Warning: This article contains spoilers for the first episode of The Last of Us, as well as the intro to the video game of the same name.
After considerable buzz and attention in the weeks leading up to the series premiere, HBO’s live-action adaptation of The Last of Us has finally released its first episode. With a runtime of over 80 minutes, it not only stays faithful to the original storyline present in the 2013 video game, but adds more layers to its introduction, offering viewers an even more emotionally stirring story.
While the video game kicks things off with the chaos of the infected and Joel’s loss of his daughter Sarah, the television series opts for a much slower descent into madness, allowing viewers to bond with the young teenager played brilliantly by Nico Parker.
For the better part of a half hour, Sarah is the focal point of the episode, as we are essentially shown what life looks like from her perspective. The audience starts the day with her as she wakes up, and follows her about her day: as she has breakfast with her dad on his birthday, goes to school, visits a repair shop, bakes cookies with her elderly neighbor, and settles in for a late night movie with her dad.
This change adds a lot more weight to the compassion felt for Pedro Pascal’s character Joel, who has to cradle his bleeding child in his arms before she succumbs to an unfortunate gunshot wound to the stomach. By building up the character for the audience, her death is much more sorrowful than it would have been if we were to begin the episode thrust into the heat of Joel, Tommy, and Sarah’s getaway attempt at making it to freedom.
What this addition also succeeds at doing is fooling audience members who are not familiar with the video game into thinking that Sarah has a much larger role to play in the series. Even fans of the game would undoubtedly have a bit of a hard time not feeling the pain of losing the character, considering she spent the bulk of her time on screen proving she was a character filled with much heart.
From her adorable quest to fix her father’s watch, to the banter between her and her father and uncle, the character Sarah is fleshed out in the series, allowing fans to mourn her properly, and understand the magnitude of Joel’s loss to a larger degree.
The Last of Us will run on HBO for a total of nine episodes until March 12, and is being hailed as one of the greatest video game adaptations of all time.