“The Last of Us” season 2 has been making the news a lot lately. The show just made three major casting announcements and “The Last of Us Part II” just got a remastered edition for the PS5 that’s been well-received aside from some complaints about Naughty Dog choosing to remaster an old game rather than release a new one.
Spoiler alert: Please don’t read on if you want to avoid MAJOR spoilers for The Last of Us Part II.
But I recently saw some buzz about an interview Pedro Pascal did with Deadline at Sundance this year. In it, Pascal, who plays Joel Miller in season 1 and will return for season 2, is asked whether or not the show will deviate from the video games when it comes to his character’s arc.
Pedro Pascal on if Joel’s arc in #TheLastOfUs Season 2 will deviate from the game | #Sundance pic.twitter.com/6iUBvMH6wMJanuary 19, 2024
For what it’s worth, Pascal handles the question well, at least from a PR perspective if nothing else. But when he responded that the showrunners could surprise people and that he doesn’t have all the information, that threw up some red flags and raised eyebrows.
This is, of course, because his character famously dies in “The Last of Us Part II.”
This choice by Neil Druckmann in the video game is crucial. It shows that there are consequences for Joel’s actions in the first game, which we see in season 1, and it also further highlights that in the apocalypse, it’s often mankind that tears itself apart regardless of what the external forces do. This is a theme of the games and the first season of the HBO adaptation.
So deviating from that would be a huge mistake. On the one hand, I get it — Pascal is incredible and I don’t want to see him go either. But this moment needs to happen for the show to maintain what made the games so special from a narrative standpoint.
For what it’s worth, I’m hopeful, if not outright confident, that showrunners Craig Mazin and Druckmann won’t deviate from this major plot point. In fact, the more I watch the interview, the more I think that what we could get instead, is a more circuitous route to the devastating moment, similar to what the show did with Bill and Frank’s story in season 1.
That means potentially more backstory about Joel and Ellie leading up to the climatic moment, which might even let HBO stretch the show out to a third season if it uses Joel’s death as the climactic end of season 2. That would count as a surprise for sure, but still keep a core moment for the story intact.
Joel isn’t the only change ‘The Last of Us’ needs to avoid
Speaking of character deaths, one character who doesn’t die is Abby. Abby was the second protagonist for the franchise’s second game and was just recently cast by HBO (Kaitlyn Dever will play Abby in season 2). And it turns out — Druckmann initially planned to kill her off.
A major story plot cut from The Last of Us: Part II – Abby was originally intended to die, as Ellie drowns her in the water. – Per Neil Druckmann’s commentary in the remastered version pic.twitter.com/FyLuNBWWOtJanuary 24, 2024
In the director’s commentary of “The Last of Us Part II Remastered,” Druckmann said that originally, Ellie (Bella Ramsey in the TV show, Ashley Johnson in the video game) was going to kill Abby at the end of the game, drowning her in the water.
Thankfully, they went in a different direction, showing that despite the fact that mankind is often its own worst enemy, there’s still humanity in people even in the darkest of times. Ellie holding onto her humanity is as essential to the story as Joel’s death, so again, I truly hope Druckmann knows he made the right call staying Abby’s execution in the game and doesn’t change things up for the show.