‘The Last of Us’ Episode 1 Drops Us into the Beginning, Middle, and End of the Apocalypse

The next tale incorporates spoilers for The Remaining of Us Season 1, Episode 1.

For all of the successes that new-age streaming services and products like Netflix, Hulu, and Apple TV+ have had lately, it is nonetheless onerous to make the case that any one else has discovered the important thing to constantly generating TV on the degree of a just right old-fashioned HBO display. Within the 2009 film I Love You, Guy, Paul Rudd asks Jason Segel a easy query over the telephone: “Have you ever ever watched Sunday night time programming on HBO? It is impressive.”

On the time, that was once intended as a funny story to turn Rudd’s persona as anyone bubbled into a particular lifestyles regimen. However 14 years, a complete bunch of TV, and a common dispositional shift to the place it now turns out like many choose staying house and gazing TV, and bet what: HBO programming stays impressive.

The top rate cable community’s newest giant swing at dominating the small display dialog comes within the type of The Remaining of Us, an adaptation of the cherished 2013 survival horror online game. They have reportedly spent up to $100 million at the display’s first season, according to a piece in The New Yorker, and feature put complete accept as true with within the arms of a couple of succesful creators: Neil Druckmann, the sport’s author/director, and Craig Mazin, who was once in the back of one of the crucial community’s most successful limited series ever, Chernobyl.

PlayStation The Remaining of Us Remastered – PlayStation 4

PlayStation The Remaining of Us Remastered – PlayStation 4

The Remaining of Us is HBO going giant sport searching; it targets to be HBO’s subsequent epic style wreck, one thing that may best be in comparison to large successes (like Sport of Thrones or Watchmen) or relative flops (the later seasons of Westworld or Lovecraft Nation). The display is about, technically, in our provide yr of 2023, however the truth is one thing nearer to Mad Max, Station 11, or Kids of Males; this is not a recognizable provide—it is one decimated by way of a plague and illness that society had no right kind reaction to.

The display, which stars Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in its lead roles, intently follows the plot of the sport; I do know this in my opinion, as a result of I performed the sport precisely as soon as. And whilst I have in mind the little I performed of the sport vividly—I preferred it slightly somewhat—it was once within the again finish of my gaming days. Many reviewing and writing about The Last of Us will most likely have enjoy as anyone to whom the video games are of significant significance and imply so much; I am simply anyone acquainted and in search of a perfect horror/sci-fi tale.

And within the early goings, that appears to be what The Remaining of Us is. The display strikes via time classes and settings with a brisk tempo, and if the outlet credit inform you the rest, the one constant solid contributors during can be Pascal and Ramsey. And for any individual acquainted with both in their paintings, it must come as no wonder that each are as much as the duty to interact with the moments of motion and assaults, sure, but in addition the emotional turmoil quiet depth that may are available in between.

the last of us hbo


Pascal is perfect recognized at this level as the person underneath the masks in The Mandalorian, however he is been on a sizzling streak for just about a decade. From his superb single-season arc on Thrones, to final yr’s meta-farce motion comedy The Insufferable Weight of Large Ability, to even a just right flip in a foul Judd Apatow comedy, The Bubble, it is transparent that Pedro Pascal has the juice. Ramsey (who uses both she/her and they/them pronouns), too, has constructed up an excellent resume of her personal; she stole the display in her personal Thrones arc as Woman Lyanna Mormont, but in addition impressively led Lena Dunham’s Catherine Referred to as Birdy function movie final yr.

Whilst the characters surrounding the ones two are continuously transferring—a lot of the primary episode is, actually, from anyone else’s POV—those are the performers placing The Remaining of Us on their again, and who, in conjunction with Mazin and Druckmann, are accountable for figuring out whether or not this may increasingly in the end succeed in the prime heights of Thrones or Watchmen, or simply be any other style display for HBO’s spectacular again catalogue.

To this point, after an 80-minute debut, it is not off course. Let’s communicate concerning the first episode of The Remaining of Us.


The display kicks off with a chilly open set in 1968, depicting a scene from a chat display interview (hosted by way of an highbrow performed by way of Silicon Valley’s Josh Brener) with a couple of scientists. One has little alarm for the longer term, however the different is anxious of a particular roughly pandemic and an infection: fungal.

He describes, in nice element (and units the tone for audience in an easy-to-understand manner) the precise roughly pandemic he fears: a fungus that infects, deranges, and, in the end, takes over a frame from the interior out. This would not be conceivable, in fact, because of the temperature of the human frame, which would not be capable to area one of these fungal an infection.

However, he provides, if the earth had been to get only a tiny bit hotter, issues may alternate. At that second, you can even get started enjoying the John Williams theme from Jaws. As he describes the nightmare that Chekhov’s Local weather Trade will in the end deliver on, the target market grows quieter and quieter; there is no rebuttal to what he says. Even in 1968, the response is a powerful smartly, we would actually be fucked then.

Value noting, too, that the 1968 atmosphere for this opening scene can not conceivable be an coincidence. 1968 was the first documented year of governing bodies learning of the potential effects of climate change. The Remaining of Us is a horror tale, however one rooted in a horror we in reality in finding ourselves in.

1968 additionally marked the yr that George A. Romero’s debut zombie movie Evening of the Dwelling Lifeless was once launched. With out that film and all that it impressed within the next a long time, The Remaining of Us would no longer exist; our existential anxieties merely would have needed to increase in different places.


the last of us hbo


We then pick out up in 2003—the instant, probably, in TV’s The Remaining of Us universe the place the earth were given simply heat sufficient for the fungal pandemic warned of in 1968 to start to hit. It is also the yr when the whole thing else stopped; after a time soar later within the episode, a Gore/Lieberman blouse (from the 2000 U.S. presidential election) hammers this level house. You do not see too a lot of the ones in our 2023.

Mazin, who directs the primary episode, introduces us to each Joel (Pascal) and his daughter, Sarah (Nico Parker); he follows the attention-grabbing resolution the the sport makes, alternatively, to stay the whole thing of this portion of the episode in Sarah’s POV. The episode’s coloring looks like a heat fall day, and it does not take a lot to really feel some actual father-daughter chemistry between Pascal and Parker.

The day in query—the final day, because it seems—is Joel’s birthday, however he does not appear to care all an excessive amount of, outdoor of it being an excuse to spend time and make reminiscences along with his daughter. Sarah is a lot more eager about it than he’s, the usage of the day as an excuse to get his prized watch mounted, and nagging her dad to get a cake for his birthday; we do not know the precise nature in their historical past, however it is transparent {that a} mom is now not within the image and it is drawn them shut in combination. Sarah specifically is keen to create extra lasting reminiscences together with her father.

The early portion of the episode is mild on plot, however heavy on characterization. Sarah has a lazy day, hopping on a bus once her faculty day ends to secretly get her father’s watch mounted for his birthday, whilst Joel is off running jobs as a contractor; his brother, Tommy (Gabriel Luna) may be round and obviously the free cannon of this circle of relatives dynamic. We additionally get our first sense of imminent doom via Sarah’s eyes; there may be an increasingly more provide army presence each and every time she turns her head, and issues hit some extent of no go back when she’s getting the watch mounted and the shop proprietor’s spouse briefly shoos her out. One thing is off.

When she returns house, she stops subsequent door to mention bake some cookies with Ms. Adler, the spouse of the couple subsequent door whose unwell and aged mom lives together with her. In in all probability essentially the most unsettling second of the episode—an episode stuffed with violence, illness, and assaults!—we see Mrs. Adler’s mom undergo some form of transformation within the background, out of center of attention; Sarah does not understand, however nonetheless turns out to sense one thing’s off.

Sarah and Joel get to have fun his birthday; she offers him his mounted watch, however he forgot to get himself a cake, a lot to her dismay. After which he has to move out to lend a hand Tommy, who is gotten in bother. Sarah heads to mattress, and Joel heads out. No longer essentially the most storybook thirty sixth birthday for Joel.

Issues hit the fan when Sarah is awoken in the midst of the night time to loud noises and the emergency broadcast machine on TV. She is going subsequent door to look the Adlers each useless, giant bites taken out of them by way of Mrs. Adler’s mom, who is were given dwelling fungus bursting out of her mouth. Sarah will get outdoor and simply because the previous lady is ready to make her into her subsequent meal, Joel pulls up along with his brother in tow, saving Sarah, and killing Mrs. Adler’s inflamed mom—his first of many most likely killings to come back.

the last of us 2003


As Sarah, Joel, and Tommy try to get as some distance away as conceivable—it is mentioned that the majority of this thriller illness is coming from the densely populated town—they scramble during the highway simply as everybody else does. One scene, using via a small the town with other people, some inflamed and a few no longer, round them, looks like a lower scene instantly out of the sport, all nonetheless from Sarah’s point of view within the again seat.

The general scene of the 2003 imaginative and prescient is a heartbreaker; as the army enforcement unearths them, Joel makes it transparent: they aren’t unwell. However the soldier fires regardless prior to being taken out by way of Tommy. Joel—who was once preserving Sarah in his fingers because of an ankle damage she sustained—survives, however Sarah is hit. Pascal is heartbreaking on this second, one who most likely stunted Joel for many years.

It is value noting that after a perilous, unknown illness is rampantly hitting mankind, it is nonetheless an individual—a bullet—that kills Sarah. A pink herring previous, within the automobile, leaves us considering that perhaps Sarah may well be inflamed; she was once by way of Mrs. Adler’s unwell mom and has no thought how contagious this factor may well be. However The Remaining of Us is not enjoying round: mankind will at all times be the most important detriment to mankind, even within the apocalypse.


the last of us hbo episode 1


We flash ahead twenty years to our now post-apocalyptic international, Boston specifically. The nice and cozy, fall feeling of 2003 is exchanged for a chilly, drowned coloring of an unrecognizable 2023. A camp has been arrange by way of FEDRA, the crisis aid company, the place squaddies stay order; we continuously listen of the Fireflies, a rebellion workforce actively towards FEDRA, whose major political technique appears to be “blow issues up.”

Now older and obviously rougher across the edges, Joel, has change into a smuggler who is helping other people get tablets, guns, or the rest their hearts would possibly want (Pascal does not glance that a lot older, however his now salt and pepper hair does sufficient).

Joel by no means takes to the air the watch Sarah were given mounted for him, nonetheless broken by way of a bullet from that fateful night time in 2003, representing the precise second that his daughter died. By way of opting for to not take that watch off, we see that, whether or not a aware or subconscious selection, he is not able to transport on.

However, Joel has additionally since discovered himself a lifestyles spouse. We meet Tess (performed by way of Fringe and Mindhunter‘s Anna Torv, at all times a excitement) as she’s simply been ripped off by way of a dude named Robert and his band of thugs (even on the finish of the sector, teams as much as no just right have emerged and can proceed to emerge). Sarah was once seeking to get a automobile battery in order that Joel may energy his automobile as much as move in finding Tommy, who strangely remains to be alive however unsurprisingly has long past lacking. After an explosion takes a number of of the fellows within the room out, she heads again.

This may be the place we meet Ellie (Ramsey), who is being held captive by way of the Fireflies and their chief, Marlene (a stern Merle Dandridge), for a reason why that is not to start with transparent. Ellie is spunky; she curses at her captors, and does not appear to actually have any house or course. Mazin’s writing tells us in refined and sensible techniques what is so particular about Ellie: she’s been inflamed, however she’s no longer unwell. She hasn’t remodeled. She’s a “2023” clinical miracle.

Which, then, brings us to the union of Joel and Tess with Ellie. Marlene was once going to deliver Ellie out west herself, keen to look what science can change into of her situation; a run in with that douchebag Robert left him useless and Marlene and her closest lieutenant slightly injured. The Fireflies be offering Ellie as much as Joel as but any other smuggling activity: in the event that they get her the place she wishes to move so she can also be studied, they are able to have the auto battery, and hopefuuly in finding Tommy at the manner. Joel is more or less over it, however Tess convinces him to get on board—it is your best option.

As Joel and Tess take Ellie in, she sees their house, and their station for signaling from smuggler buddies Invoice and Frank, whom we can undoubtedly meet in long run episodes: an encyclopedic ebook of hit songs, arranged by way of yr, is the foundation of the code they have arrange. ’60s track approach not anything new; ’70s approach one thing’s in; and whilst ’80s is not to start with transparent, Ellie is sharp sufficient to coax Joel into figuring it out.

It is transparent even from the early goings that the connection between Joel and Ellie is more likely to reflect the storytelling trope of the reluctant dad or mum; we’ve got noticed this lately with Pascal’s different TV blockbuster function in The Mandalorian, however in all probability even nearer to the Joel/Ellie dynamic may well be the Hopper/11 dynamic from Stranger Issues—any other father/daughter surrogate dating motivated, partially, by way of loss.

All over the process The Remaining of Us, Joel has quite a few ethical selections that he’ll probably must make. The primary got here within the 2003 portion of the episode, when he opted to not lend a hand a circle of relatives with a kid along the street as he, Sarah, and Tommy had been first escaping. The following comes on the finish of the episode as they’re smuggling Ellie out of the army zone. Joel and Tess run into the similar soldier who Joel bought tablets to previous within the episode; this brings us to the most productive second of the episode.

Joel, at this level, does not even know Ellie. But if confronted with a state of affairs that reflected one who value his daughter’s lifestyles, he acts instinctually. Remaining time, his daughter was once bodily in entrance of him—simply because of his preserving her all through his damage. That call value Sarah her lifestyles. When the soldier is pointing his gun at Joel and Ellie, Joel lunges ahead, coming on the soldier with twenty years of pent up rage. It is any other piece of this nice second to look as Ellie’s deranged preliminary pleasure on the sight of Joel’s violence become one thing of a resigned concern. Joel will get up and strikes on along with his lifestyles; the soldier does no longer.

Our heroes proceed their adventure at the highway, and the digicam then cuts again to Joel’s radio simply as “Never Let Me Down Again” by Depeche Mode begins to play. ’80s track. Mazin and Druckmann put it on us to determine—however we will be able to already think that it approach bother from Joel’s smuggler buddies.

the last of us ep 1


It is amusing to discover a hero originally of the tale as bored stiff as Joel already is. All over the episode, we see a chorus painted on partitions: “If you find yourself misplaced within the darkness, search for the sunshine.” It is obviously a rallying cry, most definitely from the Fireflies, that some other people use to encourage themselves via those darkish instances.

It jogs my memory somewhat of the later seasons of Misplaced, when Jack (Matthew Fox) would many times say “If we will be able to’t reside in combination, we are going to die on my own.” It was once a line so continuously repeated, that at a undeniable level it simply changed into an empty platitude, and Rose (L. Scott Caldwell) informed him as a lot. When one random man begins pronouncing “If you find yourself misplaced within the darkness…” to Joel, he shuts him up immediately. He is already there. He is already drained. And this can be a nice glance into our lead persona’s pissed off headspace.

So ends a completely jam-packed first episode of The Remaining of Us. And it is transparent already that the display goes to reside and die by way of the mix of Pascal and Ramsey in conjunction with the best way Mazin and Druckmann select to deliver this all to display.

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Headshot of Evan Romano

Evan is the tradition editor for Males’s Well being, with bylines in The New York Instances, MTV Information, Brooklyn Mag, and VICE. He loves bizarre motion pictures, watches an excessive amount of TV, and listens to track extra continuously than he doesn’t.

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