Latest HBO addiction becomes a watch-worthy hit show


Asher Hagan

The Last of Us is not just about surviving through the apocalypse, it’s about the bond and connection between the characters and how they will do anything to help their loved ones make it in this dangerously violent world.

Alex Edwards, Online Managing Editor

In 2013, the game The Last of Us was released to universal critical acclaim, ushering in a wave of new video games with immersive, movie-like storylines. Now, almost 10 years later, The Last of Us is back, this time as a purely cinematic experience with no game to be found. 

HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us released its first episode on Jan. 15 and has aired four more in the weeks since, with five more to go. Much like the game it’s based on, it is phenomenal.

As a fan of the game, I was initially a little worried about the show and wasn’t convinced it would be good, based on the long history of bad or underwhelming video game adaptations. However, I was more assured by the creator, Craig Mazin’s attachment to the project, as well the game’s original co-director and writer, Neil Druckmann, returning in both of those roles. Still, I’d have to see it to believe it, and that I did.

The Last of Us has a simple premise. A tough, emotionally desolate, survivor in a zombie apocalypse is forced to team up with a young girl who he eventually ends up serving a parental role. While it’s not the most original setup, it really shines in its execution. 

The characters here are nothing short of great, with lots of depth and nuance to them all. Joel, a hardened survivor, played excellently by Pedro Pascal of The Mandalorian and Game of Thrones, is someone who’s cut himself off from emotions after losing his daughter in the apocalypse. He doesn’t want to risk getting connected to someone again. Despite his wishes and better judgment, you see him slowly get back in touch with his parental instincts. 

The other main character Ellie, played outstandingly by fellow Game of Thrones actress, Bella Ramsey, is also great. She also puts on a tough exterior, though in a more immature way than Joel. She is well reflecting for her age, but also longs for people who care for her and some semblance of a normal, zombie-less life, which she never had. While I didn’t immediately love the portrayal of Ellie like I did Joel, due to a few more differences from the game, I very quickly got past that, and have been sold by the character.

To touch on the more technical aspects of the show, the cinematography is excellent. You see so many fantastic wide shots of the decrepit cities that, despite their state, manage to look beautiful when shot this well. It really helps to get you immersed in the world of the show. 

The music is also fantastic, composed by Gustavo Santaolalla, who also created the music for the original game. It’s often understated, but the soundtrack does a lot to enhance the tone of a scene.

I think my favorite episodes so far have been episodes three and five. Episode three is mostly a stand-alone story in the world of the show, though it still progresses the story and builds on the themes depicted so far. Episode three is a brilliant, beautiful story about finding hope in a world of darkness that’s just as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking. Episode five is another fantastic one and is this show’s equivalent to a mid-season finale. It feels very climactic with some scary and exciting action and more emotionally powerful moments. 

Despite these being my favorites, every episode so far has been great to varying degrees, and all progress the plot in great ways.

While it’s only a little over halfway finished, The Last of Us is shaping up to be one of the best shows of the year. It looks incredible, the characters and their writing is amazing, and the story is one that will make you feel all the emotions.

The Last of Us is not just about surviving through the apocalypse, it’s about the bond and connection between the characters and how they will do anything to help their loved ones make it in this dangerously violent world. And that’s why this show holds a prominent place in television. There is nothing more vital than family and friendship.

 I would recommend The Last of Us to anyone who wants to watch some top-tier television.