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'The Last of Us' showrunner & Pedro Pascal on why they had to keep Ellie's 'terrible jokes' from the game
It's just the duo now as they head west and figure out if they even like one another.
At the end of last week's The Last of Us episode, "Long, Long Time," Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) took the gift of Bill's (Nick Offerman) truck and supplies, and headed west on wheels. This week in "Please Hold My Hand," the road trip for two progresses in earnest as they make it to the Midwest. Shot across the wilds of Alberta, Canada, Pedro Pascal tells SYFY WIRE that the series takes on an even more cinematic look and feel going forward.
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"It was the physical landscape of Alberta that was also so much of the visual experience of the show," the actor says of shooting their road trip on location. "In the game, I imagine that there's so much nature and surprising beauty to the end of civilization, and for nature to win in this way. To be able to use the physical locations of where we were for the whole year, and each of its seasons, was pretty amazing. It may have not been the most comfortable thing, but it was pretty unbelievable to be on this snow capped prairie. Once again, when it wasn't a built set, we had the mountains, we had the real river, we had the real snow, like very little left to the imagination."
"Please Hold My Hand" also does the heavy work of thawing Joel and Ellie to one another. With no Tess buffer, or outside characters to distract either of them for the majority of the episode, the two explore, camp, share reticent stories and eventually lots of puns.
**WARNING: THERE ARE SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 4 OF THE LAST OF US BELOW.**
When Joel and Ellie find themselves in hostile territory in the FEDRA QZ in Kansas City, danger abounds with the soldiers and survivors in the wasteland. After escaping an ambush attempt and then looking for higher ground, audiences finally get to witness a breakthrough between the duo. As they camp out on the 45th floor of a building, Ellie's puns have their desired impact as the two laugh together for the first time.
Showrunner Craig Mazin tells SYFY WIRE that he knew that the pun part of the game had to carry through to the series. "For me, as a fan, I was delighted the first time I experienced Ellie just suddenly pulling out her joke book, No Pun Intended Volume Too, and began reading them. And so of course, we had to do it," Mazin explains. "And what I loved was that over the course of this episode, it was like she kept getting Joel to come a little bit closer and a little bit closer to kind of laughing over these terrible jokes with her. And then at the very end, there's that moment where she gets him. For the first time — we've seen three episodes, and the first one is really a long episode, so we're over fours hours into this thing — Joel laughs. He smiles and he laughs again. The last time you saw that was when he was with Sarah (Nico Parker). And that laugh that Bella Ramsey has, that little squeaky laugh, I love so much. It just filled my heart. It was like, 'There they are. It's happened.'"
New episodes of The Last of Us premiere Sunday nights on HBO and HBO Max.
Looking for more horror? Check out SYFY's Chucky. The first season is streaming now on Peacock, and Season 2 can be found on SYFY.