After nine episodes that kept the world on tenterhooks, the finale of HBO’s The Last of Us season 1 reached respectable ratings. The following contains spoilers for last Sunday’s episode.
Pedro Pascal’s mission as Joel to save Ellie (Bella Ramsey) turns into a one-man rampage, and just like the original material, he goes all out with the violence. It’s short compared to what Joel goes through in the video game, but still just as heartbreaking as he takes on several heavily armed soldiers.
Talking to GQ, both game co-creator and show writer Neil Druckmann and showrunner and executive producer Craig Mazin explain why they kept the ending the way they did and Joel’s method of being such an effective killer in an almost John Wick-style.
“We had a lot of conversations. That, in withholding a certain amount of violence, we’re going to really accentuate when it comes through,” explained Druckmann. “When Ellie shoots and kills someone, or injures them so badly and Joel has to kill them, it has a lot more impact. When it’s time for Joel to rise to the occasion and show us what he’s made of, to save Ellie, we don’t shy away from it. We show it in all its awfulness and awesomeness.”
Mazin circles back to the John Wick comparison and says it’s not entirely the same because of their environment. “You mention John Wick and that’s an interesting point because John Wick does live in a slightly heightened world. With this, we’re trying to be a bit more grounded. But when we get to the very end, we do give him his John Wick moment,” he said. “The one thing that gives him the god mode powerup to not get shot and to shoot everybody else is saving Ellie. Because that’s where we want to see overpowered Joel and we understand that he’s fueled by this love that is beautiful and dark at the same time.”
Players of The Last of US might remember that part of the first game, and how Joel doesn’t really have any advantages, but the nail bombs come in handy as well as the flamethrower. Sadly, both of which we never got to see in action.
All episodes of HBO’s The Last of Us are available to stream on HBO Max.
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