HBO's The Last of Us showrunner and director Craig Mazin explained why Season 2's time jump will be "important" in telling the evolution of Joel and Ellie's relationship.
The Last of Us Season 2 has been making headlines even within the duration of the show's successful first run on HBO.
Troy Baker, who portrayed Joel in the video game, teased the sophomore run's controversial plot points, expressing his hope of seeing a similar reaction from fans when the events of The Last of Us Part II get adapted into the series.
Meanwhile, showrunner Neil Druckmann also confirmed that they have "no plans to tell any stories beyond adapting the game," indicating that Season 2 will be faithful to the source material just like with Season 1.
The Last of Us Season 2's Crucial Time Jump Explained
Speaking with Collider, The Last of Us director Craig Mazin was asked if he had any thoughts about Season 2's time jump and recasting possibilities.
In the game series, The Last of Us Part II takes place five years after the events of The Last of Us Part I.
Mazin reflected on the importance of the time jump, noting that it highlights the "changing nature" of Joel and Ellie's bond:
"Of course. I don’t want to pin anything down. Obviously, the time jump is important, to some extent. It reflects the changing nature of Ellie’s relationship with Joel, as she gets older. In the game, as you point out, she goes from 14 to 19, I believe."
The showrunner then confirmed that The Last of Us will not be doing "House of the Dragon leaps," pointing out that "no recasting will occur:"
"But no, we are not doing 'House of the Dragon' leaps. Those were very significant leaps in age, and we don’t have that. So, no recasting will occur. Not on my watch."
In House of the Dragon, Episode 6 took a massive time jump of 10 years that led to the recasting of the roles of Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock to Emma D'Arcy) and Alicent (Emily Carey to Olivia Cooke).
Mazin also noted that The Last of Us Part II also had moments in between the events of the main storyline of the two games, hinting that those flashbacks will be included in Season 2:
"Of course, in the second game, there’s a primary shift in time, but there are also moments that you see, that are in between the events of the main storyline of The Last of Us Part II and the storyline of The Last of Us Part I."
In an interview with Deadline, Mazin talked about recasting concerns regarding Bella Ramsey for Season 2, pointing out that the actress' age is the same as Ellie in Part II:
“Yeah. She’s smoking six packs of cigarettes a day and is on a pure whiskey and tainted beef diet. When she joined us, she was 17. She’s only, she’s 19 now. Which by the way is the age of Ellie in The Last of Us, part 2. People were like, ’She doesn’t look like [Ellie]. I’m like, it doesn’t matter. Just watch what happens. And now they know."
The Last of Us showrunner Neil Druckmann also spoke with GQ Magazine about the process of developing Season 2, admitting that it is much "easier" now due to the familiarity between the cast and crew:
"I find that the process is easier. There’s more trust, there’s more of a shorthand, I know that I’m working with my friend, that even when we have some very strong disagreements, it’s always light. I’ve been in so many situations, where if you disagree with someone, it feels like life or death. The process here is really a joy."
Mazin then teased that he and Druckmann "invest a lot of [their] effort and attention" for the upcoming season:
"I wouldn’t say that there were any main disagreements. It wasn’t like for three weeks I was like ‘Ellie should be a boy’ and he was like, ‘What?! No.’ These things are always tiny. ‘Should she say this word or this word?’ All the subtleties are where Neil and I think, invest a lot of our effort and attention, because that’s where we find beauty."
Which Part 2 Storylines Will Come in The Last of Us Season 2?
The confirmation that a time jump will be included in Season 2 is a promising sign, mainly because the sophomore run of the HBO series seems poised to replicate its reputation of being game-accurate.
The Last of Us showrunners already confirmed that adapting the events of The Last of Us Part II would require more than one season, thus giving more room for Season 2 to expand the video game's story like never before while still including game-accurate aspects.
Given that Craig Mazin remarked that the time jump is crucial to the runaway pair's relationship, it's possible that a good chunk of Season 2 will showcase how the pair adjusts after the controversial Season 1 finale while also including important moments from the game, such as Joel teaching Ellie how to swim and his emotional birthday surprise for her.
Still, the time jump would also cement the dire fate of Pedro Pascal's character in Season 2. In the early moments of Part II (spoiler alert!), Joel was killed off by Abby, which ultimately sets the stage for Ellie's revenge tour and path to violence.
Hopefully, the showrunners would eventually find the right balance in showcasing the relationship between Joel and Ellie while also establishing the growth of Bella Ramsey's protagonist.
The Last of Us Season 1 is streaming on HBO Max.