Why Pedro Pascal’s The Last of Us Schedule Became a Major Story

Why Pedro Pascal’s The Last of Us Schedule Became a Major Story

Ninety-nine percent of the time, this sentence would seem free of any hidden meaning: “Pedro Pascal has finished filming The Last of Us season two.” Every day actors start filming projects and then they finish filming projects. When it happens it’s rarely, if ever, significant. In this case, though, people began to freak out about it—and even though that statement was later reported to be inaccurate, that it caused a ruckus at all is a fairly fascinating tale.

The rumor of Pascal completing his filming started earlier this week. On one level, it raised eyebrows because The Last of Us season two has reportedly only been filming a few weeks and is expected to continue through the summer. He’s one of the main characters on the hit HBO series, so his potentially being done seemed odd for that reason alone.

Except, it didn’t, if you had some additional context. The Last of Us season two is adapting the game The Last of Us Part II, and for anyone who has played the game, the rumor of Pascal’s schedule felt like the indirect answer to a question fans have had for a while. Before we get to that though, it’s important to note that after the rumor began to circle, HBO told IGN that the rumors of him being done with filming were “not accurate.” Does that mean he is still filming? Does that mean he finished a block of filming and is going back? And, finally, why is this meaningless piece of news being reported on with such interest?

The last question we can answer, but it requires discussing events in The Last of Us Part II game and, potentially, season two of the HBO series.

This has been covered over and over again but, to reiterate, Pedro Pascal’s character, Joel, is not a big part of The Last of Us Part II. In the game’s first act, he’s murdered by a woman named Abby as revenge for him killing her father, a doctor at the hospital Joel where went on a killing spree to save Ellie. Ellie doesn’t know that part though and goes on a revenge mission to find and kill Abby.

So! A sentence as simple as “Pedro Pascal has finished filming The Last of Us season two” implies, to a fan of the game, that season two of the show will be following that story and structure explicitly. That Joel is only in a few scenes or episodes and then WHAM. Dead.

Which, in terms of a major TV series, always felt like something that wouldn’t happen. Even before The Last of Us aired, showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann played coy about how they were going to handle this in-game decision. Basically, they didn’t want game players to spoil that Joel might die or to easily give up such a game-changing plot point willingly. Plus, there’s no guarantee they have to follow the game. Their show is headlined by one of the biggest stars in the world. To write him off for any reason is a major decision on every level.

News that the game’s story would be split over at least two seasons then changed the conversation. It then seems possible Joel would die, but maybe not until the end of season two. (To explain that even further, even though Joel dies at the beginning of the game, it’s the middle of the overall story, with the first half following Ellie’s revenge after his death and the second explaining Abby’s plight before his death.)

If Pascal was actually done filming, it would suggest he’s not in the show as much and that Mazin and Druckmann were taking the simplest path by just following the game to the letter. But, now, we know those rumors are “not accurate.” Which, if you want to get all conspiracy theory about it, is a very specific choice of words. It doesn’t say he has months left of filming. It doesn’t even say that he’s still filming. For all we know he could go back at a later date for a single day and they would be telling the truth. HBO is only saying it’s not accurate that Pedro Pascal has completed filming on season two. The question of if Joel dies in season two of The Last of Us, or when, remains a mystery.

And now, almost 700 words later, we’re still just talking about and explaining the most basic fact imaginable: a person finished work. It should be meaningless. But when it’s how long Pedro Pascal was on the set of The Last of Us season two, it’s a window into the entire scope of the season and series. Something we’ll be talking about and debating into next year when The Last of Us finally returns with its second season.

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