La Brea has just come off another unnecessary break with a great episode. The Return isn’t just about a familiar face coming back to 10,000 B.C. It’s also about a problem coming back in a big way for the people of the Clearing.
It all starts with an adorably fluffy wooly rhino being disturbed by a portal appearing nearby. A man in jeans and a jacket steps out casually and starts walking with a purpose. Meanwhile back at the Clearing, poor Eve is still recovering from her concussion in the overturned bus. She’s on the way to recovery, but can’t do much physically. Her children both worry about her, but they also quickly squabble about whether or not to trust James. As for Gavin, he’s gone to visit daddy dearest, though that mission gets sidetracked pretty quickly.
Lucas still doesn’t trust Virgil, especially when he catches the man acting all sketchy. He tells Veronica about his suspicions, and is delighted when she agrees with him. She makes everything better, he says, but then is surprised when Veronica rebuffs his suggestion they move in together. She’s still reeling from the weird Aaron revelations last time, and is upset the man who kidnapped her is still on her mind.
Speaking of Virgil, he unexpectedly comes to relieve Scott of guard duty. Scott says he was waiting on someone else, but Virgil convinces him to go and grab a bite to eat. It seems harmless, until Virgil removes the handkerchief from his supposedly wounded hand and affixes it to a wooden pole, hoisting it high. Once he does so, Exile scouts in the woods spy it, and Taamet signals them all to action.
Back at the Lazarus tower, Ty is getting treatment for his otherwise fatal brain tumor, and things seem to be going well. Then James’ number two woman, who it turns out is named Kira, starts grilling him about possible ethical conflicts of interest in playing psychiatrist to James. He assures her he’s a professional, and turns down her digital notepad. He asks instead for a legal pad, and Kira willing agrees. Oddly, she’s written a note on the pad already telling Ty not to trust James, and to inquire about something called Project Blue Moon.
As Gavin is setting out for the tower, he finds the person that stepped through the portal. To his shock, it’s his friend Levi, and he’s rocking a Pedro Pascal scruffy Last of Us look. It definitely works for the man, and Gavin asks what brought him back. Apparently it’s been 10 years for Levi, and he claims portals kept opening up. He joined the DOD and wants to help rescue everyone. Gavin invites Levi to come and meet James, but it’s clear Gavin’s old friend is holding something back.
Sam and a small group are out hunting for Taamet when Riley tells him Caroline’s secret, swearing him to silence. They discover a smoke trail and by following it discover a spent cookfire with weapons branded with the Exile symbol. Back at the Clearing, Josh suspects grandma Caroline is keeping secrets. He doesn’t have much time to test the theory, as suddenly the Exiles attack in force, capturing nearly everyone. The only exceptions are Josh and sister Izzy, who take shelter in a car; Scott takes shelter in Eve’s bus; and Lucas spies Virgil running for cover, and goes to confront the man.
After dragging Virgil into a secluded room, he starts roughing him around. Despite only having one good arm, Lucas quickly gets the best of Virgil, and forces an admission that he helped the Exiles. Not only did he not warn the Clearing of their pending attack, but he killed Wyatt when the other man discovered him searching for something on their behalf. The reason for his complicity is soon made clear, when Sam and Riley discover Virgil’s wife, Jane, as a bound and blindfolded Exile hostage.
Josh and Izzy watch the Exiles hunting for the object Virgil mentioned. Josh wants to discover what it is, but instead Izzy rips off the rearview mirror and says they can use it to save their mom. Scott and Eve watch the siblings running about, about to get caught by an Exile patrol. Eve passes out from fear, and Scott grabs a nearby screwdriver to run interference. He distracts the patrol long enough, but then gets found by Taamet and takes a hard beating.
Ty plays psychiatrist and has a session with James. It’s fun watching him in his element, especially now that he’s on the road to recovery. Turns out, James has suffered from insomnia for a month. Ty initially diagnoses it as stress, but when he tries to dig into what triggered it, James only mentions a dream before deflecting further questions and leaving abruptly.
Gavin presses Levi for the full story, since he can tell his friend is holding something back. Levi swears he didn’t return for any romance with Eve. He actually fell in love and got married in his 10-year hiatus, but says his wife is now dead. Then Sam’s group runs across the men, and tell them about the Exile attack on the Clearing.
Ella and Veronica are busily talking about Aaron and how he ruined Veronica’s life when they get dragged out of their car. Lucas runs out saying he has what the Exiles are searching for, a book as described by Virgil. Unfortunately, Taamet presses for more details and it’s clear Lucas has no idea. To my surprise, Veronica fills in the blanks, and says the book belonged to someone she knew, and that she buried it with Aaron. Taamet sends them to dig it up, and warns Scott will perish if they don’t succeed fast enough.
Izzy uses the mirror to signal a morse code message to Gavin, warning him to attack the smaller Exile group heading to dig up the book first. He’s not in a great mental space, and is instead going to attack the more well-defended clearing, but Levi convinces him to trust his daughter and follow her instructions.
Ty persists, and James reveals it wasn’t a dream that caused his insomnia, but a recurring nightmare about when Isaiah was taken from him. He was overwhelmed with grief and tried to shoot himself that day, and he’s still overwrought about not having a relationship with his son now that he’s all grown up. Then he starts reminiscing about how much Gavin loved the bio bay as a child, showing Ty pictures. One is a blue moon on a sea of stars.
The Return culminates in a couple of really tense exchanges. Veronica digs up the book moments before Gavin and company intercept, taking the Exiles hostage. Then they take back the Clearing pretty effortlessly, only for Taamet to run off. Scott and Lucas chase after him, but Taamet surprises Lucas and tackles him. Scott finds the courage to fight, and actually gets the better of the brutal Exile, stabbing him fatally in the gut.
Ty leaves the tower, and talks with Kira. They suspect Project Blue Moon is about James fixing his past by making it so Gavin never left his side. The problem is that this will destroy the current timeline, and make it so Ty never gets the advanced treatment he needs to survive.
Studying the book, it turns out that Aaron’s purloined book was actually Dr. Moore’s complete journal, with formulas to help them travel home. Shockingly, Taamet reveals the Exiles weren’t sent to recover it by James, but by Kira. And then The Return ends with Eve and Levi talking, and him revealing he came back with the sole mission of killing James.
Another really solid episode of La Brea. I’m saddened by the rumors I’m hearing about the show ending soon, but hope they manage to keep up the positive momentum and at least end the next season on a high note.