The Last of Us : TV’s finest hour

Photographs courtesy of HBO GO Pedro Pascal as Joel.

(Warning: spoilers ahead)
In 2013, The Last of Us set the bar for emotional agony as Joel cradled daughter Sarah in his arms while she lay dying amid a burgeoning zombie apocalypse. It could very well be the most devastating opening in video game history.

Ten years later, the game has been adapted for the small screen.

Most video game adaptations fall short, for reasons that have to do with condensing the story or not staying faithful to the source material. The genre is often beset with cynical mediocrities that make them unwatchable.

Gabriel Luna as Tommy,

But this is not the case with HBO’s remarkable adaptation of The Last of Us. Its game writer and now showrunner Neil Druckmann, along with Craig Mazin, twist the dagger by making us invested in Sarah early on, giving her more screen time while providing context for those not familiar with the source video game. The end result is still the same, however, with Joel (Pedro Pascal) ending up cradling her as she dies, leaving viewers gut-punched.

Twenty years after Sarah’s death, Joel forms a bond with Ellie (Bella Ramsey), a teenage girl with an apparent resistance to the infection that he is tasked to escort across the country while avoiding clickers and mercenaries. Ellie just might be the key to the world’s salvation.

Bella Ramsey as Ellie.

Pascal and Ramsey’s performances are as sterling as this adaptation of the video game. The show deftly tackles how it is to be haunted by a long-standing absence, the mature themes of love and loss, and survival against all odds. The Last of Us is easily one of TV’s finest hours this 2023.

Catch The Last of Us on HBO Go with new episodes every week.

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