‘The Last of Us’: Hospital Scene and HBO Show’s Season 2 Plans

Series co-creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann dive into what could never be changed and what the Season 2 workflow currently looks like.

(Editor’s note: Included in the following review spoilers for “The Last of Us,” including the season finale.)

Ask most fans of “The Last of Us” to describe what makes the game stand out, and you’ll probably get an explanation for the hospital scene. It is no coincidence that the preview after the premiere Viewers were given a glimpse of ‘The Weeks Ahead’, with Joel (Pedro Pascal) walking around the hospital being the last image teased.

In Sunday night’s season finale, Joel’s tragic decisions play out again. Faced with the possibility of leaving Ellie (Bella Ramsey) dead and offering the world a chance to heal, Joel chooses the opposite path. Joel sweeps Ellie away from the Fireflies’ makeshift hospital in a cloud of bullets and bodies and takes her away. Marlene (Merle Dandridge) is dead, along with several surgeons and nurses who thought they were humanity’s last hope.

Aside from porting most of the details from the first-person gaming experience to TV viewing, the HBO version of “The Last of Us” also got a big change, courtesy of a familiar source. Along with series co-creator Neil Druckmann, Dandridge and an assortment of cast members from the original game more than a decade ago, the TV incarnation of “The Last of Us” also brought back composer Gustavo Santaolalla. Along with co-composer David Fleming, the series’ music is a mix of the familiar and the new that drives the best parts of the show.

At last week’s virtual press conference, series co-creators Druckmann and Craig Mazin talked about the final episode, including the music-based shift to the season’s emotional climax.

“We had an opportunity that I think we had a big impact on during Joel’s attack sequence in the hospital,” Mazin said. “And it meant a whole different set of music for what happens right after the game — which is he picks up Ellie and walks out with her — and takes her and puts her in that sequence. In the game, this sequence consists largely of gameplay. But here is this beautiful, sad, mournful cello-based piece. It allowed us to feel an almost heartbreaking sense of what Joel is doing and what he’s breaking down and how he’s revealing something that he probably knows Ellie doesn’t want him to. You are both rooting for him and feeling really sad for him. Gustavo’s genius is that sometimes taking a piece from here and putting it under this makes it magical.”

The Last of Us episode 9 finale ending with Joel and Ellie

“The Last of Us”

Courtesy of Liane Hentscher/HBO

As for the ending itself, it was one element of the finale that remained intact throughout the process. Mazin emphasized that as a fan of the original game, the ending was one of the main drivers for wanting to do the show in the first place. Discussing exactly how to frame Joel’s decision in the context of a TV episode became a useful case study for the two of them working together.

“Neil was always open to the adaptation process in the smartest, most generous and flexible way. He understood what it means to adapt,” Mazin said. “However, finishing was never a question. As a player, I’ve reached the end. Why would I ever want to change that? This is super.”

“If Craig had come over and said, ‘Hey, I’ve been thinking about this other ending,’ I’m sure I would have tensed up a little bit at first and just heard the voice. But our process would be, “Okay, let’s talk about it,” Druckmann said. “We’re going to go back over the whole season and ask, ‘Maybe we worked toward the other end, maybe?’ And we’ve considered it, and often the answer would be, “Yeah, it doesn’t quite work,” or “It changes too much,” or “It’s shifted too much now.” Then we’d go back and undo Ctrl+Z, Ctrl+Z until we got back to where we were, and then we’d continue.”

The interior of the hospital is lit and laid out similarly to the game, which makes sense for a controlled, indoor environment. “The Last of Us” also features a lot of treacherous outdoor terrain, especially when Joel and Ellie make their way through the Rocky Mountains. The production was filmed throughout Alberta, as Jasmila Žbanić described after directing episode 6, “Kin”. Mazin credited visual effects supervisor Alex Wang and his team, as well as VFX house DNEG, for transforming some of the locations into places that were ripped from the middle of the United States.

As the series turns its attention to Season 2, the show’s creative team is mindful of the scale of change these upcoming episodes will bring.

“It was huge. I’m trying to stop saying it’s massive because I know the next season is going to be more massive and I don’t want to freak out. Man, it wasn’t easy, Mazin said. “Honestly, I give us a solid B+. But my aim is to do better next season now that we have learned some lessons. It gets a little “Oh, it’s Canada” every now and then when we don’t want it to be Canada. That means it’s a fantastic place for photography. I loved it. I love being there.”

The Last of Us Episode 9 by Bella Ramsey

Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us

Liane Hentscher/HBO

This increase in scale may result in a show change in the perception of cordyceps antagonists. While the infected were certainly a threat throughout the season, the show defaulted to focusing on human resilience and desperation rather than a growing parade of action sequences. (Mazin also dispelled rumors that he doesn’t want people to use a certain word for the infected: “I don’t know what everyone was talking about. We call them ‘zombies’ all the time because it’s funny. ) Part of this comes from a long-term vision. , how each season can feel different from one another.

“From time to time we had to make decisions about how we wanted to present the infected. Despite being green-lighted for one season of television, Neil and I felt that we couldn’t just do one season of television without thinking about what was coming next. More “The Last of Us” to come. And I think the balance is not always just on an episode or episode to episode basis, but a season,” Mazin said. “It’s possible that later there will be many more infected, and perhaps different ones. But within the episodes that we’ve focused on, I think ultimately we’ve generally emphasized the power of relationships and trying to find meaning in moments of action. So there may be less action than some would have liked, because we didn’t necessarily find significance in that part. After all, you’re not playing, you’re watching. And while a lot of people like to watch the game, you have to be a little more focused and purposeful when you put it on TV.”

Druckmann and Mazin have counted a full season and have a certain level of confidence in the next season. Whatever changes fans of the game expect to see in “The Last of Us, Part II,” the two insist that Season 2’s adaptations will come from a familiar, unified place.

“One of the things that Neil and I talked about over and over was not to change our process. Our process works. Our process of kicking the tires on everything is agreeing that no matter how much we disagree, we will find a way to agree. There is no right of veto here, just: We’ll figure it out,” said Mazin. “To keep the writing process pretty much the same, which is pretty lonely and monkish, those things are important to us. I learned a lot in the field of production.”

“I knew 0% about making TV shows. Now I know 5%,” said Druckmann.

– 5%. I am 12 years old. So we are doing great, said Mazin. “I’m really excited that for so many of us, whether it’s crew or cast, we’re going to be returning sophomores. We know where everything is, we no longer get lost on how to get to math class. And that’s a comfort level you have to earn. And that’s why I’m excited to feel that.”

“The Last of Us” Season 1 is available to stream on HBO Max.

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