It's no secret that The Last of Us has made some major divergences from the source material. One of the most significant and intriguing changes was the introduction of Kathleen, the leader of the revolutionary movement in Kansas City, who was created exclusively for the HBO series. But what was it like creating a completely new character for the show? Co-showrunners Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin admitted that bringing in an original villain was refreshing.
In The Last of Us Episode 4, Melanie Lynskey debuted as Kathleen and viewers immediately saw that, despite her sweet voice and calm demeanor, she was ruthless in her pursuit of Henry, a man she believes is responsible for the brutal death of her brother.
Not surprisingly, Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin confirmed during the Last of Us podcast that being given the freedom to create someone like Kathleen allowed them to tell the story in a new yet familiar way.
"The show affords us the ability to leave Joel and Ellie and flesh out other characters, in different ways. The best thing you can do in The Last of Us is flesh out your antagonists," they said.
"They don’t see themselves as the villains, they have their own motivations, we are just at odds with each others, our goals just overlap," they continued. "To leave Joel and Ellie and put a face on the resistance that took over the quarantine zone from F.E.D.R.A. made them more interesting, to show the duo and this group careening towards each other makes you cringe because you know what’s coming."
"Humanity will probably not descend into a Mad Max-style culture in a post-apocalyptic world where 80 people just love killing. It’s not what happens," they added. "What happens instead is we’re 80 people who love each other as family, friends and neighbors and that means we must protect ourselves at any cost, and anyone who gets in our way must be taken out. Joel was once one of those people. That’s how he knows the guy asking for help isn’t hurt, and they’re being conned."
"It was important for us to put a face on these people, so we have this character in Kathleen who we understand is suffering when we meet her," they said. "Even though she has the gun in her hand, she is suffering. We have this revolutionary who quietly becomes a terror and does horrible things in service of this, but is still someone we empathize with."
Kathleen certainly has been an intriguing addition to The Last of Us and we can't wait to learn more about her in the next episode.
The Last of Us Episode 4 is now streaming on HBO Max.
Related: The Last of Us Star Jeffrey Pierce Explains Kathleen and Perry's Complicated Relationship