THE LAST OF US: SEASON ONE
Starring: Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey
Creators: Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin
HBO’s The Last of Us is a brilliant adaptation that validates many gamers’ claim that it’s the greatest video game ever made. Writer/creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann knew exactly when to adapt faithfully and when to stray, including this season’s sparsity of cordycep zombies. Forfeiting that overarching threat allowed the layered characters and excellent pacing to generate the show’s ominous tone. Pedro Pascal (Joel) and Bella Ramsey (Ellie) are outstanding together, and the supporting cast elevates their story’s gripping intensity. Every action scene, every quiet moment, and every second of this season is utilized to perfection.
It cannot be overstated the degree to which HBO’s The Last of Us will likely go down as the greatest video game adaptation ever put on screen, but when your show is this stellar, that description is more than apt. The most stunning thing about it isn’t the production value, pitch perfect performances from Pedro Pascal and especially Bella Ramsey, or even its ace supporting cast; it’s in how the series adapts the game, knowing when to leave things out, weave things in, and add entire story beats to further enhance the narrative. I cannot emphasize enough how well they did.
In a vacuum, The Last of Us is a good show, maybe even a great one; however, it’s very similar to The Walking Dead (TWD). The same themes of survival, family-by-circumstance, and “mankind is the real monster” are prevalent, and as someone who begrudgingly hate-watched TWD for a few seasons before finally giving up around Season Eight, The Last of Us is just more typical zombie tropes. Although the acting is great, Episode Three is profound, and there are effective emotional and suspenseful beats throughout, it still feels like a retread of something I had already found tiresome (even if it is an overall improvement).
HBO has once again delivered the golden standard for television because, hot damn!, The Last of Us is a masterpiece in tense storytelling, world-building, and character development. This show just got better and better each week. Sure, it took some liberties, but it made just the right amount of changes to keep the story fresh while also remaining true to its beloved source material. Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey completely embodied and breathed new life into their characters while delivering A+ performances. What else can I truly say besides this series has to be one of the greatest video game adaptations ever done!
Even by the standards of it being an amazing adaptation of the video game, The Last Of Us’s first season is an astonishing season of television. The violence and action you’d typically see in a zombie survival story is mostly cast aside in exchange for a story of humanity and how it reacts to a world where death looms at every corner. This approach is anchored flawlessly by the performances of Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey, and the world-building and emotional depth is crafted to perfection, creating what is sure to wind up being one of the year's most captivating watches.