Another week, another soul-draining episode of The Last of Us. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a great show. But it also makes The Walking Dead look like an episode of Frasier. By now, it shouldn’t be surprising that the writing and acting is top-notch. This is an HBO series, after all. But it has to be said that the original video game is a masterpiece of storytelling all of its own. That’s why it’s so refreshing when the creative team behind this series shows a willingness to deviate from the source material.
HBO has released a video that goes inside The Last of Us episode 8, and explains why it didn’t fall into the trap of letting Pedro Pascal’s Joel save the day. We’re so used to Pascal’s title character in The Mandalorian doing just that — to the point that it could be its own TV trope. But in the end, this episode belongs to Bella Ramsey’s Ellie, and it puts her in a position where she has to save herself at all costs. And she does. It’s another standout performance by Ramsey, who clearly seems to be a star on the rise.
Fans of the original game may notice that Troy Baker, the voice actor who first portrayed Joel, appears in this episode as James, one of the minions of David (Scott Shepherd). Sadly, it’s a very short stay for Baker, considering the large role he played in making the games such an unforgettable experience. But it’s a nice nod to the franchise’s past.
As for David, he’s one of the most chilling characters in the show to date. He’s the kind of guy who could make a person question their faith in humanity simply because he lacks humanity himself. That’s why the show’s connection between Joel and Ellie is so important. It brings that humanity back, while letting us root for two of the last good people in this world regardless of their flaws.
The Last of Us episode 9 will wrap up its first season this Sunday, March 12, on HBO and HBO Max.
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