creator Teases Dinosaurs, Twists and “Balancing Act” of Crafting the Final Season.” Alas, after mentioning dinosaurs in the headline, the article never mentions dinosaurs again. Even the network marketing people have no idea what they’re doing. It took some more sleuthing to find out that, at the end of season two, dinosaurs emerged from the Mesozoic era into 10,000 BC through a sinkhole. A couple of dinosaurs face off during the season premiere, and as best I can tell, there’s no more mention of the dinosaurs again until the finale when a lot of the indigenous locals are attacked by a pack of dinosaurs (off-screen, of course, because the budget on the final six episodes was a shiny quarter).

It’s also important to note here that Eve (Natalie Zea), the ostensible lead in the series, is pulled into a portal at the end of season two. The only appearance that “Eve” has made through five episodes is here. She’s being held captive in 1965.

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In case it’s not obvious, that is not Natalie Zea. Zea does make a brief appearance in the finale. More on that in a minute. First, let me see if I can summarize the last three seasons up until now: A bunch of people from 2021 Los Angeles fall into a sinkhole and land in 10,000 BC. Other portals into the past randomly appear throughout the series allowing various characters to go back and forth through time, although it’s always either 10,000 BC or sometime in the last 100 years. There are no portals, apparently, to any of the other 12,000 years between them.

At some point, we learn that there is an evil military organization behind all of this. Everything necessary for time travel exists on a microchip, and this microchip is going to be used to create time-traveling fighter jets. This is the microchip.

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The bad guys and the good guys are all trying to get that microchip. A lot of the bad guys — soldiers with weapons and military vehicles — have set up in 10,000 B.C. In the finale, an aurora opens up offering two options from 10,000 BC: Travel to 1965 — this is where Eve is — and travel to 2021. So, our characters have to travel to 1965 and fetch their family members, jump back into 10,000 BC, and go through the 2021 aurora before it closes. I do not know what is operating the aurora. Also, I don’t know why they call them “auroras” because I have found no definition of aurora that includes time travel.

I won’t go through all the characters because no one cares. I will say, however, that Doctor Guy goes to 1965 to rescue his daughter, who had been attacked by a dinosaur in 10,000 B.C. She’s not doing well because, she says, they didn’t use antibiotics in 1965 (Fact check: False), so he performs an emergency surgery on his daughter. I have no idea where all the other hospital personnel are during this. He does it by himself, and he and his daughter find their way back to 2021 off-screen.

The other thing is that Eve’s family travels to 1965 to find her, including her ex-husband Gavin, who is traveling with a sister he never knew he had until recently (obviously, Gavin finds his long lost sister in 10,000 BC). In 1965, they have to destroy the microchip while also finding Eve. Because Natalie Zea was apparently not available, all of this happens off screen. Gavin’s sister tells Gavin, “Eve is going to destroy the chip, blow up a building, and meet y’all back in 2021. She promises.”

Gavin is like, “Cool,” so they go back to 10,000 BC. Unfortunately, the aurora closes before they can get back to 2021. Gavin is like, “No problem. I have an idea.” He’s like, “I’ll use the microchip to fly a fighter jet through a portal, and I’ll just put all of the people we need to transport to 2021 in the fighter jet’s cargo hold.” I had no idea that fighter jets had cargo holds that could accommodate 20-25 people, not including the guy with brain cancer, who was magically cured by living in 10,000 BC where he met his new wife, an indigenous woman. He’s going to stay behind with … the murderous, rampaging, out-of-time dinosaurs. Also, the indigenous people all speak English because they learned it from the military baddies.

So Gavin and Co. head toward the fighter jet, but there are a lot of military evildoers in their way. No problem: With the help of the cavemen, they overrun the scores of men with machine guns. I wish you could see it, but again, it mostly happens off screen. There’s a crowd of good guys fighting a crowd of bad guys with weapons, and a minute later, the bad guys have lost. And then they kill the main evil lady and jump in the jet. But uh oh! They still have to get by the dinosaur. Gavin is an expert pilot, though, and he manages to barely avoid the T-Rex while taking off. See:

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I don’t even think the dinosaur is CGI. I think they just found a dinosaur toy lying around and used stop motion. It’s about as menacing as Barney, and soldiers who get within 10 feet of it just fly off as though they’ve been hit. It is laughably bad.

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Anyway, the jet avoids the dinosaur and uses the microchip one last time to open up a portal into 2021. They get there, and everyone is safe and happy and paired up with people they met along the way. Romance! The only person missing is Eve, who had promised to meet them in 2021. For some reason, Eve is not in their home because why would these people decide to meet back in the place where they live?! Gavin is like, “I know where she is.” And he goes to this tree in the middle of nowhere where Eve told him she was pregnant way back in the day. Gavin and the kids wait around for hours, and they’re like, “She’s not coming, Dad!” But Gavin is like, “Wait! She’ll be here! I promise! Why wouldn’t she meet us back at this random tree instead of our house?” At that moment, Eve — in one of two scenes she’s in all season (the other being a flashback) — runs around the corner.

“Where were you?” Gavin asks. “I got stuck in traffic on La Brea,” Eve jokes. Aha ha haha! Ahem.

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She then reveals that she left a note for them under the tree when she was in 1965, saying that she visited the tree often because it made her feel connected to her family. I don’t understand this because we were told that Eve was being held hostage the entire time she was in 1965, but maybe her abductors let her hang out by her special tree on Sundays. Also, this tree has notes on it, notes that survive for decades. I know it doesn’t rain a lot in Los Angeles, but what!?

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It’s also still unclear why Zea didn’t appear in the final season. I assume it’s either because NBC couldn’t afford her or because Zea read the scripts. But she has a more sizable role in the Justified revival than in La Brea’s final season, and she’s only in Justified for about two minutes.

But that’s it! Half the events of the episode happen off-screen, and the other half of the events are nonsense. It’s saying something that the finale was more ridiculous than the harebrained series already was, but it’s true. I have no idea who was still watching the show, but they must have been disappointed by the results. I don’t know why NBC didn’t cancel the series after the second season, given the low ratings, but I also suspect it was the smart move, otherwise the same weird-ass mob that resurrected Manifest would’ve harassed NBC to give them an ending for La Brea. Well, here it is. Happy now?