Finally, The Last of Us Premiere is here. HBO’s next major series following the Game of Thrones prequel, House of The Dragon, has arrived. Titled “When You’re Lost in the Darkness”, the first episode starts with a run time of 81 minutes. Additionally, this is the first HBO series based on a video game. Based on the video game, The Last of Us Premiere introduces us to a setting 20 years after modern civilization has been destroyed. Pedro Pascal stars as series lead Joel Miller, alongside Bella Ramsey as Ellie Williams.
The Last of Us is written and executive produced by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckman. Mazi has seen success with Chernobyl, another critically acclaimed series from HBO. The series is a joint production between Sony Pictures Television, Playstation Productions and game developer Naughty Dog. Additionally, The Last of Us is said to be the largest television production in Canadian history. Therefore, expectations are high on whether this game to TV series can hit the mark. Here is Nerdgazm’s review of The Last of Us Premiere.
Establishing The World of The Last of Us Premiere
Starting off, the series immediately sets the stage for the virus. I was also surprised to see actor Christopher Heyerdahl. He’s appeared in many Canadian television shows. Stargate anyone? Establishing the world this series takes place in is key, especially for those who have not actually played video games properly. Therefore, setting the stage for the story we are about to watch is vital to ensuring viewers who are unfamiliar with the games are on board with the story. Explaining the background of the virus and fungus was a good start.
Rather than starting us in the right in the middle of the civilization destroyed, we’re introduced to Joel and his daughter Sarah (Nico Parker). I’ve got to admit I find the idea of watching the world fall apart from a regular person rather interesting. In the opening parts of The Last of Us Premiere, we see hints something is going on. Emergency services, military fighter jets and people acting suspiciously. Seeing Pedro Pascal, not as The Mandalorian, for a change is fantastic. But also, his acting alongside Gabriel Luna produces exciting acting dynamically.
The tension of the virus really builds once our characters start to escape. At this point, you think we’d all be done with pandemic-related stories? However, The Last of Us Premiere revitalizes the world of zombie thrillers. It also establishes the early world environment for what goes on in these outbreaks. In a change from the likes of The Walking Dead, we’re seeing furious fast zombies. This immediately tells us, as viewers there is no messing around. Overall, I enjoyed establishing the “world before” everything goes to shit. It’s both visually appealing and connects emotionally.
A Ruined World Opens Eyes
The twenty-year time jump is needed. It shows where our characters have ended up in this ruined world. If The Last of Us Premiere had started here, it would have confused casual viewers and those unfamiliar with the games. We’re also shown the changes to Joel over the past 20 years. Additionally, we’re introduced to what has happened to the world. Seeing Boston now totally ruined and only having a minor quarantine zone says something. We’re also introduced to other characters, some of which game fans will recognize. However, new viewers will also connect well.
Merle Dandridge plays Marlene, the resistance leader in the Boston quarantine zone. However, she is reprising her role from the video game. Finally, we’re introduced to Ellie, played by Bella Ramsey. We’re thrown into Joel’s new mission along with his partner Tess (Anna Torv). Personally, I found that The Last of Us Premiere slowed down drastically when we got to this part. Yes, setting up the mission and series plotline is needed. But I felt it could have sped up a little bit here. Naturally, we needed the time to establish Marlene’s Fireflies resistance group.
The evolution of Joel through twenty years is fantastic character development. While we don’t actually see the events of the twenty-year time jump, they are somewhat made clear to us as viewers. However, by the end of the premiere episode, you can see the connecting events and what has changed this man. Therefore, when it comes to establishing the relationship between Joel and Ellie, you can see the dynamic this story will take. Both Pascal and Ramsey have natural chemistry in their respective roles. In fact, I think the casting overall has been nailed so far.
The Lasting Impressions of The Last of Us Premiere
Usually, zombie thrillers are not my cup of tea. Having never really been able to jump into the likes of The Walking Dead, I was hesitant about this series. Additionally, I’ve only played small amounts of the game series, so I’m glad the TV show has caught my attention. Pacing issues aside, I’m excited about what is coming up in the series. Also, having not played much of the games allows for the unique perspective of exploring this storyline. Can I also comment on the use of the music in the end credits? Fantastic!
Video-game adaptions are hard to stick the landing. When I spoke to anyone about this show, that was the first remark that was typically mentioned. The Last of Us Premiere does not just imitate the source material but rather enriches it for those familiar with it. However, those unfamiliar are also getting a better story, in my opinion. The series acts as an entry point to The Last of Us universe for those who have not properly played the games.
The world of The Last of Us is captured perfectly, in my opinion. Of course, my impression comes from a first-time viewer’s point of view, which is great. However, when it comes to zombie thrillers, I think The Last of Us has captured the feeling of the world we find ourselves in. The chaos of the outbreak is captured with high stakes and frightening effects. Therefore, viewers can expect some scary, tense moments.
Where To Watch The Last of Us Premiere
The nine-episode first season of the HBO Original drama series The Last of Us Premiere debuts Sunday, January 15th at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on HBO and will be available to stream in 4K on HBO Max. However, the series will be available in the United Kingdom via Sky Atlantic and NowTV on January 16th 2023. The series also airs on Crave in Canada, Binge in Australia and Neon in New Zealand.
Troy Baker, who previously played Joel in the video game, is hosting a companion podcast to the series. The “original Joel” will accompany Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann. Therefore, expect a scene-by-scene deep dive analysis of each episode as the series airs. Baker also has a role in the series. He plays James, a senior member of a group of settlers found in The Last of Us world. Episode 2, “Infected”, airs January 22nd (January 23rd for UK and Europe)