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Everything You Need to Know about HBO’s ‘The Last of Us’
The critically-acclaimed video-game-turned-TV-show is taking the world by storm
ICYMI, HBO has released a new show to start the new year on a high note. The HBO series The Last of Us premiered on January 15 and has since picked up a ton of buzz from critics and fans alike (definitely one of the titles today worth adding to your watchlist if you haven’t already).
Thanks to the staggering response from viewers, The Last of Us has already broken a record on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes as the highest-rated live-action video game adaptation. Critics even consider it the best video game adaptation to date—an impressive feat, given that the series has rolled out just a few episodes.
Want to give it a go? Here’s everything you need to know about the series everyone is talking about.
The Last of Us: What is It About?
The Last of Us is a live-action adaptation of the highly-acclaimed 2013 video game with the same name. While the show directly lifts elements from the source material, HBO provides a fresh take on its characters and worldbuilding, keeping even the game’s die-hard fans on the edge of their seats with each new episode that premieres every week.
HBO’s The Last of Us focuses on hardened survivor Joel and 14-year-old Ellie as they embark on a cross-country journey. The story explores humanity’s best and worst and is set 20 years after an apocalyptic pandemic prompted by a mutated cordyceps fungus that transforms people into violent zombie-like creatures.
After enduring the heavy loss of a loved one, Joel becomes an embittered man doing everything to survive. However, everything changes when he crosses paths with Ellie. The show posits the age-old question of what it means to be alive and how far someone would go to save their loved ones.
Meet the Cast
A difficult part of adapting any story for the screen is casting, which can make or break the entire production. Thankfully, Craig Mazin’s The Last of Us nails casting, doing justice to the PlayStation Studios videogame written by Neil Druckmann. Get to know the main characters ahead!
Joel (portrayed by Pedro Pascal) is a grisly smuggler taking on the day-to-day with his partner, Tess. The pair agrees to protect and deliver another key character in the series, Ellie, outside their Quarantine Zone in exchange for supplies, bringing about the show’s events. While fans of the game were initially hesitant about the casting decision behind Pedro Pascal, the seasoned actor thankfully exceeded expectations with his faithful portrayal of the character.
An orphan born in post-apocalyptic America, Ellie has zero knowledge of anything outside the Boston Quarantine Zone. Her life changes when she discovers she might be the solution to the decades-old pandemic.
In the series’ early stages of development, the producers considered more than 100 actors for Ellie. Bella Ramsey landed the role, partly due to her spectacular performance in Game of Thrones as Lyanna Mormont.
Tess is introduced to audiences as Joel’s smuggling partner. She’s also known as the brains behind their operations in Boston, where the pair has developed an intimidating reputation.
Regarding Tess and Joel’s relationship, Anna Torv and Pascal’s performance implies that the pair are subtle lovers.
Marlene is the leader of the Fireflies, a resistance movement searching for a cure to the pandemic while struggling against the oppressive military government. She’s the character responsible for instructing Joel and Tess to take Ellie to the Fireflies outside the Quarantine Zone.
Fun fact: Merle Dandridge, who plays Marlene, is actually the character’s voice and motion capture actor in the video game.
A survivalist, Bill leads a self-sufficient life with his romantic partner Frank, farming and using the town’s supplies while setting up traps to repel raiders and soldiers. The couple is Joel and Tess’s trading partners, too.
Showrunner Craig Mazin picked comedian Nick Offerman for the role, saying that “funny people have a connection…to what it means to be human.”
Joel’s younger brother, Tommy, joins the Fireflies after the outbreak. The two maintain regular communication through radio, but when Tommy fails to respond, Joel sets out to leave Boston to rush to his aid.
The show’s producers were so impressed with actor Gabriel Luna that they picked him for the role only a week after receiving his audition tape.
The Last of Us: A Masterclass in Video Game Adaptation
Bringing video games to the screen has always been controversial. Very few adaptations hold up to its source material and satisfy both avid gamers and new fans. The Last of Us sets the bar by staying true to what people loved about the game while bringing something new. Thanks to its success, it’s been officially green-lit for a second season, featuring the story from the video game’s sequel.
Filipino fans can join Joel and Ellie’s journey because The Last of Us is on HBO GO in the Philippines. New episodes hit the streaming platform every Monday.
Among the slew of entertainment subscriptions, Globe also offers HBO GO subscriptions at an affordable price so you can enjoy the critically-acclaimed series at any moment. Subscribe and start binging today.