Greetings, fellow tech-lovers! I’m Nuked and today I’m going to tell you about the incredible story behind the season one finale cameo of HBO’s The Last of Us.
While the show brought back a few of the original video game’s actors for cameo roles throughout the first season, the creators were careful not to draw too much attention to them so as not to pull focus from the larger story. But for its season one finale, The Last of Us pulled out one of the bigger guns for a tense and moving scene.
The episode opens in the not-so-distant past just as Ellie’s about to be born. Aside from some details, we don’t learn much about Ellie’s mother Anna. But what we do see is how Anna gave birth to Ellie while fighting off an infected that managed to bite her while she and her daughter were still connected via an umbilical cord.
However, showrunner Craig Mazin and co-creator Neil Druckmann had bigger plans for Anna and Ashley Johnson. Druckmann had actually begun thinking about Anna and how he might explore her story all the way back when The Last of Us initially came out.
He wanted to capture a little character drama that spoke to the game’s themes of parental love for their child and how much you’re willing to do even when you’re at death’s door. When plans for an animated short failed, Druckmann reached out to Johnson and the two discussed the possibility of working together again on another The Last of Us project.
When the opportunity for a The Last of Us series presented itself, Mazin and Druckmann’s idea resurfaced organically. The scene when Anna gives birth implies that Ellie’s immunity to cordyceps in the present is due to exposure to the fungus through umbilical cord blood, but it isn’t meant to answer that conclusively.
What Druckmann wants viewers to take away from the finale’s flashback is a deeper appreciation for all the women around Ellie who wanted her to do big things with her life. Knowing how close Anna was with Marlene, and that Anna’s dying wish was’take care of my kid’, gives more weight and maybe more tragedy to Marlene and the sacrifice she’s trying to make for the betterment of mankind.