HBO’s live-action adaptation of The Last of Us vastly expands on the game’s infamous opening sequence, adding depth and detail to the outbreak.
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’s The Last of Us adaptation expanded significantly on the game’s prologue, adding new context and details to the heartbreaking opening sequence.
While the game begins a couple of hours before they’re forced to flee on the night of Joel’s birthday, the movie-length first episode of The Last of Us opens up with a conversation on a 1968 talk show with two epidemiologist guests discussing what they fear could harm humanity most. One doctor describes a nightmare scenario akin to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the other doctor disagrees. He posits a fungal infection, introducing an idea that will come to pass as the Cordyceps infection.
HBO’s The Last of Us Adds More Context to the Cordyceps Outbreak
The prologue keeps the viewer’s perspective on Joel’s daughter, Sarah, just as it did in the game. However, the adaptation shows more of her relationship with Joel, his brother Tommy and the Miller’s bonds to their hometown Austin and their neighbors. The show follows Sarah as she goes to school and gets Joel’s watch repaired, all the while dropping subtle hints about the quickly spreading Cordyceps infection through symptomatic passer-byes and ambulances in the street.
Once the show catches up to the game, it matches it sometimes line for line and shot for shot. However, it continues to pepper in additions that get vastly expanded. Joel and Tommy’s bond sees much more emphasis, with the former leaving Sarah at home after getting a jail call from his brother. The pair return together to retrieve Sarah once chaos breaks out later that night.
Creating Joel and Tommy’s Bond in The Last of Us
Gabriel Luna, who plays Tommy Miller in HBO’s The Last of Us, recently described creating that brotherly bond with Joel actor Pedro Pascal. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the pair managed to communicate virtually and find common ground to begin developing the relationship between the Miller brothers. “I was locked up in my room for two weeks before we started shooting,” he said. “We didn’t have the benefit of being able to get together physically as quickly as we would’ve wanted to.”
Virtual communication allowed them to work despite the quarantine. “It became FaceTime conversations and through our conversations, I made the discovery that he was born in Chile,” Luna explained. “He was raised in San Antonio, Texas, which is a neighboring city to Austin… So knowing that all of a sudden gave us this immediate comfort with each other.”
HBO’s The Last of Us debuted to sterling reviews from critics. Many hailed it the greatest video game adaptation of all time, noting how well it brings the story of Joel and Ellie to light. The first season consists of nine episodes that air exclusively on HBO Max every Sunday at 6 PM EST.
Source: HBO Max
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