“Stampede” quickly brings the action back to La Brea as the returnees from 1988 must forge ahead to permanently close the sinkholes, effectively trapping everyone in 10,000 B.C. The episode quickly picks up with the decision for them not to inform their fellow survivors of the massive decision, choosing instead to stop the sinkhole that could kill thousands in Santa Monica in 1988 rather than waste time on a significant debate.
However, it is still a heavy emotional weight to carry. For Eve, Izzy, Gavin, and Caroline, it is a matter of putting a stop to the sinkholes entirely, which could save thousands of lives. But, for Sam, it is slightly more complicated than that.
The Harris family is reunited in 10,000 B.C., which is something he and Riley do not have with Sam’s wife and son. Can he allow the virus to destroy his one chance to reunite with his loved ones? Riley does not share his desperation, even if she desires to return to her mother and brother. Instead, Riley is willing to make the sacrifice, even with how heartbroken it would leave her, choosing instead to save the thousands of lives stopping the sinkholes would allow.
But, in the end, the choice is not up to either of them. Instead, it remains with Gavin, who, with one handprint, can stop the virus. While Gavin and Izzy are initially all for stopping the sinkholes, the realization that Eve dies in 10,000 B.C. is enough for both of them to decide otherwise. James says he can help save Eve, and knowing the 1988 sinkhole has been stopped and that his wife can be saved is enough for Gavin to permit himself to stop the virus.
Gavin’s decision opens the door to allow the survivors to eventually escape 10,000 B.C., hopefully without opening new sinkholes or endangering other people. However, James may not be the most trustworthy person. Granted, neither is Caroline if her desire to keep secrets from everyone is a hint as to what will come.
But, “Stampede” also reunites Josh with Scott and the other Clearing members while pushing forward a potential leadership role for Lucas.
Lucas has never been a leader in the Clearing, but with the rest of the group’s leaders gone, Lucas steps up to help find a way to divert a potentially dangerous animal attack.
The second half of the mid-season premiere, “Murder in the Clearing,” also presents a new threat in the form of a killer. That, and Eve being thrown into a hole in the ground, has her needing to directly address the potential of her death occurring in 10,000 B.C. after choosing to ignore Gavin’s previous warning about his vision.
Meanwhile, Caroline’s decision to lie to Gavin and Josh while encouraging Riley to help her hide the truth has the potential to cause trouble for everyone, especially as the theme of allowing everyone to be on the same page starts to play a more significant role, even if that conversation mainly occurs between Gavin and Eve.
Between “Stampede” and “Murder in the Clearing,” La Brea delivers on a two-hour mid-season premiere that allows the truth to come out about the mission to stop the sinkholes while presenting new shifts in the survivor’s dynamics now that the other residents know of the leading group’s decision to make a massive choice without speaking with them first.