The first episode of ‘The Last of Us’ has given a lot to talk about. From the fact that its start was about to be very different to the easter egg hidden at the end of the chapter, but what surely many are still wondering is the reason it is so long. And it is that we do not forget that it lasts up to 80 minutes, something unusual.
It was HBO’s idea
The point is that the initial plan was for the episode to end much earlier, specifically shortly after the 20-year time skip. Craig Mazin and Neil Druckman they believed that the right moment to close the episode was just after Joel (Pedro Pascal) dumped a corpse to be cremated. However, HBO made it clear to them that it was not the best ideal, as Mazin recalls in the official podcast of the series:
You want to have good partners in the chain. I have always believed that the best network executives are there to honestly represent the public. That is what they can do best, they are not supposed to write things for us. They have to tell us how they feel and we have to have faith in their ability to do so. In this case, Casey Blois and Franie Orsi were saying that it wasn’t necessarily going to make me want to come back.
To be fair, that ending cannot be said to leave you with a crazy desire for more, since it goes from a very depressing moment such as the death of Joel’s daughter to a bleak future. We hardly know anything about Ellie (Bella Ramsey) and simply remains halfway as a letter of introduction. Mazin elaborates on it like this:
The entire story of The Last of Us is about Joel and Ellie. If we only get a little glimpse at the end of episode one, we don’t put them together and we don’t understand their journey, and it just ends with one kid dying and then another kid dying, and then the credits, people might just not want to go back. It was important to them, because they loved the show, saying, “It would hurt all of us in our hearts if you don’t want to come back.”
Druckman acknowledges that HBO was right and that their plan to play a bit of a mystery around Ellie in this episode would have gone against the show. That led to the duration being doubled and I think it was the best solution for the problem at hand, what about you?