Emma Bennett—Staff Writer
Fandoms are everywhere. Whether you like comics, or books, or music, there will always be a group there to like it with you. Most people take their loves very seriously and are protective of any action towards remasters, remakes, or adaptations. That’s why it is the dreaded excitement within every fandom to see their favorite book or video game character represented on the screen. Some have remained faithful (like “Lord of the Rings”), while other not as much (“Percy Jackson”). Most recently, HBO has released the first episode of their new show “The Last of Us,” based on the 2013 survival horror game franchise, and I have some things to say.
First, in case anyone is unfamiliar with the game or needs a refresher, here is a quick summary (spoiler alert). The character that you play is Joel Miller, a single father who became a smuggler after the outbreak of a fungal infection that turns people into murderous zombies, or “infected” as the show calls them. He is given the task of transporting a 14-year-old girl named Ellie across the country, for no clear reason other than “she’s special.” As the pair make their way to their destination, through hordes of Infected and treacherous camps of survivors, they become close and learn to rely on each other to stay alive. The game quickly gained success, selling over 3-million copies and becoming the tenth best-selling game of the year.
The first time I ever watched someone play “The Last of Us” was summer of 2020 (I didn’t have a PlayStation, sue me), and I was immediately drawn into the tension of the plot, the politics of the world, the gritty environment and the lovable characters. I fell in love with Joel and Ellie’s dynamic, and the way that the developers showed the decay of society due to the outbreak was breathtaking.
I was apprehensive about the show at first since, as I stated before, TV has not always had the best track record for accuracy across mediums. However, I was blown away by the amount of detail, from the biggest plot points to the nature of Joel’s broken watch. The storyline has stayed true to the game, with some embellishments to further establish the situation, such as showing Joel’s daughter Sarah going to a store to get
Joel a present for his birthday. This also further raises tension, as we watch two police cars and a fire truck driving down the street while Sarah is there, followed by the shop owner’s wife anxiously hustling her out the door. In addition to this, the first time that the audience sees an Infected is absolutely chilling and handled with such finesse that it seems like it was part of the story all along.
The next most noticeable aspect of the show, after the close following of the plot, was the environment. The show so far drips with atmosphere and tension, and it was clear that director Craig Marin and executive producer Greg Spence put a lot of effort into recreating the wild and overgrown American countryside that we see on screen. They spend time in the second half of episode one establishing the rundown look of the Boston Quarantine Zone, as well as the dictatorial grip that the soldiers keep to ensure everyone’s safety.
Finally, the casting director did a fantastic job picking the leading roles. Joel’s rough nature, Ellie’s feisty quips, Tess’ level-headed attitude, and Marlene’s weary command are all qualities of their digital counterparts, which is relieving and invigorating to see. Overall, the first episode is perfect, and I cannot wait for the next episode’s release.