Spoilers don’t like the ones that run.

Okey, we’ve covered zombies before. It’s never about them, and always some sort of meta-commentary. However, I thought I’d still be all zombied-out after all the… What. Get off me. I said zombied-out. No, I haven’t been bitten. Would I be writing this if I was a zombie? I meant that I would be saturated of zombie-themed stories. Yeah, you be more specific, why don’t you. The point is, this one is another dystopian post-apocalyptic setting for an everyday story that just feels fresh.

The Last of Us (2023) was created by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann. Society has crumbled into small pockets of civilization while the world at large is contaminated by a fungus. Infected humans hunt down the survivors. Joel (Pedro Pascal) lost his daughter and now earns a living smuggling stuff and doing runs to the outside with his partner Tess (Anna Torv). They both live in the Boston Quarantine Zone, strictly controlled by the Federal Disaster Response Agency (FEDRA). After a shady deal falls through, Joel and Tess run into a rebel group known as the Fireflies who task them with escorting 14 year old Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across the wasteland. Ellie might be the key to ending the outbreak.

That’s not the pitch that sells it. It’s really about Joel, a hardened survivor and scavenger, and Ellie, the sarcastic teenager. They’ve both closed off at the idea of trusting another human being and suddenly end up having to trust each other. And so, we get a parent and a child bond starting in a post-apocalyptic world. The show will take small detours to tell other stories as well, but it’s the performances of Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey that will be the anchor of the show.

It works. The material is not overly complicated. We’re not interested in seeing monuments and famous buildings get destroyed. The focus is on the drama on a small scale where it’s relevant and painfully relatable. There’s enough fertile ground to cultivate the highs and lows of the human experience. So we get heroes, villains, sacrificial lambs, badasses, wimps and all the gamma of characters that thrive or fail in the dystopian landscape.

Highly recommended. Whether the science is viable is not as much of a priority as getting us hook into the character development and the world building. I have not played the game and have no reference as to whether it’s a faithful adaptation, and I don’t believe that should be relevant. The storytelling and the performances of the cast are excellent. Worth a watch.

That will do for now.