This story contains spoilers for the season finale of The Last of Us but not the video game, The Last of Us Part II. You're safe. (For now.)
Grizzled fans of The Last of Us, we have some big news. Season 2 of the post-apocalyptic series will reportedly continue to follow the plot of the game closely, which will have massive ramifications for those who know exactly what goes down between Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) in the second installment. "If that does take place in the show," Ramsey told Esquire in our cover story, "I don’t know that I’m emotionally ready for it."
In the first season of the HBO series, the unlikely duo of Joel and Ellie set out on a cross-country trip to find a cure for a deadly fungal infection that turns victims into zombies. (We're simplifying, we know.) It proved to be a smash hit—even setting viewership records during its 2023 airing. The series also managed to keep fans of its source material, 2013's The Last of Us video game, relatively happy with its faithful retelling of its dark, emotional story.
According to our 2023 interview with Pascal, the adaptation will remain true to the game in season 2 "like entirely, I think." The actor added in Esquire's accompanying "Explain This" video that, "It wouldn’t make sense to follow the first game so faithfully only to stray severely from the path. Now, more recently, on the red carpet at Sundance Film Festival for the premiere of his new film, Freaky Tales, Pascal told Deadline that the showrunners are, "always going to find ways to build on the incredible source material that they have, and surprise us with how they can use that material in a different format like a television show." Still, the leading star maintained that he, "wouldn’t want to spoil it for anybody, and the truth is, I don’t actually have all of the information as of yet."
For those looking to dive deeper, both The Last of Us Part I and The Last of Us Part II are available to play on PlayStation. The Last of Us Part II also just received an official remaster ahead of season 2, which is out on January 19. "I tried to play the game but I was really shit at [using] the controller," Pascal revealed to Esquire. "It looks like a lot of f**cking fun, but I was so bad at it."
According to HBO chief Casey Bloys, the network isn't eyeing a release for season 2 until 2025. Still, there's a lot to look forward to between now and then. Check out everything we know about The Last of Us season 2 below.
Yes. HBO has officially locked in the actors for season 2's most important players: Abby, Jesse, and Dina. To start us off, Kaitlyn Dever (Dopesick) is officially joining the cast as Abby—AKA, the most influential member of The Last of Us Part II's insane story twists. Though we won't spoil anything here, just know that fans of the video game who are aware of what lies ahead have been eagerly awaiting this announcement. We'll just leave you with a short teaser from HBO that describes Abby as, "a skilled soldier whose black-and-white view of the world is challenged as she seeks vengeance for those she loved."
According to Deadline, Dever emerged as the frontrunner following the end of the SAG-AFTRA strike back in November. "Our casting process for season 2 has been identical to season 1: we look for world-class actors who embody the souls of the characters in the source material," co-creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann said in an official statement. "Nothing matters more than talent, and we’re thrilled to have an acclaimed performer like Kaitlyn join Pedro, Bella and the rest of our family."
But that's not all. The Last of Us has also cast two other major players for season 2. Young Mazino (Beef) was announced as Jesse, while Isabela Merced (Madame Web) will play Dina. Jesse is a selfless member of the duo's new community, according to HBO, while fans of The Last of Us Part II will recognise Dina as Ellie's eventual love interest. Merced also recently starred alongside Dever in the Shakespearean film Rosaline back in 2022. Speaking about casting Mazino, the Last of Us creators stated that he is "one of those rare actors who is immediately undeniable the moment you see him."
Of course, The Last of Us season 2, like season 1, will have a clear roadmap to follow: 2020's divisive The Last of Us Part II. The sequel has even more material to cover than the first season—which compiled all of the events of the first game into its nine episodes. "This should be fairly obvious to anyone by now, but I don’t fear killing characters,” Mazin revealed to Esquire. “But the important thing to note is that neither Neil nor I feel constrained by the source material."
Showrunners Mazin and Druckmann hope that the remainder of the show will have something for anyone watching—from newcomers to devoted fans of the video game series. If you need reassurance that the HBO series will pull off any changes to the game, just look at episode 3's story of Bill and Frank, or even the flashback scenes of Ellie and Ramsey from episode 7. "We will present things, but it will be different," Mazin told Variety. "Sometimes it will be different radically, and sometimes it will be barely different at all. But it's going to be different, and it will be its own thing. It won't be exactly like the game. It will be the show that Neil and I want to make."
Pascal and Ramsey will also be back in Vancouver, according to Deadline, where a majority of the second season will be filmed. Though The Last of Us takes place in the U.S., much of the first season was actually filmed in Calgary, Alberta. For fans of the series, they're already well aware that the duo's time in the Pacific Northwest makes for a majority of the story to come.
Well, even though the series plans to follow the plot of The Last of Us Part 2 "exactly" there's a big question about whether or not the show will end after just two or three seasons. What happens when HBO runs out of material? Will Mazin and Druckmann start dreaming up new plot points to finish the TV series like Game of Thrones? It's a tough choice, especially since creator Druckmann and his video game company, Naughty Dog, are also busy with the next installment in the The Last of Us video game franchise.
"Our plan is to do it not just for one more season. We should be around for a while," Mazin told a panel in Las Vegas, according to Deadline. Earlier, he also told IndieWire that, "Even though we were greenlit for a season of television, Neil and I felt like we can’t just make a season of television without considering what would come after. There is more The Last of Us to come. And I think the balance is not always just about within an episode or even episode to episode but season a season." That includes, potentially, original stories in other cities told beyond the material from the game. We could be looking at a whole world of Last of Us stories, and not just material adapted from two video games.
That's all we'll say about that! We don't want to accidentally reveal the shocking events that occur in The Last of Us Part II. In the coming months, Esquire will break down even more about how the HBO series will adapt the franchise's brutal second entry. For now? Just enjoy the good news: clickers will be sniffing you out well into 2025.
Adaptation of a book can be a herculean task. And none more daunting than Liu Cixin's The Three-Body Problem. As the first instalment of a trilogy, Liu's Three-Body, it will take a deft hand to adapt it to a different medium. Our trepidations are allayed when news broke that David Benioff and DB Weiss—who were behind HBO's Game of Thrones—will handle Three-Body. (Hopefully, it won't falter like GoT's final season but that's another story.)
Joined by Alexander Woo, who co-created The Terror, Benioff and Weiss will use the suicides in the scientific community as a jumping point for 3 Body Problem. At least, according to the full-length trailer that just dropped (a teaser was shown at last year's Tudum event). With Liu's blessings, 3 Body Problem will have narrative tweaks to the adaptation. Stuff like chronological shifts and characters and the setting being in the present-day UK. The trailer has Radiohead's "Everything in its Place" playing hauntingly in the background. Benedict Wong, plays the detective assigned to the case. As the trailer progresses, he recruits a scientist, Auggie Salazar (played by Eiza González), to assist him.
But this premise of weird deaths soon explodes into something far-reaching. And something beyond the ken of human experience as we stand at the precipice of an extraterrestrial invasion. Netflix commissioned eight episodes of 3 Body Problem. With an average of USD25 million spent on each episode, this series will be Netflix's most expensive production to date. It will also be the second-most expensive behind Amazon's The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
3 Body Problem premieres March 21 2024 on Netflix.
For a filmmaker who purports to be foremost interested in realism, John Wilson has a knack for absurdity. In Friday night's “How to Track Your Package,” the superlative series finale of Wilson's show, a missing parcel first sends our hero to a shipping center. And when that fails, to a psychic. If you’ve been watching How To for the past few years, this will hardly strike you as an unusual detour. Wilson is the sort of guide who will turn the most straightforward task—say, appreciating wine—into an existential odyssey.
Throughout its three-season run, How To's unpredictability has been one of its greatest joys. (Editor's note: there may be some spoilers ahead.) In the process of investigating how to cover your furniture, Wilson discovered an effort towards foreskin restoration. Also, during an episode on memory, he chanced upon a man consumed with the Mandela effect at the grocery store. His camera is unparalleled at capturing small wonders. Be it a woman in the act of bagging a pigeon or a man dancing atop a moving subway train. Ultimately, How To can be understood as a detective show dressed up as a Kafkaesque tutorial. With Wilson, above all, searching for anything that will make him (and us) say, "Wow." And while the show’s wows often are born from little moments of unexpected comedy, more times than not they naturally lead Wilson back to the most profound subjects.
Like, uh, you know, mortality. How To has, from the start, had the tendency to encounter death in unexpected places—at MTV! Spring Break, for instance, or during Wilson’s quest to find a parking spot—probably as a result of Wilson’s worldview. “Thinking about mortality and grief is baked into the way I perceive things in daily life,” Wilson told me in a Zoom interview. This was following the finale’s premiere at Rockaway Film Festival last weekend. “I tend to take things to their logical extremes, an mortality is the ultimate question with no answer—and that's what I try to orient the show around.”
Fittingly, the finale gets to The End quite quickly. In a consultation about Wilson’s missing package, the psychic pulls the “death card". Then tells him that he has “commitment issues… a lot of commitment issues.” (It's a trait Wilson himself has mentioned in past episodes.) The psychic’s reading turns out to be portentous. A series of dada transitions brings Wilson to Arizona’s Organ Stop Pizza, home of the "largest theatre pipe organ ever created." There, Wilson meets a member of Alcor, a leading cryonics organisation.
How To loves nothing more than a gathering of niche obsessives. And as fate (or shrewd planning on the show's part) would have it, Wilson arrives in Arizona just as Alcor is about to have its 50th anniversary party. Wilson attends the celebration, where he surveys the various guests on why they want to be frozen. There is excitement for the future (“If you see the future as good, wouldn’t you want to be part of it?”), sci-fi fantasising (imagine your head on “a wardrobe of bodies”), and flat-out denial (''I don’t accept that,” one woman says of her father’s death). Many of the people Wilson interviews come off as comically eccentric—but the series, taken in full, gives them context. People, be they Avatar superfans or vacuum enthusiasts, come together and devote themselves to something for connection in the here and now. Also, perhaps, to cope with the ephemerality of existence.
And while Wilson wouldn’t himself pay to have his body and/or head frozen for eternity, he said that he connected with the impulse. The inclination towards preservation, after all, was the seed of his show. Long before he started making How To, Wilson felt compelled to use his video camera to document his surroundings. “Living in New York for so long, you become used to the tragedy of your favourite thing disappearing,” he said. “I just wanted to get ahead of that and preserve as much as I possibly could visually from my own perspective.”
In the grand scheme of things, Wilson’s archive is a narrow record. But more than truly preserving a period in time, these three seasons of How To are testament to how much there always is to marvel at so long as you have your eyes and ears open. After all, when Wilson first started the show, he worried that the magic moments he was capturing weren’t replicable. That he was catching lightning—or collapsed scaffolding, as it were—in a barrel. But by the show’s third season, he came to trust the process. That if he interviewed enough people and his team spent enough time on the street, they’d find gold. “Once we figured it out, it was just a numbers game,” Wilson said. Along the way, he found that actually, “it's much more common that people have a shocking history or obsession than that they're normal in any kind of traditional definition.”
So, near the end of the finale, when the Alcor member Wilson met at Organ Stop Pizza reveals that, as an adolescent, he castrated himself and “cut some nerves in the penis” to deal with unwanted sex drive, Wilson hopes viewers will empathise rather than gawk. “I feel like if you have a long enough conversation with anyone something like this might surface,” he said. “There are extremes in everyone's lives, and that's why the show speaks to a lot of people—because it's a bit of a mirror to their own eccentricities.”
Wilson, though, ever toeing the line between mischievous and sincere, said that he also hopes that that final interview will help fans of the show cope with How To concluding its run. “So much of the show is about the denial of satisfaction in the city because of whatever strange roadblock to getting what you want here,” Wilson said. “And especially with the show ending, that interview about castration, I felt like I wanted to give the viewers the tools to deal with [the impossibility of true satisfaction] in a way.”
“I never personally felt the urge to castrate myself, but if people are having a really hard time dealing with the end of the show, I gave them the tools to do it.”
Originally published at Esquire US
Procrastinators, boss-havers, degenerate undergraduates, lend me your ears. Have you ever added extra spaces on an essay to meet a minimum page requirement? Sneakily increased the font size on periods to pad your page count? Claimed to be working toward a deadline even if you were most clearly not?
If this sounds like you, then come sit by George R.R. Martin. Martin, who you may remember, is suffering from the most public case of writer’s block in human history. He’s been writing The Winds of Winter, the highly-anticipated penultimate volume in his Game of Thrones series, since at least 2010—and lately, as if to make up for over a decade of missed deadlines, he’s speaking out on how the book is worth the wait (funny, I think I told my British Lit professor the same thing when I needed an extension). Last year, in a livestream arranged by his publisher, Martin claimed that The Winds of Winter is "about three-quarters of the way done," although he's hesitant to provide a release date for fear of disappointing his readers. He also revealed that this will be the longest Game of Thrones title yet, calling it "a monstrous book as big as a dragon."
But can we believe Martin? After all, we've been deceived before, and the guy sure doesn't like to be reminded of missed deadlines. "I've given up making predictions, because people press me and press me: 'When is it going to be done?'" Martin said. "And I make what I think is the best case estimate, and then stuff happens. Then everybody gets mad that I 'lied.' I've never lied about these predictions. They're the best I can make, but I guess I overestimate my ability to get stuff done, and I underestimate the amount of interruptions and other projects, other demands that will distract me."
Now, reader, it's my duty to inform you of Martin's latest non-writing endeavour: buying a ticket to Barbie. It could be the one instance of procrastination I can overlook. On Monday morning, Martin posted a pinkified image of himself to social media, with the caption, "I went to see Barbie with my lovely wife; she said pink is my colour. #imkenough" She's right, I have to admit, especially with Martin's pink bow and fuzzy flamingo scarf! Martin seemed positively giddy. At the screening, did Martin's fellow theatre goers shout, "Hi George!" at him? Or did they just heckle and ask for a Winds of Winter update? (I would've done both.)
About all of this. Just how did Martin dig himself into this hole? Allow me to take you back in time, dear reader, on a journey through the ghosts of deadlines past. Our story begins in 2010, when Martin gleefully announced on his blog that four chapters of The Winds of Winter were complete. Then, in 2011, the first rumbles of trouble: in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he declined to give a timeline on when fans could expect the sixth book, saying, “There’s an element of fans who don’t seem to realize I’m making estimates. I’ve repeatedly been guilty of an excess of optimism.” How young we were in 2011! How naive!
In 2012, speaking with the Spanish blog Adria’s News, Martin claimed that The Winds of Winter would arrive in 2014, though he did couch that promise in, “I am really bad for predictions” (just wait, this is going to become a theme). Then, after 2014 came and went with no Winds of Winter, Martin’s publisher poured cold water over fans’ heads. “I have no information on likely delivery,” Jane Johnson of HarperCollins told The Guardian. “These are increasingly complex books and require immense amounts of concentration to write. Fans really ought to appreciate that the length of these monsters is equivalent to two or three novels by other writers.” You hear that, everyone? We should just be grateful and stop holding the guy to his word.
In March 2015, Martin told Access, “I still have a lot of pages to write, but I also have a lot of pages that are already written.” Spoken like a true college student. Then, a month later, he told Entertainment Weekly that he hoped to release the book in spring 2016 to coincide with the sixth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones, saying, “Maybe I’m being overly optimistic about how quickly I can finish. But I cancelled two convention appearances, I’m turning down a lot more interviews—anything I can do to clear my decks and get this done.” But no sooner did 2016 arrive than he said in January of that year, “I am not going to set another deadline for myself to trip over. The deadlines just stress me out.” I’m going to try that one on my editor next time. Fans were alarmed in September 2016 when Amazon France listed The Winds of Winter with a March 2017 release date, but according to HarperCollins, it was a big ol’ nothingburger.
Cut to January 2017, when Martin insisted that this was definitely going to be his year: “I think it will be out this year. (But hey, I thought the same thing last year),” he wrote on his blog. But then, he kept toying with fans, writing, “I am still working on it, I am still months away (how many? good question), I still have good days and bad days, and that's all I care to say… I do think you will have a Westeros book from me in 2018... and who knows, maybe two. A boy can dream…” How about you finish one book, sir, and then we’ll talk about two?
In June 2018, it was announced that HBO had ordered a pilot for the first of many Game of Thrones spin-offs, and that Martin was co-writing the pilot. Fans eagerly awaiting his next book were understandably concerned, so he took to his trusty blog to reassure them: “Work on Winds of Winter continues, and remains my top priority,” Martin wrote. “It is ridiculous to think otherwise.” Ridiculous!
When the virus forced everyone into isolation in 2020, Martin was finally stranded at home with nothing to do but write. This was the perverted fulfillment of fans' wishes. “If nothing else, the enforced isolation has helped me write,” he commented on his blog. “I am spending long hours every day on The Winds of Winter, and making steady progress. I finished a new chapter yesterday, another one three days ago, another one the previous week. But no, this does not mean that the book will be finished tomorrow or published next week. It’s going to be a huge book, and I still have a long way to go.”
Martin wasn’t kidding when he said he had a long way to go. In June 2021, he seemed downright incensed at the thought of being held accountable to all his missed deadlines, writing on his blog, "I will make no predictions on when I will finish. Every time I do, assholes on the internet take that as a 'promise', and then wait eagerly to crucify me when I miss the deadline. All I will say is that I am hopeful.”
About those assholes on the internet (could he talking about me?)—Martin sure seems sick of hearing from them. In an interview with IGN, he spoke out about the pressure he faces from the Thrones fandom, saying, "I get that Winds of Winter, the sixth book, is late. I could get a hundred good comments, but there are still a few fans who are going to remind me on my blog; I say, 'Happy Thanksgiving' and they say, 'Never mind Happy Thanksgiving, where's the book?' I love the fans, although I do think Twitter and the internet and social media has brought out a viciousness I never saw in the old days. Love and hate are very close, particularly with something like comic books or any established franchises." If you can't take the heat, sir, why not just finish the book?
Martin appears to have a new tactic: to divert attention from the book's tardiness, he teases readers with suggestions about its content. The author discussed the differences between the book and the television series in a blog post. “An architect would be able to give a short, concise, simple answer to that, but I am much more of a gardener," he wrote. "My stories grow and evolve and change as I write them. I generally know where I am going, sure… the final destinations, the big set pieces, they have been my head for years… for decades, in the case of A SONG OF ICE & FIRE. There are lots of devils in the details, though, and sometimes the ground changes under my feet as the words pour forth.”
It also sounds like The Winds of Winter and A Song of Ice and Fire (the upcoming final volume in the series—I don't even want to talk about it) may have a different body count than the television series. “One thing I can say, in general enough terms that I will not be spoiling anything: not all of the characters who survived until the end of GAME OF THRONES will survive until the end of A SONG OF ICE & FIRE, and not all of the characters who died on GAME OF THRONES will die in A SONG OF ICE & FIRE," Martin continued. "(Some will, sure. Of course. Maybe most. But definitely not all) ((Of course, I could change my mind again next week, with the next chapter I write. That’s gardening)). And the ending? You will need to wait until I get there. Some things will be the same. A lot will not.”
This all brings us up to the present—where now, even animated characters are getting on Martin's case. In an episode of Stephen Colbert's Tooning Out the News, Martin appears as a guest of animated host Dr. Ike Bloom, who introduces the author as “a struggling writer—let me revise that, truly pathetic—who is having trouble meeting deadlines.” You took the words right out of my mouth, Ike! The segment quickly devolves into a good-natured roast when Bloom calls up James Patterson in the hope of getting Martin "some tips on how to be a successful author."
When Patterson asks for the lowdown, Martin reveals that he missed his deadline 11 years ago. "I've heard of writer's block; this is more like writer's constipation," Patterson jokes. Martin goes on to reveal that he’s written around 1,100 to 1,200 pages of the book so far, and has just “another 400, 500 pages” to go. Patterson suggests breaking The Winds of Winter into three separate books, saying, "Your problem is solved. You break down the 1,100 pages into three books, you submit them one per year—they'll be happy and suddenly you'll be ahead of schedule." As if Martin's readers would fall for that, after all these years of false starts, but it's a nice idea.
Are we certain all the missed deadlines were worth it for this incredibly lengthy, fantastic, nearly finished book? Even though it seems as though Martin's suffering would never end, we are still holding out hope. Hey, friend, have you heard of Procrastinators Anonymous? Maybe they can help. And as for the next and final book in the series, A Dream of Spring... I don't even want to talk about it.
Killers of the Flower Moon took a while to be adapted. The rights to adapt David Grann's book started in 2016 but like any other project, the development of the film was halted due to the global pandemic. Still, the film was finally finished. It made its premiere at the 76th Cannes Film Festival on May 20, 2023 and received a nine-minute standing ovation.
While we have to wait a few months to watch it, Apple TV+ unveils the trailer of Killers of the Flower Moon today.
With stirring Native American pow wow chants spliced with dubstep ("Stadium Pow Wow" by The Halluci Nation née A Tribe Called Red), the trailer brings across the palpable tension of a community gripped with terror.
The American Western crime drama (that's a mouthful) is based on the real-life murders that plagued the Osage Nation. Set in the 1920s, the epic is directed and co-produced by Martin Scorsese and stars an ensemble cast that includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Lily Gladstone and Jesse Plemons.
Given the subject matter, Scorsese involved the Osage Nation during the film's development. In a press release, Scorsese said, "We are thrilled to finally start production on Killers of the Flower Moon in Oklahoma. To be able to tell this story on the land where these events took place is incredibly important and critical to allowing us to portray an accurate depiction of the time and people. We're grateful to Apple, the Oklahoma Film and Music Office and The Osage Nation, especially all our Osage consultants and cultural advisors, as we prepare for this shoot."
In light of the current book bans and revisionisms in America, we are glad that someone made use of the medium to spotlight America's "hidden histories". (Another example was HBO's Watchmen which featured the Tulsa Race Massacre.)
America's history may not strike a chord with Singapore audiences but the cast and the dramatisation of a real-life event should be enough to get butts in seats.
Killers of the Flower Moon is tentatively slated to be in theatres on 6 October and later for online streaming on Apple TV+.