Last Of US TV Show Creators Explain Huge Change From The Game

Last Of US TV Show Creators Explain Huge Change From The Game

Picture: HBO

While TV show The Last of Us remained very faithful to the PlayStation, it is sometimes deviated significantly. Episode three, which aired last night, featured the biggest change from the source material yet, and co-creators Neil Druckman and Craig Mazin did their best to explain why in a new interview with IGN.

Spoiler Warning: The following post details the main plot points of the game and the series. If you haven’t played or seen either yet, now is your chance to brake and turn around.

Entitled “Long, Long Time”, episode 3 of TV show The Last of Us finally introduces Bill, a belligerent but no-bullshit survivalist played by Nick Offerman (Parks And Recreation, Devs). The play alludes to Bill having a romantic relationship with a man named Frank, but never goes into specifics. Last night’s episode not only delved into the relationship in detail via flashbacks, it also changed the way it ended.

“When we got to this part of the season, Craig brought up a really interesting point which is…there are a lot of examples of things not going well for people, and a lot of times it’s musings and stories. uplifting for Joel of ‘here what you stand to lose,’” Druckmann told IGN. “It was, what if we showed them what you could bear to win?”

In the game, Bill helps Joel and Ellie find a truck they can use to head west. Bitter and rude, he is the only person left in a town called Lincoln, surrounded by infected and his homemade traps. He explains to the couple that caring about others is a surefire way to get themselves killed, mentioning a close partner he’s tried to take care of in the past. This partner is later revealed to have hanged himself after being infected, writing in a note that it was ultimately even better than staying with Bill.

In the show, Bill is already gone by the time Joel and Ellie arrive in Lincoln. And viewers get to see how Frank, played by Murray Bartlett (Looking, The White Lotus), first meets Bill, as well as bits and pieces of the 20-year relationship that followed. Frank eventually becomes debilitated by a terminal illness and Bill helps them both take their own lives together. When Joel and Ellie arrive, they find a letter from Bill talking about how protecting Frank after the outbreak was precisely what had made his life worth living, a complete reversal from what happens in the game. The change was apparently Mazin’s idea, though Druckman warmed up to it when they did the math on how it would help support the rest of the story.

“I think it is a happy ending,” Mazin told IGN. “I think we tend to view death as failure, particularly when you’re talking about playing a video game. It is literally failure. And for our show so far, there’s been some brutal moments where Joel has failed or at least perceives that he’s failed: he failed his daughter, he’s failed Tess, and he’s certainly feeling that weight at both the beginning and end of this episode.”

It’s this sort of compassion and hope that The Last Of Us was arguably missing, and Druckman said the changed plot point also served as a warning sign for Joel; that, without someone to take care of, surviving just to survive is pointless. It’s also the sort of deviation Druckman would have said “fuck no” to in the past, he told IGN. “Are we better in this version of the story, in this other medium, or are we worse?” he said. “If we’re better, we should embrace it fully. And this was such a beautiful story. It was very easy for me to say, ‘Let’s do it. Sounds amazing.’”



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