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The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

The Voice of the Wildcats

The Paw Print

Review: This won’t be the last mention of HBO’s “The Last of Us”

Chloe De Leon
“The Last of Us” introduces a new binge-worthy series.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for HBO’s “The Last of Us.”

Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann’s on-screen adaptation of “The Last of Us” (video game) exceeds its role as an adaptation series through an additional exploration of the emotional conflict of surviving versus living in a zombie-ravaged world.

“The Last of Us” (TV show) parallels and adapts from its video game predecessor . The beginning of the show takes place in August 2023, where the cordyceps fungi mutate to control the function of humans and infect as many as possible to grow their network. Those who haven’t been infected live in quarantine zones (QZs) under Federal Disaster Response Agency (FEDRA) fascist control. Joel Miller (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie Williams (Bella Ramsey) leave from the Boston QZ in search of the Fireflies–a rebellion group. So far, eight of nine episodes have been released. 

On-screen adaptations of video games tend to disappoint. “The Last of Us” (TV show) differs in the way that it develops its characters and their relationships rather than focusing solely on the adventure of fighting aspects of the game. “Uncharted,” (video game) produced by Naughty Dog, got a movie adaptation in late 2022. While these two video games came from the same studio, their adaptations have a strong distinction in terms of mood and tone. “Uncharted” (movie) takes on a feel-good adventure storyline while HBO’s “The Last of Us” follows a more dramatic storyline. 

The actors’ performances in HBO’s “The Last of Us” strengthens the unique plot. Pascal and Ramsey, who play Joel and Ellie depict raw struggles of a paternal relationship. Their relationship emphasizes the emotional turmoil brought about by loss. Two of the strongest performances occur in episode six and episode seven. During a fight with Joel (Pascal), Ramsey’s tear-jerking performance demonstrates the inevitable difficult choices in a father-daughter like relationship. In episode seven, emotional performances occur when Bella Ramsey and her best friend, played by Storm Reid, get bitten by an “infected” following the establishment of their romantic interest in each other. The two rawly depict anger and sorrow as they recognize their unsalvageable future.

The cinematography emphasizes the overarching theme and ideas of the show. Cinematographer Eden Bolter captures the vast loneliness of a human-stripped planet and reflects the emotions of the character’s interactions. The all-encompassing scenes of green-covered abandoned cities struck a chord for me. It serves a hopeful idea of a post-apocalyptic world. Instead of the normal dark, smog filled cities of rotting buildings, HBO’s “The Last of Us” shows a healing world where nature overgrows brutalist architecture. This use of setting pioneers a different point of view about an apocalyptic world.

HBO’s “The Last of Us” also introduces new characters in each episode who further a lesson or idea that changes Ellie or Joel’s point of view. While I have not played the video game version, the characters in the TV adaptation follow slightly different stories than their original counterparts. This is most notably shown in episode three, which depicts the relationship between Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett). The events leading up to the two men’s deaths differ in the TV series and in the video game. However, the characters contribute the same lesson to Joel: surviving differs from truly living.

The show lacks an outsource of actors as HBO tends to recycle its talent. While all the actors execute their roles beautifully, Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey, Storm Reid, and Murray Bartlett previously starred in other HBO originals. HBO tends to recycle actors as evidenced by Sydney Sweeny’s performances in “The White Lotus” and “Euphoria.” While these actors perform incredibly well, I would like to see an outsource of talent and fresh faces in the television industry. 

Throughout seven episodes, HBO’s “The Last of Us” has proven itself to be a show worth my time. It has well-balanced components of drama, thrill, humor, and human relationships, all while maintaining an interesting and well-paced plot.

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About the Contributor
Chloe De Leon
Chloe De Leon, Multimedia/Online Editor
Chloe de Leon is a junior and second-year journalist. She enjoys writing about culture, lifestyle, entertainment, and local news. In her free time, she takes part in math club, plays piano, and plays on her school’s varsity tennis team.

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