brake alert: This piece contains spoilers for “The Next Day,” the second season premiere of “La Brea,” which premiered Tuesday, September 27 on NBC.
The second season of “La Brea” is now underway, but the events of last year’s pilot episode of the hit NBC drama series — about a time gate hole appearing in downtown Los Angeles — could have taken an entire season of the show. Eve Harris (Natalie Zea) and her son, Josh (Jack Martin), are separated from the rest of their family when they fall in, and they appear in Los Angeles around 10,000 B.C., along with a group of characters who are also trying to find their way back to the present.
The following twists are too numerous to name: Gavin (Owen McCain, Josh’s father) learns that the visions that plagued him in his career as a pilot were actually memories of that primeval land; A team of suspicious scientists has been conducting experiments on the sewer(s) for years; and multiple portals opening and closing throughout the first season, with Josh and others transported to Los Angeles in 1988 for the final episode. Not to mention the huge number of prehistoric predators and the mysterious modern skyscraper that was revealed at the end of last season.
Now, season two promises more unpredictable twists and turns, from a new pit that opened in 1988 to the kidnapping of Eve by an army of mysterious medieval guards. Talk to Zia and Martin, who are currently filming for Season 2 in Australia diverse About the latest reveal of the show. They discuss fan reactions, Zea’s mood board for inspirational characters, and Martin’s unexpectedly real-world connection to the series.
What was different for you in season two?
Jack Martin: What was really different for me this year is my character in 1988. It’s a whole new story for him and his love, Riley [Veronica St. Clair]. Because of this, the scenes are more focused and the settings are very different. We’re in ’80s L.A. last season, I tended to be in the big group dynamics that was about pushing the plot forward and was shooting in these wild outdoor locations we still use, but it’s less focused on Josh here.
Natalie Zia: Jack and Veronica St. Clair, they may have had the biggest makeover. They have literally traveled tens of thousands of years. I have to change my jacket. That was a big deal. My story, as well as a lot of people left in the clearing, it’s really just a continuation of what exactly we left off because the episode name is “The Day After”.
Do you guys know how long it’s been in the series so far?
ZEA: It was originally three weeks in total, then turned into two because we’ve trimmed the time between the ending and the opening episode you see today.
Martin: My understanding is that every episode in season one was a day. And since 201 is called “the next day”, it will be 11 days.
Your characters were on a rocky road last season, and then they split. What does it mean for your characters to have lost each other at this point in the story?
ZEA: When we open this episode, Eve pretty much collapses. Not only is she dealing with the loss of her son but she has no idea where her daughter is. Now you feel incredibly weak and lost. She doesn’t handle it well. She was the hero who is above all else and trying to set an example for this group of people, and I’ve kind of run out of her at this point because she feels like hope might be lost.
Martin: After episode 7, when I voted for her off the island, I got a lot of messages from people saying, “You’re so rude to your mother.” I was like, “That acting! That’s the character!” I love Natalie, so we’re all fine. Josh is 17, and I know when I was 17 I was definitely annoying. So sometimes people can be hormonal and moody and not say that’s the whole impulse, but it’s a character that is very much driven by instinct and often acts and then thinks later. This definitely led to some conflict. The other thing is that there has been a massive revelation from his father, Gavin, that his visions have been true all along which is a totally groundbreaking transformation for the family. Josh is very hard on himself and takes it all personally, and that’s something that also affected his relationship with his mom, because he totally went to her during that crisis.
We are now in the eighties. He doesn’t even know what happened. He has the impression that he may never be able to see his family again, and for that reason, he carries a lot of guilt from those events I just mentioned. This is a huge motivating factor for him that will come into play.
Natalie, now everyone is looking at you and Captain Levi Delgado (Nicolas Gonzalez), the man you had an affair with and who flew a botched rescue mission down the stream. At the end of the first episode, he’s kidnapped next to you, and viewers know your husband Gavin is somewhere in the year 10,000 B.C. What do you have to say to Eve and the situation you are in now?
ZEA: It’s difficult, isn’t it? Because it’s pretty much in a life-or-death situation, where the primary goal is obviously to survive. Then there are these peripheral emotional states that occur concurrently. For Eve, it is just about dividing for her life and the lives of the people around her. There’s also a bit of denial there. There’s a kind of like, you know, “I’ll deal with my feelings later, once we’re sure everyone’s alive and breathing.”
This will be her theme all season. We can’t be at 11 all the time or else our adrenals will explode and we’ll die of a heart attack. There must be moments when she takes a breath and becomes weak. It’s just part of the experience you’re going through right now.
Coming into season 2, you have a fan base that has been watching the show. What do you hear from fans?
Martin: I mean, it’s great to see how excited people are. People really love the show.
I’ve noticed fan theories all the time. People think I’m Silas, I get a lot of that, which I can’t speak to, but other theories like that. The flow of love for the show is pretty amazing.
ZEA: The only comment I got was that I was told yesterday that my husband said something to my seven-year-old daughter, “Something la Brea,” and she rolled her eyes and said, “Oh my God if you knew how many times I have to say that word in one day.” And he was like, “What are you talking about?” And she said, “All I get is people at school ask me, ‘What is your mom’s show?’ “
What do you see coming from Season 2 that people will be most excited about?
ZEA: We are able to explore personal relationships a lot more than we were able to do when we were busy trying to survive, which we still do.
Martin: Yes, I totally agree with that. There will be some encounters, and there will be some personal interactions that people have been waiting to see. Definitely new animals, although I wouldn’t say which ones. The only thing the show does well is that it answers questions before it asks new ones. It is not one of those in which there are endless and unsolved mysteries. So there will be a lot of answers about what’s going on here.
While working on a show of this nature, are you guys anywhere looking for style inspiration?
ZEA: When I get to work, I start from the outside in. So I gathered inspiration for the way the character looks and the way it feels. I have Naomi Watts in “The Impossible,” Emily Blunt in “A Quiet Place,” and Carrie-Ann Moss in “The Matrix.” Those kinds of very strong and troubled women are in danger. Very sloppy, focused and powerful. From there, I just tried to capture the feeling of those characters. And if I get lost, this is the test to which I return.
Martin: I’ve been a fan of the genre for a while, you know, I saw “Lost,” I saw “The Walking Dead.” The thing that was fun was that the new season of “Stranger Things” was coming out while we were filming this, and they’re also going to Los Angeles in the ’80s. Joe Kerry’s character on this show – there are differences for sure – but I would say he’s probably the closest Josh character on TV right now.
The biggest mystery now is a random mid-10,000 BC skyscraper in Los Angeles. What were your reactions when you first saw this item enter the script?
ZEA: Many of us know about it for a fairly long time. It felt like the inevitable next step.
There is another community out there.
Martin: I agree. It is natural progression and follows logically. What’s cool about it is that the kind of thing that I’ve been a fan of on other shows has left it open to a mystery or not fully explained what was going on. But the good thing is that we really delve into it and really explain what’s going on and fully explore it, which is really interesting.
Are you able to go to the corner of Fairfax and Wilshire anymore? Can you even look at that area of Los Angeles after seeing it get swallowed up in a sinkhole?
Martin: Want to learn something funny? I live there. It’s kind of silly. It will be built in the stream. I see that angle every day.
Did you live there before you booked the show?
Martin: No, but that wasn’t the reason I moved. It has nothing to do with the show. I looked at a bunch of apartments all over Los Angeles and happened to pick that one. And honestly, it wasn’t until after I moved in, I looked outside and said, “Oh my God. I’m in the stream.”
This interview has been edited and condensed.