All right. Hear he fans of The Last Of Us. The first episode of the HBO adaptation is finally out and we need to talk about it.
You probably had the chance to catch our preview of the TV series (you can have another look at it here). But we’re here about the impressions after the airing of the first episode. Oh yeah. We also showed our love for Pedro Pascal a while a go, and yes. You can check it out here at IndieGala as well.
But before we do that… A little reminder about the game that inspired the series. You know… A word or two about the OG game itself.
What’s The Last Of Us All About You Might Ask?
An action/adventure game developed by Naughty Dog and published by PlayStation PC LLC. A game that takes us to a ravaged civilization. A place where infected and hardened survivors run rampant, Joel. A weary protagonist is hired to smuggle 14-year-old Ellie out of a military quarantine zone. However, what starts as a small job soon transforms into a brutal cross-country journey.
The Last Of Us is available for pre-purchase orders here at IndieGala. Get it now.
And What About The Last Of Us – The Show?
What’s It All About?
Well, pretty much the same. With a couple of artistic liberties here and there. Don’t get me wrong. It’s one of the best video adaptations out there. So much so, that even the changes don’t hurt the overall viewing experience. Nor, they deviate way too much from the original story. But yeah. This is the first of 9 episodes in total, and yes. It’s 85 minutes long. It commands your attention, but at the same time, it doesn’t waste your time or patience. It’s well paced and well-executed episode from a long-awaited live adaptation. It’s got the tone, atmosphere and scenery of the game. And so much more. But let’s start from the beginning.
Smart, well-acted, and the impeccable first episode
In this mammoth, almost hour-and-a-half-long episode we are treated to a nice cold opening. One from the 60’s that echoes about the dangers of a potential mass pandemic. What should we watch out for, and where will the danger come from. A nice throwback thanks to the creative talents of Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann.
But after the grim cold open, we’re still in the past. We get to witness the beginning of the pandemic and the terrible events that occurred. One such event will shape the trajectory of Joel’s life for good. Pedro Pascal plays Joel here. And once more he’s tasked to transport a small child across the world (hint hint… Mandalorian hint hint). But I digress. Before the tragic event, we actually get to meet Sarah (Nico Parker). And we get to witness her relationship with Joel. For quite some time actually. Yes. We spend a good amount of time with them, and that makes the sad demise even more crushing. But I also like how the creators treat this time of the episode.
They don’t rush it, but they don’t try to explain things that are solely for the people who’ve played the game. I watched it with some friends, and none of them had played the game but they understood that part of the plot. Very important part I might add. I applaud that they didn’t try to dumb down things from the game either. Hollywood projects tend to do that, especially in the key aspects of the plot. So, needless to say… I was very impressed with the lack of mind-numbing stupidity.
A Grim Decaying Future
The last part of the episode takes us 20 years after the outbreak, and the US is a destitute, decaying place. Joel and his partner Tess (Anna Torv) are smuggling and selling contraband for FEDRA, a militant group overseeing a quarantine zone in Boston. However, they’ll get tasked with a dangerous mission to take Ellie (Bella Ramsey) to o the Massachusetts State House and exchange her for supplies. The two of them will reluctantly agree, and the episode ends with them leaving the quarantine zone. Depeche Mode played at the end of the episode and my first thought was… Finally! A good live-action adaptation of a video game.
Great Introduction To The Story
Both visually and structurally. I loved the long-take scene of the first pandemic outbreak. The shot-for-shot scenes too. Such as Sarah’s death, and the many scenes from her perspective. Some parts of the story seemed rushed, but those are all part of the creative license I mentioned earlier. Most notably the end of the episode, but I’ll look over it. It did provide a nice set-up for what’s to come. We should look forward to the development of the Joel/Ellie relationship in the episodes to come. That’s what we’re all for. Pedro Pascal as expected is fantastic in the role of Joel. He portrays that broken, almost defeated and very sad man that describes Joel is to perfection.
Which only shows that he can deliver the job perfectly if he’s given the right material to work with. Some projects of his do that (The Mandalorian, Narcos first come to mind here). While others… Not so much Hint. Wonder Woman 1984 cough cough. But yeah. He knows how to deliver us a man that he’s been through hell and back in the past 2 decades. He wears Joel on his sleeve and he’s doing it right. His Game Of Thrones co-star Bella Ramsey is equally amazing as Ellie, and I’m glad we get to see even more cocky girl than usual. But I also loved their dynamic in their first moments together. It serves as a great sneak pick into the future development of their relationship. Filled with tension and lacking in trust at first. And then what will slowly mature and hopefully develop into a father-daughter one.
The Verdict On The Last Of Us
A well-acted, incredibly directed first episode that sets the tone nicely for the 8 more that are to come. With incredible talent in front of the camera and with technical artistry behind the camera to match, The Last Of Us is a step in the right direction. When it comes to the live-action adaptations of video games anyway. Add to this the smart writing from Craig Mazin & Neil Druckmann, the phenomenal cinematography and the incredible set design… And you’ve got yourself a pretty decent post-apocalyptic show worth your time.
But… What Are Your Thoughts On The Last Of Us?
Let us know in the comment section. We’d love to know.