Author Topic: Last of US HBO  (Read 442 times)

Offline Old Man Grey

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Last of US HBO
« on: January 16, 2023, 09:00:02 AM »
Never played the game so it was all new to me. Not very impressed. Seemed like another show in the "Walking Dead" franchise. It also looked cheap. I'm a zombie/apocalypse fan so I'll keep watching but I'm not hopeful.

Offline vpoulsen

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Re: Last of US HBO
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2023, 02:25:18 AM »
I watched it too and immediately thought "more zombies?" I mean, okay, TWD was great, but more zombies?  Did anyone see the movie Vesper on AMC+?  I would like to see more of that story in sequel.

Offline TardisMom

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Re: Last of US HBO
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2023, 08:47:03 AM »
I don't know the game but I thought it was pretty good. I really like the actors.  It will get me through until Succession returns.

Online rushfanyyz

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Re: Last of US HBO
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2023, 09:25:08 AM »
I thought I was the only one. More zombies, more miracle cure immune child that must be transported somewhere, blah blah blah. I like Pedro Pascal so I'll keep watching for that I guess but it's nothing amazing. The game I understand people raving about at the time, wasn't it like 2013? Back then the story line wasn't overdone as much as it is now.

Offline perc2100

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Re: Last of US HBO
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2023, 09:33:14 AM »
Before I get deep into my thoughts, as someone familiar with the game maybe I can help clear things up:

this is NOT a 'zombie'/walking dead type of series at all, and all.  The "moss men" that we'll be seeing eventually are in a sense analogues of zombies to an extent: what happens to infected humans who aren't dispatched and burned quick enough (if you were kind of paying attention to the opening title sequence, you'll notice it's all mossy/vines growing - while its stylish that they made it in the shape of buildings to symbolize the fall of civilization, that's really what the infected humans will look like).

Regardless, the first episode is literally a prologue to the _real_ story of the game/series: taking Ellie across the country and out of the un-quarantined safe zone for a very specific reason (
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).

If anything, this show is a (very) different take on The Mandalorian (older experienced tracker guy tasked with the care of a youngling) mashed up with a bit of CHILDREN OF MEN (older experienced guy is tasked with transporting the first pregnant woman across the country in order to save humanity which has stopped producing babies for some unexplained reason).  The fungal infection is more of a story "in" that leads to a really awesome character-driven story.  Obviously with the game, there are aspects of fighting off the moss-men infected as well as fighting off rogue scavengers & other non-infected bad guys.  But the story is centered around Joel & Ellie, the people they meet along the way, etc: incredibly emotional, if I'm being honest.

Like, I can't stress enough how this is not like The Walking Dead (a show that I admittedly got bored of about half way through the run of the series, though I did enjoy the comic up until the very end).  And again, I think this pilot episode is likely the most "meh" of the first season (which is also what several TV critics who have seem the majority of the season have also said) with all of the end-of-the-world series we've seen lately.  I'd say this is more of a spiritual cousin to Station Eleven + Children of Men moreso than The Walking Dead.

I get the 'zombie fatigue' folks will have, and to be blunt this pilot gave me a 'been there/done that' sense to an extent, even knowing this was the prologue to the story.  Other episodes, from what some TV critic friends have told me, are very different and not the 'gnarly zombie kill of the week' walking dead type of thing.  This game was in development and released when The Walking Dead was the hottest show on TV, so it makes sense that the game creators would maybe 'piggyback' on that trend as a gateway for this story, but I wouldn't say this is a zombie-esque story.

Also, FWIW, the writer of the original game is one of the co-showrunners, Neil Druckmann (along with Craig Mazin, the guy that brought us the incredibly tense HBO miniseries Chernobyl & directed the pilot) so I'm expecting this to be relatively faithful to the game tonally, if not narratively.  Druckmann directs ep. 2 when the real story kicks off, and I suspect the series will be more like a "guest star of the week" as Ellie & Joel make their journey to Denver.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2023, 10:03:10 AM by perc2100 »

Offline vpoulsen

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Re: Last of US HBO
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2023, 01:18:58 PM »
In the first episode it showed infected eating other people.  Now, please correct me if I am wrong, but isn't that pretty much what Zombies do?  I'm not slamming the show, and trust me, I WILL watch it because I am sci fi junkie ESPECIALLY anything about viruses (something I have been obsessed with since 7th grade and the Andromeda Strain movie first aired on TV and I was HOOKED), so...that being said...I did catch on to the freaky cauliflower head people the "upcoming" scenes showed and it reminded me of a novel series that I read last year during the lockdowns...it's called The Ruins by T.W. Piperbrook, where people are infected with a virus that mutates them into mindless monsters...anyway, the way they are described in the book looks like the mutated victims in the upcoming scenes.  I also picked up on the similar story concept to Children of Men, but aren't all stories a bit of retelling of other stories?  We already know she IS infected, but it doesn't kill her or mutate her, she fights it off. 

Offline perc2100

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Re: Last of US HBO
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2023, 06:42:55 PM »
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In the first episode it showed infected eating other people.  Now, please correct me if I am wrong, but isn't that pretty much what Zombies do?  I'm not slamming the show, and trust me, I WILL watch it because I am sci fi junkie ESPECIALLY anything about viruses (something I have been obsessed with since 7th grade and the Andromeda Strain movie first aired on TV and I was HOOKED), so...that being said...I did catch on to the freaky cauliflower head people the "upcoming" scenes showed and it reminded me of a novel series that I read last year during the lockdowns...it's called The Ruins by T.W. Piperbrook, where people are infected with a virus that mutates them into mindless monsters...anyway, the way they are described in the book looks like the mutated victims in the upcoming scenes.  I also picked up on the similar story concept to Children of Men, but aren't all stories a bit of retelling of other stories?  We already know she IS infected, but it doesn't kill her or mutate her, she fights it off.
This is a good point, and that's why IMO it's not the basic premise of a series/game/comic/book that makes a great story, it's _how_ it's told.  Its twists and turns: character arcs.  Emotions.  There have obviously been a million zombie 'things' in media since George Romero (brilliantly) defined that version of the genre w/his 1968 NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD film.  The tropes and conventions he invented were done over and over again throughout The Walking Dead series run, as well as a million other films both great (FWIW the 'zombies eat brains' was defined in the kinda-sequel RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD that Romero had nothing to do with), pretty good (Zach Snyder's DAWN OF THE DEAD remake of Romero's near-perfect classic had it's interesting moments but never hit the social commentary highs Romero's original did), and flat-out bad (DAY OF THE DEAD remake that was a kinda-sequel to Snyder's film, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD II that took the comedic aspects of the first film in a weird place, and billion other bad zombie movies).  We've seen zombie-adjacent movies that did very different things with the genre (28 WEEKS LATER, the sequel to 28 DAYS LATER that started out as its own thing before turning into a sorta-remake/riff on Romero's original DAY OF THE DEAD), or lovingly deconstructed the genre (SHAUN OF THE DEAD is a rare horror-comedy that works on both levels of the genre while also being the rare zombie movie that actually uses the word "zombie").  Heck, Peter Jackson's first and third films were riffs on the genre zombie that he did so effectively, with his BRAIN DEAD being both incredibly gnarly w/gore as well as incredibly hilarious!

What I'm getting at, is I'd say The Last of Us is zombie-adjacent.  The opening scenes in TX did indeed feature early-infected humans that resembled 'zombies,' while the "20 years later" featured a pretty gnarly moss-man infected that was seemingly attached to a wall.  The game was a rare action game where the point was often 'AVOID THE FIGHT AT ALL COSTS!' and the infected situation was merely the jumping off point for the emotional aspects of the story.  To say that the Joel and Ellie relations was the heart of the story would be a bit of a misnomer: their relationship IS the entire story, with their intermittent run-ins with either infected or bad humans being more of a back-drop or excuse to tell their story.

Like I said, I've been told by critics who have seen most of the first season that the pilot is the weakest exactly because the "apocalyptic dystopia" environment feels a bit of old-hat at this point, and the kinda-zombie attacks coming on the heels of The Walking Dead (long drawn-out) ending (except for all of the tiring talk of spin-offs that seem only maybe plausible at this point, though of course there is a golden calf to milk the absolute last dollar out of) bear comparisons.  And that's fare.  But IMO the game, and even the bulk of the pilot let alone the entire first season, only bare a cosmetic semblance to The Walking Dead, or other zombie movies.  Or at least mediocre/bad zombie movies.  Romero's DAWN OF THE DEAD essentially had the bulk of its zombie mayhem in the first and last 20 mins, with the bulk of the film being the humans camped out in the mall dealing with their new living reality: zombies feel almost like an afterthought for quite a bit of the middle of the film. 
So I guess in that regard maybe Last of Us does resemble a zombie movie: albeit the great ones.  But no more than WEST SIDE STORY is a riff on Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliette" or STAR WARS: A NEW HOPE is a fun riff on the Japanese film HIDDEN FORTRESS.

Offline vpoulsen

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Re: Last of US HBO
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2023, 09:28:44 PM »
Wow, you know your Zombie lore!  I've seen all of those films, except Snyder's remake.  I just hope HBO doesn't abandon the story like they did with Raised by Wolves which was really really good.  I am so fed up with good shows getting abandoned right when they start getting really really deep into the story.

Offline Old Man Grey

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Re: Last of US HBO
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2023, 08:32:42 AM »
perc2100 puts up a passionate defense and I hope he's right. But after seeing how HALO was butchered by Paramount+ I have my doubts. Also having the original creator on board is no guarantee of fidelity to the source material. Kirkman was a producer on "Walking Dead", and it diverted from the original in the first season.

Offline vpoulsen

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Re: Last of US HBO
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2023, 10:01:46 AM »
I recall reading that Kirkman diverted the tv series from the comics deliberately and I have the ENTIRE comic series in the hardcover books.  It was a Christmas tradition that I would buy the annual Hardcover book for me and my kids to read, but admit that I need to go back read the last two because he ends the story differently than it was ended in the series.  In a way, for me, it's like having one of those "alternate endings" options some directors like to add to their director's cuts.

Offline perc2100

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Re: Last of US HBO
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2023, 05:10:08 PM »
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Wow, you know your Zombie lore!  I've seen all of those films, except Snyder's remake.  I just hope HBO doesn't abandon the story like they did with Raised by Wolves which was really really good.  I am so fed up with good shows getting abandoned right when they start getting really really deep into the story.
Yeah, I couldn't finish season 2 of Raised by Wolves: great concept and start, but it felt like it went wrong for whatever reason fairly quickly.

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perc2100 puts up a passionate defense and I hope he's right. But after seeing how HALO was butchered by Paramount+ I have my doubts. Also having the original creator on board is no guarantee of fidelity to the source material. Kirkman was a producer on "Walking Dead", and it diverted from the original in the first season.
100% true & fair.  I'm obviously cautiously optimistic about this series, mostly because Chernobyl blew me away and I'm hoping that Craig Mazin (who also was a 'consulting producer' on the also awesome Mythic Quest, though admittedly I have no clue what that means he did) coupled with Neil Druckman, story director/head writer/co-director of the original game (along w/co-director and main writer of Part 2 and a slew of really good Unchartered games).

I've chatted with a few TV critics, one who knows little/nothing about the game and the other who was a fan of both games, and they both LOVE this series.  They both also said the first episode was probably the weakest of the eps they saw, and I agree the pilot/prologue was more of a "this looks incredibly promising!" than "this singular episode blew me away!" 

I also hate that I'm now likely appearing to be a fanboy, and I can assure that if this show disappoints I will log my concerns here  :P

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I recall reading that Kirkman diverted the tv series from the comics deliberately and I have the ENTIRE comic series in the hardcover books.  It was a Christmas tradition that I would buy the annual Hardcover book for me and my kids to read, but admit that I need to go back read the last two because he ends the story differently than it was ended in the series.  In a way, for me, it's like having one of those "alternate endings" options some directors like to add to their director's cuts.
As for The Walking dead diverting from the books right off the bat (after the awesome Halloween premier episode, and most of the "Rick gets out of Atlanta" stuff), I wonder how much of that was also big-time show runner/Oscar-nominated Frank Darabont too.  I know there were also budget constraints (that partially led to Darabont leaving/getting fired, depending on which version of the story you believe), and with an ensemble big budget series they have to 1) try to appease as many demographics as possible 2) make all the actors who committed to the series happy (which means the series can't take half a season off away from some actors you have under contract).  I was an avid reader for the first run, and as the Deluxe comics are released I've been reading them as a sort of re-read of the series (up to issue 55 or so).  Like many I think there were some changes the show did that were much-improved (I like what they did with there Governor and Negan, both of which felt a little too 'comic booky' for live-action and were mellowed out juuuuust enough for the series) and some that were mistakes (the less said about T-Dog the better  :P ). The show lost me at some point along the way, but I will ALWAYS be happy that for more than a decade one of the more popular shows on TV was a zombie show that had outstanding zombie makeup and fun kills!

Offline perc2100

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Re: Last of US HBO
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2023, 10:35:45 AM »
Another outstanding episode that focused on relationship & personalities of our main characters while also giving us some background on what caused the world-wide apocalyptic plague.

Some (briefish) thoughts about s1 e2 "Infected"

* we start the ep w/another flashback: this time to what appears to be the root cause of the fungal virus outbreak.  This was hinted at in episode 1, with one of the largest flour providers in the world having fungal outbreak.  This, as far as I remember, wasn't part of the video game but resulted in a very chilling assessment from a disease expert that was simply, in order to stop the spread to bomb the entire town & its inhabitants because there is no cure.  In most zombie/zombie-adjacent movies/situations the root cause of the outbreak is rarely determined: maybe at best there is some speculation (ZOMBIELAND is one of the few I can remember that not only has a relatively happy ending, but also specifies some sort of mad cow disease as the cause of the zombie outbreak), but rarely do we see an explicit reasoning for the end-times infection. 
Of course, we're likely given this information for the bigger, over-all reason of causing doubt that Ellie is indeed the key to saving humanity.  This isn't necessarily the end-all/be-all definitive information about a cause for the virus, but it underscores the severity and is also thematically important.  This dire assessment (in the pre-credit teaser to the second episode, no less), symbolizes where our main character, Joel, is mentally at this point 20 years into the dystopia (I'll get to that in a bit)...

* we get to spend _a lot_ of time getting to know our characters, primarily Ellie.  And how cool is this: Ellie acts like a teenager in our own non-dystopia 2023!  She curious, she has a goofy sense of humor, she has somewhat of a youthful innocence.  This is a very wise decision by the showrunners: to show us _why_ we should care about Ellie outside of just "savior of humanity!" reasons. 
We also get to know Joel's partner, Tess, a bit.  Tess and Joel are hardened 'experts' when it comes to smuggling in & out of the Quarantine Zone, and it was interesting (I'd say fun, but I don't think "fun" and "Last of Us" are super compatible  :P )to see the contrast between the two characters.  Tess showed a bit more empathy for Ellie as a teen, and seems more understanding with a 'newbie' out in the 'wild.'  Joel seems all business: (relatively) calm & calculated with his actions.

* we get an idea of where Joel is mentally, and he's clearly still dealing with his daughter's death 20 years ago.  I suspect he's in a place where he's not wanting to get too close to Ellie, and while he trusts & cares for Tess as a partner, he seems to 'keep his distance' mentally.  This episode is setting up the dynamic between Joel & Ellie, where Joel is still suffering from PTSD and will likely struggle being the loan caretaker of a teenage girl on their journey cross-country.  While this episode focused on Ellie & Tess, it slyly also centers on Joel's behavior: gives us confidence he can do this job, but he keeps people at bay.  Even even barely reacted/emoted to
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Tess' exit/sacrifice
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when they were outside after the massive explosion, he barely even turned around: he just calmly picked himself off the ground and kept moving.

* "The Kiss"  Just...creepy!!  I don't recall that stuff from the games either, but WOW was he a relatively simplistic but wildly effective moment!!!  While I concede that the game came out roughly 3 years after The Walking Dead premiered, and almost certainly took some cues from the AMC series, Last of Us the series is striving to differentiate itself from the popular zombie show by focusing on the fungal stuff.  The Clickers are creepy on their own, and both visually and audibly different from the traditional zombie.  I look forward to what the SFX crew does with these moss-men zombies, but even doing what they simply did this episode (the 'vine' tendrils growing out of the corpse in the opening flashback; 'the kiss') is really cool and adds a layer of "ick" into the mix

* how about those production values!  Obviously HBO budgets are bigger than AMC or traditional networks.  The fact that our characters only spent _part_ of one episode in dystopia Boston, the flooded museum, etc. when you _know_ AMC would've forced the showrunns to spend the bulk of a season in that location after spending so much money, is fun to me.  Obvs there are a lot of CGI effects to showcase the run-down mossy city, but that stuff is still expensive.  This is an expansive concept, traveling cross-country, and while some locations will be expansive (first couple eps) some will be much more low-key forest wilderness type as well.  But I appreciate a series that isn't afraid to spend money to establish a mood or create an effect.
FWIW this is said to be the most expensive series produced in Canada, and comparable to Game of Thrones' per-episode budget.  A reason why The Walking Dead had issues was because they often cheaped-out on the budget, and that impacted story-arcs (yes, AMC 'forced' the show to stay at the farm for an entire season because they were trying to keep the budget lower, and that's a big reason why its original showrunner left the series).  I'm glad HBO is giving this series the budget it needs to effectively tell its story and I hope that continues.

* non-Spoiler Spoiler: this story is thematically the opposite of Craig Mazin's "Chernobyl" miniseries.  There, the series centered on a whole lot of people self-sacrificing for the greater good: a lot of people did things they knew would be their death (either literally or career-wise or both), knowing it was the only shot at saving humanity.  Here, I'm not so sure humanity has much of a chance, at least based on information we've gotten through two episodes (yes, I know the story of the two games + the DLC but I'm keeping all that open and making judgements just on what we see/experience via the series).  Chernobyl was one of the most intense series I've seen in a long time: one I def. couldn't binge, or even watch more than one 60 min. episode at a time/daily.  I think it is one of the best dramatic miniseries of its time, and that gives me hopes that this series will be excellent as well.  But at least w/Chernobyl you could see the good being done, even through the immense tragedy: with Last of Us, I'm not so sure I see hope (and I think Joel is at this point at least as skeptical as I am).

* this was an OUTSTANDING 2nd episode.  Second episodes of a series are incredibly hard.  Often a showrunner will have a great idea/hook to get the show out of the gate with the pilot, but the 2nd episode is where the hard part starts.  Often a series needs several episodes to find its legs and its characters (Seinfeld famously took several _seasons_ before things started to click).  Because of the relatively small main cast here, the showrunners don't have a ton of characters they have to delve into.  The pilot centered on Joel, and the 2nd episode centered on Ellie and now we're off to the races.  This episode wisely centered on getting to audience to like Ellie as a person while also underscoring the dangers of their journey and just how quickly things can take a horribly tragic turn for anyone.  It both went "big" but also understated, and accomplished its directives well.

* this series moves at a fast pace.  There is already sooooo much they could've done to slow down the journey a bit, but the showrunners are keeping things moving.  I appreciate that, and while I firmly believe no series has 'episodes that tread water plot-wise' if you actually _LIKE_ spending time with characters, there are definitely too many times a series has episodes that don't feel compelling, don't move a story or character ark forward, and feel closer to "it's too early to get to the crux of the conflict/confrontation of this season so we have to 'fill' a few episodes however we can."  Even Ted Lasso, one of if not THE best comedy on the air, even had a few of those in Season 2 when Apple told them mid-production they wanted to add two additional episodes.  One was the incredibly cute Christmas episode, and the other was the Coach Beard-centric/Scorsese AFTER HOURS homage.  Both episodes I adored, and the showrunners handled the situation great, but that's more an exception.  While we're only 2/10 eps through this first season, the series already feels like it's moving fast, has explicit story purpose each moment on the air, and I'm looking forward each week seeing where it takes us next.  There are VERY few shows I can say that about, both historically and currently.

I suspect we'll get a plethora of upcoming episodes that are 'guest-star of the week,' where Joel and Ellie meet some nice folks, some awful, along their way.  There will be some run-ins with the Clickers, some run-ins with dangerous humans, and some legit warm and caring folks that greet and help our travelers.  I think so far this is a GREAT start, and the balance between being faithful to the game's storylines while expanding and changing things (
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).  This is a rare series where I'm tuning on the moment the series drops and not waiting a day or several to 'catch up.'  The only other series I've felt that compelled to make 'appointment viewing' recently is Ted Lasso. 

So far the series is off to a great start; we'll see if this series can sustain it's high quality (and my high expectations)!

Offline vpoulsen

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Re: Last of US HBO
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2023, 11:11:25 AM »
No one has even mentioned that Olivia Dunham is in this yet...or did I miss that?  Anna Torv is Tess and last night's episode was heartbreaking. 

Offline perc2100

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Re: Last of US HBO
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2023, 01:33:30 PM »
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No one has even mentioned that Olivia Dunham is in this yet...or did I miss that?  Anna Torv is Tess and last night's episode was heartbreaking.
She is (was  :( ) awesome, and while I knew her role it still didn't hurt any less

Offline perc2100

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Re: Last of US HBO
« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2023, 01:38:38 PM »
HBO hyped The Last of Us ratings/viewership this am:You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login
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Last night’s second episode however has broken a new record for the channel. According to ratings giant Nielsen combined with first-party data from Warner Bros. Discovery, the show’s second episode pulled in 5.7 million viewers across linear airings on HBO and streams on HBO Max.

That’s a 22% increase on last week’s record-breaking 4.7 million in overnights – a number that jumped to 10 million after two days of availability.

That 22% jump from the initial premiere viewership to second episode debut audience is also, according to HBO, the “largest week 2 audience growth for an HBO Original drama series in the history of the network.”

FWIW The Walking Dead's first season episodes pulled in between 4.71 million and 5.97 million live viewers, so one could say that HBO's The Last of Us is achieving The Walking Dead s1 numbers.  Exciting stuff; IIRC I think the show is greenlit for 3 seasons at least, and it wouldn't surprise me if Naughty Dog has Last of Us part 3 in development.