Craig Mazin, who showruns HBO's The Last of Us with game creator Neil Druckmann, is amazed at how many of the small details fans have already picked up on. In fact, he believes they've found all the big Easter eggs in the series.
"I actually don't love Easter eggs in general as a concept," Mazin says on EW's The Awardist podcast, "because they're meta and I think they can pull you out of things and they sometimes drift out of the emotional and into the intellectual. That said, they are fun for people."
Some of Mazin's favorites in season 1 of the show are not even technically Easter eggs, but what he calls "notions that get carried through, like the idea that flowers, the substrate that carries cordyceps [this show's fungal virus] into humans." Mazin — who nabbed an Emmy nomination for his writing of the third episode among the series' overall 24 noms — also points out visual flourishes that fans found.
"There's a shot of Lamar Johnson, who plays Henry, and he's looking out through this little transom window," Mazin recalls. "Across the street, he's seeing Joel [Pedro Pascal] shooting at these guys, and there's a reflection in that little transom window from a sign across the street that's a bit orangey reddish. It's sort of going across his eyes and people are like, 'Look! They've mimicked the orange across Sam's eyes.'"
HBO 'The Last of Us' showrunner Craig Mazin joins EW's 'The Awardist' podcast
In terms of actual Easter eggs — like the little giraffe plushies (a nod to the games) and the logo for video game developers Naughty Dog on the keychain of Captain Kwong (Terry Chen) — there's one Mazin loves most. However, it's not from the show. It's from the second game. "I don't think I can duplicate it [in the show]," he admits.
In 2020's The Last of Us Part II, there's an archery trophy belonging to a character named Boris Legasov, which is a combination of the names Boris Shcherbina and Valerie Legasov, two characters in Mazin's Emmy-winning Chernobyl played by Stellan Skarsgård and Jared Harris, respectively. "When I saw that, I was like, 'What the f---?!'" Mazin recalls. "I took a photo of my TV and sent it to Neil, and he goes, 'Yeah, I actually did not know that that's what that was. Somebody just got it in there. So, love that the games were manifesting you to come aboard this show.'"
Among the other Easter eggs and non-Easter eggs of The Last of Us season 1, Mazin also confirms a connection between Pascal and the young boy who plays the kid arriving at the Boston quarantine zone in the first episode. Logan Pierce plays the child, who is killed by FEDRA soldiers at the QZ after testing positive for the cordyceps virus. There's no relation to Jeffrey Pierce, who voiced Joel's brother Tommy in the games and played Perry in the show. "But interestingly, the stunt double for Logan was the son of the stunt double for Pedro Pascal," Mazin says.
Listen to EW's full conversation with Mazin on The Awardist podcast below.