The Last of Us review: A faithful adaptation

The Last of Us follows a smuggler who is tasked with escorting a teenager who is humanity’s last hope in a world full of humans turned into zombie-like creatures. The series is now streaming on HBO Max.


In 2003, a fungal infection caused by a fungus called Cordyceps spreads across the world, wreaking havoc in major cities. The infection travels to the host’s brain and bends it to its will.

People infected start hunting, killing, and eating humans who are not infected, as this fungus aims to grow and expand. A construction worker, Joel, loses his daughter, Sarah, while escaping his city, which has fallen because of this same fungal infection.

By 2023, humans find shelter in various quarantine zones across the world, run by FEDRA (Federal Disaster Response Agency). Joel navigates life in the Boston QZ, where he smuggles things in and out of the place for a living.

When he loses contact with his brother, Tommy, he plans to go look for him. In order to do so, he needs a car battery, which leads him and his partner, Tess, to a base of Fireflies, a rebel group that is working against FEDRA.

The leader of the Fireflies, Marlene, promises to give Joel everything he needs if he successfully escorts a teenager named Ellie to a Fireflies camp in the west.

While escaping the Boston QZ, Joel and Tess learn that Ellie might be humanity’s last hope, as she is immune to the fungal infection that has wiped out half of their world.


Pedro Pascal, as Joel, and Bella Ramsey, as Ellie, offer a relationship the viewers will not forget for decades to come. The show gradually develops their relationship over the course of nine episodes. There is no rush, and it doesn’t feel forced at all.

What starts off as a relationship where Ellie spends time irritating Joel grows into one where Joel fights off the world to save her. The character development is top-notch. Pascal and Ramsey certainly deliver, as their relationship introduced in the first episode is distinct from the one that forms towards the end.

While Pascal and Ramsey continue to be mainstays, most of the one-off cast members have also managed to leave their mark.

Nick Offerman, as Bill, and Murray Bartlett, as Frank, portray the most beautiful romance to grace the screens in a world full of the infected. Then Henry, played by Lamar Johnson, and Sam, played by Keivonn Montreal Woodard, remind us how cruel a world of infected can be.


The Last of Us establishes itself as more than just a thriller drama. Also, it’s a post-apocalyptic show that is more interested in human emotions that still exist in this world of fungal infection than the threats these infected in the show pose.

The show attempts to portray these emotions in the first few episodes, and strong character introductions allow them to take this aspect to another level.

For example, the premiere episode spends a lot of time introducing Sarah and Joel’s world to the point that when Sarah, played by Nico Parker, dies, the viewers are hit by it and they start understanding Joel.

A similar feeling can be felt when viewers say goodbye to Bill and Frank or Henry and Sam. While one goodbye is heartfelt, the other is shocking and impactful. Each one of these instances affects Joel and Ellie in one way or another.

Strong performances by the cast make The Last of Us stand out during the first few episodes. Then comes the action part. Just when a viewer starts thinking that they might not be seeing Joel and Ellie fight the infected, the show literally brings a war to Kansas City.

The fifth episode is an all-out mainstream, edge-of-the-seat thriller that keeps you hooked until the war with the infected is over.

Other times, the show also gives off the vibe of a fun road-trip drama when the viewers see Ellie and Joel getting along on their way. This road trip turns horrifying when they fight the humans that are far more dangerous than the infected. Still, sanctuaries like Jackson give hope that a life like before is still possible in this world.


The Last of Us does demand patience, especially from the fans who come looking mostly for the action and the horror parts. If they are willing to give the show time, they will find themselves immersed in everything that the show is attempting to capture.

A few characters deserved better writing. The show kind of fails to establish Kathleen, played by Melanie Lynskey, as a credible threat or a leader. She is revenge-driven and tries way too hard to look tough; it’s hard to accept that the whole QZ adheres to the decisions that she makes.


The Last of Us is a heartfelt, engaging, and, at times, action-packed drama that is unlike most post-apocalyptic shows. It balances everything right and mostly stays faithful to its source material to deliver the beloved story to a wider audience.

The Last of Us
The Last of Us review: A faithful adaptation 1

Director: Craig Mazin, Neil Druckmann, Peter Hoar, Jeremy Webb, Jasmila Žbanić, Liza Johnson, Ali Abbasi

Date Created: 2023-01-15 08:30

Editor's Rating:

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