1 story element in The Last of Us show may restrict season 2 from featuring Joel’s song for Ellie, but it can still replace it with another song.
- The Last of Us season 2 may not be able to use the song Joel plays for Ellie in the game, but the show can replace it with another perfect track.
- The shift in The Last of Us television timeline doesn’t directly affect the narrative, but it prevents the show from staying true to the music choices in the game.
- The show can use other songs from Pearl Jam, like “Alive,” to replace “Future Days” and evoke a sense of familiarity and nostalgia in viewers.
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Due to several factors, The Last of Us season 2 may not be able to use the song Joel plays for Ellie in the game’s part II — but the show can still replace it with another perfect track. Breaking the video game adaptation curse, HBO’s The Last of Us presents a unique take on the post-apocalyptic genre that is not only as visually spectacular as its video game counterpart but also narratively deep. In its first season, the series takes viewers on a journey with its protagonists, Ellie and Joel, who gradually form an unbreakable father-daughter bond of trust, hope, and love.
The Last of Us works so incredibly well because, while it does make a few changes to the original game’s narrative to be more suitable for the television storytelling format, it stays true to its source material’s essence. From soundtracks to costume designs, HBO’s The Last of Us adopts it all in season 1. Since The Last of Us season 2 has been confirmed, something similar can be expected from the series’ second installment. Unfortunately, season 2 may not be able to feature the song Joel plays for Ellie in The Last of UsPart II and will have to replace it with something else.
Why Joel Can’t Play Pearl Jam’s “Future Days” In The Last Of Us Season 2
In the original The Last of Us game, the outbreak year of the Cordyceps brain infection is 2013. After walking through Joel’s traumatic experience of losing his daughter, the game jumps ahead to 2033 to unfold the main story. To make the story more relatable for audiences, HBO’s The Last of Us‘ opening arc unfolds in 2003 — a decade before the video game’s timeline — and jumps forward to 2023 to walk viewers through the main storyline where Joel meets Ellie. This shift in The Last of Us‘ television timeline does not directly affect the live-action adaption’s narrative but holds it back from staying true to the music choices in the game.
Pearl Jam’s “Future Days” is an essential part of The Last of Us game canon because Joel plays it for Ellie in Part II. It also fits the franchise’s underlying themes since Pearl Jam’s lead singer, Eddie Vedder, wrote the song to express his feelings on mortality after losing his friend, Dennis Flemion. However, since the song was released by Pearl Jam in 2013, it would not make sense for the show to feature it, given how its central outbreak put the world on pause in 2003. Since The Last of Us is a work of fiction, it could still “retcon” real-world events and feature the song.
However, that would slightly diminish the impact of the real-world parallels it tries to draw with its references to the 90s. 90s references are instrumental to many story elements in The Last of Us‘ overarching storyline. For instance, in season 1’s episode 3, Ellie spots a 1993 Mortal Combat 2 arcade game, which reminds her of her time with Riley. None of these real-world easter eggs would make sense if the show retcons its narrative to accommodate a song from the games.
Joel Should Play Pearl Jam’s “Alive” Instead
Fortunately, Pearl Jam has been active since the early 90s, and the HBO show can use other songs from the band to replace “Future Days.” One of these songs, “Alive,” seems to be the perfect fit for the series. “Alive” also ranks among Pearl Jam’s most popular songs to date, which could evoke a sense of familiarity and nostalgia in viewers. Although “Future Days” is more mellow than the grungy “Alive,” the show could still feature a toned-down acoustic version of the latter to fit it into its storyline. However, to replace “Future Days” with “Alive,” The Last of Us will have to tweak the song’s original meaning.
The Last Of Us Would Need To Change The Song’s True Meaning
Although “Alive” comes off as an upbeat anthem that celebrates life, the true meaning of its lyrics is grim. The song recounts a real incident from Eddie Vedder’s childhood where his mother told him that his father was actually his stepfather and his biological father was dead. The song is a part of a three-song trilogy, including “Alive,” “Once,” and “Footsteps,” which gets darker with each song. Since the song’s lyrics are not in tandem with The Last of Us‘ themes, the HBO series can emphasize the song’s chorus, “Oh, I, oh, I’m still alive.“
If Joel only sings the chorus in The Last of Us season 2, it could symbolize his own journey of trials and tribulations in the post-pandemic world, where, despite facing the terrifying echoes of grief from his daughter’s death, he is somehow still alive. The show could also give it a positive spin by highlighting how Joel sings it because he is finally grateful he is alive after meeting Ellie. If not “Alive,” The Last of Us can also replace “Future Days” with other popular 90s Pearl Jam songs like “Daughter” and “Black.”