Director Jasmila Žbanić defends the big change to a crucial Joel moment in The Last of Us episode 6, which goes down very differently in the game.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for The Last of Us season 1, episode 6.
The Last of Us episode 6 director Jasmila Žbanić explains why the show changed one big Joel moment from the game at the end of the episode. Based on the acclaimed PlayStation video games from Neil Druckmann and Naughty Dog, HBO’s The Last of Us follows Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey), an immune teen, as they traverse a post-apocalyptic version of the U.S. After finally reaching what used to be a Firefly facility in episode 6, Joel and Ellie are set upon by an aggressive group of men, one of whom stabs Pascal’s character in the stomach. The episode ends with Joel falling off his horse, unresponsive, his fate left up in the air.
In a recent interview with Variety, Žbanić addresses why Joel’s injury was changed from The Last of Us game, which sees the character fall off a balcony and become impaled on a piece of rebar during an intense and prolonged fight sequence. The director explains that, for the show, it ultimately worked better to have the moment play out with a little more subtlety, really playing more with Ellie’s emotions. Check out Žbanić’s full comment below:
“I got it in the script, and I really liked it because it was more subtle. Ellie thinks they made it, and then it’s a shock. Otherwise it would be immediately over. I really liked how Craig wrote it. They travel, she’s hopeful, they go on together — and then it’s a shock.”
The Last Of Us Still Honors The Original Games Despite Changes
The Last of Us has made some significant changes from the games, often due to the fact that TV shows and video games are just different mediums with different storytelling requirements, but creator Craig Mazin still makes sure to honor Naughty Dog’s work wherever possible. Although played by different actors, the dynamic between Joel and Ellie remains foundational to the show, with both Pascal and Ramsey managing to capture that contentious but caring relationship while infusing it with their own unique sensibilities.
The environment of The Last of Us games is also rendered exceptionally well in the HBO show. Blending visual and practical effects, the show’s post-apocalyptic U.S.A. is scary and unforgiving, but it also allows for touching character moments as Ellie discovers more of what life was like before the outbreak. Crucially, the show also nails the look of the infected. Clickers and bloaters look very close to what players fight in The Last of Us games and are just as terrifying, if not more so.
Mazin also makes sure that The Last of Us features subtle Easter eggs that only fans of the games will catch. From weapons to specific bits of dialogue to props (like Joel’s backpack), aspects of the games are constantly popping up on-screen. Episode 6 even features a possible cameo from Dina, who goes on to play an important role in The Last of Us games. Hopefully, future episodes can continue to expertly balance paying homage to the source material while blazing some new ground.
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