The Last of Us season 1 episode 1 recap & review: When You’re Lost in the Darkness

The premiere episode of The Last of Us explores how a fungal infection spreads around the world and where the world stands 20 years into the future after that. The episode is now streaming on HBO Max.


In 1968, Dr. Neuman talks about the threat microorganisms pose to humanity on a talk show. He tells the host and viewers about the pandemic he fears the most, which involves a fungus that seeks to control a body.

It alters the host’s mind and forces it to bend to its will. Dr. Schoenheiss, who has accompanied Neuman on the show, suggests that this kind of fungal infection is not possible in humans, owing to their body temperature.

Dr. Neuman argues that it is possible if, in the near future, the temperature around the world rises.

In 2003, Joel navigates his life with his daughter, Sarah. It’s Joel’s birthday, and though he isn’t excited about it, his daughter Sarah is. She visits a shop to fix his watch so that she can gift it to him.

The police cars and fire trucks are on high alert. One of the shopkeepers immediately asks Sarah to leave once she gets her watch fixed. The shopkeepers close their shops.

Sarah spends time at her neighbor’s house and fails to notice the sick elderly woman transforming there on her chair.

At night, the father-daughter duo watches a movie together, as Joel forgot to bring a birthday cake for himself. Sarah falls asleep, and Joel receives a call from his brother, Tommy, who is calling from the jail.

He claims that some guy at the bar went crazy and started hitting the waitress. He just stepped up and knocked that guy out. Joel puts Sarah to sleep and leaves to bail his brother out.

Sarah wakes up in the middle of the night to the sounds of sirens and helicopters flying all over the town. She goes out to check on neighbors and watches the elderly woman eating her family members.

The woman gives Sarah a chase, but Joel shows up in time. He knocks the woman out. Joel, Tommy, and Sarah hop on the truck, looking for a way out of the town that is now in chaos. They try to avoid cops. On the streets, people are going crazy everywhere.

Joel and Tommy discuss where they can go, and Sarah wonders if this is the situation everywhere else. Soon, a plane crashes on the streets. Joel, Tommy, and Sarah’s car gets hit.

Joel wakes up and rescues an injured Sarah. Tommy is on the other side of the car. He directs them to go to the river, where he will catch up with them.

On their way, a soldier stops Joel and Sarah. Though Joel tries to assure him that they are not sick, the soldier doesn’t back down. Joel attempts to run away. The soldier then proceeds to shoot them.

Before he could kill Joel, Tommy shoots the soldier down. Joel checks on himself. It turns out that he is fine. Sarah is the one who is severely injured after those gunshots. She doesn’t survive.

In 2023, in Boston, humans are living at a camp governed by an organization called FEDRA (Federal Disaster Response Agency).

Joel now smuggles things in and out of the place in exchange for ration cards. He sells pills to a soldier and tells him that he is planning to set up a car.

Meanwhile, a woman named Tess is being interrogated by a man named Robert, who has ripped her off. She paid for a car battery, and Robert sold it to someone else.

The second they come to an understanding, a bomb blows near their room. Tess comes out to see the FEDRA soldiers fighting off a rebel group called the Fireflies. She gets arrested by the FEDRA soldiers.

Joel goes to a man with a massive set-up of radios to check for a message from a place called the tower. The man claims that he hasn’t heard from the tower.

Joel asks for the tower’s location. He intends to go there and rescue his brother, Tommy, from there, and for that, he needs the car battery. Tess reunites with Joel at their apartment, and they plan to take what’s theirs back from Robert.

At the hideout of Fireflies, the group is holding a girl, who identifies herself as Veronica. They are having her go through some tests. The leader of the Fireflies, Marlene, meets her to comfort her.

She calls Veronica by the name ‘Ellie’ and reveals that she sent her to FEDRA when she was just a baby to keep her safe. Ellie is important to the Fireflies. They plan to distract the FEDRA and escort Ellie to the west.

Joel and Tess hunt for Robert and find him dead at the hideout of the Fireflies. They come across Marlene and her acquaintance, Kim. The Fireflies have been attacked by the FEDRA.

Marlene convinces Joel and Tess to escort Ellie to the west. In exchange, the Fireflies will give them a whole truck once they get the job done.

Joel and Tess agree. While Tess is out there preparing for the escape, Ellie spends time with Joel at his apartment and learns his radio codes.

They leave once Tess comes back. On their way out, the soldier Joel met earlier stops them. He tests them to see if they are infected with the help of a device. Ellie tries to fight back, which leaves the soldier no option but to arrest them.

The way the soldier points the gun at them reminds Joel of the time he lost his daughter. He then wastes no time in taking that soldier out.

Tess glances upon the soldier’s testing device and learns that Ellie is infected. Ellie defends herself by showing off her scar. She claims that she got this three weeks ago. If she is infected, she should have transformed that same day.

With the FEDRA soldiers coming in, the group decides to stop this conversation and run for now. Back at Joel’s apartment, the radio plays ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ by Depeche Mode, which is a signal for trouble.


  • The show has a different tone for a different point in time, which is to be appreciated. The year 2003 is depicted with a warm and fuzzy tone, where the show is more lighthearted, whereas the year 2023, where the fungus has taken over, is cold and gritty.
  • The show has worked a lot on characterization. The Last of Us understands that these characters are going to carry the show on their shoulders. Therefore, it makes sure that viewers get as close as they can to Joel and Ellie.
  • Right from the beginning, the show drops hints of the coming disaster without dissecting itself from the loving drama that is being portrayed to make the viewers comfortable.
  • In order to keep the viewers interested, the show builds a good amount of tension before revealing the main threat. Everything, from the chaos in the city to the reactions of the main characters, leaves the viewer wondering what will happen next.
The Last Of Us season 1 episode 1
The Last of Us season 1 episode 1 recap & review: When You're Lost in the Darkness 1

Director: Craig Mazin

Date Created: 2023-01-16 08:30

Editor's Rating:

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