Joel’s relationship with Tess in The Last of Us has always been a bit of an open question. The new HBO Max series closes it with one important scene.
The following contains spoilers for The Last of Us Season 1, Episode 1, “When You’re Lost in the Darkness,” now streaming on HBO and HBO Max.
HBO Max’s television adaptation of Naughty Dog’s beloved action game The Last of Us is finally here, and it’s already taking a closer look at some key elements of the first game. Among these elements is protagonist Joel’s relationship with Tess, a close friend in the first game who seems slightly more intimate in the TV show.
The series premiere of The Last of Us released on HBO Max on Sunday, and one sequence in particular fleshes out a central relationship from the video game. Joel Miller (Pedro Pascal), the protagonist of the first video game (and, as a result, the protagonist of the first season of HBO Max’s new series), spends some time with Tess Servopoulos (Anna Torv). Tess is Joel’s business partner, a fellow smuggler who assists him with the rough-and-tumble world of post-apocalyptic trade. In HBO Max’s The Last of Us, she’s also his romantic partner — Joel and Tess sleep side by side, spooning, and treat one another with a softness that’s uncommon for these rugged dystopian survivors.
Joel & Tess in the games
In the video game The Last of Us and its recent remake, Joel and Tess are a bit less lovey-dovey. Their business partnership is a major element of the original game, but the minutiae of their relationship has always been a bit of an open question. While Joel certainly cares about Tess, the game series pointedly avoids defining what they mean to each other.
The Last of Us paints many of Joel’s relationships with a fairly broad brush. Apart from his brother, Tommy (Gabriel Luna in the TV series), and his cargo-turned-surrogate-daughter, Ellie Williams (Bella Ramsey), the game seldom explains precisely what Joel is to the other characters in the game. The HBO Max series will have a bit more time to examine these characters and their relationships, with some actors already confirming their characters receive more depth in The Last of Us show.
Early reviews for The Last of Us have praised the series for its fidelity to the source material as an adaptation and for its willingness to focus on its central cast. Special praise has been reserved for the series’ stars, Pascal and Ramsey. Critics hailed it the best video game adaptation yet, with The Last of Us earning a near-perfect score on Rotton Tomatoes for professional and audience reviews.
The first episode of The Last of Us is currently available to stream on HBO Max. New episodes will be released every Sunday.
Source: HBO Max
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