Tһe Lаst Of Us Seаson 2 Cаn Redeem Its Lowest-Rаted Episode Witһ 1 Importаnt Flаsһbасk

HBO’s The Last of Us is an indisputable success after only 1 season. But to redeem its lowest-rated episode, 1 key flashback needs to be in season 2.

Bella Ramsey As Ellie Smiling In The Last Of Us Season 1 Episode 7

Summary

  • The Last of Us season 1 was a success, with high viewership and user ratings, showcasing the appeal of the show beyond just game fans.
  • Episode 7, “Left Behind,” had the lowest user rating, suggesting that flashback-centric episodes with new characters may not resonate as well with audiences.
  • A potential solution to redeem the lowest-rated episode in season 2 could be to include only one crucial flashback episode that highlights Joel’s care for Ellie and adds emotional depth to her character.

Despite HBO’s The Last of Us season 1 success, there’s potential to redeem its lowest-rated episode with one crucial flashback. The adaptation of Naughty Dog’s popular video game demonstrates how cross-media narratives can work well, especially ones with large devoted fanbases. As of March 2023, a mere two months after The Last of Us‘ season 1 finale, the post-apocalyptic drama earned a whopping 30.4 million viewers on average per episode, with episode 1 alone reaching almost 40 million (via Variety).

To add to The Last of Us‘ high-ranking numbers, every episode has a high user rating of over eight on IMDB. This quantifies the success and popularity of the show and its appeal beyond solely game fans. From praise for the slower-paced episode about Bill and Frank’s tragic love story in episode 3 to Ellie’s major turning point when fending off and killing David in episode 8, it’s clear the show’s character-driven storytelling resonates with audiences. However, the lowest-rated episode, while not a weak rating, hints at areas that may not work as well in The Last of Us season 2.

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The Last Of Us’ Riley & Ellie Episode Was Season 1’s Lowest-Rated

Riley crying and hugging Ellie in The Last of Us episode 7

The Last of Us season 1, episode 7, “Left Behind” is adapted from the first game’s DLC of the same name. “Left Behind” is predominantly a flashback episode showing Ellie and her best friend Riley in an abandoned mall where the latter tells the former the Fireflies assigned her to a post in Atlanta. According to IMDB, this episode has a 7.4 user rating, the season’s lowest. While the 7.4 rating by no means suggests the episode is not important, it raises which aspects may not have been as successful, such as Riley’s first and last appearance being in this episode.

While the flashback effectively provides time for Pedro Pascal’s Joel to rest after badly being injured, it’s so starkly different to the action from the previous episodes that it can be jarring. Granted, “Left Behind” reveals crucial insight into Ellie’s backstory and her fears of being alone, adding complexity to her character. Ultimately, the user rating suggests audiences may not prefer flashback-centric episodes, especially when introducing a new character that doesn’t make it past the episode. Hopefully, season 2 balances the numerous flashbacks from The Last of Us Part II without damaging the pacing.

Filming for The Last of Us season 2 is confirmed to start on February 12, 2024.

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The Last Of Us Part II’s Birthday Flashback Can Redeem Season 1’s Riley & Ellie Episode

Although Riley and Ellie’s story suggests flashback-heavy episodes can be tricky, it also emphasizes the appeal of emotionally driven, quieter moments between characters. Luckily, one key flashback from the second game could brilliantly break up the intensity expected in season 2. To do this, The Last of Us can have Ellie’s birthday flashback chapter as an episode, highlighting Joel’s care for Ellie and adding to the mix of guilt and anger she experiences after he dies without her forgiving him. This would also allow more on-screen time for Pascal’s Joel, a fan favorite in the franchise.

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Moreover, if the series keeps the flashback after Joel’s death, it adds an emotional element that could make the episode highly rated among audiences, especially if done well. It would give audiences time with Pascal and Bella Ramsey, an on-screen dynamic already proven to work in season 1. Since the birthday flashback is a happy memory for Ellie, it reminds her of how much Joel means to her and how much he cared for her. This poignant feel-good flashback has enough material to flesh out an episode and could redeem the lower “Left Behind” rating since it ties into the main story by refueling Ellie’s desire to avenge Joel’s death.

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Other Flashback Episodes Won’t Work In The Last Of Us Season 2

Abbey takes in the massive aquarium in The Last of Us Part 2

Flashbacks in the franchise offer raw insight into some of the characters, such as the series-only scenes of Ellie’s mother. However, given how many are in the second game, since it follows two protagonists’ arcs in detail, it wouldn’t work to have a flashback-only episode beyond Ellie’s birthday one. This is especially true if the second season has nine episodes like the first. For starters, some flashbacks are merely a scene in the game, so stretching it into an episode would naturally not work, such as Ellie and Joel’s final conversation on a porch.

Because of how controversial Abby’s character is, having episodes entirely dedicated to her flashbacks could take up valuable time to progress the present-day story and might hurt the show’s pacing and audience reception. While multiple flashbacks work in the game due to the format, some flesh out already established details, such as Abby’s aquarium ones. These expand on Abby’s past with Owen and his relationship with Mel but can be condensed in favor of more crucial moments. Ultimately, The Last of Us season 2 should limit how many episodes are flashbacks-only to help keep the show easy to follow and the story cohesive.

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