HBO’s The Last of Us Just Secretly Set Up Ellie’s Dark Twist, Reveals Director

By Klein Felt Posted:
The Last Of Us, Ellie

If some new quotes are to be believed, HBO's The Last of Us (TLOU) may have hinted at the dark twist Ellie takes in PlayStation's The Last of Us Part II

HBO's PlayStation adaptation received rave reviews after its first episode debuted, taking the world created by Naughty Dog in the acclaimed video game franchise and bringing it to television. 

While director Craig Mazin and showrunner (and original TLOU game director) Neil Druckmann have remained focused on adapting the first game, the pair also teased the idea of taking on Part II in a potential second season. 

And it seems that the seeds for that follow-up may have already been laid in HBO's debut episode. 

HBO's The Last of Us Teases Part 2

Speaking on HBO's Inside the Episode special for the first episode of The Last of Us, director Craig Mazin teased Ellie's dark turn seen in The Last of Us Part II

In the behind-the-scenes look, Mazin pointed to the reaction Bella Ramsey's Ellie has to seeing Pedro Pascal's Joel killing the FEDRA soldier at the end of Episode 1. 

The Last of Us Ellie

The Last of Us director said at that moment "Ellie is activated." He noted that unlike Joel's daughter, Sarah (whose death is depicted earlier in the episode), Ellie "doesn’t cry," going as far as to say that she "likes it:"

“The most remarkable thing about that moment is that when Ellie watches him beating a man to death, she is activated. Earlier in the episode, when Sarah sees him killing this old woman, who’s infected, who he has to kill. He killed her, she cries. Ellie doesn’t cry. Ellie likes it. She likes the idea of somebody defending her like that and she likes the idea of that guy being punished. This is where you begin to see the problem but also the deliciousness of the pairing. These two were meant to be together, but look out.”

Last of Us Sarah

This could be seen as laying the foundation for what would make Ellie the killing machine she becomes in the game's sequel, something that becomes a dark, yet ever-present theme in Part II

Mazin remarked that "Joel forgets that the girl that is standing behind him is not his daughter” and protects her like she is his own. 

Last of Us Joel

Showrunner and writer of the series Neil Druckmann compared the whole sequence to the way the Cordyceps "[take] control" of its victims, except for Joel, it is out of love:

 “Primitive instinct takes over. He can’t help but act. Something else took control of him in a similar way to how the Cordyceps does, except for him, it’s a version of love.”

Will HBO Tackle The Last of Us Part 2?

After Season 1 of The Last of Us runs its course and the plot of the first game has been tackled, it would make sense for Neil Durckmann and Craig Mazin to start work on a Part II adaptation

For the pair to be laying the groundwork for what Ellie becomes when going on a revenge tour in the sequel does seem smart. However, these quotes could leave a bit of an odd taste in some fans' mouths. 

With Part II out in the wild, the HBO team can plant these sorts of seeds, knowing what could come if a Season 2 were to happen. This is something the first game could not do.

But one of the key pillars of The Last of Us' story is the beaming light of hope that Ellie becomes in the franchise's increasingly dire world, and Mazin should not put the cart before the horse here. 

Build Ellie up now, so when her fall does inevitably happen, it comes with that added emotional punch. If these violent seeds become engrained too early, the character's fall from grace will lose some of that. 

At this point, it seems like the Last of Us team has their heads about them, but this is something that they should be acutely aware of when making quotes such as this.

Episode 1 of HBO's The Last of Us is available to stream now on HBO Max, with new episodes airing every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET.

- In This Article: The Last of Us
Release Date
January 15, 2023
- About The Author: Klein Felt
Klein Felt is a Senior Editor at The Direct. Joining the website back in 2020, he helped jumpstart video game content on The Direct. Klein plays a vital role as a part of the site's content team, demonstrating expertise in all things PlayStation, Marvel, and the greater entertainment industry.