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The Last of Us (2023) Season 1 Review

An Entertaining post-apocalyptic tale


The Last of Us didn’t feel like anything especially fresh or new to me but the performances are excellent and despite being a little too slowburn at times there is still enough action to keep things moving. I think if you’ve played the games (which I haven’t) you will likely enjoy this more than I did.

Plot: 20 years after modern civilization has been destroyed, Joel, a hardened survivor, is hired to smuggle Ellie, a 14-year-old girl, out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal heartbreaking journey as they both must traverse the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.

Review: I’ve never played The Last of Us videogame as I haven’t been much of a gamer for several years however, everyone I know has been singing the praises of this adaptation so curiosity got the better of me and I thought I’d have to check it out. I’m also a fan of Pedro Pascal who is very good at playing world weary characters that have to look after children (See The Mandalorian). In The Last of Us he plays Joel, a man who loses his daughter during the apocalypse which was caused by a virus that turns humans into essentially zombies but are known as infected; then many years later Joel is tasked with helping take a young girl called Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across the country to a hospital as she is apparently immune to the infection and can possibly save mankind with a potential vaccine.

I may not have played the game but I have watched various comparison videos and this does indeed appear to be one of the most faithful videogame adaptations to date however, after watching the full season I must admit to not being quite as blown away as everyone else. It just feels like The Walking Dead except with very little in the way of zombie/infected action; we do get some action scenes with episode 5 and the finale being particular highlights but the show is mostly about the relationship between Ellie and Joel. He is surly and tries to keep his emotional distance from her after losing his own little girl years before but as the story continues the pair begin to bond and his walls start to come down.

It’s very much a story for our times especially after the past few years during the pandemic so it does feel like it’s something that could possibly happen. One of my favourite scenes is the very opening with John Hannah talking about a virus getting out of control as it immediately sets the tone for the series. The first episode also has a tension-filled build up and then when all hell breaks loose it’s genuinely terrifying and believable. There is an air of tension and potential threat throughout where we know Joel and Ellie are always in danger as as with most post-apocalyptic tales mankind is the biggest villain of all.

The performances are all first rate and Pedro Pascal plays Joel to perfection; the scene with Ellie shouting at him about not being his daughter was arguably the most emotionally engaging of the series. At times I do find Ellie a little annoying but I think she is meant to be as she slowly melts Joel’s heart but also becomes more appealing to the audience. Joel isn’t exactly a nice guy but he’s a survivor and he won’t hesitate to take out anyone he sees as a threat to Ellie; the scene in the last episode in the hospital is him at his most ruthless but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t behind him all the way.

There really isn’t that much to the show as it’s just them walking across what’s left of America and fighting various raiders (and occasionally Infected); like I said, it feels like The Walking Dead at times and doesn’t really offer anything we haven’t seen before.

Overall, The Last of Us isn’t exactly action-packed and is more character based but we do still get several set-pieces with episode 5 being a highlight; for me, it doesn’t feel like anything we haven’t seen before in The Walking Dead but the performances are solid and I do love anything post-apocalyptic so, if you’re a fan of the games then you’ll likely love this more than me.