The Last of Us: The New HBO Series
26 March 2023
Even though The Last of Us was just another survival video game about brute-forcing your way through a lot of infected enemies, its focus on people’s relationships and how they change is a big reason why the Naughty Dog game is still so popular with fans. The ability of The Last of Us to make you genuinely care about characters like Joel and Ellie and then make you feel like you are an active participant in their struggle for survival helped distinguish it from other zombie horror films and video games. That distinctness isn’t quite as present in the brand-new HBO series from Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, which is interesting but not all that surprising.
Watching HBO’s The Last of Us is very different from playing its video game counterpart, despite sharing a significant amount of the same narrative DNA and a thoughtful approach to Both tell stories that highlight humanity’s capacity for beauty and monstrosity and feature strong ensembles of actors who bring intricate concepts to life. Even though it is a surprisingly faithful adaptation, HBO’s new show is just that: a show you are meant to watch, not a game you can play and become a part of. As a result, even though it is a surprisingly faithful adaptation, this telling of The Last of Us has a tendency to feel like something essential to making it work is missing.
The story of how Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey), a teenage girl, first meet and begin traveling across the ruins of the United States in search of a cure for the fungal pandemic that destroyed everything is told in HBO’s The Last of Us, which is set in a world where society has collapsed everywhere. There are still small pockets of uninfected humanity fighting for survival years after the swift and devastating initial outbreak of a deadly mutated fungus that kicks off the first season of The Last of Us. For some, this means living in military-controlled, fortified quarantine zones; for others, it means risking the wild, where the mutant Cordyceps fungus has infected most people and turned them into a vast network of monstrous, flesh-eating ghouls.
The Last of Us emphasizes precisely explaining How Shit Hit the Fan due to the significance of this information to its heroes and villains, in contrast to many other zombie narratives in which the source of the apocalyptic infection is obscured to create a sense of mystery and/or insurmountable hopelessness. Even though the Cordyceps outbreak occurred decades ago, survivors like Joel and his fellow runner Tess (Anna Torv) still recall when they first heard about the fungus and the chaotic beginnings of the outbreak, when people still believed they would be safe hiding out in their homes until the outbreak subsided.
As it became clear that “normal” would never return, people like Joel’s brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna) remember how bad things got for people who weren’t willing to change. The Fireflies, a militia group led by a woman named Marlene (Merle Dandridge), use their memories of the country before it was taken over by fascists to form a worldview that motivates them to continue fighting for a better future. However, the apocalypse is all that remains for children like Ellie, who were born after the outbreak and have no recollection of a Cordyceps-free world. As a result, hope is difficult to grasp.
After fate brings Joel and Ellie together and they embark on an adventure that could save the world, HBO’s The Last of Us, like the game, focuses on how Joel However, in contrast to the first Last of Us, HBO’s series is largely constructed around a number of moving flashbacks from Joel and other characters’ lives meant to demonstrate just how much they have lost and how that loss has affected them.
Long-time viewers of The Last of Us who are tuning in to see their favorite characters brought to life will immediately recognize Pascal’s Joel as a worn-out and reluctant protector who is still grieving the loss of his own loved ones. Ramsey’s Ellie, a scrappy and quick to swear smartass, will ring familiar and true to them. While many of the show’s most significant events occur exactly as they did in the game, details are frequently reworked to show things from new perspectives or to shed light on the motives of characters.
HBO’s The Last of Us is a refreshing take on a core part of the larger franchise when it specifically digs deeper into the personal lives of supporting characters like Due to how long we’ve been watching zombie horror survival shows like AMC’s The Walking Dead, The Last of Us has a tendency to appear somewhat uninspired in scenes where it attempts to recreate some of the game’s more emotionally charged moments.