Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin's The Last of Us wrapped its first season on HBO Max last night, and if the responses from critics and social media are anything to go by, they managed to stick the landing. The TV version of The Last of Us stayed very true to the heart of Naughty Dog's classic 2013 video game, delivering very strong performances, more than one instant-classic episode, and a handful of nerve-shredding sequences featuring the game's grotesque Clickers.
But what if there'd been ... more Clickers? While The Last of Us did an excellent job at capturing the human aspect of the terrifyingly bleak world of Joel and Ellie, some viewers wouldn't have minded a bit more monstrous action. At a recent event, Craig Mazin addressed that very issue head on, explaining why the series cut back on so much of the game's horror action and suggesting that the show's next season might include a bit more of that.
Here's what he had to say, as quoted by Deadline
"Part of the adaptation process is trying to figure out how to take source material that was built around gameplay and port it over to a medium that is passive. And a lot of the gameplay centered on non-playable characters that you have to get around by either avoiding them or stealth killing them or just confronting them head on.
That’s sort of your choices when you’re playing. And the NPCs were either raiders or cannibals, or they were the infected. So there’s a lot of fighting. I don’t know what your ultimate kill count is on a typical run of The Last of Us, but it’s in the triple digits for sure.
So we did at times have choices to make about how we wanted to present the infected. I will say that even though we were green lit for a season of television, Neil and I felt like we couldn’t just make a season of television without considering what would come after. There is more The Last of Us to come.
I think the balance is not always just about within an episode or even episode to episode, but season to season. It’s quite possible that there will be a lot more infected later. And perhaps different kinds. But within the episodes that we were concentrating on, I think ultimately we generally stressed the power of relationships and trying to find significance within moments of action.
So there may be less action than some people wanted, because we couldn’t necessarily find significance for quite a bit of it, or [they had a] concern that it would be repetitive. After all, you’re not playing it, you’re watching it. And although a lot of people do like to watch gameplay, it needs to be a little bit more focused and and purposeful when we’re putting it on TV.”
That's not quite a confirmation that The Last of Us S2 will lean into the game series' horror action, but it's certainly an acknowledgment that Mazin and company have noted this particular bit of criticism, and have taken it to heart. Moreover, it's just a damn good explanation for anyone who's been leveling said criticism at the series. It all makes sense to us! But, er, yes, we could maybe use a few more Bloaters (and perhaps a Rat King?) in the next batch of Last of Us episodes.
The next season of The Last of Us has already been greenlit and everyone's slated to return, but for now there's no word on when that second season might go into production. One assumes, given the runaway success of the show's first season, that that'll be sooner rather than later. Stay tuned for updates on that front, folks!