TV SHOW REVIEW - The Last Of Us: Season 1
Despite my best efforts to make it through lots of TV shows, I’ve found that it takes me a while to find something that I can binge through easily. That’s naturally made easier for me when I watch something upto date where the episodes come out every week. That’s why I’m sure you’ll all be fairly happy to see that I’ve reviewed something very new; I’m talking, of course, about the first season of ‘The Last of Us’, HBO’s new project!
The first season of ‘The Last Of Us’ shows us a world which has been affected by an apocalypse. Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t one that mankind created. Yes, indeed, this reality sees life ravaged by a fungi that takes over humans causing them to become mindless infected zombies. We’re introduced to Joel, a young contractor who along with his daughter, Sarah and brother, Tommy try to escape just as the pandemic breaks out. We then fast forward twenty years and Joel is living in Boston, in a quarantine zone set up by a government agency. He’s lost contact with Tommy and decides that he’s going to try to leave the city with his smuggler partner, Tess. Things go south and Joel finds out that the only way to make it out is to escort a young girl named Ellie, who has been under the protection of the renegade group, the “Fireflies”. Although sceptical Joel and Tess decide to carry out the job, before finding out that Ellie has been bitten by the infected, for some reason not turned into a mindless monster. It turns out that Ellie is immune and the fireflies want to use her blood to come up with a potential cure. The three set off, but early on, find resistance from the infected and Tess is bitten and subsequently blows herself up to give Joel and Ellie a chance to escape the city. The two make their way from place to place, initially facing the infected but then coming up against something far worse; human beings. At one point they must travel through Kansas City, where they are ambushed by ‘The People’ a group who have overthrown FEDRA, the government agency. When the People come after Joel and Ellie, they must flee once again into the wilderness to continue their journey to get Ellie somewhere safe. Can Joel reunite with his brother and get Ellie to the Fireflies? And just what effect has this infection had on the people of rural America?
So my brother and sister sat down to play/watch the game and so apparently knew the entire story of the show. Their opinions were apparent, but this isn’t their blog, so forget that. From my perspective, I think the ‘Last Of Us’ Season 1 is a clear character study. It’s heavily focused on carving out Joel and Ellie’s stories so that despite whatever is going on around them, you know what kind of people they are. Furthermore, background characters like Bill, Frank, Henry and Tess etc, also get this treatment and when the show deviates from Joel and Ellie’s story, it focuses on someone else’s. This in my eyes is the show’s greatest strength and weakness. We very rarely get to watch shows now that are entirely character studies. One could blame the pandemic and rise of social media for our lack of attention, but since we’re constantly craving the next new thing, it has meant that generally the spectrum of things that we watch has reduced. From that perspective, good on the show. I think the one aspect that lets the show down, and I know many people will disagree with me, is that the first two episodes are phenomenal in creating this fantastic backstory of this fungal infection and then for the majority of the rest of the show, we’re left wanting to see more of these different types of infected. Perhaps future seasons will deal with that!
Listen. This is a show about a middle-aged tough man who has to look after a sassy child. There was only ever going to be one man for the role. It is, of course, Pedro Pascal, whose performance as Joel for me is the highlight of this show. I think it takes a special kind of actor to be able to play a protagonist whose morals are blurred and Pascal does a fantastic job of that. Playing Ellie, opposite him, of Game of Thrones fame was Bella Ramsey. Ramsey, who looks a lot younger than she is, was able to bring ferocity to the role, much akin to her role in GOT. Personally, I thought she did well, but there was a lot of swearing and I was told that the video game counterpart didn’t do so much. Ramsey will be an interesting actress to watch because in order to succeed she’ll need to break out of the mould of previous characters she’s played. Not sure she’s reached it yet. Gabriel Luna played Joel’s brother Tommy, and again despite playing a supporting role, he too was good. From an acting perspective, I don’t think anyone put in a bad performance which is rare.
With the backing of HBO, everyone watched with bated breath to see if this show was about to become an epic the likes of Westworld and Game of Thrones. Although not requiring that level of cinematography, it was fairly clear that a lot of work had been put in by the creators to build this world. I appreciated that they actually had the game’s creators on board to make sure that it was a faithful adaptation because recently other shows have definitely faltered when the showrunners attempt to diverge from the source material without consulting the creators. The music was something where I thought the show lacked.
Overall, this was an interesting watch. It has all the ingredients to be an extremely memorable show, but for me, there’s some cooking left to be done. Providing they keep this high level of quality in terms of acting and storyline, the show will do well!
Integral vs Filler Episodes: ★★½