Isabela Merced Teases Chemistry Between Dina and Ellie in THE LAST OF US Season 2

The Last of Us ended its first season on HBO with Joel and Ellie returning to the commune in Colorado. Sure, Joel might have doomed all mankind to save one young girl, but at least they have a place nice to live. For now. Fans of Naughty Dog’s popular video game franchise know new terrors and sadness await the pair in the years to come, and we’ll see all of it come to life when the hit series begins adapting the sequel game in its second season. What else can we expect from the show after a lengthy wait?

Isabella Merced joins The Last of Us season 2 as Dina
Max/Naughty Dog

Most recently, Isabela Merced, who will play Dina on The Last of Us season two, shared, “I’m so excited for people to see my chemistry with Bella. Bella and I have so much chemistry. From the first day, it was there. There’s no work to be done. I really respect Bella. I just saw Catherine Called Birdy, and Bella has such range and just an honesty about their work. I’m learning so much. I’m very honored to be here.”

We’re glad to hear it because we can’t wait to see Dina and Ellie’s complicated romance come to life. Currently, The Last of Us season two describes Dina as “a free-wheeling spirit whose devotion to Ellie will be tested by the brutality of the world they inhabit.”

Joel looks at Ellie, sedated on a surgical table, in The Last of Us finale.
Liane Hentscher/HBO

Here’s everything we know about The Last of Us‘ second season so far.

The Last of Us Season 2 Plot

HBO has not yet shared an official synopsis for The Last of Us season two. We still have some idea what to expect. The franchise’s second video game will provide the source material for the TV series. Showrunner Craig Mazin has said the show will take more than one season to adapt the sequel game, but like with the television series’ first season they are not making a direct adaptation. Fans will once again see some major changes alongside some major moments and stories taken directly from the game. That might very well include a huge—though temporary—change for one character. (We won’t risk spoiling it for those who don’t know what that means.)

One thing that won’t change is the importance of The Last of Us Part II‘s Abby Anderson. She will debut during the second season and play a significant role in Ellie’s story. And like the video game sequel, the HBO series will also feature a time jump.

Behind the Scenes

The Last of Us‘ second season was in pre-production before the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes put the show on hold. The first episode had already been written at the time. With both unions finally getting fair deals, the show is now expected to begin filming in Vancouver in early 2024.

Co-creators, writers, and executive producers Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann are back for season two. Writers Halley Gross (The Last of Us Part II) and Bo Shim worked with Mazin and Druckmann on season two. Deadline additionally reports that The Last of Us season two has set its slate of directors, both new and old. These include four new directors: Succession‘s Mark Mylod, Perry Mason‘s Nina Lopez-Corrado, Watchmen‘s Stephen Williams, and Loki‘s Kate Herron. They join returning director Peter Hoar, who directed the incredible season one episode “Long, Long Time,” and the show’s creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann.

The series comes from Sony Pictures Television, PlayStation Productions, Word Games, and Naughty Dog.

The Last of Us Season 2’s Cast

Bella Ramsey's Ellie sits on the back of a pickup truck on The Last of Us

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey will return as Joel and Ellie. Also expected back is Gabriel Luna. He plays Joel’s younger brother, Tommy. As is Rutina Wesley. She plays Tommy’s wife Maria.

Kaitlyn Dever has been cast as The Last of Us season two's Abby
Netflix/Naughty Dog

Regarding new casting news, The Last of Us season two has cast Kaitlyn Dever as Abby. Abby is an important character from The Last of Us Part II game. Additionally, Isabela Merced has joined the season as Dina, who also hails from the second The Last of Us game. Dina is described as “a free-wheeling spirit whose devotion to Ellie will be tested by the brutality of the world they inhabit.”

Young Mazino cast as Jess in The Last of Us Season two
Netflix/Naughty Dog

The Last of Us season two has also cast Beef‘s Young Mazino as Jess. Jess is described, per Variety, as “a pillar of his community who puts everyone else’s needs before his own, sometimes at a terrible cost.” That sounds ominous. Generally speaking, from Jess’s role in The Last of Us Part II, we can assume he and Ellie will build a friendship.

Finally Danny Ramirez, Ariela Barer, Tati Gabrielle, and Spencer Lord have all come aboard the second season of The Last of US, they will all feature as characters from The Last of Us Part II.

Danny Ramirez and Tati Gabrielle as Manny and Nora
Naughty Dog/Paramount Pictures/Netflix

Variety reveals:

Ramirez will play Manny, described as “a loyal soldier whose sunny outlook belies the pain of old wounds and a fear that he will fail his friends when they need him most.” Barer will play Mel, said to be “a young doctor whose commitment to saving lives is challenged by the realities of war and tribalism.”

Gabrielle has been cast as Nora, “a military medic struggling to come to terms with the sins of her past.” And Lord will appear as Owen, “a gentle soul trapped in a warrior’s body, condemned to fight an enemy he refuses to hate.”

The Last of Us Season 2’s Release Date

A bloater infected zombie from HBO's The Last of Us live action series

The Last of Us‘ second season wasn’t expected to premiere until the start of 2025 before the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Even with production delayed, HBO is still reportedly targeting a 2025 return for the show. However, there is not yet an official date in place.

Originally published on December 29, 2023.

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