The Last of Us
~ A Capsule TV Review by Allen Kopp ~
The Sunday night HBO series, The Last of Us, is set in a dystopian world of present-day America. Civilization is ravaged, America is in tatters, and the people remaining are in big trouble. What happened, you may ask? Ever hear the word “pandemic”? (Of course you have!) In 2003, twenty years before the action of the story takes place, the Outbreak occurred. In one weekend, the world (or most of the people in it) was decimated by a parasitic fungus known as Cordyceps.
Cordyceps is a nasty thing from hell. It wasn’t supposed to infect humans, but it did. Since it’s a parasite, it takes over the host (whoever he or she might be) and eventually kills them, in a matter of days or weeks. While the infected are free to roam, they are ravaging, horrifying beasts, with things like tree roots growing from their heads and bodies. The one objective of the infected is to infect those who are not yet infected by and turn them into more horrifying beasts. Is there any antidote or cure? Not that anybody knows.
We have to have a main character to deal with this mess, don’t we? He’s a middle-aged man named Joel Miller. He’s stolid, square-jawed, and reluctantly heroic. He has known plenty of heartache. On the day of the Outbreak, he lost his teenage daughter. Fast-forward twenty years to 2023. He has a girlfriend named Tess.
Joel and Tess have been living the best they could in such a horrible world. Well, Tess is quickly dispatched and Joel ends up with a fourteen-year-old girl in his care named Ellie. How he happened to have Ellie with him isn’t fully explained, but I suppose it will be explained further in future episodes. He has a brother named Tommy who is out west somewhere, presumably in the state of Wyoming. He is trying to get to his brother because he has heard he’s in trouble. He’s taking Ellie with him because there’s some kind of clinic out there that might be able to use her in finding a cure for the Cordyceps. She has been bitten by one of the infected—don’t you know?—but didn’t come to be infected herself. It might be that she, unlike anybody else, has natural immunity. She might (or might not) be the hope of mankind. We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed.
We’ve seen stories before like The Last of Us set in a post-apocalyptic world, so it isn’t anything entirely new. (Did anybody see the movie The Road or read the novel? Did anybody see the movie The Book of Eli?) People seem to be fascinated with end-of-the-world stories. It’s speculative, horror, science fiction and fantasy all rolled into one. Not for eight-year-olds.
Copyright © 2023 by Allen Kopp