The Next Great HBO Hit: “The Last of Us” Recap


Courtesy of IGN India

By Luke Weidenkopf 

*Spoiler Warning*      

You wake up from a brief nap, hearing screams, gunshots, and sirens. A helicopter flies overhead and then suddenly crashes. You run to the TV to turn on the news, but all you see is static. Slowly you glance through the window and see fire ablaze, turning the sky red. Then a shadow darts right in front of your eyes. Then another one until you walk over, turn on your porchlight, and see hundreds of zombies running in the streets.

This is the world that The Last of Us throws its audience into. This 9 episode series, adapted from a hit video game of the same name, has grabbed the attention of viewers  worldwide and has been hailed as the greatest video game adaptation of all time (even though only two episodes have premiered). The show broke many HBO records, including being the second most-watched premiere since 2010, with only the House of Dragon (2022) obtaining more viewers. It also had the highest video game adaptation  Rotten Tomatoes score of all time, debuting at 100%.

In this world, fungi have adapted to the Earth’s rising temperature and have infiltrated humans brains,  turning them into zombies. The world was caught off guard and could not slow the advance. Then the show moves to 2023, 20 years after the apocalypse happened, showcasing that humans found a way to survive by barricading themselves in cities. 

Episode one, “Where You’re Lost in the Darkness” starts off with Joel, portrayed by Pedro Pascal, who is a single father from Texas that lost his daughter in 2003 when the zombies began to emerge. He now lives in Boston with his partner Tess, played by Anna Torv. They are inside the Federal Disaster Response Agency (FEDRA),  a police state that assumed control when the apocalypse began. They are also in a quarantine zone (QZ), and smuggle goods in and out as their primary source of income. They are trying to leave the QZ and make a deal to obtain a car battery, but are double-crossed and have to find a new way out. 

They decide to steal a battery from a terrorist group called the Fireflies,  who are attempting to overthrow FEDRA. When they get there, they discover that the Fireflies engaged in a firefight with another rival gang leaving many dead and the car battery destroyed. But they discover that the Fireflies have taken a child, Ellie (portrayed by Bella Ramsey), captive. The leader of the Fireflies tells them that if they bring Ellie to another group of Fireflies outside the QZ, they can have whatever they want. Joel and Tess agree and take Ellie out into the “real world.” 

While escaping the group, is caught by a FEDRA guard, who tests all of them to see if they have been bitten. Joel and Tess are clean but right when the guard is about to scan Ellie she stabs him in the leg. He points the gun at Ellie and Joel charges at him, beating him to death. Ellie pulls her sleeve up and shows a zombie bite, but she has not been affected by it. Joel wants to kill her there, but Tess stops him, seeing the value of Ellie. The episode ends grimly with the trio running off into dark downtown Boston.

The direction, color palette, and tone of the show are phenomenal. It grabs the viewer’s attention and does not let go. The color palette of the show changes, in the beginning, showing the progression of madness and destruction that the world undergoes when the apocalypse is beginning. The creator of the video game, Neil Druckman, is attached as the head writer for the show and is one of the main reasons why it has gotten off to such a great start. He has made the show feel like a video game, and there are many “video game moments” throughout the first episode. The Last of Us looks to become the next big hit for HBO (and Pedro Pascal), and it does not seem like there should be any concern  about it running out of steam.

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