We are just two days away from the release of the much anticipated “The Last Of Us” series, which aims to retell the incredible story from the game of the same name, that was released all the way back in 2013 for the Playstation by Naughty Dog. If you aren’t aware, the game tells the story of two survivors, Joel and Ellie (who are immune to the virus), surviving and traveling across America as it is left in shambles thanks to the Cordyceps brain infection. The land is populated by the infected, who have turned into monsters who are hostile and deadly, and what little life is left lives in pockets of “civilizations” called quarantine zones, which are run by the military. The world here is gritty, hopeless, gloomy, and grimdark, and the story will touch the deepest sections of your heart, so be prepared with a box of tissues for this one.
Usually, when video games are adapted to the TV format, the end result is bad or mediocre at best, but we have a feeling that “The Last of Us” will break that streak and deliver one of the finest video game adaptations we have ever seen in our lives. Joel is being played by actor Pedro Pascal, and Ellie is being played by actress Bella Ramsey, so it’s safe to say that the cast isn’t short on talent in that department. The showrunners have also continuously expressed that they love the source material and that this story will remain as true to the game as possible without deviating or adding a lot to it, which is a great sign of reassurance. All of that got us thinking: what will the first episode look like? Well, let’s speculate a bit, shall we?
The name of the first episode, according to IMDb, is “When You Are Lost in the Dark,” which is the first half of the mantra the Fireflies use in the game, “When You Are Lost in the Dark, Look For the Light.” Fireflies, if you aren’t aware, is a paramilitary group in the world of “The Last of Us” that is hellbent on finding a cure and ending the totalitarian rule imposed by the military. They are neither good nor bad, and without saying too much, you’ll learn more about them as the show progresses. The episode will also run for a whopping 85 minutes, which is much longer than a traditional TV show episode and is in movie territory. What will you get introduced to, with this episode, then? My guess is the prologue and the introduction to Act 1.
The game opens as you get introduced to our protagonist Joel and his daughter Sarah in their house in Texas. It’s Joel’s birthday, and Sarah gifts him a watch from the allowance money she has saved; she later falls asleep on the couch watching TV as Joel picks her up and puts her to bed. Sometime later, Sarah wakes up and looks for her dad, only to witness an explosion in the distance. Freaked out by what she saw, she frantically searches for her father downstairs as Joel charges inside the house looking for his gun. Before we know it, a freakish and feral human breaks in through the window, and Joel shoots him. Sarah remarks that he was their neighbor, and before they can process what’s going on, Joel’s brother Tommy shows up, and they try to escape in Tommy’s truck.
Tommy explains the situation a bit, as no one is aware of what’s truly going on, and they come across a huge traffic jam with everyone trying to escape. Things go from bad to worse as they make their way towards the city and are met with an accident that injures Sarah’s leg. Joel carries her while Tommy defends them. The city is in a state of panic, with people running everywhere and chaos all around. That’s when Tommy separates from Joel and Sarah and tells them to go forward and that he’ll meet them ahead. As Joel and Sarah try to escape, they are surrounded by a horde of these monsters and are saved by a military officer. Before they could do anything, the military officer got instructions to shoot anyone and everyone, which he hesitantly agreed to, and started firing toward Joel and Sarah. Before the officer can execute Joel, Tommy arrives and saves the day by shooting the officer in the head, and the brothers then realize that Sarah has been shot and is dying. Joel holds her daughter in his arms as she breathes her last breath and dies. Joel is left shattered as the screen cuts to the title card, and the game skips forward 20 years to 2033.
This gut-punching prologue is what I am expecting to be at the end of episode 1 of the show, especially when you consider the title “When You Are Lost In The Dark,” as this is a very dark scenario in Joel’s life. The game, at this point, had delivered a solid blow to its players, with no one being able to hold their tears thanks to the amazing cutscene direction and the fantastic performance by Troy Baker, so it’d be interesting to see if and how they’ll capture this moment that begins the story in live action.
While I do believe this is where episode 1 will end, the hour-and-a-half length makes me think maybe we’ll get a tad more, and they’ll introduce Ellie here as well. Basically, once the game skips 20 years forward, we see Joel living inside the Boston Quarantine Zone, where he has now become an infamous smuggler. He and his partner Tess are known for their cutthroat, no-BS attitude, are famous for being the people who get the job done, and are infamous for killing anyone and everyone if the situation calls for it. This is where they do a job that goes wrong, they end up killing one of their rival smugglers who sells them out and are then introduced to Marlene, the leader of the Fireflies. Marlene asks them to do a job for her that involves smuggling a “package” outside the city to the Capitol building, and that “package” is not a thing but a person, a young girl named Ellie. This is where we are introduced to the second protagonist of the game, Ellie, and the plot truly kicks off. They could go all the way and stop at the introduction of Ellie with the first episode, but your guess is as good as mine. If I were to bet, I’d say we will get introduced to Ellie in the first episode, if the show is structured and moves exactly as the game does. If not, then showing the death of Sarah and ending the first episode there, is also good enough place to stop.
This is one of the two scenarios you can expect from the first episode of “The Last Of Us” and what may happen in that episode which is, again, if they follow the story of the game through and through. The introduction of any new characters, like they are doing with Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, the original cast of the game, or changing the story in any way possible can lead to different outcomes, and we have no idea how they are going to handle this. We are just a couple of days away from the release of the episode, and we will find out soon enough how true this show really is. Until then, we wait in excitement and hope that this show will be an incredible and memorable one.