Well, the wait is finally over, The Last Of Us hit our screens last night (today for me) and yeah, I was right…this is better than the games
Starting the series in 1968 was a strange year to choose but then I thought…maybe a little nod to George A Romero’s Night of the Living Dead? pretty much the birth of this sub-genre.
The opening sequence already takes us away from the game but is a brilliant way to start the series. Two epidemiologists having a debate about a new kind of fungal infection. Something so short, and bang, before the opening credits, we are already aware of the virus; what it is, how it can mutate and what would happen to the world if this cordyceps and other similar fungal infections were passed on to humans.
They describe in scary detail what happens when this fungus takes control of an ant, using the ant’s body like a puppeteer while devouring it and eaten alive from the inside out. It has no other purpose but to spread the virus to every living thing possible. Just wow, right? But fear not, this can not pass on to humans…yet. The only way possible for this to happen would be a significant rise in our body temperature, and fast forward to 2003: the climate has reached the level to do just that.
We also get to spend a lot of time with Sarah which was a really nice way of expanding on a soul-crushing storyline.
All this chaos is breaking out in the background quietly while she is just going about her day. It would remind you of Simon Pegg’s sleepy walk to work at the start of Shaun of the Dead. Fans know and are aware of what’s just around the corner for Sarah. Also, that scene with Sarah and the old lady twitching in the background was pretty damn creepy. Mazin and Druckmann told us a little bit more about Sarah’s character, in the best possible way. Just like the game, you really felt that bond with Joel and Sarah.
When Joel and Sarah are sitting on the couch, it is just a shot-for-shot sequence from the game.
The dedication to the source material could not have been better. Everything, right down to the colouring was just perfect. Then, the whole car sequence threw me right back to when I first played the game. That scene was getting closer. And, yeah, it was just as traumatic watching the live-action death of Sarah. Pedro Pascal has more than embodied the character of Joel. Right there and then, I knew there isn’t a better dude to bring this character to life. Man, that whole scene was perfection, Joel watching Sarah die while Tommy watches helplessly. It is sooo good to finally see The Last Of Us get the live-action love it deserves.
Changing the timelines was a great idea and works way better for the series. It starts in 1968, then the outbreak happens in 2003, Joel loses Sarah and then the series is set in 2023. and that’s when Joel meets Ellie.
So, here is a cool thing. If Sarah was to survive this outbreak, she wouldn’t be a fighter or more importantly a killer. When Sarah witnesses Joel attack her neighbour with a wrench, she looks horrified. She does not like that side of her father – it scared her to see him like that. Then we have Ellie, a 14-year-old who was born when this fungus apocalypse was in full swing. She only knows the apocalypse, she only knows how to fight for survival. When we are first introduced to Ellie, and she gets her pocket knife, she doesn’t waste any time trying to stab people. She even stabs a guard in the leg without hesitation. When she see sees Joel almost kill that man in front of her, there is a look of satisfaction from Ellie. I don’t think it was a look as in “oh, I am safe in the hands of this guy”. She liked it.
Now, to talk a little bit about the infected in The Last of Us
Another great deviation away from the games. I have to admit I was a little bit worried when I heard that the virus will not spread through spores. In reality, though, all this means is that we don’t see the characters put on gas masks. These infected look fresh and have a completely unique approach to an oversaturated zombie genre.
We learn at the start of The Last of Us that when this virus finally spreads to humans, the fungus will use its host like a puppeteer. With these infected, it’s not like they’re running, it is like something is inside them and throwing them towards the prey. The tentacle-like fungus that hangs from their mouths is the stuff of nightmares.
Yeah, we have only really seen the first stage of infection and the very last stage of infection. The last stage is something else they have added to the series that deviate away from the games. And, yeah, again, this is a better approach. The last stage of infection means “it’s finished”, meaning that the infection has gone full-cycle. The infected host is now dead, eaten from the inside out – the unfortunate infected person is 95% fungal plant. The only thing human that remains is the looks of immense pain of the skeletal remains as the infected made their last transition from human to mushroom plant.
Edit: If you’re aware of the games, you’ll know that the disease was rapidly spread through food vending machines; pretty sure it’s grain
I can not wait for the rest of the series. Well done to absolutely everyone involved in bringing this cinematic game to life.
As always, thanks for reading,