The series finale of The Last of Us may have raised questions about Joel’s choice and his morality, but it also takes away from our weekly fix of the emotionally traumatized misadventures of Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey. Luckily for us, there’s more to their story; HBO has already greenlit a second season, with co-creator Neil Druckmann confirming it would plot the events of 2020’s The Last of Us: Part II. Craig Mazin, who directed a few episodes of The Last of Us series, previously hinted that a sequel adaptation was likely if enough people tuned in to watch the first season. Now, with all nine episodes released, it has broken records and is a critical and commercial success.
According to HBO, The Last of Us finale drew a series 8.2 million viewers, despite competing against the 2023 Academy Awards ceremony, which aired around the same time. Episode 9 ‘Look for the Light’ slightly surpassed last week’s record of 8.1 million viewers and marks a 75% increase in traffic when compared to the series premiere, which amassed 4.7 million viewers. The numbers were computed based on Nielson and prime data from HBO Max and linear broadcasts, and it now averages 30.4 million viewers in its first six episodes. Notably, this does not include the Disney+ Hotstar audience.
HBO content such as The Last of Us will not be available on Disney+ Hotstar starting March 31
With season 2 confirmed and the co-creators revealing new information about it in an interview with GQ, here’s everything you need to know about The Last of Us season 2:
The Last of Us season 2 expected release window
A second season of The Last of Us was greenlit just two episodes into the first, which is emblematic of the confidence HBO has in this video game adaptation. In an interview, lead Pascal said that filming for the second season could start this year and, seeing HBO’s track record with its prestige shows, we can expect the second season to drop in 2024.
Speaking to The Washington Post earlier this year, co-creator Craig Mazin stated that filming The Last of Us season 1 took 200 days and that it followed a “feature-film-like production schedule,” something he was used to with his 2019 drama series. Chernobyl. The crew spent 18-19 days working and perfecting each episode, unlike network television, which, according to Mazin, requires you to shoot 7-8 pages of script a day. “We shot more than 18 to 19 days per episode – two and a half pages a day, maybe three,” he said in the interview. Months of additional work followed to get the special effects right. Filming began in July 2021 in Alberta, Canada.
The Last of Us season 1 review
Tom and Approach to The Last of Us Season 2
Despite the size and scope of the original 2013 video game, Mazin was adamant about telling this story to TV audiences in exactly nine episodes. The slow process involved many ideas being thrown at the original writer Druckmann, about what knowledge should be preserved and any deviations from the original.
However, The Last of Us: Part II is much longer, with brutal action sequences driving the story forward, exploring the tragedy of revenge and the human capacity for forgiveness. All of this ties directly into game-specific conflicts, so unlike Season 1, it can be difficult to deliver sporadic action. Speaking to GQ, the creators confirmed that depicting the events of Part II will take more than one season. While Mazin stopped short of discussing whether the arc will conclude in season three – hinting at the possibility beyond – he did note that some of the show’s events could be entirely backwards when compared to the game.
“There will be things that will be different and things that will be identical. There are things that are going to be added and enriched. There are some things that will be reversed,” he said in the interview. “Our goal remains exactly what it was in season one, which is to deliver a show that makes fans happy.”
One of the complaints arising from the first season of The Last of Us was the lack of infected clickers (zombies) in relation to the game. Mazin says he watched the audience’s reaction to the sparse appearance of the zombies and “noticed how much they enjoyed these encounters”. Without giving away too many spoilers, he promises some “exciting things” coming in The Last of Us season 2.
The Last of Us season 2 cast
The two central leads Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey will reprise their roles as Joel and Ellie, respectively, in The Last of Us season 2. Speaking to Elle magazine earlier this year, Ramsey stated that, if allowed, she would love to play Ellie “forever.” Co-creator Druckmann has similar views on the matter and would only recast Ramsey if she no longer wanted to continue playing the role. “We’re really lucky to have Bella… and the only way we’d consider recasting Bella is if she said, ‘I don’t want to work with you guys anymore,’” he told TheWrap earlier this week. “And even then we’re not sure we would grant that to her. We can force her back this season.
While the casting of Ramsey as Ellie was initially met with criticism from fans – because her face didn’t quite match the game’s character – the general consensus grew to love her portrayal. The only concern – albeit a minor one – is that Ramsey might look too young for Ellie’s arc in The Last of Us Part II, despite being the same age in real life – 19. Meanwhile, Joel will likely look a little thinner with more gray hair and wrinkles.
While not explicitly mentioned, Gabriel Luna is expected to return as Joel’s brother Tommy in the sequel, alongside Rutina Wesley as his wife Maria, both of whom have major roles to play in the 2020 game.
The Last of Us season 2 plot
The critically acclaimed but polarizing sequel, The Last of Us Part II takes place four years after the first game, which indicates that the second season also begins with a time jump. Ellie is now 19 years old, continuing to live life in Jackson, Wyoming with Joel, Tommy and his girlfriend Dina, who was briefly teased in episode 8 ‘When We Are in Need’, sheepishly watching her from behind a pillar before screaming. Her relationship with Joel, however, became a little strained, due to the events of the first game / season finale, where Ellie continues to suspect whether Joel was telling the truth about the events that occurred at the Fireflies base.
Spoilers for The Last of Us season 1 finale ahead: The Last of Us season 1 finale saw Joel (Pascal) and Ellie (Ramsey) finally make their way to Firefly base, after which the latter undergoes surgery, so that the Cordyceps chemical messenger that makes her immune can be removed, multiplied, and used to make a cure. Unfortunately, the Cordyceps grows inside the brain, which would mean that Ellie would die in the surgery. Joel, who has now formed a fatherly bond with her, retaliates against the Firefly soldiers, slaughtering them all before entering the pediatric theater of operations to save her. Inside are three individuals – a doctor and two nurses. The former grabs a knife in self-defense, and Joel, numb with pain and determination, slips a cap over the doctor’s head and manages to grab and leave with a heavily sedated Ellie. Little does he know, that final, unnecessary murder opened up a whole can of worms he shouldn’t have.
Spoilers for The Last of Us Part II: If Druckmann and Mazin intend to follow The Last of Part II closely, let me warn you that Joel will get a lot less screen time in Season 2 – because he dies. It turns out that said doctor had a daughter named Abby Anderson, who seeks revenge against Joel for her father’s death – brutally beating him to death with a golf club while a grieving Ellie is forced to witness it all. This kicks off a back-and-forth revenge story, with the player intermittently taking control of Ellie and Abby, often following the same paths and offering different perspectives for each character. It’s unclear how the creators intend to handle character swaps on the show – an easy feat to pull off in a video game – but Mazin claims he has it all figured out.
Personally, I think Oscar-winning director Alejandro González Iñárritu would be a great candidate to direct at least some of the episodes, given his expertise in telling interconnected stories that converge in time – similar to Babel and 21 Grams.
“I think we know what we’re doing on this one. I’m not saying that in a sarcastic way, I’m saying it in a hopeful way,” he said in the GQ interview. “We have an amazing returning cast. It’s a daunting task. But Jesus, that was the first season. You can’t make everyone happy.” The way Joel’s death was handled in The Last of Us Part II and its message about revenge and forgiveness drew the ire of fans, making it one of the most polarizing titles in video game history. The game was met with a barrage of criticism on aggregator sites, with some complaining about its approach to politics and LGBTQ+ characters.
“I don’t care. How they react is how they react, that’s completely out of our control. So how do we make the best version of that story for the TV show? That’s the problem that we struggle with every day,” Druckmann said of the backlash to the game and how that translates into his work on The Last of Us Season 2.
Here’s a fun fact to wrap it up: one of the nurses at the end of The Last of Us was played by Laura Bailey, who originally provided voice and motion capture for Abby in The Last of Us Part II. It’s hard to tell on the show why she was wearing a surgical mask, but the secret was revealed in some backstage photos after the episode aired.
All nine episodes of The Last of Us season 1 are available to stream on Disney+ Hotstar in India and on HBO Max where available.