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The Last of Us - When You're Lost in the Darkness - Review

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There's a certain amount of nervousness involved when a beloved video game is greenlit for an adaptation as tv and film versions of games have always been hit and miss over the years. Luckily, The Last of Us - one of my favourite game franchises ever - is squarely and firmly in the success category. 

The pilot episode manages to perfectly capture the atmosphere and mood of the game with a superbly cast collection of characters comprised of a host of big names from Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey as Joel and Ellie to the return of Merle Dandridge, reprising her role as Marlene, a prominent member of the Fireflies.

A sizeable chunk of the episode is dedicated to introducing us to the world before the fungal cordyceps infection takes hold, just as John Hannah's scientist in the prologue predicted (a fun cameo I wasn't expecting). It means we get to spend a little more time learning more about Sarah, Joel's daughter, a character we spent tragically little time with in the game. It makes her death scene all the more tragic and it's one of the moments that works best as an almost direct translation from game to TV.

They really went all out with being as faithful to the game as possible, with some iconic lines taken word for word, keeping long-time fans happy as well as providing a solid introduction to the world for new-time viewers. They even reimagined the shot of the collapsed buildings at the end after Joel, Ellie and Tess make their escape. It helps the world we're watching unfold feel familiar to fans and creates an authentic and beautiful rendition of an apocalyptic world that feels dangerous and broken.

There are some changes made to help the plot feel a little more cohesive. We actually get to see Joel do a bit of smuggling for a FEDRA soldier and they also slightly changed the Tommy plot, making it so he's gone missing instead of simply left. Finding Tommy is Joel's primary motivation for leaving the Boston Quarantine Zone and it's a good moment for the narrative to help paint a more intricate picture of Joel's character. He's already lost his daughter so it makes sense that he would do anything to make sure he doesn't lose his brother as well. 

Losing Sarah was the most pivotal moment of Joel's life and you can see it when he throws the body of the child into the fire. But his pain at losing her is even more obvious at the end of the episode when he protects Ellie from the FEDRA soldier and in how overboard he goes when it comes to killing him. It's going to be interesting to see how Joel's trauma begins to shift and transform as he becomes closer to Ellie over the course of the game. 

What did you think of The Last of Us' pilot episode? Are you fans of the game or newcomers? Sound off in the comments below!

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