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This Will Not Be the Last of Us: Recapping HBO’s “The Last of Us”

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

The Last of Us began as a survival horror video game released in 2013 on the PlayStation 3. Ten years later, in 2023, an HBO series adaptation has been released, receiving an overwhelming amount of positive feedback and a Rotten Tomatoes score of 96 percent.

Episode 1, titled “When You’re Lost in the Darkness,” begins with the introduction of Pedro Pascal’s character Joel, his daughter Sarah and his brother Tommy. It was the year 2003 when there was a fungal infection outbreak that immediately developed into a global pandemic. Their home is no longer safe, so they flee, and Sarah is shot and killed by a soldier. 20 years later, in 2023, Joel finds himself escorting a teenager named Ellie with his partner Tess for a rebel group called the Fireflies in exchange for a working truck to find his brother Tommy in Wyoming. It is discovered that Ellie is infected but immune.

Episode 2 is named “Infected.” After it is revealed that Ellie is immune to the fungal infection, she explains that she is being transported west in hopes of finding a cure. When they reach the drop spot, it is flooded with infected, and the Fireflies are dead. They are swarmed, and Tess reveals she was bitten, and so was Ellie. Ellie’s bite heals, and Tess convinces Joel to leave her behind. Tess blows up the building, killing herself and the swarm of infected.

Episode 3, titled “Long, Long Time,” shows Joel and Ellie hiking to meet Bill and Frank. We look into Bill and Frank’s life together beginning in 2007 and their somewhat peaceful life together on a secluded ranch. We watch them meet and witness their blossoming romance. They encounter Joel and Tess and form a friendship. In the present, Frank is terminally ill and asks Bill to assist him in suicide after they marry. Bill decides he cannot live without Frank and kills himself simultaneously. When Joel and Ellie arrive, they discover a note left for them and that they left all their supplies to Joel. They take their truck and begin their journey to find Tommy.

Episode 4, “Please Hold to My Hand,” begins with Joel and Ellie traveling on the road. They have to take a detour and are ambushed, but Joel kills them. Their leader Kathleen believes that Joel and Ellie are in contact with a fugitive named Henry, and her group sets out to hunt them. Joel and Ellie find a hiding spot to sleep in but awake to Henry and his little brother Sam holding them at gunpoint.

Episode 5 is called “Endure and Survive,” where Henry and Sam form an alliance with Joel and Ellie to escape the city through tunnels. When they try to escape, they are discovered by a sniper who radios Kathleen. Before Kathleen can shoot Henry, a swarm of infected come from the underground tunnels and attack. Kathleen is killed, and the group escapes. Sam reveals to Ellie that he was bitten, Ellie tries to use her blood to save him, but the following day Sam is infected and attacks Ellie. He is killed by Henry, who then kills himself. They are buried before Joel and Ellie continue their journey on foot.

Episode 6 is “Kin,” when Joel is finally reunited with Tommy. He meets his wife, Maria, who is pregnant. Joel and Ellie then head to the Fireflies’ base in Colorado but discover it’s abandoned. A group of raiders stumbles upon Joel and Ellie. Joel is stabbed but kills the man, and they escape before Joel falls off their horse.

Episode 7, titled “Left Behind,” shows Joel dying in an abandoned house. Ellie remembers when she and her friend Riley snuck into an abandoned mall and explored. Riley reveals that she joined the Fireflies and is stationed in Atlanta, so she is leaving Ellie. Ellie convinces Riley to stay, and they kiss, but they are attacked by an infected and bitten.

Episode 8 is “When We Are in Need.” Ellie hunts for food and encounters two men. She discovers that the man that stabbed Joel was part of their group. They capture Ellie and take her back to their camp, where the leader reveals that they eat human flesh. Joel awakes and tortures men from the group into telling them where Ellie is. Ellie ends up killing the leader, and Joel finds her traumatized.

In the season finale, episode 9, “Look for the Light,” we see a flashback of Ellie’s mother, Anna, who is bitten by an infected while giving birth to Ellie. Marlene finds her and abides by her request to be killed. The Fireflies capture Ellie and knock out Joel. Joel awakes in a hospital, and Marlene tells him about Ellie’s surgery to find a cure. He realizes the procedure will kill Ellie. He kills multiple Fireflies and the surgeon and carries Ellie from the hospital. Marlene stops them, but Joel shoots and kills her. Joel lies to Ellie and tells her that the Fireflies have previously failed to produce a cure from other immune people.

HBO has officially renewed The Last of Us for a second season, so this definitely will not be the last of us.

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Katie Frey is a Florida State University student majoring in Editing, Writing, and Media (EWM) with a minor in Women's Studies. She loves reading, writing, playing video games, and watching movies. She loves animals and is a nacho connoisseur.