Is ‘The Last of Us’ Any Good? Why You SHOULD Watch HBO’s Adaptation (Non-Spoiler)

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There is no diplomacy to survive in the world of HBO’s “The Last of Us.” Just brutality.

Is “The Last of Us” a video game adaptation show worth your time if you’re a skeptical, grown-up TV viewer? The short answer: yes. It’s a horror and human drama that’ll ask the same questions as every zombie show but with its own intriguing flavor – and twists.

The Last of Us sticks the landing as an entertaining addition to the post-apocalyptic zombie genre that’s been oversaturating TV.

As someone who follows 1-3 modern shows a year max, with the rest of my time spent watching The Sopranos re-runs, I’m glad to be following “The Last of Us.”

Two episodes of Neil Druckmann’s “The Last of Us” video game adaptation have been released on HBO MAX, with the show debuting a new episode weekly rather than running the Netflix model of spilling the entire season for one sitting.


What the show achieves by bringing on the creator of HBO’s pandemic-era hit, “Chernobyl,” is that writer/director Craig Mazin brings a real sense of dread of a “zombie takeover” that viewers have an insight on without giving them the complete picture of how sh*t’s about to hit the fan.

A Gripping ‘Last Days’ Atmosphere

It’s a simple premise for a show: man escorts child, with the potential key to saving humanity, to the finish line.

The first episode’s opening scene has already been praised for showcasing intense dramatic irony as a virologist warns a talk show and his guest about the nightmares coming with a mysterious new virus that’s been unleashed.

When the world eventually gets sick from this spreading virus, there will be no cure. No vaccine. No remedy. And no hope. His crowd listens…with nervous chuckles.

Episode 2 had a similar beginning where you start with critical figures that are predicting the incoming viral spread, then flip over to the post-apocalyptic dread and resuming the journey with our main characters.

Joel, the main man in this series, is played by Pedro Pascal (remembered as Oberyn Martell on “Game of Thrones” or The Mandalorian himself), and his narrative co-star, Ellie, is played by Bella Ramsey (or Lyanna Mormont from GOT).

Ellie, played by Bella Ramsey (left) / Joel, played by Pedro Pascal (right)

Throughout these two episodes, the main characters are honest with not giving a single care if you’re a human trying to stay alive. Most other shows sympathize with the occasional straggler seeking a way into a community of survivors. This show does not. If you’re a threat or even pose a modicum of a threat, you’re dead.

The dreadful milieu perfectly explains to viewers why it’s Joel and Ellie’s respective goals to stay alive at the expense of anyone around them, and if you get in the way, start reciting your final words. Truly every man for himself. 

The People From ‘The Last of Us’ To Know

Starting in the early 2000s and jumping 20 years later for the actual storyline, “The Last of Us” sets up three groups of characters: the Federal Disaster Response Agency (FEDRA, basically the Pharma-dictatorship running society), the rebels (Fireflies) and the “zombies” (Clickers).

FEDRA is ruthless from the start: establishing that no matter the age, race or person, an infected is infected. And they must die.

The Fireflies are your typical rebel group seeking a sketchy cure, equipped with a gray moral compass.

And the Clickers, well, they’re the worst type of zombie: running dead-ites that can infect you with a simple scratch.

Clickers, The Last of Us‘ scary mofos.

The first episode is concerned with setting up how everything goes to crap in a matter of hours as the “illness” spreads. And they’re good seeds that fans of the video game know come with tremendous payoff down the line.

Where the second episode delivers is in the structure and recreation of the Clickers. It feels like a necessary side-quest that our character goes on to further expand on the rules of this new society and its dangers.

It’s no secret that since the first episode, the threat of these spore-infested zombies has loomed over the show, making audiences eager for their first major unveiling.

A Show That Doesn’t Feel ‘Cheap’

Once you see the show’s iteration of the big bads, it showcases an impressive feat of prosthetics that makes the adaptation’s budget appear up to the task of making this show not just ready for television but cinematic as well.

Rarely does a shot outside in the post-apocalyptic world appear like a massive green screen on a Hollywood set. When sh*t goes down, HBO and the showrunners display everything in clear view and make it look crisp and finished.

The Elephant in the Room

There’s a hot-topic debate about “race swapping” in the first episode. And honestly, it’s a moot point after watching it.

When it comes to swapping an established character’s person, I think of it like the James Bond casting rumors that float around every 5-10 years. 

Should James Bond be a woman? 

No, the Lothario man is key to this smooth-talking secret agent’s persona, so it’s a ridiculous notion to swap genders.

Can James Bond be a different race? 

Sure, why not. Nothing that he has done as the archetypal 007 has pulled from him being White, Brown, Black or anything color under the sun. So it doesn’t really matter, as long as the content’s good (suck it, HBO’s “Velma”).

Plus, when it comes to the race-swapped character, the scenes involving this person absolutely work. Especially one DAMNING moment that tears your heart out with nihilistic violence and believable emotions by the characters.

As far as Pedro Pascal or any actor’s politics outside of the show, it doesn’t affect my viewing. It’s the beauty of watching content without having it be dictated by people’s opinions in the real world.

The Big Picture

It’s pleasant to get invested in a world where you’re held hostage to its week-to-week release. 

With a nine-episode slate scheduled for its debut season, this show will keep you locked in until March.

If a gun fails to go off in the middle of danger, it doesn’t feel like a TV contrivance as much as it reflects the lived-in world where these characters have used their weapons enough to stay alive that it’ll malfunction. Little details that work.

If you liked “Chernobyl” as a drama, you’ll like “The Last of Us.”

If you don’t care for “The Walking Dead”-type shows, you’ll like “The Last of Us.”

If you pay no mind to the latest trending show to come out like “The White Lotus” or “Stranger Things,” you’ll still enjoy “The Last of Us.” Get ahead of it while you can.


Episode 1: 9.5/10

Episode 2: 9/10

Go watch it. Then tell us what you think.

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Written by Alejandro Avila

One Comment

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  1. What character was raced swapped?

    Also Bella Ramsey is borderline unwatchable. She is the most oddest looking person on Earth and most importantly a poor actor. I hope the zombies get her.

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