The last of us on Amazon Prime Video: birth of a cult series

The meeting of two solitudes:

Joel (Pedro Pascal),
a smuggler who helps
a teenager, Ellie (Bella Ramsay) to cross an America of all dangers. Prime Video

DECRYPTION – After the release, Monday, March 12 on Amazon Prime Video, of the last episode of season 1 of this adaptation of the eponymous video game, the first essment of an extraordinary fiction where it is a question of zombies and instinct of survival. Waiting for the sequel.

The dragons of Westeros will have to learn to share their throne with the vegetated undead of The Last of Us. And it is not the ninth and last episode aired yesterday that will disappoint all the hopes placed in the adaptation of the cult video game . This transposition earned HBO record audiences worthy of the beginnings of Game of Thrones and its House of the Dragon prologue. In eight weeks, the wanderings of Joel, the smuggler, and Ellie, the teenager he must convoy across the United States ravaged by a parasitic fungus that transforms its victims into zombies, have increased their audience by 74% . More than 8 million people followed their progress live. Online on HBO Max (Prime video in France), the first season has around 30 million views per chapter. This enthusiasm salutes the demanding and counter-intuitive choices of Craig Mazin (Chernobyl) and Neil Druckmann, the game’s creator.

Immediate threat

Rather than betting walking dead on the terror aroused by their zombies, the duo, however very faithful to the game (some sequences are repeated shot by shot), showed these monsters and bet on the fights with parsimony. The “infected”, contaminated by cordyceps – these fungi which take control of living beings – are absent from the last two parts. The immediate threat to Joel and Ellie: their fellow human beings, driven mad by survival instinct. The series, which flirts with the western in large desolate and hostile spaces, blows on the last embers of humanity.

Founding Mourning

The series shone with stalls, ping encounters that bruise the heroes as well as the spectators, permanent stab wounds forcing this crew to split the shell. These parentheses chronicle what remains of civilization and innocence. There was the improbable love affair set against a backdrop of a world in ruins between Bill, the conspiratorial and conservative survivalist, and Frank, the survivor art lover. Then Henry and Sam. The older brother committing appalling acts of denunciation for his deaf and mute younger brother. Brave, swearing like a carter, Ellie confessed her feelings to her best friend only to lose her immediately after a magical trip to an abandoned shopping center. This founding mourning echoes the death of Joel’s daughter, in his arms, in the early hours of the pandemic. Moments of grace, calm and poetry, such as those grazing giraffes in a Salt Lake City square, invariably precede tragedy.

Decisive and disturbing sequences

The Last of us is the culmination of two solitudes. Joel (rough and aged Pedro Pascal) has locked his soul and rejects his role as a surrogate father. Ellie (Bella Ramsey, childlike wonder and will of steel) adopts him immediately and never ceases to ail him with questions and jokes.

The season, which has done a goldsmith’s work on the past of its silent heroes, completes the story of Ellie’s origins by revealing the circumstances of her birth and confronts her with a succession of perils. These sequences, as decisive as they are disturbing, pose the haunting question of the preponderance of the common good, of the collective over the individual. How much personal sacrifice is (un)bearable? To treat badly injured Joel, Ellie haggles with a community led by a cannibalistic preacher. Staggering in weakness, Joel finally splits the armor. This budding affection pushes him to the ultimate transgression vis-à-vis those who want to examine the teenager to understand the key to her immunity to cordyceps. He will have to contemplate murder. What a glimpse of a second season of tears and blood. With ever more difficult choices. The essence of a cult series.

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