Has The Last of Us Missed a Trick?
HBO Max’s The Last of Us has taken over our television screens. Every week fans are raving over the episodes, but a bigger question has come to mind. Has the Last of Us Missed a Trick? This isn’t going to be a complaining discussion, it is looking more at the biggest picture of what the show could have offered and even offered in one episode.
There will be spoilers for the show and the game here.
Hand Holding the Game
When you step into the first two episodes of the show, we get to meet Joel, Ellie and Tess. We get to follow their journey escaping Boston leading to the surprise death of Tess. This gives us the first encounter with the Clickers and sees Joel needs to decide to take Ellie on the journey. When it comes to comparing this to the game, it is a near-on copy, offering very little original and not expanding on the environment.
In episodes 4, 5 and 6, we do continue to feel like we are following the game with certain sequences, meetings and interactions. This has shown the hand-holding through the game. We could watch the cut scenes on YouTube and get the same story experience.
Long, Long Time
In episode 3, the show took a big spin on the story from the game. It follows Bill’s journey as he survives and meets another survivor and falls in love. This took everything away from the game and built up a character showing hope in a bleak world. However, it does have a tragic ending. It does move away from the game to build the universe we are entering.
Announcing Season 1 is the Whole First Game
The Last of Us producers made it clear that Season 1 is going to be the whole first game. However, the series is only 9 episodes long. Only having 9 episodes means we are barely getting any time in each chapter of the journey. As previously mentioned in episode 3, they built the world for one of the characters to improve the connection.
However, in episodes 4 and 5, we get to face the first threat. Kathleen who has held a revolution against the government, taking over the city. Now, we do get a few cold lines delivery in the episodes. This is great; however, it feels like we could have explored this a lot more. Expanding on the interaction, and the world gives us more understanding of what they have been through. By the end of this journey, she has been made out to be pure evil, despite having a strong motivation for acting the way she does.
If we dive into episode 6, Kin. We find ourselves facing the same problems. We have a massive time jump of 3 months where literally nothing has happened. There are no conversations until this moment about what just happened with Henry and Sam. Then when we do meet up with Joel’s brother Tommy, we get a few more plot points thrown out and move one. To make matters worse, the injury Joel receives that will motivate Ellie into the next chapter is a quick 5-minute add-on to the end of the episode.
The Final 3 Episodes
We currently have 3 more episodes to go, and we have 3 major events to happen. This is very disappointing because the events are big in the game. It once again feels like we should be diving into a larger series of events around them. While I can only speculate how little we get to see, I can also hope and expect to see them being high quality.
What Could Have Been Different?
One of the obvious choices would be expanding the first episodes a little bit more. The Walking Dead split each season into eight episodes and split the first 5 into 8 episodes and the last 4 into 8 episodes would expanding the universe. This is all going down to wishful thinking.
My personal expectations would be to have a lot of time with one of the upcoming characters because of how disturbing it gets. If we think outside the box, when it comes to season two, we are getting a new important character. We could have also got to know this character’s motivations using season one to develop them.
Is the Show Limited to 2 Seasons?
The show has been announced that season one is game one, which implies that season two will be game two. This poses the question is the season limited to only two seasons or will they step away from the source material for season two? If it does end up following game two, fans might not enjoy what is to come either.
Did HBO Play it Safe?
Video Game movies have always come with a massive reputation for not being as good as the games. We have had some fun movies, but when it comes to TV series, we haven’t had many before. The Last of Us has set out to have a season that just retells the game, not stepping away from the safety net. This does keep the fans of the game happy by cutting out the shoot-out sequences they play through to give us the story only.
Game of Thrones got a lot of backlash once they had to start writing the shows themselves. They ran out of source material, so HBO seems to have targeted to maintain a close connection to the original storyline, instead of remotely thinking for itself.
The Best Bits Are Original
The highlights of season one so far have been the cold openings. They offered a bigger look into the origin of the infection. These sequences are not in the game. The change in the Bill interaction got massive respect for changing the first major Joel and Ellie alone action sequence. While I was personally frustrated by this at first, in episode five, we get rewarded with the first meeting of the Bloater.
Do you think The Last of Us has missed a trick?
A terrific issue to raise. My wife and I know nothing about the game, but we do feel that while each episode in truly compelling, it does feel like a series of “meet these characters” for one episode and ultimately say goodbye to them…I assume the journey of those few main characters is the point of the show, but if the next few episodes continue this trend, it may feel repetitive…
Thanks, I know some things are different compared to the game, but the general settings are the same. I know I used the walking dead as the comparision, but learning more about the Governor and Negan did help when it came to the showdowns