The Reel Review


Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey star in this HBO Max action/adventure sci-fi horror series about two survivors – an anti-hero badass and a young girl who may possess the cure to a global extinction event caused by a highly infectious Cordyceps fungus – as they make their way across America to meet with scientists trying to develop a cure. The series is based on the popular 2013 video game, just changing the mode of infection from airborne spores to tendrils to make it more visually terrifying.

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us

Showrunners Craig Mazin (Chernobyl) and the video game’s co-creator Neil Druckmann have performed a rare feat – creating an adaptation of that game that pays homage to it (even including many of the game’s major set pieces) while also building way more emotional depth in its characters. Game of Thrones alums Pascal and Ramsey exhibit perfect on-screen chemistry as Joel and Ellie, gradually learning to trust and love one another while making their epic journey. Episode Three, starring Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett (The White Lotus) as two gay men navigating life and love through this pandemic is one of the all-time bests in portraying a realistic and touching LGBTQ+ love story.

Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett in Episode 3 of The Last of Us

Reminiscent of other post-apocalyptic creations such as Children of Men, The Road and The Walking Dead, Season One culminates in an emotion-packed finale that reveals the likely source of young Ellie’s immunity to the infection and comes full circle with Ellie’s initial protector Marlene – played by Merle Dandridge, who also voiced that character in the video game. Although the last couple of episodes feel a bit rushed, The Last of Us is still an outstanding complement to the video game that also stands alone on its own, revealing the many facets of the power of love.


A grasshopper infected with the Cordyceps fungus

• While the Cordyceps fungus is a real fungus that paralyzes the brains of spiders, ants and other insects, such an infection is not possible in humans, due to our high internal body temperatures.

Pedro Pascal as Oberyn Martell and Bella Ramsey as Lyanna Mormont in Game of Thrones

• With a reported salary of $600,000 per episode, Pedro Pascal currently is one of the highest paid actors in television, having won the role over Mahershala Ali, Jon Bernthal, Josh Brolin, Gerard Butler, Joel Edgerton, Michael Fassbender, Harrison Ford, Jon Hamm, David Harbour, Tom Hardy, Chris Hemsworth, Hugh Jackman, Matthew McConaughey, and Keanu Reeves – all of whom either auditioned or were considered for the role.

• Among the actresses who either auditioned or were considered for Bella Ramsey’s role: Julia Butters, Kaitlyn Dever, Elle Fanning, McKenna Grace, Dafne Keen, Bailee Madison, Thomasin McKenzie, Nico Parker (who was cast as Joel’s daughter in Episode 1), Eliza Scanlen, Izabela Vidovic, Maisie Williams


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