Once a video game that redefined story-telling in the industry, The Last of Us returned this week, making its debut as a post-apocalyptic drama television series.
The first episode of the nine-episode opening season aired earlier this week on HBO, easily earning laurels from critics and fans, many of whom called it the best live-action adaptation of the video game.
Admittedly, that is a very low bar, considering how terrible most adaptations are, but the TV series is conveniently sliding into the post-apocalyptic power vacuum left behind after The Walking Dead ended last year.
Pedro Pascal plays Joel, a hardened middle-aged smuggler tasked with escorting the teenage Ellie, played by Bella Ramsey, across a post-apocalyptic United States.
Intriguingly, both the actors’ most recognisable previous roles were in Game of Thrones, where Pedro played Oberyn Martell and Bella portrayed Lyanna Mormont.
After the release of Naughty Dog’s video game The Last of Us in 2013, two film adaptations were attempted. A feature film produced by Sam Raimi entered development hell and an animated short film adaptation was cancelled by Sony.
In the first episode, titled When You’re Lost in the Darkness, a flashback gives viewers a background about the fungal pandemic that has decimated the world, turning humans into cannibalistic creatures.
We also meet Joel, a father of two, and his partner Tess (Anna Torv), who are tasked with smuggling Ellie, who, of course, is no mere teenager and might hold the key to building immunity against the fungal infection.
We also meet the big bad (for now, at least – apocalyptic shows tend to play around with this status quo) Federal Disaster Response Agency (FEDRA).
The next weekly episode is set to be aired on January 22 on HBO.