In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Craig Mazin shared that his wife, who possesses an “encyclopedic knowledge of 1980s music,” picked out Depeche Mode’s “Never Let Me Down Again” as the perfect fit to close out the first episode of “The Last of Us.” Said Mazin:
“My wife has an encyclopedic knowledge of 1980s music. And I was like, ‘OK, Melissa, this is what I need.’ And I literally said […] I need it to be a song that I kind of know but I haven’t heard in a long time. One that hasn’t been beaten to death. And I needed it to have context. I needed to be meaningful. I needed [it to] be foreboding and, ideally, without being super on the nose, give me a comment. I needed to start a particular way so we can show that radio turning on. And then she was like: ‘Never Let Me Down Again.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, my God.'”
Lyrically, “Never Let Me Down Again” is a story about someone who’s putting their faith, albeit warily, into their best friend, a person who’s let them down before. As the song unfolds, it becomes clear that the best friend is less than friendly. They demand obedience in exchange for their service. They offer empty promises. The message of hope becomes desperate and twisted by the ominous melody and dark instrumentation. On the whole, it doesn’t paint a pretty picture. But, then again, neither does “The Last of Us.”
You know what? There’s just too many interesting parallels here for us to tiptoe around spoilers any longer. Read further at your own peril.