The Last of Us: What to expect from series two

After nearly nine weeks of tense, traumatic and tearful drama, the opening series of The Last of Us is about to reach its climax.

Joel and Ellie’s arduous journey across America has gripped viewers and critics alike, as they dodge ruthless militia and terrifying monsters, while seeking a cure for a fungal brain infection that devastated the population.

HBO, which adapted the series from the original video game, quickly announced after the first few episodes that there would be a second series.

In this article we’ll examine what that could look like. Spoilers will be avoided, in much the same way that Joel and Ellie dodge those grotesque fungal spores.

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The biggest clues come from the video game’s own sequel.

The Last of Us: Part 2 was released on the PlayStation 4 in the summer of 2020, and picks up the story five years after the events of the first instalment. It goes on to expand the world, introducing new characters, factions and locations.

The game was a big success for Sony, despite its makers having to defend its use of violence. Three years on, it’s considered one of the best games ever made, successfully living up to the legacy created by the original.

Given that the first series of the TV show has largely been faithful to the game – it’s reasonable to assume the show will continue along that path.

Neil Druckman, its director, has also suggested that will be the case, telling the Hollywood Reporter, “We have no plans to tell any stories beyond adapting the games.”

However, given the wider scope of the sequel, maybe one series won’t be enough to do it justice – so it could focus on just one element portion of the story (come back here in future to read a “what to expect in series three” article…)

Trauma

The opening series of the adaptation has been traumatic. Not since Game of Thrones have more central characters said hello and goodbye to viewers with such regularity.

That trend will continue in series two. There will be difficult and heart-breaking decisions made from the first to the last episode. Characters will lose loved ones as they explore more of this changed America.

Viewers will shed a tear, or several, and the constant threat of imminent and sudden death will haunt the show as it has done in series one.

IMAGE SOURCE,HBO/WARNER MEDIA
Image caption,
Pedro Pascal plays Joel Miller in The Last of Us

Themes

Thematically the opening series has touched upon authoritarianism. What does it feel like to be governed by a dictatorship? If we have little or no voice in how society is run, what do we do next?

The next series will thrust religious fundamentalism under the spotlight. As is often the case in post-apocalyptic zombie dramas (I appreciate they’re called ‘infected’ in this show, but you know what I mean), the humans are often the scariest enemies.

That will certainly be the case as the Seraphites (also known as Scars), a group of violent cultists who communicate via menacing whistling sounds, arrive on screen.

How much the show decides to explore the inflexibility of their fundamentalist beliefs, and what that means to the other characters, we’ll have to wait to find out.

Listening to the creators of the show, Neil Druckman and Craig Mazlin, discuss their work, it is clear that love is the central theme of the first series. Every episode is laced with people trying their best to save a loved one.

For series two there will be a shift. Instead it will ask how people deal with grief? Should we get angry? Go numb? Try to forget? Or get revenge?

Characters will answer this question differently and viewers will be challenged to decide which approach they instinctively support.

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