10 Changes The Last of Us Season 2 Should Make From the Game
Bring back the spores!
HBO’s The Last of Us made a name for itself throughout the first season for being extremely faithful to the source material of the original The Last of Us video game. However, there have been minor alterations and changes throughout to help enhance and adapt the story to a television format. Viewers can expect to see more of these in the show’s second season, which will begin to cover events from The Last of Us Part II’s video game. We’ve compiled a list of possible tweaks we think should occur for this second season, so here are 10 changes The Last of Us Season 2 should make from the game.
***Warning – this article contains major spoilers for The Last of Us Part II & potential spoilers The Last of Us Season 2***
Expand Abby’s Backstory From the Beginning
The second Last of Us game introduces Abby, who operates as a second protagonist in contrast to Ellie, with the two going up against one another as the antagonist of each other’s opposing perspectives. With Abby being such an important character, it could be a clever choice to show viewers some background information before the first time she crosses paths with Joel and Ellie.
Including more flashback sequences and background information on Abby involving her father’s death would make her need for revenge much more vivid and give viewers a better understanding of what’s driving her hatred toward Joel. HBO’s The Last of Us has the perfect opportunity to set up this scene with Abby discovering her father’s body among the wreckage of Joel’s actions at the hospital as the first scene to kick off Season 2.
Either way, giving this extra clarity to Abby’s point of view will be very important. It will also help viewers understand her actions further down the track and perhaps help the audience find her more likable as a protagonist despite what she has done, especially if they can understand her from the beginning.
Give Jesse More Significance
Jesse is one of very few characters in The Last of Us that was a truly good person. In a cruel and suffocating world, where runners, clickers, and bloaters roam the lands destroying lives in seconds, Jesse shined through as a bright light, offering kindness, empathy, and understanding towards his friends and peers of Jackson. He truly had a heart of gold and was always supportive of others, holding no distaste for Ellie and Dina’s relationship, despite Dina being his ex.
This type of character is a rare occurrence in the world of the infected, which is why Jesse deserves to shine even brighter in HBO’s adaptation. While his fate and story are pretty much set in stone, there’s a lot that could be done to allow the audience to connect to Jesse’s character on a deeper level, such as the inclusion of more flashbacks involving Jesse or some expanded scenes involving him.
Jesse was one of the people both Ellie and Dina were closest to, so it could be really special to get to see some natural moments of friendship between the trio in the same way Bill and Frank’s story was rewritten in a deeper, more beautiful way. By allowing viewers to see Jesse through Ellie and Dina’s eyes, he will be recognized as a much more special character, and give him the limelight he deserves before he meets his unfortunate and heartbreaking fate later in the story.
Explore Abby & Lev’s Relationship on a Deeper Level
While Abby and Lev stumbled into one another’s lives through unexpected and unfortunate circumstances, they shared a dynamic resembling Joel and Ellie by the end of the story. During the time skip in which they are captured, Abby and Lev grow to care for one another beyond a simple alliance. In learning to trust each other, they change many of their negative qualities in the time they are missing, with both growing as individuals.
It would be great to see Abby come to an understanding of Joel’s actions through her relationship with Lev and gain some perspective on why he did what he did to save Ellie now that she’s in the same shoes as Joel. This could be a highly emotional bonding moment between Abby and the teen and let the viewers witness Abby make the first definitive step towards putting her past to rest.
It was touching to see that Abby had grown to care for Lev with such intensity, taking on that same guardian/caregiver role that Joel once was for Ellie. Because this was such a significant parallel in The Last of Us II, the portrayal of this relationship deserves to be expanded upon with more clarity in HBO’s adaptation. This will help make Abby a much more likable and understandable character and show that she is much more capable of empathy and kindness than one may have initially assumed.
Expand on the Seraphites Themselves
As HBO’s The Last of Us Season 1 follows the first game’s storyline, viewers have only been introduced to the organizations known as FEDRA and the Fireflies. However, in The Last of Us Part II, some new additions of antagonistic communities and organizations have formed, such as WLF, and the Seraphites, aka “Scars.”
The Seraphites are one of the more brutal communities in The Last of Us, nicknamed ‘Scars’ for their easily identifiable scarred faces. The community is harsh and cruel, known to physically abuse and even torture outsiders and members of their community who don’t uphold standards. During her journey, the second protagonist, Abby, comes across and befriends two young Seraphites, Yara and Lev. These two characters play quite a significant part in Abby’s story and character growth, yet only a little information or visual glimpses are given into their upbringing.
Diving further into the Seraphites themselves and giving a cinematic snippet into Yara and Lev’s backstory would provide more of an understanding of the behind-the-scenes environment the teens were living in. This decision could solely focus on the events leading up to the siblings fleeing their hostile cult-like environment and can be used to build suspense on Abby, Lev, and Yara’s escape. Being upfront and bold about how dangerous their decision to flee is and the dire consequences they’ll face if they fail to succeed would make those nail-biting scenes even more impactful with an added layer of intensity.
Bury Tommy’s Manipulation Tactics
Tommy is one of the most important side characters in the game, so after Joel’s passing, I naturally expected him to honor his brother by taking on the role of a parental-like figure, checking up on Ellie and ensuring she was safe and healthy on Joel’s behalf.
So, when I saw Tommy show up at Ellie and Dina’s farmhouse, I thought, “oh good, he’s looking after her and checking up on Joel’s behalf.” Unfortunately, Tommy’s arrival has him manipulate Ellie and use her guilt to sway her into setting back out in pursuit of Abby.
While it’s true that everyone grieves differently, Tommy’s whole interaction in this scene just feels hugely out of character, especially because it’s no hidden fact that Ellie is suffering from severe trauma and PTSD from all she’s endured. Furthermore, he uses ammunition against her from a “promise” within a conversation that occurs off-screen, so it feels like an odd exchange, as we don’t have much context to this scenario.
I’ve always liked Tommy, perhaps even more than Joel, but this felt odd. Instead, they can simply make Ellie’s constant flashbacks and trauma her motivator without needing to skew Tommy’s character like that. Rather than having him motivate her with nasty manipulation, Tommy asking Ellie to carry out what he can’t do as if he’s passing along his mission to her would be a much more promising approach than playing with her guilt. Besides, if HBO’s show plans to honor continuity, then Tommy will also be a father by the time these events occur, so it seems pretty weird to think that he would encourage Ellie to leave Dina and JJ like that.
That One Spores Scene With Ellie & Dina
A significant moment occurs between Ellie and her lover, Dina, during The Last of Us Part II, where the two are forced to wear gas masks while navigating an area infested with spores. When Ellie’s mask cracks due to a fall, Dina panics and attempts to share hers to avoid Ellie inhaling these spores and becoming infected. This is where Ellie reveals her secret immunity to Dina out of desperation to stop her from giving up her mask and suffering possible infection as a result.
However, in HBO’s adaptation, spores cease to exist. This means that this scene will either need to change or spores will need to be introduced in season 2 to give this scene the same impact as in the game. If HBO opts to go the former route, Dina could witness Ellie receiving a minor bite wound from an infected as an alternative option that forces her to admit her immunity to Dina. If they choose the latter option, there’s also the opportunity to expand on the virus and show how it lingers for years through spores or how it is still evolving and just as much of a threat many years later.
Don’t Hold Back For Joel’s Death Scene
In the games, Joel’s death scene is one of the most defining moments of the franchise and where things take a deep dive into darkness for the remainder of the story. Despite being incredibly heavy, his death scene is slightly jumpy in switching perspectives between Joel, Abby, and Ellie. This scene will likely need to be tweaked a bit to create the best experience for television, and one way to do this would be to draw out the confrontations a little more and push the severity of the situation full throttle, holding nothing back.
What’s most jarring about this scene is that, at first, Abby had seemed like a friend in need, a survivor that Joel and Tommy had decided to help out of a bad situation. Just when it looks like a new alliance or friendship could be formed, she turns on Joel and ends his life. However, at the beginning of the game, it wasn’t explicitly clear what drove Abby towards these actions and what made her suddenly flip the switch upon learning Joel’s name.
If they draw out the confrontations with Abby and give more context on why she is acting barbarically, the death scene could be one of the most striking, dark, and devastatingly brutal death scenes in TV history. This could be done through flashbacks, or even subtle flashes of Abby’s point of view regarding the events of the Season 1 finale, striking the viewer as traumatic memories in a similar fashion to how HBO approached Joel’s trauma regarding Sarah.
In perfect honesty, I have high hopes that this death scene will match the likes of, and possibly even exceed, Glenn’s death in The Walking Dead, which is a death scene that has never been forgotten, even years down the line. While I don’t think a super gory beating is necessary to see to portray the severity of Joel’s injuries or Abby’s actions, I believe that having Ellie arrive to witness more of the situation could be an interesting move and that the scene could be portrayed with gory sound effects, while the camera focuses on Ellie’s horrified reaction.
This perspective could be incredibly unsettling, emotional, traumatic, and unforgettable, clearly indicating the horrific trauma Ellie was forced to witness. Though a scene like this is often hard to watch, if HBO manages to create that same gut-wrenching feeling of nausea and emotion that the game managed to evoke for players, and enhance the scene to a new level, it could be a masterpiece.
Capitalize on the Museum Flashback by Adapting It Into Its Own Episode
Joel’s surprise museum trip with Ellie for her birthday is one of the most gorgeous, emotional and meaningful flashbacks in The Last of Us Part II, and is clearly indicated to be one of her fondest and most special moments with Joel. To really give this adventure the impact it deserves, I believe HBO’s adaptation should dedicate an episode to it, much like the Left Behind episode.
With all of the darkness The Last of Us Season 2 is sure to follow, and the horrific headspace our beloved Ellie will be stuck in, an episode focusing on happier times would be sure to stir emotion, and remind viewers that although their relationship was rocky at the time of Joel’s death, they really did care for one another, and had a beautiful and unique bond.
Give Abby’s Friends More Depth So Their Deaths Hit Harder
Throughout The Last of Us Part II’s revenge-fueled cycle of hate, Abby’s friends are picked off and killed in cold blood, one by one, at the hand of Ellie. This is hugely traumatic and horrific for Abby, especially regarding Mel, who had been pregnant when she was executed.
However, despite the horrific circumstances of these character deaths in the game, there’s a constant struggle to connect with most of Abby’s allies, as they don’t feel as fleshed out as the likes of Tommy, Maria, Jesse, and Dina. For example, Manny resonated with me as quite likable, but his death kinda had me just going. “oh, shit. Damn,” instead of feeling the emotional impact as I did with Jesse, Joel, or Sam and Henry from The Last of Us 1.
HBO should consider doing more with these characters to get viewers attached to them, as Abby is a second protagonist, and the characters that are important to her should also be important to the audience. Even if you favor one protagonist over the other, the deaths of the people closest to both individuals should be capable of stirring the same reactions from the audience. I’d love to see an extra few seconds of conversation of day-to-day life between Abby and her friends wherever it fits in.
These can be simple things such as playing with the dogs at the WLF facilities, Mel getting excited about her pregnancy and soon-to-be-motherhood, or Manny lifting everyone with his friendly persona and brotherly vibe. This would only make things much more brutal when they meet their gruesome fates and will likely create much more empathy from viewers towards these characters and Abby herself, helping against the anti-Abby stigma that stemmed from the sequel.
Streamline the Shift of Perspective Between Abby & Ellie
In The Last of Us Part II, the player’s perspective switches between Ellie and Abbie consistently. While the jumping from POV between these characters works in a video game setting, it would be pretty jarring for a TV adaptation. To help remedy this, Abby and Ellie’s stories should be smoothed out so they flow consistently instead of using the overlapping timelines that occur in the game.
This could be achieved with an episodic format, with the season premiere starting from Ellie’s point of view and every second episode being written from Abby’s point of view. Doing so would be a way to keep the stories of both individuals moving together, rather than stopping and starting in different moments of time. This would also let the viewer spend equal time with each protagonist and get a clear indication of each story.
Alternatively, the television adaptation could be rewritten and tweaked slightly to make the most significant events in the game match up, so there’s the possibility of streamlining the inclusion of both Abby and Ellie’s perspectives in one episode. This double protagonist format will undoubtedly be a point of interest for Last of Us fans to watch, and the method HBO decides to handle this with will likely make or break the second season.
That’s it for 10 changes The Last of Us Season 2 should make from the game. Check out the rest of our content for more lists, news, and guides. We have plenty more topics regarding Ellie, Abby, Joel, and your other favorite survivors, so feel free to scroll down and look through our related links below.
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