When You’re Lost In The Darkness: The Last Of Us Review


Source: HBO Max

Jake Sharkey

“Bomb. Start bombing. Bomb the whole city and all the people in it.” Doctor Ratna Pertiwi (Christine Hakim), a professor of Mycology, the scientific study of fungi, at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta, said to Lieutenant General Agus Hidayat (Yayu A.W. Unru) of the Indonesian National Armed Forces after the discovery Cordyceps fungi had been found in the human body. This is due to the rise of global warming that is causing the fungi to be mutated and thrive in the body as a host to control humans. On September 24, 2003, the world as people knew it ended as a fungus took over the world.

That’s how the apocalypse started in the HBO Original The Last of Us, premiering on January 15, 2023, starring Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey. The TV series is an adaption of the 2013 videogame of the same title from Naughty Dog studios and Sony Interactive Entertainment. The show and video game follow two characters, Joel Miller (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie Williams (Bella Ramsey) who set out into a post-apocalyptic world 20 years after the apocalypse began to hopefully save mankind. The Fireflies are a revolutionary militia group in The Last of Us. They revolted against military oppression in numerous quarantine zones around the United States, intending to restore democratic government control. The Fireflies learned that Ellie is immune to the fungi, putting her in danger so that if FEDRA (the Federal Disaster Response Agency) discovers it she is shot and killed.

Joel Miller is “[a] hardened survivor, tormented by past trauma and failure, who must trek across a pandemic-ravaged America, all the while protecting a girl who represents the last hope of humanity.” According to HBO’s website. Joel was a single father to his daughter Sarah Miller and a big brother to Tommy Miller. He worked as a contractor in Austin, Texas, caring for his daughter Sarah, a 14-year-old girl with a regular life who cared for her father and uncle. Her life, however, was cut short, leaving Joel Miller a very closed and emotionless person.

Ellie Williams is “[a] 14-year-old orphan who has never known anything but a ravaged planet, struggles to balance her instinct for anger and defiance with her need for connection and belonging… as well as the newfound reality that she may be the key to saving the world.” According to HBO’s website. Ellie is in a world of the infected and has never had a chance to see what the world was like before the infected. Unlike Joel, her instinct is to survive while still trying to be a kid. Her parents abandoned her, and she was enrolled in FEDRA as an orphan to become a soldier within the government. Still, she escaped, was bitten, and was captured by the fireflies to be experimented on, leading to them finding out she was immune to the fungi.

What’s so great about this TV show is that they took scenes from the video game and incorporated them into the show, all while still adding originality to the show by having new and alternating sets. People who played the game will see how well the adaptation is from the video game to show. The showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann work together beautifully with Naughty Dogs and HBO to make it feel genuine and authentic while leaving easter eggs and breadcrumbs to pay tribute to the game, especially the clickers.

Each episode has marvelous set design, acting, writing, and story progression… I could go on about each episode for hours on end just about how great it is. There is action, adventure, drama, thriller, and romance; a foundation that every show that is successful has.

To the gamers that don’t feel like the show hasn’t lived up to its expectations, I understand. It’s not the same as in the game; Joel is nicer to Ellie, or who cares about this part? I get it, you want things to go precisely as plan like in the game, but my friend, TV is different from gaming. We can’t control the characters, we just have to watch and let them tell the story how where this season could go. What makes sense, and what do they have to change for it to make sense?

You don’t have the controller. The creators do.

The first season covers the first game of The Last of Us. I love this show and how well it was written, and it can be enjoyed by anyone who hasn’t played the game. For those who love to get into it behind the scenes and wonder how everything is studied so carefully or why they have to make certain changes, I recommend checking out “HBO’s The Last of Us Podcast.” You can find it wherever you listen to your podcasts.

One more thing, Cordyceps is based on an actual fungus called Ophiocordyceps unilateralis. It is a fungus that infects insects. It gets inside an ant, for example, travels through its circulatory system to the ant’s brain, and then floods it with hallucinogens, thus bending the ant’s mind to its will.

The fungus starts to direct the ant’s behavior, telling it where to go, and what to do, like a… puppeteer with a marionette. And it gets worse. The fungus needs food to live, so it begins to devour its host from within, replacing the ant’s flesh with its own. But it doesn’t let its victim die, no. It… it keeps its puppet alive by preventing decomposition.” Look up Zombie Ant on google to find out more.

“When you’re lost in the darkness, look for the light.”

Check out the HBO Original The Last of Us on HBO streaming Sundays at 9 pm ET on HBO Max.