- “The Last of Us Part II’s flashback chapter, ‘The Birthday Gift,’ is a beautiful and touching scene that deserves its own episode in the TV adaptation.”
- “The flashbacks in the game provide a great excuse to bring back Pedro Pascal, adding to the star power of the TV show.”
- “Standalone episodes like ‘Long, Long Time’ and ‘Left Behind’ were highlights of season 1, and the TV adaptation should continue to use this format, with ‘The Birthday Gift’ being a prime candidate.”
There are a ton of flashback sequences peppered throughout the grueling Seattle-set action of The Last of Us Part II, but one flashback in particular deserves to get its own episode in The Last of Us season 2. Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin are currently in the midst of the daunting task of breaking up the enormous narrative of The Last of Us Part II into episodes of television. The game is so huge that it will likely extend beyond season 2 and spill over into season 3. The present-day revenge plot is big enough, but the game is also full of integral flashbacks that bolster the story and characters.
The bulk of The Last of Us Part II’s action sees Ellie and Abby chasing each other through the ruins of Seattle over the course of three relentless days. Naughty Dog broke up this punishing three-day expedition by peppering in flashbacks to crucial moments from Ellie and Abby’s past, like Tommy teaching Ellie how to use a sniper rifle and Abby helping her dad provide a pregnant zebra with medical assistance. A lot of these flashbacks need to find their way into the TV show, but one in particular deserves to be given its own episode in The Last of Us season 2.
The Last Of Us 2’s “Birthday Gift” Flashback Should Be Its Own Episode
The flashback chapter dubbed “The Birthday Gift” is tailor-made to be adapted into a standalone feel-good episode like season 1’s “Long, Long Time” or “Left Behind.” Set three years before Ellie heads to Seattle on the road to revenge, “The Birthday Gift” sees Joel surprising Ellie on her birthday with a trip to a natural history and aerospace museum. This turns out to be one of the happiest days of Ellie’s life. She gets to climb up the back of a T. rex (statue) and she sits in a space capsule, closes her eyes, and listens to a recording of a rocket launch that Joel found.
Ellie’s imaginary trip to space, the closest she’ll ever come to fulfilling her lifelong dream of being an astronaut, is one of the most beautiful and touching scenes in this entire franchise. It arrives at the perfect point in the story as a timely reminder of how much Joel cared about Ellie during her quest to avenge him. If the TV adaptation doesn’t feature this scene, it’ll feel incomplete. The following scene, in which Ellie scopes out a derelict building alone while Joel tries to find another way in, would provide this potential flashback episode with a nail-biting climactic sequence.
Flashbacks Are A Great Excuse To Bring Back Pedro Pascal
Not only are the flashbacks in The Last of Us Part II a beautiful addition to the story; they also provide the showrunners of the TV adaptation with a great excuse to bring back Pedro Pascal. Pascal is one of the biggest stars in the world, one of the main reasons why the HBO show was such an instant hit, and he was perfectly cast in the role of Joel. Joel’s death is the inciting incident of The Last of Us Part II, and the TV adaptation will need to place that heartbreaking scene just as early in the story timeline to have the same impact on the audience.
But that’ll mean Pascal can only remain the headlining star of The Last of Us TV show for one more episode – two episodes max. After that, Bella Ramsey will take over as the star of the show. If the TV series adapts the flashbacks, then the producers will be able to get Pascal back for another couple of episodes. His on-screen chemistry with Ramsey – especially in the more tender moments – was one of the best parts of season 1, and the flashbacks, which are made up entirely of tender moments, can get them back on-screen together in season 2.
Why HBO’s The Last Of Us Should Keep Using Standalone Episodes
Season 1’s Standalone Episodes Were Highlights
“Long, Long Time” and “Left Behind” were two of the most highly acclaimed episodes of The Last of Us season 1. These standalone episodes focused on relationships between characters provided a welcome break from the bleakness of the main storyline. The flashbacks in The Last of Us Part II serve the same purpose, giving audiences a break from an even bleaker main storyline. The Last of Us season 2 should continue its format of breaking up the action with feel-good standalone episodes – and “The Birthday Gift” is a prime candidate.
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