The Last of Us: Season 1 (2023)
Teleplay by: Craig Mazin & Neil Druckmann (episodes 1 & 9); Craig Mazin (episodes 2 – 6, 8); Neil Druckmann (episode 7)
Directed by: Craig Mazin (episode 1); Neil Druckmann (episode 2); Peter Hoar (episode 3); Jeremy Webb (episodes 4 & 5); Jasmila Žbanić (episode 6); Liza Johnson (episode 7); Ali Abbasi (episodes 8 & 9)
Stars: Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey, Anna Torv, Nico Parker, Merle Dandridge, Keivonn Woodard, Jeffrey Pierce, John Getz, Scott Shepherd, Storm Reid, Ashley Johnson, Nick Offerman, John Hannah, Terry Chen, Ian Rozylo, Graham Greene, Sonia Maria Chirila, Andy McDermott, Christopher Heyerdahl, Nelson Leis, Elaine Miles, Marcus Aurelio and Adrian Hein
Tagline: Save who you can save.
2023. Twenty years ago a pandemic caused by a bizarre easily transmitted fungal infection turned most of the world’s population into mindless mutant killing machines. Society collapsed.
Joel (Pascal) currently lives in a city under military rule. Joel and his partner Tess (Torv) plan to escape the quarantine zone and head into the wilderness. Joel’s brother is there somewhere with a group of freedom fighters. As Joel and Tess make plans for their escape they encounter Marlene (Dandridge). She can provide them with needed equipment if they will take Ellie (Ramsey) with them. Ellie is an orphaned fourteen year old with a lot of attitude… and she just may be the key to a cure.
Joel, Tess and Ellie head out. They will quickly discover the infected aren’t the worst thing they will have to deal with.
Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…
The Last of Us is based on the popular video game of the same name. I’ve never played it and didn’t know the story ahead of seeing the show.
Every episode contains twists, but none as brutal as in the first episode. It should have been obvious looking at the posters, but I had avoided everything I could in regard to press for the show. I was gobsmacked by how much I came to care for a character I had never seen before.
It’s interesting how time is played with throughout the series. The first episode features a scene on a talk show that takes places 30 to 40 years before the start of the pandemic. A scientist is talking about the dangers to humans that fungi could present with minor changes to the environment. That was clever. Each episode features flashbacks to strengthen the present story.
The characters are well cast, well written and well played. Of course not enough can be said about Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey. They are supported by an amazing supporting cast. Standouts include Anna Torv, Nico Parker, Merle Dandridge, Jeffrey Pierce, Storm Reid, Nick Offerman, Graham Greene and Elaine Miles. Some of these characters appear in just one episode or a few scenes in one episode. The attention to detail in getting the right person in each role, no matter how small pays off.
Joel (Pascal) and Ellie (Ramsey) are the heart and soul of the series. Yet sometimes the people they meet take center stage. In episode three, titled Long, Long Time, Joel and Ellie become supporting characters, but this chapter remains essential viewing to The Last Of Us story. Long, Long Time ranks with the best single episode of any continuing drama ever. With each new outing we learn more about Joel, Ellie and the world they live in. I wouldn’t want that reality, but I sure love visiting it.
The Last of Us is making the right choices in every department. I look forward to season two.
The Last of Us: Season 1 (2023) earns 5 of 5 stars.