Not just another zombie show
HBO thriller The Last Of Us reveals the cinematic potential of video games
'So, is it everything you hoped for?" Joel asks his travelling companion Ellie while both stare out at a vast area and the future ahead. "Well, got its ups and downs," Ellie replies. The season finale of the post-apocalyptic series The Last Of Us titled Look For The Light was just released on HBO GO and gave fans exactly what they hoped for. It wrapped up its first season, which has been regarded as one of the best live-action video game adaptations ever made.
Besides being a faithful adaptation of the game, the season finale of The Last Of Us revisits one of the most shocking video game endings ever. It also exposes the audience to Joel's (Pedro Pascal) big decision, as well as explains how Ellie (Bella Ramsey) became immune to the infection in the first place. Of course, this is a review of the show's final episode and will contain some spoilers from previous episodes. So if you haven't caught up, make sure to go unpack the entire season first.
Despite being a rather short episode (43 minutes) with an abrupt ending, the finale still managed to give the audience just enough to satisfy, from the action, interesting back story and answers to questions we had about the show. The episode opens with a flashback and introduces us to Ellie's real mother Anna, who is played by Ashley Johnson, an actress who provided the voice and motion capture of Ellie's character in the original 2013 game. Anna is pregnant and on the run being chased by the infected. She arrives at home and hides herself in time to deliver a baby, but not before the infected catch up with her. Ellie was connected to her mom via the umbilical cord at the time of infection, so she had the fungus from birth. The scene was an explanation of how Ellie became immune to infection as well as how the toddler ended up in Marlene's (Merle Dandridge) care.
Later, we catch up with Joel and Ellie as they arrive in Salt Lake City. You can tell that Joel has finally accepted Ellie as a friend and as someone he really cares about. Here, he suggests that it's actually Ellie that has made his life worth living. The scene just makes you smile as it is heartfelt. Pascal and Ramsey did a great job portraying the strong bond between Joel and Ellie. However, while travelling, the two are soon captured by soldiers, also known as Fireflies, and both are taken to a lab where they plan to remove the fungus from Ellie's brain and multiply the cells in a lab to produce a cure. So naturally, for a man who's spent nine episodes developing a fatherly bond, Joel doesn't like the idea of a doctor opening Ellie's brain as it might kill her. So Joel makes a hard decision, grabs a rifle and goes on his final rampage against the Fireflies in order to save Ellie from the experimental brain surgery. This reaffirms that Joel is not your average hero and that he can be ruthless.
From here, if you have played The Last Of Us game, you know what is going to happen next as the series stays true to the original frame by frame. The first season concluded at the same place where the game ended. And as far as the final scene goes, I have to say I love the creative decision to end it in a moment of mystery. Regardless whether you have played the game or not, you will enjoy The Last Of Us because it's a well-made post-apocalyptic drama that respects its source material and the audience. Craig Mazin, Neil Druckmann and everyone behind this show did an amazing job crafting it. We've finally found storytellers and filmmakers who have recognised the incredible cinematic potential of certain video games.
I'm so curious to see what they're going to do with the next season and excited to see the path they take. It's been reported that they won't cast Ramsey for the follow-up season due to the timeline of the story being different. However, the second game in the franchise didn't receive as much love as the original, so it could be tricky to make another successful season.
- The Last Of Us - Season 1
- Starring Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey
- Created by Craig Mazin, Neil Druckmann
- Now streaming on HBO GO