The latest leaked photos and videos from the set of HBO’s The Last of Us suggest that the series will prominently feature the fascinating story presented in the game’s highly acclaimed DLC expansion, Left Behind.
For those who don’t know, 2014’s The Last of Us: Left Behind is the franchise’s only narrative DLC expansion (at least so far). Most of the expansion is actually an extended flashback sequence that follows Ellie and her friend Riley as they explore an abandoned mall. As you might have already guessed given the tragic nature of the rest of the games, their adventure is interrupted by a horde of Infected.
Widely praised for its intimate storytelling and LGBTQ representation, Left Behind is often considered to be an essential part of The Last of Us mythology that also stands tall on its own as one of the best video game stories in recent years. Because it is a DLC expansion to the original game, though (and because there are still a lot of questions about how true to the games the upcoming HBO series will be), some fans wondered if we’d actually get a Left Behind sequence in the show.
However, these photos from the production of the HBO series that showcase what seems to be a pretty elaborate mall set seemingly confirm that the show will feature what many say is one of The Last of Us‘ greatest narrative accomplishments.
There are even a few clips that show some of the series’ crew members wandering around the mall set (though there sadly don’t seem to be any photos or videos of any of the major cast members filming in the area).
Those photos and videos seemingly open up two distinct possibilities. Either HBO’s The Last of Us series features an extended mall sequence not seen in the original game, or this set is being used for a flashback sequence based on the Left Behind DLC (which, as noted above, primarily takes place in a mall).
While it’s perhaps a bit too early to rule out the former possibility entirely (this show will likely need to expand upon the original game in some ways), the fact that Storm Reid has already been cast as Riley in the upcoming show does just strengthen the idea that the Left Behind story will play a major role in the series and that the mall set is being used to tell that story.
The big question now is, “How significant will that flashback be?” While it’s entirely possible that the Left Behind sequence will be snuck into one of the show’s other episodes as an aside, the DLC adventure really is good enough to be worthy of its own episode.
In fact, the DLC’s set-up (which takes place in the timeline of the “main game” and sees Ellie scramble for supplies to help treat Joel’s wounds) could easily be worked into the hypothetical plot of the show and allow the writers to stretch that story out a bit without having to rely too much on new material. It’s not yet clear if the show is going to get enough episodes in its first season for the writers to be able to get away with “burning” one on a flashback, but if ever a side story deserved a little more time to shine, it would certainly have to be this one.
So while we’d still advise you to wait for confirmation or additional set photos before you get your hopes up, it does look like you can expect to see at least part of the Left Behind story play out on the small screen when HBO’s The Last of Us adaptation debuts sometime in late 2022 (hopefully).