The premise this time around is that Ellie and Joel load themselves up at Bill’s before continuing on their journey. Unfortunately, no sooner do they arrive at something passing civilization then they end up getting ambushed by the Hunters. Ellie and Joel are forced from their vehicle and have to confront the humanity of their opponents even as they are in a kill or be killed situation.
I feel like the show suffers for the unwillingness to show Joel as a badass strangling, stabbing, and murdering baddies. You might argue that this would take away from the dramatic storytelling but it’s also the bedrock on which The Last of Us is built upon. If you’re trying to make a video game adaptation that is serious and touching, don’t ignore that it is an action/stealth game.
Still, the episode has a lot of extremely good bits, though. At one point, Joel turns the tables on a Hunter and the man dies begging for his mother. It’s a good moment. that establishes that every human they’re going to encounter throughout this story is a “normal” person driven to desperation by horrific events. However, I also feel like this moment goes on a bit too long and Joel would have put him down much earlier.
Really, the best elements of this episode are Joel slowly lowering his guard around Ellie. Joel doesn’t want to bond with her but her charming personality and humanity is something that is slowly warming up his ice cold heart. I think it was important to establish Joel as dead inside in prevuous episodes, one thing that Pedro Pascal struggles with as his natural likability is hard to cast, but we’re getting to some of my favorite parts of the game now.
In conclusion, a really solid and entertaining episode that gets to the heart of what makes the game work: Ellie and Joel’s relationship. Sadly, I do think they’re missing the opportunity to do some fantastic action sequences.
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