Taking the Fun Out of Fungus: “The Last of Us” Review

The hit video game series “The Last of Us” recently released a TV show adaptation on HBO starring Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie, the main characters of the game. The game “The Last of Us” is a zombie apocalypse game where the two main characters, Joel and Ellie, are traveling across america to deliver Ellie to doctors trying to find a cure.

The first episode starts off as a talk show where they have a specialist talking about the fungus ‘Ophiocordyceps camponoti-floridani’, a fungus which turns ants into zombies. They also cover what would happen if it were to evolve to infect humans, which was a great way to foreshadow the infection in the show. Though the show isn’t scene-by-scene with the game, they did an amazing job with the recreation of certain scenes. The scenery like the burning house they pass was graphically enchanting and in the scene where the characters are trying to escape town you can really feel the panic and intensity of the situation. 

We then see Joel 20 years later as a hollow shell of the man he was before losing his daughter, living somewhere in Boston in a FEDRA district with a new character named Tess, who lives with him. He’s doing any job he can to make ends meet even if it’s illegal. The background did a great job with the worn-and-torn look on Boston and showing how overcrowded and rundown the city is. The writers also did well showing how strict FEDRA is on rules with the background almost always having a guard when they are in the city.

Interestingly, from time to time it would switch to the other main character, Ellie, who at the time is shown to be kidnapped. The writers switch perspectives from Joel and Ellie to skip parts from the game where Joel would be walking around in the game. Bella Ramsey and Pedro Pascal portray their characters so well. During the scene where Joel’s daughter died, you can explicitly see the pain the character feels. We then find out through conversation that Ellie is immune to infection. The directors could have hidden this fact and shown it later on, limiting us on what Joel knows, but revealing this to the characters at the end of the episode is more impactful. Other than that, there weren’t many things that they did wrong.  

The end of the episode leaves you wanting to watch more as Joel, Ellie, and Tess escape the city. And Joel’s outburst when he’s out in the same situation as the past, this was one of the best moments in the episode. The show has kept the story the same so far, with some minor changes.. “The Last of Us” is one of the best adaptations out there.

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