The general consensus around his 1st season The last of us it appears to have been a resounding success. The first 9 episodes of the HBO series faithfully adapt the original The last of us video game, which was first released 10 years ago in 2013. Now, The last of us Showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann are set to begin work in earnest on the second season of the HBO series, which has confirmed that Druckmann will adapt the events of 2020 The Last of Us Part II.
Anyone who has played this divisive sequel will know that it’s not as easy to adapt a game as the original The last of us. To their credit, Druckmann and Mazin seem to know this. The couple, in fact, has already said that they believe The Last of Us Part IIHis story would need to be told over multiple TV seasons to be faithfully adapted.
While this will help a lot The last of us avoid the risk of releasing a second season that feels rushed, it’s not the only creative decision that Mazin and Druckmann will have to make to address the issues they’ve dragged The Last of Us Part II down when it was originally released.
The last of us Season 2’s biggest challenge
The Last of Us Part II is a very different game from its predecessor of 2013. Unlike the original The last of uswhich tells a fairly linear story, Part II spends huge chunks of its runtime jumping around in time. The game is filled with more flashbacks than it knows what to do with. Not only does it frequently flashback to some of the moments Joel and Ellie shared in the 4 years between this and the original The last of usbut it also features flashbacks devoted solely to the life and perspective of his sidekick, Abby.
Abby is introduced early on The Last of Us Part II without much fanfare or explanation, which makes her actions at the end of her first act all the more shocking. Unfortunately, the game’s decision to introduce Abby in this way also forces it to spend huge chunks of its second half flashing back in time to moments meant to explain her actions throughout The Last of Us Part II. In case all of that wasn’t ambitious (or confusing) enough, the game’s second act is also split into two chapters that explore the same 3-day period from the perspective of two dueling characters.
Suffice it to say: The Last of Us Part II it makes a lot of narrative decisions that not only barely work within the confines of a video game, but definitely wouldn’t work on a TV show. The good news is that Craig Mazin, who received widespread acclaim several years ago for his work on HBO Chernobylseems to be fully aware of the structural problems with The Last of Us Part II.
A possible solution
In the last episode of the official HBO The last of us podcast, Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin spoke briefly about their plans for the show’s second season. Specifically, when asked about their approach to adaptation The Last of Us Part II, Druckmann said, “We’re going to look at what made this story special and what is the soul of this story, and that has to remain intact. And then the rhythms and the characters from moment to moment, they might stay the same, they might change. We’re going to do whatever needs to happen in that story as it moves from one medium to another.”
Mazin, for his part, added, “We’re also going to take advantage of the freedom we have in television that we didn’t have in games—namely, the advantage of changing perspective. So we’re going to use whatever we can in a new medium to tell that story and go through the same adaptation process.”
Mazin’s comment, in particular, suggests that future seasons of his and Druckmann’s hit HBO show won’t necessarily have to rely on so many non-linear storytelling tricks. The Last of Us Part II does. This is an extremely good thing, especially considering how disconnected it is The Last of Us Part IIIts structure is, as well as the uneven pace at which it tells its story.
Some of The Last of Us Part IIIts flaws are not the result of its over-ambitious story, but the fact that video games require their stories to be told from the perspective of the characters that their players inhabit. On the one hand, this requirement imbues games with a greater level of interactivity than movies or TV shows. On the other hand, it also means they can’t bounce between multiple perspectives nearly as easily. In The Last of Us Part IIthis fact becomes so obvious that it almost chokes all the life out of the game’s story.
Based solely on Craig Mazin’s recent comments, it sounds like The last of usSubsequent seasons will not share the same fate. Instead, the show may well end up flying out Part IIof the nonlinear structure overall. Doing so would make the next chapter of the series’ story flow much more smoothly than it would in video game form and give The last of us the chance to bounce between Ellie and Abby’s stories as they progress simultaneously and at the same time.
Viewers may, in other words, never have to worry about HBO The last of us spending five episodes setting up a major turning point in his story only to spend the next five episodes exploring the same time period he literally did. Thank God.
Season 1 of The last of us is available to stream now on HBO Max.