Why HBO’s The Last of Us Has a Lengthy Premiere

HBO's The Last of Us Poster cropped

The Last of Us co-creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann discuss the extended runtime of the HBO video game adaptation’s premiere episode.

The following contains spoilers for The Last of Us Season 1, Episode 1, “When You’re Lost in the Darkness,” now streaming on HBO and HBO Max.

The Last of Us co-creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann recently revealed why the HBO series has such a lengthy premiere episode.

Mazin and Druckmann discussed the bumper runtime of Season 1, Episode 1, “When You’re Lost in the Darkness,” in an episode of HBO’s The Last of Us Podcast. “Episode 1 used to be Episode 1 and 2,” Mazin said. “It used to just end on the ’20 years later’ and seeing Joel throw the kid in the fire. In this case, our proxies [at HBO] were saying, ‘It’s not necessarily going to want to make me come back. The whole story of The Last of Us is about Joel and Ellie. If we get a little glimpse of her at the end of Episode 1 and we don’t bring them together… and it just ends with a kid dying, then credits — people may not want to come back.'”

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Druckmann then chimed in, saying that HBO executives pushing for Joel and Ellie to meet up in The Last of Us premiere was the right call. “In hindsight, the feedback makes complete sense,” he said. “We had a version where we ended on Ellie looking out the window… there’s a mystery here, but we haven’t established why we should care about the kid. We have to get to that moment [where Joel meets Ellie], that’s the start of this journey. The episode is so much better for it.” This isn’t the first time Druckmann has publicly acknowledged the network’s positive impact on The Last of Us‘ development. He previously praised both Mazin and HBO for suggesting the video game adaptation should scale back its source material’s violence “except for the very essential [content].”

The Last of Us Co-Creators Discuss the HBO Series

Both Druckmann and Mazin have repeatedly assured fans that The Last of Us will do the original game justice, while still putting a new spin on its characters and story. Mazin said that the HBO series would “startle” The Last of Us fans by expanding on the mythology established in the game and its sequel, The Last of Us Part II. At the same time, Mazin was quick to assuage concerns that the Last of Us adaptation “violates the game or breaks it.” Instead, he said that the series would keep familiar moments fresh by adding small details not present in the games.

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Mazin and Druckmann also recently went on the record regarding The Last of Us‘ ending, promising fans that the series won’t continue beyond the events depicted in The Last of Us Part II.

Source: HBO’s The Last of Us Podcast


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