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The Last of Us Creators Defend Focusing on Survivors; S02 Infected

The Last of Us creators Craig Mazin & Neil Druckmann discuss focusing more on the survivors than action and the infected in Season 2.

Any time a popular IP gets adapted for another, there are always creative decisions and sacrifices that have to be made and the PlayStation franchise The Last of Us is certainly no exception. For the most part, the reaction to the HBO television adaptation has largely been positive, but there are the obvious detractors longing more for the video game experience and action the game is also known for on top of the existing compelling drama. To say that creators Craig Mazin along with Naughty Dog visionary Neil Druckmann captured the latter would be an understatement expanding the compelling narratives of its characters within the dystopian apocalypse. With season one officially under wraps, the two opened up in a virtual press conference (via Variety) about the series' biggest complaints from fans while promising "a lot more infected" in season two, among other things. The following contains spoilers for the season finale "Look for the Light."

The Last of Us: Season 1 Finale Review: Joel's Epic Moment of Truth
Pedro Pascal & Bella Ramsey in "The Last of Us." Image courtesy of Liane Hentscher/HBO

Mazin & Druckmann on TV Decisions Adapting 'The Last of Us'

"Ultimately, we generally stressed the power of relationships and trying to find significance within moments of action," Mazin said. "And so there may be less action than some people wanted because we couldn't necessarily find significance for quite a bit of it, or [there was] concern that it would be repetitive. After all, you're not playing it, you're watching it. And although a lot of people do like to watch gameplay, it needs to be a little more focused and purposeful when we're putting it on TV."

The Last of Us Creators Defend Survivors Focus, More Infected for S2
Merle Dandridge and Pedro Pascal in "The Last of Us." Image courtesy of Liane Hentscher/HBO

The season finale finds Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) on the last leg of their journey to find the Fireflies when the group finally finds the pair instead and takes them to a hospital. Following the path of the game, Marlene (Merle Dandridge) tells Joel in his hospital bed that Ellie is being prepped for fatal surgery, but the work on the cure has to come from what's developed from her brain that grants her immunity. Unable to take the loss, Joel goes on a murderous rampage and saves Ellie, who's under heavy anesthesia. Among the victims include the doctor who was about the perform the surgery and Marlene, who begs for her life before she's executed.

The Last of Us Creators Defend Focusing on Survivors; S02 Infected
Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in "The Last of Us." Image courtesy of Liane Hentscher/HBO

Players in the games have a wide range of arsenal at their disposal, whereas the HBO series is nowhere near as sophisticated. "Part of the adaptation process is trying to figure out how to take source material that was built around gameplay and port it over to a medium that is passive," Mazin said. "A lot of the gameplay is centered on [non-playable characters] that you have to get around, avoid, stealth kill or just confront head-on. The NPCs were either raiders, cannibals, FEDRA, or the infected. So there's a lot of fighting. I don't know what your ultimate kill count is on a typical run of 'The Last of Us,' but it's in the triple digits for sure."

The Last of Us Creators Defend Focusing on Survivors; S02 Infected
Bella Ramsey in "The Last of Us." Image courtesy of Liane Hentscher/HBO

"It's much higher than we would want for the show," Druckmann added. As the co-director and writer of the original 'Last of Us' game, he injected a healthy dose of action set pieces and heart-stopping fights with infected clickers to keep gamers constantly engaged. For the TV show, if an action scene 'doesn't move the character, and it was only there for the spectacle, it was an easy cut for us.'" With HBO's announcement of the show's season two renewal, adapting 2020's Part II will provide a tall task. "There is more 'The Last of Us' to come," Mazin teased. "It's quite possible that there will be a lot more infected later. And perhaps different kinds." For more, including Mazin on fan criticism of Ramsey's appearance and how it would affect season two, which takes place five years after Part I, you can check out the interview here.

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Tom ChangAbout Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangoria. As a writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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