New episodes of The last of us will premiere on HBO every Sunday night, and we’ll recap them here every Monday morning. For this extra-long series debut, reviewers Kyle Orland and Andrew Cunningham dive deep into the differences between telling a compelling apocalyptic story in games versus doing so in a TV series and will consider whether the source material ends up helping or hindering this adaptation.
While we won’t delve into every plot point of the first episode, there are obviously heavy spoilers content inside, so go watch the episode first if you want to go fresh.
Andrew: I’ve never played the game! That’s why I’m here, of course. I didn’t avoid it on purpose, it’s just that I play maybe half a dozen games a year at this point, and the vast majority of them are either Nintendo’s hard-hitting 2D action platformers , or games about capturing pocket monsters. Every six months or so when they release a new remastered version of The last of usI think, “Maybe this time”, but it just didn’t happen.
I have a general, Wikipedia-level knowledge of the main plot beats. I also have a few touchpoints for apocalypse fiction adjacent to a pandemic or contagion (top: HBO’s station eleven show but not the book, Max Brooks’ World War Z book but not the movie) which I think will serve me well here.
Kyle: Speaking of plot beats, I was really looking forward to HBO’s take on the game’s iconic opener.
Andrew: Are you talking about the talk show of the 60s, there?
Kyle: No, that part was completely new actually, but I liked the way it set things up. Probably helpful given how much more “pandemic aware” we all are now than in 2013 when the game was released. I was referring to the whole outbreak sequence that led to Sarah’s death. As they expanded things and fleshed out some characters a bit, I was really struck by how familiar some of the key moments were. It’s not just the games dialogue, but even the camera angles and background elements were eerily familiar at many points. Even these days, I feel like there aren’t too many video game cut scenes that could make the transition to “prestige TV” so intact.
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