HBO’s The Last of Us recently finished up its first season, and the final sequence was very similar to how things played out in the game. But, earlier in production, there were discussions about deviating from the source material and making the ending something different. Spoilers follow below.
In an interview with GQ, showrunner Craig Mazin said director Ali Abbasi proposed a “slightly longer, sadder” version of the ending where Ellie (Bella Ramsey) says, “Okay,” and then turns and walks away. Joel (Pedro Pascal) looks on, and the pair begin walking down the mountain toward Jackson, not together, but apart, seemingly to allude to the growing rift between them as Ellie questions whether or not Joel really told him the truth about what happened in the hospital. In fact, Joel lied to Ellie, telling her she was actually one of many people who were immune. He also didn’t tell Ellie about brutally murdering many people, including the doctor who was going to conduct the procedure, and Marlene (Merle Dandridge).
Mazin admitted that “there was something beautiful” about this ending, adding that the team debated, “What do we do?”
“There was that meta-discussion of, are the people that played the game going to be more annoyed that they didn’t get it just the way it’s supposed to be, or are they gonna be more annoyed that they only got what they had before?” Mazin said. “And then how will everybody else feel?”
In the end, they decided to end with the close-up shot of Ellie, just as things play out in the game. This ending is more ambiguous and intriguing, Mazin said.
“Not knowing what comes next. Not knowing what she does. Does she walk away from him, does she walk with him, how does she feel? That moment gets suspended permanently,” Mazin said.
When Naughty Dog made The Last of Us, the studio didn’t know if there would ever be a sequel, but with the TV series, HBO had already ordered a second season before the first wrapped up.
Neil Druckmann, who wrote and directed the game and was involved in the TV series, said he wonders how this might have affected how people received the end of the show compared to the game.
“When we made the game, and that ending hit, no one knew if we’re gonna make another game. So I think it was easier for people to accept it’s not a cliffhanger, it’s a proper ending. Here, they might say ‘Oh, you left us with a cliffhanger’ as they know season two is coming,” he said. “So that’ll be interesting to see if that means people have a different reaction.”
The Last of Us Season 2 is on the way, and it could begin filming later this year. A premiere date hasn’t been announced, but it’s been confirmed that Ramsey won’t be recast for Season 2, despite a time jump.
For more on HBO’s The Last of Us, check out what Marlene actress Merle Dandridge had to say about the heartbreaking season finale.
As for the game series, Naughty Dog is making a new The Last of Us multiplayer game. After that, Naughty Dog might make The Last of Us Part III, or it might not.
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