One of the showrunners from HBO's The Last of Us revealed the removal of a key element from the game for Season 2.
And after Season 1's record-breaking performance - which adapted the first game nearly beat-for-beat (with a few major changes) - a Season 2 was greenlit based on the events of 2020's The Last of Us Part II.
Season 2 is seemingly set to begin filming later this year, with showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann not planning on deviating from the source material all that much for the sophomore run.
That is, aside from one major piece of the Part II puzzle.
A Missing Detail in The Last of Us Season 2
Warning - The rest of this article contains spoilers for The Last of Us Part II.
In a recent interview, The Last of Us showrunner (and director of the first two Last of Us games) Neil Druckmann, addressed one key element from The Last of Us Part II's story that will likely not make an appearance in the series.
Throughout Part II's story, the 2013 Pearl Jam song "Future Days" is prominent, being something that Joel passes down to Ellie between the events of the first and second games.
However, seeing as HBO's adaptation of the hit PlayStation title moved outbreak day back ten years, there is now no way Joel could have learned the Pearl Jam tune before the world ended.
Druckmann told Kinda Funny (via The Last of Us News on Twitter) that conversations about the removal of the song are being had.
He remarked that they could always say, "Okay, it’s a parallel dimension, and the song came out earlier," but would see that move as "a little bit like a cheat:"
“I could tell you we haven’t made a decision. We have talked about it for those exact reasons that you mentioned, that now it makes no sense for Joel to know that song. Now we could say, ‘Okay, it’s a parallel dimension and the song came out earlier.’ There’s ways, but that feels a little bit like a cheat."
He added that despite "Future Days" likely not appearing in Season 2, something will seemingly take its place, noting that "there's other songs [they] could play with" from Pearl Jam specifically:
"I will say that Pearl Jam specifically has now like even more so been engrained into the world of 'The Last of Us,' that if we don’t do that song, well, there's other songs we could play with."
What This Exclusion Means for The Last of Us
With this Pearl Jam note, Neil Druckmann and The Last of Us team find themselves in a bit of a narrative conundrum.
Some may say, well surely they will find a Pearl Jam song (or potentially a song from another artist) that will fit in its place, but it may not be that simple.
"Future Days" not only plays a key part in The Last of Us Part II's narrative, being the thing that Ellie uses to remember her father figure Joel (played by Pedro Pascal in the series) long after his passing, the actual lyrical content of the song plays into those themes.
A line heard a number of times throughout the game is, "If I ever were to lose you
I'd surely lose myself," which comes right at the beginning of the 2013 Pearl Jam release. This one lyrical snippet is a near-perfect distillation of the dark descent Ellie finds herself on after losing Joel at the beginning of the game.
And even in The Last of Us Part II the song didn't 100% make sense to appear, as outbreak day (September 26, 2013) technically happened before the official release of "Future Days" (October 11, 2013).
Druckmann has since had to do some narrative finagling, remarking in a tweet from June 2020 that "the song was performed live and posted on YouTube months prior to the album's release," meaning Joel likely saw a version of it and took a liking to the song.
While Druckmann and Mazin will make likely make the smart decision, as they did with so many changes in the first season, "Future Days" feels too intrinsically tied to this story for it to be left behind in Season 2 of the HBO adaptation, despite the continuity errors it may cause.
Season 1 of HBO's The Last of Us is available to stream now on HBO Max, with Season 2 seemingly set to begin filming by the end of the year in Vancouver, Canada.