The Last of Us: strong and promising debut

The expectation was immense, thanks to the market of gamers passionate about The Last of Us franchise, a phenomenon in its field. Ever since HBO announced it would make the game a series, the pressure has been building. And cutting the suspense: it did not disappoint.

Thinking of the uninitiated, the pilot script was didactic, respectful, and full of easter eggs with a dense dramatic rhythm, like a good horror/suspense movie. It gets worse because today we live in post-pandemic times, which means that when we hear about viruses or fungi causing change, being contagious, and needing isolation, it is extra terrifying. The opening monologue, in 1968, warning of the dangers of the altered environment that becomes a perfect scenario for this type of risk is enough to leave people with their mouths open and terrified in two minutes. And only after that, it starts.

The series will take place in 2033, 20 years after the outbreak of Cordyceps, the fungus that mutates humanity into flesh-eating zombies. Those who are infected take only two days to manifest the alteration and there is no apparent cure. In 2013, when the outbreak that plagues the planet begins, Joel Miller (Pedro Pascal) lives in Texas with his daughter, Sarah (Nico Parker, sweet and wonderful in the brief role), and his brother, Tommy (Gabriel Luna). Immediate victims of hysteria when the Army takes extreme measures in cases of doubt (Sarah had her leg injured in a car accident, but the soldier who intercepted them was ordered to execute the father and daughter for everyone’s safety), Sarah dies in the arms of a passionate and caring Joel, rightly traumatizing him for life.

Pedro Pascal, unsurprisingly, is wonderful in the role of the dry but loving father and ex-soldier who has to fend for his family. Without Sarah, he loses any docility and when we meet him again two decades later, he lives with the equally practical Tess (Anna Torv) and is worried about the disappearance of his brother.

A world that does not come out of the pandemic as we managed with Covid-19 is arid. Cities become states and force is what apparently maintains order. Thinking about democracy or freedom, like the Fireflies, is risky. Tommy appears to be with this group while Joel makes his living selling drugs and weapons on the black market. In the midst of this oppressive scenario, they are given the mission to “smuggle in” teenager Ellie (Bella Ramsey), but there is more to what seems simple. For starters, Ellie is smart, and perceptive (pulls out the Fireflies’ SOS code in a few seconds, using 1980s music) and also seems more suspicious than a young girl in distress. Tess and Joel accidentally discover that Ellie has been infected by the fungus but has not turned into a zombie. We don’t even have time to digest that much because in a traumatic déja vu of Sarah’s death, Joel instinctively saves Ellie and now the three of them are effectively outlaws.

The journey of the three has just begun. Those who connect with the story know that Ellie has something to do with Riley’s fate, but it will only be revealed later on.

Bella Ramsey in the role of a brave and intelligent young woman was something that everyone knew to work out since Game of Thrones. It will be a great pressure to have her as the protagonist, but I bet on her talent.

The Last Of Us, as we know, will have a powerful soundtrack. The theme of the game, composed by Gustavo Santaolalla opens the series and for gamers, it’s like the theme of Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead: classic. And, as I said, full of hits from the 1980s. Ending with Never Let Me Down Again by Depeche Mode was the icing on the cake. If it depends on the pilot, The Last of Us will be HBO’s hit of the year. Opened well in 2023.

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