It’s no secret that season one of HBO’s The Last of Us was very faithful to the video game it’s based on. There were some changes, additions, and tweaks, but in terms of overall intent and story, the game and the show were very similar. That would lead fans to assume subsequence seasons of the show would be equally faithful to the even more emotional and shocking second game, The Last of Us Part II. However, in a new interview, co-showrunner Craig Mazin said that may not actually be the case, especially in regard to arguably the biggest spoiler in the game.
If you’ve played The Last of Us Part II, you know what we’re talking about, but if you haven’t and you want to attempt to remain unspoiled, look away.
For the most part, The Last of Us Part II hinges on the actions of Joel, played by Pedro Pascal in the show. Years after the events of the second season, a woman named Abby, who is the daughter of the doctor Joel killed saving Ellie, tracks him down and (last chance) kills him. Joel’s murder then becomes Ellie’s main reason to set out and find Abby. She wants revenge.
Speaking to Esquire, Pascal himself seems to think that’s what’s going to happen. “It wouldn’t make sense to follow the first game so faithfully only to stray severely from the path,” he said. “So, yeah, that’s my honest answer.” His co-star, Bella Ramsey, said something similar. “If that does take place in the show,” Ramsey said, “I don’t know that I’m emotionally ready for it.”
Since The Last of Us is based mainly on the two games, and actors sign contracts for specific lengths of time, one would assume both Pascal and Ramsey know if the show will kill Joel or not. But, maybe not. In the same Esquire piece, Mazin cast some doubt on that happening. “This should be fairly obvious to anyone by now, but I don’t fear killing characters,” Mazin said. “But the important thing to note is that neither Neil [Druckmann, Mazin’s co-showrunner] nor I feel constrained by the source material.”
That’s a very diplomatic way of potentially hiding the biggest spoiler for a highly anticipated second season of one of HBO’s biggest recent hits, and Mazin certainly isn’t lying that he doesn’t feel “constrained by the source material.” But if certain elements of that source material were to be altered, it could change the story entirely. The Last of Us Part II is not the same if Joel stays alive. It just isn’t. He’s going to die. He has to.
And yet, while the act comes fairly early in the game, you’d imagine that’s where a change could come. Mazin has stated that the second game is likely to be split into two seasons, and one could very easily see a world where Joel’s death becomes the cliffhanger leading into the final season. That could be a way to give fans what they want—more Pedro Pascal—while also staying true to the game.
So, what do you think? Will Joel die on The Last of Us show? If so, when? And is there a world in which The Last of Us is The Last of Us without that happening?
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