The video game adaptation The Last of Us to other media that’s hardly surprising, and not just because the adaptation of anything hot these days is totally predictable. But why the simple premise of The Last of Us, beyond a simple relationship between two survivors, is enviable for any zombie plotting feat. The apocalypse caused by the Cordyceps fungus is a perfect basis to innovate in such a traditional scenario. Scary, collective and, above all, absolutely realthe zombie mushroom brings new rules to the universe, and exceeds the expectations of the general public for a production of this type.
And the series of The Last of Us tries to plug it in its inaugural episode for nearly five awesome minutes before transitioning into that familiar cataclysmic scenario. Refers to the style that Craig Mazin exhibited in Chernobyl in its opening scene, in which scientists discuss different possible types of apocalypse in a 1968 television program. It is a warning, which could work very well in a production that intends to follow these steps, of scientific debate, but The Last of Us from HBO quickly cuts the time to head into the plot of the game of Neil Druckman.
We won’t get into spoilers here, of course, but the same kind of contrast occurs in the second episode of The Last of Us. The beginning in the past, a look at the beginning of the apocalypse, an attempt to draw a biological look that goes beyond the stages of the game – all this in a short introduction. For the duration of its first two chapters, The Last of Us battle between an original narrative and a familiar one, and none of it is exactly surprising. It’s clear that the product of such a huge sensation, with such an adoring fan base, will be wary of stepping away from its source material. But it’s irresistible to imagine what could happen to production if it only used the premise of The Last of Us to follow a new path.
The construction of a universe and the excess of fidelity
Because of such a devoted fan base, or perhaps because of the quality stamp that a production of HBO extension always have, The Last of Us it takes all the time in the world to establish itself, without seeming to need to convince anyone of its qualities. We are introduced to Joel (Peter Pascal), Will be (Nico Parker) and Tommy (Gabriel Luna), a family from Austin, Texas, on the fateful day that will bring about the end of humanity as we know it. And here we witness step by step the basis of any end of the world production: the news on TV, the traditional general ignorance, the first victims. It’s easy, but it works. Joel’s introduction to the apocalypse – up to the decisive moment that determines his post-apocalyptic existence – is effective, but attracts more attention for the great set design (which, incidentally, stands out during the duration of the first two episodes) than for its originality.
And once we jump twenty years into the future, The Last of Us decides to reveal so little about its universe that the production ends up leaving any viewer unfamiliar with the game in the lurch. The elements, the names and the rules are thrown insistently, without any desire for an answer, mainly because the production seems to want to establish its universe while trying to keep a lot of mystery. But the new FEDRA government, its guards, the Firefly resistance and Joel’s new life – which now hinges on finding his brother – are too many confusing elements to present at once. It’s just in the introduction of curious Ellie, a breath in the middle of it all, that The Last of Us convinces us to stay, because immediately the performance of Bella Ramsey it turns out to be the largest card the series has in hand.
Fortunately, The Last of Us finds the way out of his long puzzles in the character of Marlene (Merle Dandridge), leader of the Vagalumes and in charge of explaining everything and everyone to the unsuspecting spectator. He’s expository, yes, but in a new universe it’s hard not to find comfort in a character who takes us by the hand and guides us through the events and rules of the apocalypse. And finally, we have our plot and, along with it, the main slip of the opening line of The Last of Us.
Ellie’s delivery to Joel and the secret of the girl’s strangeness are kept from both the public and the character himself, for no reason. The idea, of course, is to follow the steps and details already determined by the source material, but in TV fiction non-disclosure just sounds preposterous. Furthermore, the moment highlights the opportunity for the series to resolve questionable aspects of the plot, and the outcome of the first episode ends up screaming at the waste of originality.
Ignoring the bizarre pilot error, The Last of Us follows the journey of Ellie, Joel and Tess (a great Anna Torv as Joel’s companion) through the streets of the apocalypse in a much better developed second episode. This is because after the weak constitution of the universe, the HBO series begins to worry about the relationship between the characters, and the dynamic between the three in the second chapter works very well. Seeing Ellie bond with Tess and the first exchanges between Joel and the girl is what heats up the zombie scene. And speaking of scenery, every building in ravaged Boston is a sight to behold, especially packed with the soundtrack of Gustavo Santaolalla.
This also happens because as much as Peter Pascal While instantly compelling, his executioner edge doesn’t win until he acts as a foil for Ramsey. Charismatic from the very first scene, the actress does not stop growing until the end of the second chapter, building a character so captivating that she can support the entire production on her own.
It would be smart if HBO released the first two episodes of The Last of Us right away. If the first episode drags on an established universe and still fails in the development of its plot, the second chapter introduces creatures and offers more action, more emotion and, most importantly, more Bella Ramsey, as well as ending a journey in itself , stonening the edge to what appears to be the real plot of The Last of Us. And if Mazin continues to gain room to lay the groundwork for apocalypse in deeper introductory scenes, the HBO series can only gain from the game’s creative freedom and remoteness. Like it or not, the beginning of The Last of Us it drags on because it knows it can, but needs to show more willingness to win new audiences if it’s going to move forward.
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