“The Last of Us” set up for success


Photo courtesy of HBO Max

SURVIVAL: Ellie (Bella Ramsey) and Joel (Pedro Pascal) travel toward Wyoming.

Anna Tokash, A&E Editor

Contains spoilers for episodes 1-4. 

Although I have never been a video game player, the TV adaptation of “The Last of Us”, a game originally released in 2013, struck my interest. The original game begins with a father, Joel, and his daughter Sarah living in Texas in 2003 when a viral pandemic outbreak begins. The bitten “infected” people resemble zombies but have other qualities that set them apart, such as fast running speeds. The rest of the game and TV show take place 20 years in the future, in 2023. Still following Joel, we meet his partner Tess. Tess and Joel have the mission of smuggling a young girl, Ellie, to the west in return for weapons. 

Released on a weekly basis every Sunday, there have been 4 episodes of The Last of Us so far. On Jan. 29, episode 3, titled “Long, Long Time,” was released. After Joel’s partner Tess dies, Ellie and Joel continue on to Wyoming. On the way, they stop at an old friend’s home to gather supplies. In a flashback to 2003, we meet Bill, a survivalist who developed traps and security to protect himself and his supplies. When Frank falls into one of his traps, Bill decides to take him in. They then fall in love, and the episode follows their story throughout the 20 years of the apocalypse. Although Bill and Frank’s story line wasn’t originally featured in the video game, this episode was beautifully written. It truly tugged on the heartstrings of every viewer and was a fan favorite. 

Episode 4 begins with Ellie and Joel’s continued journey. A majority of this episode felt almost like a comic relief, with Ellie cracking jokes throughout their car ride filling most of the dialogue. Bella Ramsey, the actor of Ellie, does a wonderful job with carrying the character’s fun and lighthearted conversations. The chemistry between Pedro Pascal, who plays Joel and Ramsey is also evident in this episode. When they get ambushed in Kansas City, Ellie and Joel lose their supplies and look for a hiding spot. In an old bar, the 2 characters have multiple conversations that give us more insight to Ellie’s past life, and we also see Joel warming up to Ellie’s childlike behavior. Beside the cliffhanger at the ending, this episode felt like a filler to me. Because the show is based off of a game, a lot of the scenes involve walking, driving, and traveling in general. This causes the writers to make up smaller conflicts or scenes to fill some of the gameplay in the original game. Many fans don’t enjoy the added storylines, but I believe it builds more characters as well as keeps the viewer entertained. 

What really makes me keep watching this series is the cinematic elements of it. Not only is the writing, shots, and cinematography well-done, but what makes it most entertaining is the set design. With shows set in earlier years such as 2003, it is common for a set designer to make a simple mistake with things such as the logo brands used in the 2000’s. In “The Last of Us,” the world stopped in 2003. Behind the rubble, vines, and rust, the set still shows the 2003-esque world 20 years into the future. 

The set-design, characters, actors, and writing are all elements that have set the first episodes of  “The Last of Us” up for success. Although this episode dragged on with the travel aspect, the dialogue and jokes kept me entertained, and I was left nervous and excited for the next episode after the cliffhanger.