On the series premiere of The Last of Us, Ellie’s journey gets off to a rough start when her escorts, Joel and Tess, discover one of her secrets. Will that information be enough to call off the deal and leave the young teen on her own? There are some *SPOILERS* ahead.
Before showing us the repercussions of the reveal, The Last of Us returns to the early stages of the fungal pandemic. It’s a slow stressful step by step build. Why is the military tracking down this older woman in a restaurant? When we learn she is a mycologist, her question regarding to sample preparation leads to her bigger shock. Even with all the protective gear, because of the zombie genre you fear for the scientist as she examines the body.
Continuing the scientific approach lends more credence to the apocalyptic event. However, the expert’s final conclusions bring into question whether there actually is hope in this world. How quickly she gives up calls into question whether Ellie could be a savior or if it’s a pipe dream.
Moving back to the present, Joel and Tess continue as planned and rendezvous with Marlene’s team. Ever since this group came together, they have had an unconventional family feel to them and Tess has been the glue keeping them together. Anna Torv is brilliant in the role. She is a nice supportive maternal figure giving props to Ellie surviving a dangerous mall (most likely foreshadowing the The Last of Us: Left Behind downloadable content from the video game). Most often Tess serves as the peace maker between the other two while also keeping the calmer and more reasonable head under stressful situations.
More importantly, Tess serves as a foil to Joel in these early episodes. She is just as hardened; the speech to Ellie about how they are not good people and are only helping her for their own self reasons is a chilling moment. But, through Torv’s performance, you can actually see her begin to believe in Ellie’s importance bringing in a little hope. It’s Tess that causes Joel to reluctantly accept his new responsibility.
Speaking of the family dynamic, there is more development in the relationship between Ellie and Joel. The back-and-forth banter they have, even when it is antagonistic, is endearing. Little by little, they are opening up to each other even when it’s with attitude and snide comments. Joel’s question following the museum and Ellie’s ensuing answer is a great example.
The entire museum sequence from this episode of The Last of Us is terrifying. You already have the setting of an abandoned building, but you also have the first real interactions with the infected. The darkness and silence add to the panic as these creatures attack our protagonists and the prominent sound of their clicking is unsettling. It’s a suspenseful predator seeking out prey scene as blurry figures stalk in the background. When we finally do receive a good look, the infected are as gruesome as you would imagine. An admirable job from the special effects and make up team to bring them to life.
Once again, The Last of Us delivers a heartbreaking scene. The show is good in making you invested in the characters, which eventually leads to emotionally filled deaths. This one is necessary to send the two leads on their quest alone, and at least it involves a heroic sacrifice. It demonstrates a complete conversion into a believer and also some form of redemption for all the horrible acts committed.
Episode two delivers horror filled moments during the introduction of the infected. Furthermore, it continues to build upon the characters and important relationships from the premiere to the point where the emotional investment leads to heartbreak when a member is killed off.
New episodes of The Last of Us air Sundays on HBO.
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