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‘The Last of Us’ will last forever

Photo courtesy of HBO media release
The season finale premiere of HBO Max’s “The Last of Us” aired Sunday, March 12. “The Last of Us” is available for streaming on HBO Max in full and has an accompanying podcast on Spotify.

Editor’s note: This review may contain spoilers. 

Following the season finale premiere of HBO Max’s “The Last of Us” (TLOU), fans have immediately taken to social media with all sorts of comparisons, edits and analyses as to what this new adaptation means for that, which was previously only a video game.  

The game, of the same title, tells the story of Ellie Williams (Ashley Johnson) and Joel Miller (Troy Baker) as they face a cross country road-trip in a post-apocalyptic United States. The objective is to deliver Ellie to a revolutionary militia group known as the “Fireflies” so that they can procure a vaccine through her immunity. 

Players are placed in Joel’s point of view for the majority of the game. You experience the loss of his daughter, Sarah Miller (Hana Hayes), at the very start of the outbreak and a 20-year time skip that has hardened his emotions all before he even meets the world’s wonder cure.  

In the time that it takes between their meeting and him delivering her to the Fireflies, Joel and Ellie embark on a journey that bonds them for life due to the love and loss that they endured over the span of a nearly one-year travel. The pair come together as a found family, Ellie as Joel’s second shot at a daughter and Joel as her first real father. 

They are then faced with a moral dilemma that perfectly encapsulates the human experience in people’s willingness to do anything for their loved ones. The question the end presents is how far is a parent willing to go to get their child out of danger, even if it means choosing between saving your kid and the world? 

While the game was released in 2013 and set gamers expectations for the show high, the streaming service’s adaptation far outweighed the expectations it was given. The show remained true to the essence of the game’s story, but still made space to explore different characters and plots in more fulfilling ways. 

Since HBO Max’s TLOU kept on one of the game’s original writers as a co-producer, the writing still felt true to its origins.  

The whole show was cohesive in a binge-worthy way, but they still managed to put out episodes that were fully fleshed out in their own rights. Each pivotal character also had different actors that were able to lend new perspectives to the beloved roles in ways that helped with the emotional progression of the story. 

In the show, Joel Miller (Pedro Pascal) is written to be more vulnerable with those around him and gentler with those whom he parents. Ellie Williams (Bella Ramsey) is slightly more violent from the start yet maintains that familiar sense of humor and childlike wonder.  

These new interactions of the main duo are setting their characters up wonderfully for the highly anticipated second season of the show that will follow The Last of Us Part II. Their actors breathe new life into the roles they were given while still satisfying fans of the game. 

As a matter of fact, TLOU threw in many cameos and roles for the original voice actors of the game and included easter eggs that only those who watched or played the game would catch. 

This aside, there were a few stand out episodes that not only captured the heart of the story but made significant connections and parallels between characters for this season and the next.  

Episode five, titled “Endure and Survive” introduces brothers Henry Burrell (Lamar Johnson) and Sam Burrell (Keivonn Woodard). Their story acts as a direct parallel and foreshadowing for the choices that must also be made for Joel and Ellie. The core of their story is about the lengths people are willing to go for family, regardless of who gets hurt along the way. 

Episode seven titled “Left Behind,” named after the TLOU DLC and episode eight titled “When We Are In Need,” highlight the motivations behind Ellie’s character as well as Bella Ramsey’s acting excellence. The hardships and losses she faced over the course of the show highlight exactly why the conclusion to their journey and Joel’s decision impact both their relationship and her mental wellbeing. 

Although some parts of the show may have benefitted from being directly replicated from the game, most of the changes made helped the story and its emotional weight. Those behind the roles did a wonderful job, with Bella Ramsey especially deserving of some awards for their performance throughout the series.  

All in all, the show gets a full 10 out of 10 for the way it was adapted. The Last of Us is available for streaming on HBO Max in full and has an accompanying podcast on Spotify. 

Meagan Garcia is the arts & culture editor and may be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Meagan Elizabeth García
Meagan Elizabeth García, Arts & Culture Editor
Meagan Elizabeth García is the arts and culture for The Prospector. She is a senior, majoring in mechanical engineering at UTEP. She is also the vice-president for the Creative Writing Society with hopes of continuing a writing career while also working for NASA as an engineer.
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‘The Last of Us’ will last forever