If you asked me whether or not I recommend The Last of Us TV show, I would respond with a very weird answer: wholeheartedly yes, but also absolutely not. It’s a great show, it’s a terrible show, and it’s an okay show all at once. There are plenty of homages and nods to keep the gamers happy, but also one or two character assassinations or changes to canon that piss off people like me big time.
I don’t just have a love-hate relationship with this show: I have a love-hate-apathetic relationship with it. I love the show, I hate the show, while simultaneously not remotely caring what happens in it. I’m delighted, pissed off, and bored all at the same time. This show has truly managed the impossible.
That being said, Episode 5 of The Last of Us was a very fine piece of television. It really felt like the adaptation we always wanted: it was well-casted, well-acted, well-written (except for maybe one or two parts), and even I could spot a few of the easter eggs. Truly, I felt a small fleck of joy in my leaden heart when I saw the Bloater rise out of the ground and start bashing people. Not many shows can do that nowadays.
First I’ll address the bad: the part where Katherine (that’s her name right? Whatever) has Henry behind a car, she doesn’t need to barter with him. Plus, in that scene she has multiple opportunities to kill him, but doesn’t. I think it’s just a little bit ridiculous that she’s got the man she’s been hunting for a long time in her crosshairs, but doesn’t pull the trigger. There are ways to spin it so this doesn’t happen, so it’s not too much of a plot hole, but it’s there nonetheless.
The rest of the show was reasonably written and well-acted. They made minor changes to both Sam and Henry’s characters (and I stress, minor), i.e. Sam is now deaf and Henry is a former FEDRA informant. The core of their character is still the same, just like Joel and Ellie, and even though the show is taken is a slightly different direction, it’s done in a way that respects the established canon of the games.
The scene where (SPOILER ALERT) Henry kills Sam was just as much of a gut punch as it was playing the game, further exacerbated by the fact that we actually now know something about him. He wasn’t a flat character in the game: he just contributed more to Joel’s personal journey than his own. This new dimension, especially since he’s only in one episode, is much appreciated.
Also, the “point” of The Last of Us is finally made known: who is really the bad guy? Everyone in the show has done heinous things and haven’t truly atoned for them. Who do we brand as the true bad guy of the story? I could be reading too much into this, but just hear me out.
Joel is the player character in the video game. Whenever an NPC asks the player character a question and the PC doesn’t respond, this is the game’s way of asking the player directly. When Henry asks Joel if he’s really the bad guy and Joel doesn’t respond, that’s Henry asking the audience who they think is the bad guy. It’s an excellent touch, and like I said, it wants me to forget the bad stuff about the show.
Plus, the way the bloater kills Perry (also known as Tactical Santa Claus or TSC) is a Joel death animation from the game. I really enjoyed that nod (brutal though it may be) to the source material, and it was that clean little detail that really got me excited about the episode. Also, child clickers are nightmare fuel.
Honestly, I’m not sure what to think about it. I still kind of hate the show, I kind of love this episode, and if the show were to wink out of existence tomorrow I would feel only minor remorse (and the bulk of that would come of not having content to blog about). I just hope this show is worth the trouble. That’s all.
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