The Last of Us series premiered in a grand way on January 15 and became HBO's second biggest debut, second only to The House of Dragon attracting a global audience for its intricate world-building and familiar characters.
According to HBO, the first episode attracted about 4.7 million viewers only in the US.
The production was born from an adaptation of the game originally released for PlayStation 3 in June 2013. The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where a powerful fungus turns people into zombies. Players are then taken through this world through a spirited 14-year-old girl who determines the future of humanity.
The audience expectations were high because of the well-known and talented individuals involved in the creation of the show. The 9 chapters feature Mandalorian actor, Pedro Pascal in the role of Joel and Bella Ramsey who acted in Game of Thrones as Ellie.
Additionally, the current director of Last of Us, Craig Mazin, demonstrated great success in producing the award-winning horror HBO series, Chernobyl. He also enlisted the help of Neil Druckmann who was the creative director and screenwriter of the game that gave birth to the series.
So far, critics have pointed to the production as being extremely faithful to the game, as if the viewer were watching someone else play the game. According to the New Yorker magazine, the budget for the first season of The Last of Us was larger than either of the budgets given for the first five seasons of Game of Thrones.
The show is set in the United States and the first episode already guarantees a lot of realism through the impeccable photography and impressive emotion expressions delivered by the actors. The shots in the show give off the feeling that the spectator is really inside the screen, experiencing the same anguish as the characters.
The first dialogue of the series takes place in 1960 and shows two specialists discussing on a talk show the possibility of a parasitic fungus destroying humanity. Soon after, in 2003, society was already completely destroyed and reaping the consequences of that "pandemic".
Initially, the rhythm of the series is very fast, with scenes of action, violence and literally chaos for initial survival. Then the story becomes more quiet. What is left of society is in the hands of an authoritarian military regime fighting against rebel groups classified as terrorists, who do not agree with the regime and its impositions.
The new life that the show presents looks and feels like hell.
The Last of Us shows a world in which anything goes for survival. To escape the zombies and not get infected by the fungus, you have to be on your guard at all times. Later, the series will show that it is the healthy, uninfected men who can promote cruelties beyond what we can imagine.
So far, the series has been a mix of many things: social criticism, adventure, deep dialogue, and a lot of adrenaline. It is as if the production makes the viewers ask themselves "What if there really exists a fungus capable of all this?"
The hierarchical and authoritarian structure that is formed after the destruction of society seems so real that the series, for a moment, doesn't even seem like an adaptation of a game. Art imitates life. As George Orwell says in his book "1984": We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means; it is an end.
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