HBO continues to faithfully adapt the video game The Last of Us in Sunday's most recent episode. With another effortlessly eerie episode introduction and further insights into resenting relationships, excellent character development and accuracy continues from one episode one to episode two.
*Spoilers ahead for The Last Of Us episode two.*
The Last of Us continues where it left off
The season premiere became HBO's second most popular in 10 years, with over 10 million viewers hooked from the get-go (rightfully so). Episode two launches viewers straight into the unease of the early stages of the pandemic twenty years ago. Scientist Ibu Ratna explains what viewers already know; there is no vaccine, no medicine that can cure the infection. She delivers potentially the coldest line of the series so far, “Bomb. Start Bombing,” which solidifies the extremity of what the world is about to face.
I'm not infected.
Episode two develops into Ellie justifying her importance to Marlene and The Fireflies after it becomes clear that Tess and Joel are curious. Joel is ostensibly doubtful after Ellie explains that Marlene believed whatever prevented her from developing the infection is the key to finding a vaccine. He's heard it all before. Immunity, a vaccine, a cure; he knows it's impossible. Or is it?
Pascal gives us an intimidating performance in his role when digging deeper into Ellie's explanation, but we know it's all bite. Joel clearly tries to establish dominance and solidify his point to Ellie – that she's purely cargo and just another payment for the smugglers. As tough as he tries to come across, there are many small nods to his growing compassion for Ellie throughout the episode. Perhaps it's his remaining paternal instinct. We all know you're a softy, Joel.
Similarly to her partner, Anna Torv'sTess initially perceives Ellie as some loudmouthed kid who needs saving. However, as the episode evolves, the two quickly gain mutual respect for each other. Perhaps Ellie sees Tess as the mother figure she so evidently lacked during her childhood, someone who can protect her and build her up. “You got some balls on you, sister” is one of my favourite lines from the episode; Tess' little way of bestowing her appreciation onto Ellie. Their relationship is short and sweet, though, after we learn of Tess' misfortune during their rendezvous in the museum.
The trio encounter the first of many gross obstacles in their endeavour to find The Fireflies' base, at which Ellie is to be delivered. Two Clickers initiate an attack inside the museum, which looks like it was extracted straight out of the game. Our first live-action look at the gruesome, zombie-esque figures is enticing and suspenseful. Viewers let out a sigh of relief after being led to believe the three of them are victorious in their efforts to fight them off.
Alas, this isn't the case.
Loss after loss in The Last of Us.
This is our second emotional goodbye adapted incredibly from the game. We learn of Tess' bite, which she obtains in the museum Clicker face-off, and Joel is faced with another loss after a tragic sacrifice. Personally, I believe Tess dies more heroically in HBO's adaptation. Her selfless dying wish (to deliver Ellie to The Fireflies, creating a chance for a better world) persuades Joel to with his love and embark with Ellie on a new journey.
Fans of the game may know what's in store for the duo after the events of episode two, but viewers new to the story can only assume Joel and Ellie will do their best to endure and survive on the long road ahead.
A video game adaptation we can all be proud of
Episode two carries action and emotion whilst planting plenty of seeds for the coming episodes. Will Joel find Tommy? The Fireflies? Can Joel carry the loss of another loved one? Let's find out together in the coming weeks!
The developing relationship between Ellie and Joel continues to be the highlight of every episode. Their back-and-forth is hilarious, and the slightly easing resentment plays delightfully. These characters have a long way to go, so the best is yet to come. Luckily, Ramsey and Pascal have given viewers a solid foundation on which to build.
If you want to talk more about The Last of Us, hear our weekly coverage on the Fandom Academy podcast and hit me up on Twitter!