The best thing about the Last of Us video games isn’t the Infected, even though they are horrifying looking (shout out to the graphics department), but the story.
The story of a broken father and lost girl. That is the crux of what makes the video game so great. When people talk about the Last of Us, they don’t speak about how they had to kill a bloater. They talk about the cutscenes and the more emotional parts of the story.
I applaud HBO for deciding because this is a TV show to dial way back on the infected and focus more simply on the story of Joel and Ellie while also fleshing out (no pun intended) other characters.
Sometimes it worked brilliantly (Bill and Frank), and other times, not so much (Ellie and Riley). More often than not, the additions to the TV series add even more lore to the games.
The series also gave answers to many questions that the game left dangling.
How did the infection start? How did Bill and Frank get together? The origins of Ellie’s birth and maybe the most important question how is Ellie immune to the virus?
Even with the additions, the series never strays too far from the source material, and when it did show the infected, it made sure there was a reason you would be terrified of them.
The casting was magnificent, and Pedro Pascal will win all types of awards for his performance. Bringing in the voice actors from the game for new characters in the series was also a nice touch. Bella Ramsey was hit or miss with her performance. If you never played video games, you wouldn’t have noticed, but if you have, you could see that she doesn’t quite hit the right beats for Ellie. I think she is far better at the dramatic and aggressive parts than some of the more charming aspects of the character. The fact she looks nothing like Ellie from the games also takes a minute to get used to. I felt she was much stronger in the second half of the season than in the first, which makes sense because that is when the stakes were much higher.
Season 2 is likely coming in a couple of years, and I will be interested to see how they play it, considering all the controversy surrounding the game.
8 out of 10 BSO stars.