I haven’t played The Last of Us Part 2, but I’m well aware of the controversy surrounding the game based on its handling of Joel. To say that this created an uproar in the fanbase is a dangerous understatement, since not only was there a schism in the community, but it turned into a rift that has been downright adversarial in the most toxic way. Now that the film has reached a larger audience, I’m very concerned for Kaitlyn Dever, who was recently cast as the controversial Abby.
Now, I’m not sure that The Last of Us TV show is going to go the same direction as the game. The first season deviated a fair amount from the source material, which is a perfect way to anger fans of most franchises. But the changes made to the TV show actually ended up being well done and in the spirit of the show, and were thus well received. However, the second season may end up being a little more loyal to the source material, and that’s how we get into problem territory.
Potential spoilers ahead.
For those aware of the plot, they know that fan favorite surrogate dad Joel (Pedro Pascal) is killed by a revenge seeking Abby in The Last of Us Part 2. I would be surprised if such a major plot point is deviated from, but with Joel being such a beloved character, and Pedro Pascal being such a hot commodity, it’s possible that Joel may meet a kinder fate than his video game counterpart.
Since The Last of Us TV show is reaching a wider audience base than the video game, I have some concerns that the backlash will be larger. Now, it’s possible that audiences aren’t as intimately connected to Joel as most players of the game were. After all, Joel was our avatar for most of the game’s story. Unlike TV audiences, we actually walked miles in Joel’s shoes. We were just as helpless as his daughter died in the introduction of the game, and we pulled the trigger to save the life of Joel’s surrogate daughter. TV audiences just don’t have that same connection.
In fact, The Last of Us TV show has a real opportunity to “fix” some of the problems that fans had with the game’s sequel. In The Last of Us Part 2 fans weren’t introduced to Abby until after she kills Joel, and then you’re forced to play as her to progress the story. Unlike the video game, the TV show thrives when it takes the perspective from Joel and Ellie. It can employ this with Abby’s story too, instead showing her path of revenge and only revealing that her target was Joel after she has a chance to take her revenge. This angle could potentially “redeem” a story that is maligned by a chunk of the fanbase.
But on the face of it, losing a popular actor is just bad business. Plus, don’t you hate it when a character survives a horror movie just to be killed off in the sequel? It’s one of my least favorite tropes. Let’s see how The Last of Us pulls it off.
The Last of Us streams on Max and Season 2 will premiere some time in 2025,