The Last of Us

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The Last of Us

Post by CTPhipps »

Hey, it's started and I'm enjoying it a lot.

What are your thoughts?
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Re: The Last of Us

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EPISODE ONE REVIEW:

https://unitedfederationofcharles.blogs ... st-in.html

THE LAST OF US: EPISODE ONE: "WHEN YOU'RE LOST IN THE DARKNESS" is the first episode of the 2023 adaptation of the best-selling video game, THE LAST OF US. No duh, I know. However, I was a huge fan of the video game and am one of the ones who thinks that it is one of the best written of its genre. While I'm still holding out hope for a Bioshock and LA Noire series for their own superior stories, but this is probably the best you're going to get from a zombie show. The fact it stars Pedro Pascal and has actors like Anna Torv makes me think it's going to be be in good hands anyway.

The premise is that a fungal infection is considered by scientists in the 1960s to be the greatest possible threat to human life in the future. They predict, with typical television show accuracy, that the heating up of the world can result in a mutation that will make it a danger that cannot be stopped. We proceed to cut to 2003 and history alternates as Joel (Pedro Pascal), his brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna), and Joel's daughter Sarah (Nico Parker) are living in Austin, TX when things go rapidly downhill.

We cut to twenty years later and the world has fallen into a crumbling ruin. Humanity continues to survive in fortified enclaves under harsh military rule. Joel is now working with a woman named Tess (Anna Torv) as a smuggler. A chance encounter with a young girl, Ella, (Bella Ramsey) turns from a business deal into something more. Ella has never known the pre-Fungus world and is a surprisingly intelligent as well as foul mouthed survivor. She also carries a secret that a terrorist organization, the Fireflies, are desperate to keep to themselves.

I'll be honest, I wasn't a fan of the additions to the game narrative. The opening of the show tries a little too hard to explain "fungus zombies are a scientific danger in the future." Really, the suddenness and horror of it all worked better. I feel like I would have preferred more time with Sarah over this. Nico Parker does an excellent job establishing that she's a loving daughter with a good relationship to her father that it is a tragedy when it's cut short. Both from the storytelling perspective and that we don't have more scenes of them together.

However, the parts that are adapted directly from the game like the frantic chase through Austin, Texas are *chef's kiss* perfect. The Last of Us was already one of the cinematic games ever created and the show is aware that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Hopefully, they'll continue with this fidelity and manage to introduce non-gamers to the wonders of Joel and Ellie's journey. I do hope they keep a certain character alive a little while, longer, though because her relationship with Joel was underdeveloped in the game.

The show is very effective in worldbuilding, and we know that humanity is not thriving under FEDRA (FEMA's replacement) rule. The situation is so terrible that you understand why a radical paramilitary group like the Fireflies has come into existence. However, in the back of my anarchist mind, I also note that it seems like blowing things up is hardly going to make things better when mankind on its last legs. Is this really the best use of humanity's time, blowing up each other? The game and show are both aware of this ambiguity.

Bella Ramsey, who was Lyanna Mormont, does an excellent job of establishing how likeable as well as tough little Ellie is. Ellie never knew the previous world and is an example of how a child must survive in a place with no real sense of hope. We also get some good moments establishing why she's a tough survivor (she was raised by FEDRA as a soldier in an orphanage). My favorite moment is when she cracks Joel's smuggling code and I wish they'd used Wham's "Wake Me Up Before it's Over." You'll have to watch the show to get the joke.

There's a few moments that are unique to the show that are really poignant and show that HBO knows what it's doing here. In the game, FEDRA is shown to be almost completely evil and possessing no redeeming qualities. Here, it's shown that their attempts to save humanity are draining its members' sanity as well as will. One man needs to self-medicate to get through the day while another reassures a child that they're about to euthanize that everything is going to be fine.

In conclusion, The Last of Us is off to a strong start. It's probably only going to be a single season given the nature of the content, but I think that's enough to tell a fantastic story. While I don't think the game was the greatest video game narrative of all time, it was a good one and well-suited for adaptation. I also think it has the potential to help convince more people that video game writing doesn't have to be, "rescue the Princess." Hmmm, a Legend of Zelda adaptation would be good...
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Re: The Last of Us

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EPISODE TWO:

https://unitedfederationofcharles.blogs ... eview.html

"INFECTED" is the second episode of THE LAST OF US series starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey. In the not-so-distant future (really the alternate present), the cordyceps fungus has infected most of humanity and turned them into ravenous zombies. Most of humanity is forced into fortified communities ruled by military dictatorships but slowly dying off due to the failures of quarantine. Yeah, that doesn't remind me of anything. This video game adaptation wasn't timely or anything.

The episode opens with Jakarta as a noted mycologist (played by legendary Indonesian actress Christine Hakim) is brought in to examine one of the earliest victims of the outbreak. The scene is very tense and well done. Especially since it ends with the doctor explaining the only way to contain the outbreak is to bomb the city to the ground and even then, it obviously didn't work. No, I don't see any Covid-19 parallels whatsoever.

From there, we return to Tess (Anna Torv) and Joel (Pedro Pascal) dealing with Ellie (Bella Ramsey). Tess has agreed to take Ellie to the Fireflies past the border and Joel is just sort of going along with it. They head out into the wilderness outside of the Boston Quarantine Zone and we learn a lot about how the rest of the world has been affected.

One of the interesting things about the Clickers (i.e. the fungus zombies) is the new versions have a hive mind and infect others with tendrils rather than spores. We also have it confirmed, at least to my satisfaction, that the initial outbreak is the result of flower contamination. It makes this version of the Last of Us less threatening because if the fungus isn't spread via the air, you could theoretically kill off all the infected humans. They also are going to die off naturally as we see with the fungus glued to nearby walls.

I'm not sure how I feel about the fungus being a hive-mind since that adds a kind of psychic supernatural element to the series that didn't really need it. However, it also makes the cordyceps zombies even more terrifying. While they may not be intelligent, they now have a Halo's Flood-like quality that makes you wonder if the fungus will take steps to make sure that it isn't wiped out by time or humanity.

I regret we're not going to get more of Anna Torv in the show because her portrayal of Tess is quite well done. Tess and Joel are probably lovers, probably as close to husband and wife as you get these days, but he's emotionally closed off to a level that is useful to her. She can never heal the wound from his dead daughter and doesn't really want to since she needs him as a blunt instrument. However, she is okay with that and so is Joel. Likewise, she's considerably warmer to Ellie while Joel doesn't want any connection to a girl his daughter's age.

There's a lot of homages to the game spread throughout this episode and fans of The Last of Us will enjoy it most. My favorite of these is where Ellie says she can't swim and instead of the video game puzzle involving boards, Joel just shows her the water is knee high. However, they've also captured a lot of the game's feel for those who have never touched a controller in their life or are Xbox fans.

This episode has a lot more action than the first one and feels more like the video game, which isn’t a bad thing. I felt a genuine sense of dread when they approached locations from the game and realized what we were building up for in the second episode. The fidelity of the series so far is incredible and all the stronger for it. We can finally say there’s a great dramatic adaptation of a video game even if it’s still mostly zombie murder.

In conclusion, another solid episode of a great series in the making. I don't think they'll be able to do more than one season of this but I don't think that's a bad thing. All good things must come to an end and all that.
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Re: The Last of Us

Post by Corrigon »

Its already been confirmed for a second season
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Re: The Last of Us

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EPISODE THREE:

https://unitedfederationofcharles.blogs ... -time.html

THE LAST OF US 1x03 "LONG, LONG TIME" is the first large divergence from the games. Basically, while the episode has some decent Ellie and Joel time, it is primarily about acquaintances Bill and Frank that just so happen to be a married couple. In the games, Frank is a character who died before we ever meet Bill and what we learn about him was that he was something of a manipulative sociopath. We also get some great Bill and Ellie interaction that is some of my favorite parts of the game.

I made the mistake of reading other people's reviews of this episode after I watched the episode but before I wrote mine. So, I am going to admit to some critical dissonance. In general, I think this is a very good story about love under the apocalypse and also the kind of humanistic sad stories of loss that zombie apocalypse fiction excels out. So, as a standalone tale, I think it really works well but I am not a fan as a part of the larger narrative.

The premise is that pre-apocalypse survivalist, Bill, watches the Federal government (FEDRA) round up his entire town before killing them. Joel gives the weak idea that if the government doesn't have room for survivors, they killed them so they couldn't be infected. This is so stupid and nakedly evil (as well as falling into conspiracy theory bullshit) that I was immediately turned off the episode.

You're going to have blame the fact I grew up in Kentucky and was surrounded by survivalists that playing into their fantasies in any way is something that ticks me off. I don't even need to believe the government is a bunch of good guys to just think its stupid. Make them slave labor or put guns in their hand to go kill zombies. Or, hey, leave them alone since they were doing fine in their isolated community. I'm an anarchist in RL and this is too stupid evil for the government.

Bill eventually attracts a wanderer, Frank, and the two of them settle in together. It's rare a gay relationship gets to be the focus of media and TLOU as a franchise has always been pro-LGBT depiction. It's a bit romanticized, though, and we see none of the idea that Frank was a bad partner for Bill. Quite the opposite. That leaves me kind of iffy because I liked that it wasn't an idealized relationship in the game. We need more depictions of the variety of relationships available.

There's a lot of good moments in the scene and I am impressed at the write up of Bill as a impressive engineer as well as the focus they give on his relationship with Frank. Bill is a misanthrope who actually sees the benefit of building himself a massive fortress on the remains of a dead society and doesn't really care about the old world dying. However, he misses out on much of human interaction and Frank reminds him of what was good in life. These moments are well-done and the best part of the episode by far.

I also do like the moments where we get to see that Ellie is something of a feral child. She is curious about the world and what destroyed humanity but also doesn't see the Infected as someone who was formerly human or, if she does, it doesn't prevent her from reveling in their destruction. Joel also displays his wariness and anger at Ellie. Ellie got Tess killed, however indirectly, and that colors their interactions. That's closer to in-game Joel than previous episodes where Pedro Pascal's inherent likability was blunting some of his sharper edges.

Either way, the story ends on a tragic note where Frank's health deteriorates without access to medicine. It proceeds to end on a lovely positive note where Bill decides to take his own life rather than live without his loved ones. Given that in RL, I've had to deal with suicidal family members, I'm going to say romanticizing suicide is another thing that objectively pisses me off.

A lot of reviewers seem to miss the subtext this or just disagree but I hate that Bill, a great gay video game character, is killed for the sake of pathos. It's a well-written episode but it's one that has some serious issues.
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Re: The Last of Us

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THE LAST OF US 1×04 “PLEASE HOLD TO MY HAND” has a hard act to follow up on with the events of the previous episode being critically acclaimed. I also admit to some degree of regret that we don’t get to have Ellie interact with Bill nor some of the stunning set pieces from the game like the upside down shooting against a horde of Infected. Indeed, the lack of Infected is something I’m beginning to notice in this series. It’s not that they don’t exist but they occupy a much smaller role overall, which I attribute to budget issues.

The premise this time around is that Ellie and Joel load themselves up at Bill’s before continuing on their journey. Unfortunately, no sooner do they arrive at something passing civilization then they end up getting ambushed by the Hunters. Ellie and Joel are forced from their vehicle and have to confront the humanity of their opponents even as they are in a kill or be killed situation.

Part of the issues of this episode are that it is trying to balance the demands of prestige television with character development as well as everything being “serious” versus the fact The Last of Us video game was primarily an action/stealth game. This is not a bad thing, quite the opposite, but I feel the story is suffering somewhat from its desire to move away from the fact it is a big action movie tale like most AAA action games.

I feel like the show suffers for the unwillingness to show Joel as a badass strangling, stabbing, and murdering baddies. You might argue that this would take away from the dramatic storytelling but it’s also the bedrock on which The Last of Us is built upon. If you’re trying to make a video game adaptation that is serious and touching, don’t ignore that it is an action/stealth game.

Still, the episode has a lot of extremely good bits, though. At one point, Joel turns the tables on a Hunter and the man dies begging for his mother. It’s a good moment. that establishes that every human they’re going to encounter throughout this story is a “normal” person driven to desperation by horrific events. However, I also feel like this moment goes on a bit too long and Joel would have put him down much earlier.

We also have an entirely new character in Kathleen, who is the leader of the Hunters. The Hunters were a fairly typical bandit gang before but the new version is an entire army. There’s also a greater focus on the dramatic irony. In the game, Joel kills some of the Hunters and soon finds himself hunted by them because they want to avenge their dead friends. Here, Joel and company kill some of the revolutionaries but they assume Joel is part of their enemies.

Really, the best elements of this episode are Joel slowly lowering his guard around Ellie. Joel doesn’t want to bond with her but her charming personality and humanity is something that is slowly warming up his ice cold heart. I think it was important to establish Joel as dead inside in prevuous episodes, one thing that Pedro Pascal struggles with as his natural likability is hard to cast, but we’re getting to some of my favorite parts of the game now.

In conclusion, a really solid and entertaining episode that gets to the heart of what makes the game work: Ellie and Joel’s relationship. Sadly, I do think they’re missing the opportunity to do some fantastic action sequences.
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Re: The Last of Us

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https://unitedfederationofcharles.blogs ... rvive.html

THE LAST OF US 1×05 “Endure and Survive” is back into the adventures of Ellie and company. I complained about the changes to the past two episodes, but I’m pleased to say this episode gets back into fidelity to the game and is all the stronger for it. I’m a big fan of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey are fantastic casting but they’re getting pushed out of what is an already note-perfect story.

The premise is Joel and Ellie have found themselves on the run from the revolutionaries who have overthrown the Kansas City branch of FEDRA. The revolutionaries are in full Robespierre mode and carrying out mass executions of collaborators as well as former regime personnel. Kathleen, the leader of the revolutionaries, wants to avenge her dead brother more than anything. This despite the fact that her brother told her to forgive him.

It’s interesting to note that FEDRA is much eviler in the show than in the game. In the game, it’s clear FEDRA has been reduced to its awful actions because of the desperation of the times as well as the inability to contain the cordyceps infection. In the show, FEDRA is a fascist authoritarian government engaged in horrifying evils seemingly for their own sake. However, the show makes a point that the people trying to overthrow them are not only every bit as evil as FEDRA but also incompetent.

A brief diversion into real-life politics, I’m not sure the depiction here is a particularly good one. Making comparisons between Covid-19, the federal government during that time period, and the people trying to overthrow the US government are clearly not what the show is doing. However, they make enough allusions throughout the show that it’s impossible. I’m not sure if the show is making any political commentary but it seems to be, “fascists bad, revolutionaries bad.” Which is disappointing but to be expected from such a grimdark setting.

However, while original the series, I think Kathleen justifies her existence in this episode. While “humanity is its own worst enemy” is nothing new in zombie stories, Kathleen is specifically someone who ignores the larger issues of her community because she’s more interested in carrying out a witch hunt for her political enemies.

Maybe I’m drawing too much of a parallel but there’s plenty of cases where leaders don’t care about governing if they throw shade on the other side. FEDRA may have been utterly evil in Kansas but compromises have to be made in a survival situation that she’s utterly uninterested in making. It’s also a shame we never get to see her face the results of them.

My earlier comments that there wasn’t enough action is quickly dispelled by this episode as we have a running chase between the revolutionaries and Joel’s tiny group. I love Henry and Sam. Both characters are a sign of what might happen to Ellie and Joel. Henry is willing to do anything to protect Sam and it’s arguably something that is destroying both their lives. Sam in this version of the story has both leukemia as well as deafness.

I don’t think they needed to go to the lengths they did to make Sam as vulnerable as he was. The character is already vulnerable enough as a child in the setting, but I am glad that they did some disability representation. They also managed to avoid ableism. Sam is a capable and effective survivor that doesn’t get brought down by his deafness. I also give Ellie props for trying her cordyceps cure at the end. Damn, it ends with a punch.

Plus, the Bloater was a great “mini-boss” this episode.
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Re: The Last of Us

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THE LAST OF US 1×06 “KIN” is another powerful episode of the series as well as a pretty good adaptation of the events of the game. I have a few minor complaints but am overall impressed with the way they’ve managed to stay faithful for the most part with only a few rare exceptions. Indeed, I’m actually sorry they’ve sped through most of the game’s plot as it seems like they could have stretched it out to two seasons with the way things seem to be going at a breakneck pace.

This episode results in Joel arriving at the town of Jackson, which is one of the few new settlements to have been created in the post-apocalypse world. They’ve managed to keep themselves safe by putting out the bodies of any Infected or raiders who attempt to prey on their settlement. This has led them to having a reputation as monsters. It is exactly the opposite because they seem to be one of the few communities that lack a bunch of fascist overlords or systemic oppression.

Joel is overjoyed to find his brother, Tommy, but the feeling is not entirely reciprocated. Tommy deliberately cut off Joel in hopes of making a fresh start. This is fine, Joel himself would agree he’s a bad person, but the lack of explaining it resulted in him trekking across the entire North American continent in hopes of finding him. Indeed, one could very well argue that Tess’ death is a direct result of Tommy’s insensitivity to leaving his brother a message that he would no longer be available to speak.

Jackson is well-realized and shows what humanity’s failures have been in the wake of the apocalypse. Instead of going to ruined cities to try to maintain what has been lost, humanity should have stuck to wide-open spaces and self-sufficient communities. A joke is made that they’re communists in Jackson (which annoys Tommy even if it’s hippie-style anarchism instead or Leninist-Stalinist) while they’re still trading ration cards at the QZs. We also get a cute bit of foreshadowing about Ellie’s future girlfriend.

The three month time skip has managed to change much of Ellie and Joel’s relationship, though. It is clear that he is in denial more than anything else about having become her substitute father (and vice versa with Ellie becoming his daughter). The thought terrifies Joel and he doesn’t believe he can protect Ellie effectively due to how much damage his body has accumulated over the years. Not only is he deaf in one ear but also suffering from badly healed injuries that make him less agile as well as tough.

This is just an excuse because Joel just wants to avoid the emotional pain and struggles that come with being a father again. I actually am kind of disappointed with this handling of the equivalent scene in the game. Pedro Pascal really downplays what a complete scumbag Joel can be as the “I sure as hell ain’t your father” scene was one of the most powerful scenes in the game. Here, it’s more obvious that he’s just trying to protect Ellie and himself.

I feel like it’s probably wrong of me to keep wanting them to keep Joel’s angry unapproachable side front and cente but I feel that’s a major part of what makes the story work. Pedro Pascal’s warmth and fatherly attitude is just a bit too much at this point in the story. It requires Herculean efforts for Ellie to overcome his barriers and we’re a little early for that. It’s not a big complaint but it is something that bothered me.

The ending of the episode sets up the most memorable arc of the story, though. Joel is severely injured during one of his encounters with bandits (more realistically a shiv versus a piece of rebar impaling him) and Ellie is forced to go from the protected to the protector. Once more, they dramatically scale down the action of the episode and I think that’s fine but is a bit disappointing. At the very least having Ellie and Joel sneak around killing people would have been a great scene to watch.
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Re: The Last of Us

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THE LAST OF US 1x07 "LEFT BEHIND" is the seventh episode of the arguable best video game adaptation to a separate media. We've already got some great ones with CYBERPUNK: EDGERUNNERS and CASTLEVANIA but this has topped them all. Mind you, I say this with the knowledge that it's limited by how much you're a fan of zombie apocalypse television. I am but I do think that it's never exceeded anything better than THE WALKING DEAD in its better seasons. Until now.

Left Behind is, in my mind, the best of the episodes so far and mostly because it not only manages to capture the incredibly good storytelling of the DLC of the same name. It was controversial at the time of its release due to the fact it was a positive LGBT portrayal of a character in a time when that was still fairly rare. Sadly, like all relationships in The Last of Us, it ended tragically.

The premise for the episode is that Joel has been stabbed and is close to death. Joel tells Ellie to abandon him so she doesn't have to see him die. Ellie does her best to tend him but the ability to tend to a knife wound is beyond her skill set. This causes her to flashback to when she was still a student at FEDRA's military academy.

Ellie is an excellent potential soldier and someone they want to elevate to being an officer but she has authority issues as well as sadness from her friend, Riley (Storm Reid), disappearing. After receiving an interesting speech from a FEDRA employee that she needs to be looking out for herself, Ellie discovers that Riley is alive. Riley ran away to become a Firefly after discovering she was destined for sewage duty.

I actually like the depiction of FEDRA here because it doesn't attempt to argue the moral high ground with its teenage recruits. It's all well and good to say they're the last best hope for humanity to recover but that's not going to be relevant to someone who only grew up in the squalor of the Quarantine Zones. It also puts a humanizing face on their soldiers because he just wants to make sure Ellie doesn't get stuck with a life she doesn't want.

Riley proceeds to lead Ellie on a magical adventure through an abandoned shopping mall and enjoying the kind of life that was routine for people like us but completely impossible for those growing up in the shadow of the infected. The two actors have great chemistry and are believable as a pair of teenagers on their first date (even if that's not entirely clear to either party at the start).

There's a few minor changes from the DLC but nothing that really matters in the long run. Ellie and Riley play Mortal Kombat, play with a bunch of Halloween masks, and debate the morality of the conflict that is going on beyond them. Ellie is right that the Fireflies are not nearly the anarchist paragons they claim to be while FEDRA is not the fascist Nazis the show has vilified them as being (which I felt was a mistake). We also get the biggest point to the Firefly's moral superiority: the fact they are recruiting child soldiers like Riley in the first place.

Much of Ellie's character becomes clearer when you realize she's suffering intense survivors guilt for the fact she was infected in the same incident that (not really a spoiler) claims her friend. She wants her life to mean something after a seeming miracle spares her but takes away her only remaining human connection. It also shows why she's so desperately attached to Joel.
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Re: The Last of Us

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CTPhipps wrote: Fri Mar 03, 2023 12:09 am THE LAST OF US 1x07 "LEFT BEHIND" is the seventh episode of the arguable best video game adaptation to a separate media.
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Re: The Last of Us

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THE LAST OF US 1×08 “WHEN WE ARE IN NEED” is the penultimate episode of the series. Though when there’s only nine episodes, I start to wonder where the divide between a full blown season and a miniseries begin. I’m not saying this to be salty but I think they could have easily been a full thirteen episodes. GAME OF THRONES has a lot to answer for and I really think they should be working to give us more content rather than less.

To be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to this one as the story arc of the Hunters wasn’t one of my favorites in the video game. David was a fantastic villain in the video game but the ultimate revelation that he is a pedophile and cannibal kind of dominates the show version when the pleasant seemingly reasonable adult figure element dominates his video game counterpart.

Part of what made David work in the video game is the fact that he spends a lot of time trying to appear reasonable to Ellie and comforting when she’s not been able to communicate with Joel for months. He talks to Ellie like an adult, helps her get the medicine for Joel, and seems like he could really turn out to be another friend in the wilderness. Then, of course, we slowly have it revealed that he’s part of the group that’s been hunting Joel this entire time.

Here, David’s creepy cult is terrifying in its implications from the get go and we understand Davis is a bad person. Oddly, the cannibalism is downplayed as it’s made clear that this is a desperation choice on the part of the cultists. They don’t want to be reduced to eating their fellow humans and are hiding it from the others but starvation is a looming possibility. Still, it’s been twenty years and you have to wonder what exactly they’ve been doing to make sustainable agriculture.

On the other hand, I have to give Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal credit for their acting during this episode. From a pure action movie-post apocalypse adventure perspective, this episode works excellent. I’ve complained about the downplaying of the action and stealth elements of The Last of Us series but this episode is full of memorable scenes straight out of the game. Ellie’s final confrontation with David in the burning restaurant is especially well realized.

One of the things I do love about the game adaptation, though, is that Joel is show to be a guy who is pretty dented and beaten up by his years of violence. Like a professional football player, all the hits he’s taken over the years have added up. In the game, you can duct tape yourself up to full fighting order but this Joel is on his last years as a warrior even with how badass he is. It makes his thoughts of retirement more believable.

In conclusion, this is a good episode and excellent as an adaptation of the events toward the end of the game. However, I also think they should have made it a two parter with David having a whole episode of being helpful as well as beyond suspicion. The “post apocalypse religious community of freaks and murderers” is also a badly overused trope.
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Re: The Last of Us

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THE LAST OF US 1×09 “LOOK FOR THE LIGHT” is the end of season one of THE LAST OF US and probably the high point of the series for fans of the game. Sadly, I feel like the season overall ended up being more of an eight rather than a nine or a ten. There’s some great moments throughout the show and I believe it’s probably the best adaptation of a video game property (Castlevania is close, though). Unfortunately, it didn’t quite soar as high as it could have despite a few high points.

The premise for the final episode is that Joel finally gets Ellie to the Fireflies, only to immediately be betrayed in return. He is informed that Ellie is the cure for the infestation but harvesting the material necessary requires her to die. We also get an extended flashback to Ellie’s birth with her mother (as played by Ashley Johnson, Ellie’s VA in the game) that explains a possible reason for Ellie’s immunity to the cordyceps infestation.

The best part of the episode is definitely Ashley Johnson’s performance as Anna. A pregnant woman struggling to survive against a bunch of Infested, her child being born right that moment, and then having to deal with the fact she was going to die no matter what after giving birth. Throw in her dealing with Marlene (who wants to kill Ellie) and you have a fantastic one scene wonder. It’s almost a shame they didn’t get her to play Tess or another more important character.

The rest of the episode more or less deals with Joel’s dogged commitment to making sure that Ellie survives no matter what. Unfortunately, the show failed to really make there be any moral conflict whatsoever. I was sure that 99% of the audience would agree with Joel’s decision to gun down every single Firefly standing in the way of him and his baby girl (and I’m pretty sure I was right in the numbers). However, the show doesn’t even attempt to present the Firefly’s decision in an ambiguous light or the tragedy of their misguided beliefs. Joel guns them all down without hesitation and the issue is resolved.

Part of this is due to the fact the Infected are barely shown as a threat in the show. Probably for special effects reasons, we don’t get nearly as many Infected as we do evil humans. The Fireflies are basically dismissed by most online chatter as having any possible real “solution.” Instead, I think the show should have done more to suggest that, yes, they could have come up with a proper solution. Joel made the right choice as a parent but the audience should have at least had more ambiguity about it.

After none episodes, my opinion is The Last of Us really needed an additional episode at the very least and probably should have drug out the finale across two episodes. Some more encounters with the Infected or interaction with Ellie might have been better. At the very least, I think the show should have gotten more into Ellie’s survivor’s guilt. It should be clear she was willing to die to provide the world a cure and also be cure that’s not a choice that should be forced onto anyone at her age.

In conclusion, the series was pretty good but could have been better. There’s just not enough threat from the Clickers and it moves through the final events of the game way too quickly. We needed a bit more time to reflect on just how devastating Joel’s choice potentially was. At least they kept Joel lying to her and Ellie’s reaction at the end.

8/10
Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, Space Academy Dropouts, and The Rules of Supervillainy
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