The most important things first: As I mentioned in my review of the first season, I’m not a gamer, nor have I ever played The last of usI haven’t even seen a detailed video of it. So I’m going to discuss this episode, and everything to come, solely on the basis of how it works as a TV show.
Judging on that basis, the high volume “When You’re Lost in the Dark” comes off quite well. All episodes of the season cover familiar ground in one way or another, but the premiere is perhaps the most familiar with that ground. As I think Leo Tolstoy once said, all zombie apocalypse events are the same, but every apocalypse after apocalypse is unhappy in its own way. The episode finally touches on the defining aspects of the episode, most importantly establishing Joel (Pedro Pascal), Ellie (Bella Ramsey), and Tess (Anna Torv) as interesting characters before the three set off on their dangerous mission. But before that, we have to watch civilization fall the way it tends to in so many dystopian shows and movies.
This does not mean that the material is bad; Only more general than what’s to come, especially in later episodes. And even those sequences are well executed, even if some of them, like Joel, Sarah, and Tommy’s horrible attempt to drive out of town before the mushrooms get them, feel too much like a game level where you’re not allowed to play
I’ve been told that driving is actually a cutscene in the game, and maybe it looks different there between different levels; Here, I felt like I was supposed to have a controller in my hand the whole time. But the most compelling parts of the episode come before and after the nightmare that engulfed the world in late September of 2003. Although Joel will become our focal character, he is a supporting player for much of the 2003 scenes, which focus much more on his daughter Sarah, played by Nico. Parker. In those scenes, Sarah comes across as a typical teenager—sometimes lost in her own head, other times outgoing, friendly, and generous with others, including her father and their neighbors. Parker (daughter
This, of course, should not be. Instead, creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann use those scenes to make an emotional stakes for Joel, and to make us deeply feel at least some of the pain he experiences when Sarah is shot by a panicked soldier the night the world is destroyed. The man Joel becomes when the story jumps forward to 2023 is determined almost entirely by that tragic moment. He’s emotionally closed off and efficiently brutal, and when new in charge Eli is threatened by a soldier late in the episode, he has PTSD over Sarah’s death and turns absolutely brutal with the way he beats up that guy.
Before we get to this violent escape from Boston, we first have to establish the country of America 20 years after the zombie uprising. It’s a grim, often grim reality: a collection of fascist city-states run by Phaedra, the armed enforcers of what’s left of the government. Those lucky enough to make it into one of the enclaves of FEDRA have homes, food, and security, but not much more than that. There are mass hangings, and anyone infected with a fungus that has destroyed civilization—like, say, the poor little kid who wanders into Boston Castle just after the time jump—is quickly killed, and their body burned to avoid spreading the disease. . It’s no shock to learn that there is a resistance group, the Fireflies, who are resisting FEDRA’s unwavering rule.
Joel has no interest in that, or apparently anything else. He has a secret route in and out of town so he can smuggle drugs and other supplies in from outside to make his life more bearable. And he has a girlfriend in Tess who is badass in her own way. (We are introduced to her surrounded by armed men after the beating, yet it’s clear she’s been in control of the room the whole time, likely finding a way out of her predicament even if the Firefly bomb wasn’t well-timed. It gave her an escape route.) He is there rather than living, haunted more by the loss of his daughter than by the loss of everything else he knows, with few goals beyond the next day.
Ellie (Bella Ramsey) and Tess (Anna Torv) at the premiere of The Last of Us. HBO The Boston scenes feature a lack of zombies, though we do get disgusting images of a corpse sucked into a wall of fungus when Joel and the others cross an underground tunnel late in the hour. And we find out that Marilyn needs Ellie to catch the other Fireflies in the West because Ellie is somehow immune to infection. Focusing on people, and on the possibility of a cure, is a sign of how comprehensive FEDRA is in eliminating the immediate threat, but also a sign of how The last of us – like
the walking Dead And other examples of this kind – the undead can be treated as an unfortunate and dangerous fact of life, and other human beings as the real monsters. Overall, a promising start, though I’ll admit I’ve come to an end wondering why
This is amazing
It was something that a lot of my gamer friends were really excited about. But “When Lost in the Dark” effectively establishes the world and our main characters, making all the good possible. Some other ideas:* TV needs intervention to prevent future title sequences like this or that use it Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power which seems to have learned all the wrong lessons from
game of thrones
opening credits. People don’t like this sequence because it takes two minutes of CGI to form different shapes; They love it because it’s two minutes of CGI that tells a story of sorts by delineating the geography of the series as a whole and individual episodes, changing periodically to introduce new places on the map or setting us up to go back to less-visited places like The Pike. While the idea of spores growing into something akin to a city — a metaphor for how mushrooms consume the world as we know it — is clever, it’s still ultimately just a bunch of shapes, and not interesting enough to go with as long as it works. I really wish the screeners had a “skip intro” button on episode two.
* John Hannah does some nice work in the opening scene in 1968, playing a scientist who warns of the exact kind of catastrophe that has helped climate change. His monologue could easily play as a bald exposé – a way to contextualize what’s going on as we witness events from Joel and Sarah’s POV – but Hannah totally sells her innate fear of the thing. common *Pedro Pascal has many gifts as an actor, many of which are on display in this episode. Regional accents – or at least
This is amazing Regional accent – you may not be one of them. The good news, depending on your point of view, is that Joe’s Texas accent appears sporadically in this episode and throughout the season, and pretty much disappears after a while. * Finally, it’s always good to see Friday night lightsI blame Brad Leland for a story set in Texas, even if things end worse for his character here than they did for Buddy Garrity in