The Last of Us: Look for the Light & Season 1– TV Review

TL;DR – In a show about the end of the world, this is the first episode to truly explore the levels of violence that could be found in the ruins of the old world.  

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Disclosure – I paid for the Binge service that viewed this show.

Running for safety.

The Last of Us Review

When I started watching this season a couple of months ago, I came in with some trepidation. To begin with, many video game adaptations had fallen flat because those adapting them didn’t understand the genre or were embarrassed with the course material. Something that had already happened to one of Playstation’s marquee programs. Second, I was just coming off the masterclass of post-apocalyptic fiction with Station Eleven, and I knew I would constantly be comparing the two. But watching this first season, all my fears evaporated in amazement at what I was watching.    

So to set the scene, we open in the woods outside of Boston where a young woman Anna (Ashley Johnson), is running through the trees as screams erupt behind her. She is about to give birth, but the fungus waits for no one, and the walker bursts through a door as the contractions are coming. Fighting the creature off, she gives birth only to see she has been bitten on the leg. She cuts the umbilical cord before contamination could happen and entrusts the little baby Ellie into the care of her best friend Marlene (Merle Dandridge). In the show’s current timeline, Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) have made it to the outskirts of Salt Lake City, and the end of their journey is near. Now from here, we will be looking at the episode and the season as a whole, so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead. 

Joel and Ellie look out over Salt Lake City.
I have loved watching Joel and Ellie’s story. Image Credit: HBO.

For this review, we will first look at the final episode, Look for the Light, before discussing the series as a whole. I don’t know what it would be like for someone coming into this episode without knowing what is coming. Because I knew, and even that did not prepare me for the gut punch, that was Joel’s realisation that they would have to kill Ellie to save humanity. The long march down the stairs where you can see in his eyes the debate about what to do as grief and trauma threaten to overwhelm him. Indeed, this is an episode that is filled with solid character work throughout.

From the production side, I liked how the episode’s story was structured. You have the cold open linking us back to the first few episodes that revealed vital nuggets of information. Then we have the extended moments with just Ellie and Joel. Not only was this needed because the scene with the giraffes is iconic. You needed to reinforce that relationship and give a moment of calm before the flashbang goes off. Some people might be concerned that the season ends with a quiet moment. However, after everything that happened, you needed almost some aftercare to process it emotionally. On that note, another strength was the musical score. The musical score has been fantastic this whole season, and the choice to pull back the sound of the gunfight and promote the score is a choice that completely works in that moment.

The giraffe.
ICONIC. Image Credit: HBO.

When I took a look at the season as a whole, I was greatly surprised by how little the zombie analogies appear in this zombie apocalypse. That is not to say they are not there, with the endings of both When You’re Lost in the Darkness & Endure and Survive being a case study. However, the shift from spores to tendrils shifted the present from all present to heightened moments of terror. They are an ever-present threat, even if they rarely appear. It also gives space for more of the flawed and complex human characters to take centre stage.

The one thing that The Last of Us shines in its adaptation. You can adapt a work in many ways, and the previously mentioned Station Eleven makes some drastic changes to the source material. Here, bar some precise changes to moments, like Bill’s (Nick Offerman) story in Long, Long Time. It is almost a direct translation of the story beats. So much so that you can Google many side-by-side comparisons. They have added some elements; now that you know what is coming next season, they are more Easter Eggs than anything else.

Joel feels the weight of the blood on his hands.
This has been a season of difficult choices. Image Credit: HBO.

The direct adaptation has been frustrating for some because it is walking over the same path. However, I was happy to see it produced as well as we did here. The production design for this show is some of the best I have seen on TV. Nearly every detail was perfect, which takes a lot of money and artistry to pull off. It also helps that there are absolutely no weak links in the cast. I have talked about how good Pedro Pascal & Bella Ramsey are, but this season is filled with complex and broken characters that are consistently compelling. I also loved every time someone from the game popped up in the live-action.  

In the end, do we recommend The Last of Us Season 1? Absolutely. I would recommend it for Pedro Pascal & Bella Ramsey’s performance alone. Their bond alone is worth watching every moment. But more than that, every frame is a delight, and it is telling that even when I knew what was coming, I was here for every moment.                       

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you seen The Last of Us yet ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review
on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.    

Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The Last of Us
Directed by
– Ali Abbasi, Liza Johnson, Jasmila Žbanić, Jeremy Webb, Peter Hoar, Craig Mazin & Neil Druckmann
Written by – Craig Mazin & Neil Druckmann
Created by – Craig Mazin & Neil Druckmann
Based On – The Last of Us by Neil Druckmann and Naughty Dog
Production/Distribution Companies – Naughty Dog, PlayStation Productions, Sony Pictures Television, The Mighty Mint, Word Games, HBO & Binge
Starring – Pedro Pascal & Bella Ramsey With Anna Torv, Merle Dandridge, Gabriel Luna, Rutina Wesley, Storm Reid, Melanie Lynskey, Lamar Johnson, Nick Offerman, Murray Bartlett, Scott Shepherd, Troy Baker, Ashley Johnson &Nico Parker And Terry Chen, Graham Greene, Elaine Miles, Ian Rozylo, Ruby Lybbert, Keivonn Montreal Woodard, Jeffery Pierce, John Getz, Craig Hass, Ron J. Anderson, Adam Basil, Skye Belle Cowton, Juan Magana, Kevin Sateri, Marcus Aurelio, Rumbie Muzofa, Christine Hakim, Yayu A.W. Unru, Philip Prajoux, Oliver Ross-Parent, Samurl Hoeksema, John Hannah, Josh Brener, Christopher Heyerdahl, Brad, LeLand, Marcia Bennett, Brendan Fletcher, Jerry Wasserman, Ari Rombough, Sonia Maria-Chirila, Nelson Leis, Jason Vaisvila, Benjamin Rogers, Pardeeep Sooch, Andy McDermott, Primo Allon, Darren Dolynski, Ana Rice & Laura Bailey
Episodes viewedWhen You’re Lost in the Darkness, Infected, Long, Long Time, Please Hold to My Hand, Endure and Survive, Kin, Left Behind, When We Are in Need & Look for the Light


1 thought on “The Last of Us: Look for the Light & Season 1– TV Review

  1. Pingback: Ellie and Joel’s Journey in The Last of Us Season 1 – Map-It | TL;DR Movie Reviews and Analysis

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