When I sat down a couple of weeks ago to watch “The Last of Us” on HBO Max, I didn’t know what to expect. I don’t usually gravitate toward apocalypse shows, and I wasn’t that familiar with the video game story the show is based on.
I was pleasantly surprised.
The 2013 video game features a very similar storyline. The show adapts most of the video game content, adding bits and pieces to adhere to its origin. “The Last of Us” features Pedro Pascal as Joel and Bella Ramsey as Ellie. Both are fantastic in their respective roles, capturing the unique personalities of Joel and Ellie while recognizing the trauma both characters have experienced.
In a world overtaken by a terrifying fungus that takes control of its host and turns them into monster-like creatures, the characters must navigate a life that barely resembles the one we live in. The show opens up in 2003 but jumps to 2023, with Joel being given a mission to deliver Ellie safely from Boston to Wyoming. He grudgingly accepts, and the pair face many battles along the way.
At first glance, “The Last of Us” might seem like “just another zombie show.” It’s not. At its core is a story about love and its power. The show demonstrates the nasty and beautiful parts of love in a destroyed world. It’s scary, heartbreaking and amazing. It makes you think, cry, laugh and more.
The CGI is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and the world overgrown with fungus and in ruins is jarring and terrifying. In episodes four and five, Joel and Ellie travel through Kansas City, my hometown. Although the show wasn’t filmed in KC, CGI shows us a crumbling Worlds of Fun and other KC landmarks. As a KC native, those episodes are fun to watch.
It’s been a week since I finished the show and I can’t stop thinking about it. I won’t spoil anything but I will say this: watch this show. Watch it for a world that we hope to avoid. Watch it for a beautiful relationship that isn’t portrayed on TV enough. Watch it for characters that are flawed but real. Watch it for love, because that’s what it’s about.