We know no one thought anything else was going to happen, but another week has passed and HBO has dropped another incredible episode of The Last of Us. While there’s a lot to unpack when it comes to this chapter of Joel and Ellie’s adventure, and a lot more to unpack when it comes to Bill and Frank, there’s quite an interesting story behind this episode’s final shot. Chatting about episode three on The Last of Us Podcast with host Troy Baker, showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann have confirmed that The Last of Us episode three’s iconic ending was the result of a “misfire” idea – on top of it being a clear reference to the video game’s main menu.
When asked about “one last iconic thing”, which is a reference to the “open window with the curtains blowing in the wind”, Mazin explains that the showrunners “had this idea that we were going to open every episode with a window… you could sit and look at this window for as long as you wanted… then you’d press play and the episode would begin”.
An interesting way to start a TV show and undoubtedly inspired by the main menu screen in Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us video game, which also features an open window with blowing curtains, Mazin added that “each episode [would have] had a different window reflecting a different circumstance”.
However, as many of these as the showrunners filmed, “it just never made sense” as a concept in practice. “It just never came together.” This is, of course, a shame. The opening of The Last of Us is iconic, to say the least, and just one small factor that contributes to it being one of the best PS5 games of all time. It evokes so many emotions despite being a relatively simple concept – and it’s much more interesting than a standard menu screen.
Where does episode three come into all of this, aside from the fact that it’s an open window? Well, Mazin goes on to explain that “the plus side of the misfire was that [they] did have [episode three’s] ending.”
“It is a chance to give fans… that feeling of the open window and the sense of both promise and loss, that it implies”, continues Mazin. “What I love about the last moment is that it brings us a sense of happiness, that you just know Bill and Frank are at peace… That finally Bill found the person he could love for a long, long time”.
If you want to hear Mazin and Druckmann discuss this ending with your own ear-holes, you can find all of the above and more at the 44:50 mark in the video below:
We do recommend that you listen to the entire episode, though. There really is a lot to unpack and some interesting insights into the series here.
The window at the end of episode three is just the latest in a growing list of references and easter eggs for fans of Naughty Dog’s TLOU game series to find. HBO’s The Last of Us hides a nod to another PS5 exclusive in episode two, and episode one of HBO’s The Last of Us has a sneaky TLOU 2 easter egg hidden away in it as well.
We know The Last of Us with tendrils would be an entirely different game, and that HBO’s The Last of Us might feature spores after all in Season 2, but it goes without saying that the changes HBO is making to The Last of Us’ story right now are all positive ones. This episode, more than most, proves that – and we’re so excited to see what’s to come next.