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Commentary Entertainment

“Last of Us”: spores, rapport and call for encore

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

Pedro Pascal has returned to the TV screen as a surrogate adoptive father figure helping navigate an orphaned child across a dangerous area. 

No, I am not referring to “The Mandalorian.” We’ve still got a couple more weeks before season three hits the screen.

Of course, I’m talking about the new HBO hit, “The Last of Us”!

Based on the massively successful Playstation game of the same name, the show takes place 20 years after a fungal pandemic wipes out most of the world and turns them into essentially mushroom zombies. (Sounds weird, but it’s not. Trust me.)

The survivors are left fighting on their own or in Quarantine Zones run by the authoritative remnants of the U.S. Military.

Warning! I will discuss spoilers, so if you haven’t watched the show and plan on it, stop reading.

As of this writing, only four episodes are out, though two of them are an hour and a half long while the others are an hour. 

So that’s already about five hours of content, and oh boy, have they packed the show full of it.

Right off the bat, I love it. The show is phenomenal. Chef’s kiss. This is coming from a guy who never played the games and is going into this completely blind.

The story draws you in immediately, getting you attached to all the characters and seeing life before the apocalypse. 

Since I had no idea what to expect from this show, I genuinely thought Sarah was going to be one of the main protagonists. So when they killed her halfway through episode one, that threw me off as I had already gotten really attached to her.

Overall Pedro Pascal delivers a convincing and compelling performance. God, is there anything that man can’t do? 

The show manages to both take its time setting up characters and scenarios but also move at a steady pace where it never feels like it drags.

The first episode spends the first half in the pre-apocalypse world and shows how the outbreak occurred, then the second half 20 years later post-apocalypse.

In a single episode alone it manages to feel like two very different episodes with different tones and styles, yet it flows and works so well. This is just one part of the masterful writing this show has.

Of course, I have to mention episode three. Arguably one of the best episodes of TV I’ve seen. 

When Tess died in episode two, I truly didn’t feel much – like it sucked, but I wasn’t too upset. However, in episode three we are introduced to Bill and Frank and within an hour they die – and oh my god is it devastating. 

The writing and directing of this show is so phenomenal that in the span of an hour they manage to get us so invested in this side love story between Bill and Frank that when they both die together, there are lots of tears.

Yes, I’m not ashamed to admit I was crying. Part of it may have been the hopeless romantic in me, but genuinely the whole Bill and Frank storyline was just beautifully written.

I’d like to say they truly “beat” the apocalypse. They got to live a mostly peaceful life, with each other’s love and then go out on their own terms completely satisfied with the life they lived.

Okay, moving on *wipes away a tear while writing this*. Another thing I like about the show is the subtle world-building. It can easily explain what’s going on casually while also moving the story along. It never feels like it’s dumping exposition down your throat.

The show spends enough time showing the past and progressively showing the world falling apart and the post-apocalypse in the present day.

They are even able to casually talk about things like what caused the outbreak. A major difference from shows like “The Walking Dead” is that simply brush past it, despite the fact that it’s the burning question on everyone’s mind.

I could go on a huge rant about “The Walking Dead,” but that’s not the point of this article. The point is “The Last of Us” is simply better, and that’s the fact. This says a lot considering “The Walking Dead” has a million seasons and “The Last of Us” only has released four episodes.

The show is also quite terrifying when you think about just how realistic everything is. This show is arguably the most realistic zombie scenario I’ve seen depicted. 

The cause of the outbreak is a fungus called cordyceps, which is a real fungus that actually exists. It’s also known as the “zombie fungus” because it can infect small insects and take control of them like puppets essentially turning them into little monsters…or zombies.

The only reason it doesn’t do that to humans is that it cannot survive at temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. 

However, in the show, it evolves due to none other than global warming. Thus all it took was a few humans getting infected and it was quickly able to spread.

What makes it scarier is experts have said that this scenario isn’t even that far fetched. A group of professors at Duke University’s School of Medicine came out with their own research shortly after the show gained popularity.

They say that while yes, right now we are safe and the fungus has not evolved and is not likely to in the near future, the way the show depicts the outbreak isn’t necessarily that far off of what would actually happen if cordyceps did infect humans. 

They also do make it known that cordyceps evolving due to global warming is also not that far out of the realm of possibility. So essentially, this scenario playing out is currently very unlikely, yet very much not impossible.

As of right now though, cordyceps are only a threat to ants and other small insects, so hopefully, that puts you at ease and you can sleep tonight. Sorry.

If anything, this show is just bringing more awareness to some very drastic effects that climate change has. 

Anyways, I’ll end this by saying that the show is overall phenomenal and I recommend everyone check it. I rate 10 out of 10 fungus spores.

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