One of the best things about the premiere episode of The Last of Us was how it opened with an insightful yet terrifying scene. However, the original sequence was so "boring" that it risked putting viewers to sleep before the story could unfold. Co-showrunner Craig Mazin has just revealed the original opening scene and how he was convinced to change it.
The Last of Us Episode 1 opens with an interview of two scientists in 1968. One epidemiologist insists that viruses can cause a global pandemic but his companion has a different idea. According to the scientist played by John Hannah, fungi could bring about the end of humanity once they evolve to infect humans.
The information is delivered in a nerdy way but it was also terrifyingly real in the face of global warming. However, this wasn't how we could have learned about cordyceps. Craig Mazin revealed during HBO's The Last of Us podcast that he had initially been a clip of a cordyceps infecting a group of ants but his co-showrunner Neil Druckmann wasn't impressed.
"I pitched [the cold open] twice," Mazin said. "The first time I pitched it, Neil was like 'ehh' – or we can do the video. It's Planet Earth, you can watch this beautiful demonstration of how cordyceps works, how it takes over an ant. It tells you everything you need to know. What we decided to do was make our own video like that."
Luckily, Druckmann managed to convince Mazin that they didn't want to bore the viewers to tears.
"It was a little boring to watch. It was a little bit like we're in social studies class," Mazin said. "I had written this thing early as if I had found a transcript of an old Dick Cavett from 1969. I remember showing it to Neil and he was like, 'This is a little weird.'"
He continued, "We're about 3-4 weeks away from wrapping… and I am not thrilled with this opening. I sent it to Neil again and this time he was like 'ooh!'"
We're glad to know it all worked out and it was fun to see John Hannah deliver the chilling insight into the future.
The Last of Us Episode 1 is currently streaming on HBO Max.