By Kyle Walker
“The Last of Us,” created by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann for HBO Max, just wrapped up its first season.
This is an adaptation of the PlayStation exclusive video game, “The Last of Us,” made by game studio Naughty Dog. The show closely follows the plot of the original game, which tells the story of Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey). It follows so closely that some of the scenes are literally one-to-one down to the dialogue.
On Jan. 15, the show premiered. I began watching consistently around the time the fourth episode came out, and I was hooked.
Joel and Ellie meet unexpectedly and are forced to face a jarring, post-apocalyptic America, after several years of the outbreak of cordyceps. This is a mutated fungus infection which turns people into what the show refers to as “the infected,'' who are essentially zombies. The two travel across the states together, encountering a lot of interesting characters and events, which even furthers the assumption that society is doomed.
A great example of this is when they reach Colorado. During this time, Joel is injured and Ellie sets off to find medicine and meets David (Scott Shepherd) who appears to be empathetic to Ellie’s situation and agrees to help her in exchange for food. We then find out slowly that David leads a group of cannibalistic survivors and otherwise has grim intentions.
Scott Shepherd does a fantastic job playing David. He perfectly conveys the unstable nature of the character in a frightening way which makes you fear for Ellie.
The cast for this show is perfect. Joel and Ellie are in great hands with their respective actors. These two are very talented actors and at times feel very real and it was nice to see them interact.
Recently, Pedro Pascal, who portrays Joel, has been impressing critics and audiences with his performances and has been involved in several exciting projects. In contrast, Bella Ramsey, who plays Ellie, has not yet had many acting opportunities, but her performance shows that she has a bright future ahead. I hope that this show will kick start her career.
There was a lot of added content as well. The biggest part was a whole episode dedicated to Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett). The story of these characters is one of the biggest departures from the game.
In the game, Joel and Ellie come across Bill, but Frank is absent and has gone missing. However, in the show, Bill and Frank are depicted as a couple and the third episode delves into their love story, exploring how they first met. The episode was definitely one of - if not - my favorite episode of the season, and was an outstanding addition to the show.
Another small addition that was cool to see was a flashback of Ellie’s mother giving birth after being bitten by an infected. This was a really sad scene and offered some extra lore about why we don’t see her mom.
Some of the voice actors from the game had cameos within the show which I thought was a really cool addition. Ellie’s mother was played by Ellie’s voice actor, Ashley Johnson. One of the cannibals who was a part of David’s crew was played by Troy Baker, who voiced Joel in the game.
Packed with plenty of emotion and great characters, “The Last of Us” translates very well as a show, and I cannot wait to see how they handle season two.
A: An infectiously good time