The Last of Us: about that uncomfortable goodbye kiss

If we can already consider a hallmark of The Last of Us series are its opening minutes. Bright, powerful, claustrophobic even. The premiere placed us in 1968 when scientists were already warning that an environmental crisis designed the creation of a propitious scenario for the proliferation of fungi, more dangerous than viruses if they attacked humanity. Tense and even more terrifying because in environmental terms, we are approaching the described scenario. In the second episode, we go to “patient zero”, an employee of a flour factory in Indonesia. In 2003, we already had 15 people attacked and undergoing the mutation. The scientist who dominated the subject warns: kill and blow up cities to try to prevent the pandemic, as it is lethal and incurable. Another punch to the stomach.

The Last of Us‘ narrative has somewhat inverted the surprises by opening episodes by contextualizing the story’s present, rather than adding flashbacks or unexpected conclusions to leave us angsty. Not that they abandoned the “cliffhangers”, that classic situation where fates are suspended and the solution does not seem possible, but the introductions contribute to the feeling of panic and impotence when we witness the characters trying to survive.

As gamers have already fished, the first season is following the first phase of the game, with images and lines reproduced in detail, easter eggs that make fans even more passionate. I find it no surprise that Pedro Pascal‘s lauded performance as Joel Miller is pure perfection. Bella Ramsey has divided the public, but I’m on the side of the plot that is enjoying it and still betting on its turn. Interpreting teenagers with strong personalities is already her trademark and Ellie will be one of the most important in this gallery, I’m sure.

Sadly, as expected, we bid farewell to the sensational Anna Torv, who brought an aura of power to Tess. I thought they were going to stretch the part of your story a bit more, but there’s no time to waste. As we knew, Tess is accidentally contaminated and sacrifices herself to save her boyfriend and what she thinks is finally the hope for humanity: Ellie.

Tess’ farewell in the series is different from the game and caused disgust, doubt, and surprise, especially for the strange “kiss” of tentacles that she received from one of the infected that she helped to kill. Were they “welcoming” the new zombie on the block? Was it rape? Was Tess creating a false connection to distract the horde? It was even sadder after she practically said goodbye to Joel, forgiving him for not loving her as she loved him (which is not quite the case, as Pedro made clear with his tears).

Showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann‘s decision sparked discussion among fans because Tess effectively met an even worse fate than she suffered in the game, as well as a more sinister one. In the original, she is killed by agents of the authoritarian FEDRA, the pseudo-governmental organization, but the bottom line is that it would make even less sense for the trio to run into soldiers in an open city shunned by humans. Even more, the series wanted to portray how the infected dominate the spaces that were once a city. Too bad there wasn’t time (yet) for the story of Tess’s past (she would have lost her husband and son to the fungus, being forced to kill one and locking the latter up when she didn’t have the strength to eliminate him).

With Tess’s sacrifice there are two major changes for Joel: regaining his connection with people, especially a young woman who reminds him of Sarah. And, as Tess asks, to start having a modicum of positivity about the future. Hope is essential. Even with a scenario as adverse as The Last of Us.

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