The Last of Us: why the end of episode 8 has changed compared to the game?
Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin explain why they rewrote the final scene of The Last of Us episode eight.
HBO's The Last of Us series has been on the wholeextremely faithful to its source material: Entire dialogues have been taken directly from the game. However, some scenes have sometimes been rewritten in order to be more impactful in live action. This is the case of the final scene of this very successful episode 8.
The original game's writer and creative director, Neil Druckmann, knew that the adaptation of this passage of the game would be highly anticipated. The “Lakeside Resort” chapter puts players in the shoes of Ellie for the first time, who must take care of a particularly vulnerable Joel. After controlling the latter the whole game, this role reversal is particularly surprising and remains one of the best aspects of the work for many. The chapter concludes with a boss fight in an abandoned restaurant against David, the leader of a cannibalistic group. Ellie eventually defeats him, and in an uncontrolled, heartbreaking fit of rage, kills him with a machete.
In the game, Joel finds Ellie while she is still in the restaurant, and it is he who stops his gesture. They embrace in the middle of the flames. In the series, Ellie stops herself, walks out of the restaurant, and then Joel catches up to her. The touching reunion therefore takes place in the woods, in the middle of the snow, and Joel does not witness what Ellie had to do to survive.
Craig Mazin, screenwriter and showrunner, commented on these choices during the last broadcast of the Last of Us Podcast:
” We didn't want this moment to take place in the middle of the flames. In live action, the danger of fire seems more concrete than in the game. And then how could Joel enter the restaurant if David is the only one with the keys? It is therefore a rewrite due to a desire for realism, at first.
But we also wanted Ellie to be able to leave on her own, to save herself. We wanted the viewer to expect Joel to save her, because that's the ordinary dynamic between the two characters. He is ultimately there for her in a very different way, he takes on his role as a parent: he is there for her emotionally, to bring her back to reality. It's one of the most emotional scenes in the game, and I really wanted it to work as well on screen. Thanks to the contrast between the blood on his face and the whiteness of the snow, and to the incredible and erased performance of Bella Ramsay, we succeeded. ”
Apart from this change of scenery, the key moment of this reunion has therefore been preserved: when he takes her in his arms, Joel calls Ellie “Baby girl“, the nickname he affectionately gave to his daughter Sarah. Narratively, it will be interesting to see how these changes will affect Episode 9, available on Amazon Prime from Monday, March 13, 2023.