WHEN YOU’RE LOST IN THE DARKNESS
After waiting for what seems like forever for a truly faithful yet distinguishably unique video game adaptation, HBO has finally provided us with exactly that with the live-action version of the multi-award-winning masterpiece, The Last of Us.
Written for television by the original game creator, Neil Druckmann, and Chernobyl series creator Craig Mazin, The Last of Us follows the story of Joel Miller (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie Williams (Bella Ramsey), two individuals who are thrown together in the midst of the apocalypse after a fungal infection has wiped out most of humanity. Although the two are wary and apprehensive of each other, to begin with, they end up embarking on one of the most breathtaking, heart-aching, and compassionate stories of human nature that have even been written – in any form of media.
The first episode of the TV show, titled “When You’re Lost In The Darkness” covers the prologue and a considerable portion of the first act of the game. In the aforementioned prologue, we are in 2003, where Joel Miller and his daughter Sarah live a comfortable and normal suburban life, along with Uncle Tommy, until on Joel’s 36th birthday, the whole world is thrown into chaos. We thought initially that nothing would beat the emotional impact of this whole sequence that the game possessed, but boy, were we wrong and pleasantly surprised that even though we have been through the heartache before, we were not prepared again.
An emphasis on Sarah and giving her enough time to grow as a character and explore her relationship with her dad made “that” moment so much more difficult to watch. This is just one of the moments where a slight deviation from the source material actually benefits this particular form of media, considering that you are not in control of the narrative as much as before.
Twenty years later, Joel and his close friend Tess live in the quarantine zone in Boston where they must scrape together ration tokens by doing jobs and also by sneaking out to collect resources behind the back of the FEDRA forces that have placed a selection of the remains of humanity in lockdown. On the flip side, you have the Fireflies, a resistance force fighting back against FEDRA, who are led by the fearless Marlene – and also possess the most important cargo in the world – a young girl named Ellie. After a job goes wrong, Joel and Tess end up having to make the tough choice of doing Marlene a favour and escorting Ellie to another group of Fireflies across the contamination zone.
From the start of the “2023” section of the episode, a fair few changes have been made to the game – but again, we reiterate, they make so much sense (considering in the game a lot of this portion is game mechanic tutorials like fighting, sneaking and shooting) but also proves overall that Druckmann’s original work loses nothing and Mazin’s writing is enhanced exponentially – it all works so well together and neither are negatively impacted by any changes.
Already, even after one episode, we can safely say that The Last of Us is shaping up to be the best adaptation of a video game in history. Stunning casting with everyone understanding their critical role and characters, Gustavo Santaolalla’s magical and haunting score and Mazin’s expert direction and attention to detail; all make this show something truly special.