Video Games

How The Last of Us TV Series Makes Its Opening Even More Heartbreaking

WARNING: Includes full spoiler The Last of Us premiere, and the start of video games.

In 2013, writer Neil Druckmann and developer Naughty Dog traumatized a generation of gamers with what could very well be the most devastating opening in video game history (i.e. until The Last of Us Part II came out). The Last of Us opens with the infamous Gut Punch, where players see a devastated Joel holding his dying daughter in his arms in the midst of a burgeoning zombie apocalypse. It’s one of the things that made The Last of Us a touchstone for him, establishing an integral part of the protagonist’s motivations and setting the stage for an emotionally demanding game.

How do you follow up when you adapt it to a TV series? Apparently you even do it more Heartbreaking. Showrunners Druckmann and Craig Mazin could have adapted the game’s opening one-on-one with her, which would still have been an effective introduction, but instead they’d opted for Sarah (Nico in her hoodie). ) provided me with valuable time. An opportunity to slowly build a chilling tension. The end result – Sarah dies in Joel’s (Pedro Pascal) arms – is the same, but her journey to get there is as true to her predecessor as it is to how the adaptation is. is an important example of what can be built into

What has changed and what has remained the same

The TV series doesn’t change the opening as much as they add.In fact, the running time of the intro literally doubles. in the game, it takes about 15 minutes between pressing play and seeing the first title card, but the series lasts even longer, taking 34 minutes to set the environment before jumping 20 years into the future. Of that, only about 10 minutes was spent directly adapting the game scene. Specifically, when Joel, Sarah, and Tommy (Gabriel Luna) take a booking out of town and stay loyal to the source until Joel shows he’s been elected. To pass by families begging for help.

So what will fill the remaining 24 minutes? The Doctor explains (interestingly, the game saved that snippet after the initial intro, placing it above the opening credits following the title card, showing a panicked news report). This helps build up the tension a bit before essentially going on a day in Sarah’s life.

Instead, we spend precious time with her, seeing the world through her eyes hours before it descends into chaos. It starts with her preparing eggs for Joel’s birthday at breakfast. From there, she goes to school, hits the streets to fix Joel’s watch, reluctantly spends time with her neighbors, and sees her daily routine as she watches in horror as the pandemic begins to unfold.

Why Change Matters

Given that Sarah was still killed off in the premiere, these additions might seem like a luxurious way to extend an already enormous 86-minute episode. co-written) clearly has more considered goals based on adding weight to Sarah’s eventual death. There is her humanity in her mundaneness, and by quietly observing her seemingly insignificant actions, we gain insight into her as a character, and in the process We feel her attachment to her more.

In the morning we get to know her as a caretaker of sorts, weaving in a charming banter between her, Joel and Tommy while making sure her dad gets his birthday breakfast. You may have seen her hand a stationary clock to Joel, but I didn’t see the thought of heading into town to fix it. While clearly not thrilled to be there, she is a devoted enough daughter to listen to Joel’s demands without much discussion.

There is something powerful and most importantly human look what she’s doing


Seeing all of this gives us important insight into her personality, which is something the game didn’t take long. Sure, joking with Joel on the couch In the meantime, I’ve found that Game Sarah is funny (“Drugs. I sell hardcore drugs” joke lives on in the show), and thoughtful about giving him the gift of a watch. there is something powerful and most importantly human look What she’s up to as well as knowing what happened somewhere off-screen. It paints a more fleshed out character picture we can relate to and empathize with, making it all the more heartbreaking when she is inevitably offended. I’m not going to compare it to actor Troy Baker’s performance, both of which are absolutely poignant in Sarah’s death scene.

In that regard, it has the added benefit of making you think she’s going to be the main character if you don’t know any better – and given that HBO sells the series far beyond those who’ve played the game. and many people please do not We know Sarah won’t live to see the end of the episode. It gives you ideas for betting.

Sarah is also our anchor as the outbreak unfolds, and this is where we get lazy by not applauding Nico Parker’s performance for what might be short-lived. , the tears streaming down her eyes as she struggles to keep her composure while Tommy and Joel run them out of town is a nice touch. And Parker shows genuine terror when he sees the brutal Adler. Chilling.

What it means for the series

As with any adaptation, one of the main issues facing HBO’s The Last of Us is how much it deviates from the source material. But The Last of Us’ story could very easily be transferred to TV without many tweaks and still be riveting, so that question probably weighs more on this adaptation than it does on others. After all, more than A few YouTube compilations that tell a compelling story simply by piecing together key cutscenes from The Last of Us.

But the best adaptations are the ones that not only do the story justice, but also evolve it—the ones that use the medium to bridge the gap between characters and worldbuilding. gives Druckmann who is all this, an opportunity to improve his own work ten years ago, an opportunity that many writers kill. You can’t judge the TV version by the premiere alone – his 34 minutes in that premiere, no less – but Druckmann’s reimagining of one of the game’s most iconic scenes in his own right is what Druckmann did. has made it clear that he will not rest on his storytelling laurels because of this.

It also means that fans still recovering from the game’s devastation (and from the emotional squeeze that was The Last of Us Part II) have a lot of heartbreak to endure. Hey, at least there won’t be tears on the controller this time, right?

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