new episodes of Last of Us premieres every Sunday night on HBO and stars Ars’ Kyle Orlando (who has played the game) and Andrew Cunningham (who has not yet played the game). talk about them here Shortly after the episode aired.These recaps don’t delve into every plot point in the episode, but they clearly heavy spoiler so watch the episode first if you want to go fresh.
Kyle: In addition to the obvious “plot-forward” bit of reuniting Joel and his brother Tommy, how deeply this episode engages with the mental and physical pain of aging surprised a clearly traumatized Joel. This sort of thing is alluded to in games, especially in sequels, but it’s kind of a vague undercurrent beneath Joel’s popular image of “unflappable survivor badass.”
The Jackson commune they end up in may be the only place that’s truly safe, perhaps even truly comfortable, other than in the flashbacks we’ve seen. no flags and no signs of infection. They are not doomsday preppers trying to go it alone. They have Christmas lights! They have a movie night.
Along with that setting, something about seeing his brother again — seeing a close friend or family member you haven’t seen in a while makes it easy to revert to an earlier version of yourself — completely breaks Joel’s defenses. Shattering, shattering all his emotional subtext…his relationship with Ellie just crumbles.
Kyle: It’s kind of tangent, but this episode and the episode 3 that preceded it are a keen reminder of how important stable electricity is to modern, peaceful societies. The only major difference from a commune is that people can be provided with running water, heating and movies to keep the children busy.
Having electricity and alcohol seems to really give people the upper hand in this episode. If it weren’t for the barricades (and the handwritten labels on every whiskey bottle in the bar, which is a nice touch), Jackson might be pretty much a normal town.
That being said, it feels like a few dozen Kansas City guys with heavy artillery could overrun this idyllic hamlet and destroy it incredibly quickly.
It also doesn’t hurt that Jackson has a consistent source of hydro power. This is not possible in many other places.
Kyle: Well, if this fad had happened just 20 years later, there would be a lot of solar panels around to repurpose!
Andrew: A huge wind farm available! It’s not going to be political, but wouldn’t renewable energy be good?
Kyle: We need a Green New Deal to protect us from the zombie apocalypse!
Andrew: “I can’t believe these communist parties are trying to rob us right It’s about contracting a deadly mushroom virus,” says Tucker Carlson.
Kyle: Speaking of politics, I liked Tommy’s reaction to the undeniable fact that he lived under communism for years and loved it. You can almost see his brain rewire itself in real time.
The big emotional decisions in this episode feel a little rushed. . it works. It’s just a big pivot point in their relationship and everything happens very quickly.
Are my timely sitcom tropes working for you?
Like many action sequences in the show, the science lab action sequence is so straightforward that it’s a little difficult to comment on. A small roving band of generic jerks come across our heroes and a fight ensues. I resonate with
And a whole sequence with monkeys and college, and everything set my “this feels like a video game” sensor.
Kyle: you’re not. For as long as I can remember, his last 15 minutes of the episode were pretty true to the game. We’ll have Joel and Ellie predict what will happen after this cliffhanger…
Survival-trained Ellie suddenly finds herself in an unlikely guardian role while Joel recovers, and enlists an unlikely friend or two for his help. I’m not sure about that, but I’m more certain than I am that the show lets the main character die so quickly.
Kyle: I’d like to cite the first season of Game of Thrones as a counter-example, but I’m pretty sure no one at HBO uses it as a guide document…