Hurst Hot Take: Trending new show “The Last of Us”


Eva Philips, Staff writer

It can be hard to carve out time during the semester for entertainment. Juggling schoolwork, extracurriculars, employment, and social life — not to mention minor details like sleeping and eating — can take up every last second of the 24 hours in a day. So finding a show so compelling that I have to set aside an hour every week to watch it is rare for me. But “The Last of Us” is that show. While it is based on a popular video game, knowledge of the game is optional to dive in and enjoy. Just three episodes in, it is already one of the most anticipated and popular shows of the new year. I had already been looking forward to the show ever since a friend showed me a trailer for it last semester. It airs on HBOMax every Sun-day at 9 p.m., and each new episode spawns a new tide of memes, TikTok videos and tweets. Binge-watching is increasingly popular these days, but there’s something to be said about the more traditional experience of watching a new episode every week and having the week to discuss recent developments, emotional moments and plot speculation with friends and family near and far. Fair warning — while “The Last of Us” is not horror, it is certainly an apocalyptic thriller with plenty of jump scares and moments of tension. But it also has humor, heartbreak and everything in between. The excellent cast is led by Pedro Pascal, who stars in “The Mandalorian” as a grizzled father figure with a heart of gold, a role remarkably similar to his role in “The Last of Us.” The show opens on a normal day, following a teenage girl going about an ordinary day in Texas — from home to school and back home again. But watch closely, and you might catch foreshadowing of the impending zombie apocalypse. In “The Last of Us,” the culprit is a mutated fungus that takes control of the human body. Luckily, no such phenomenon exists in nature, and scientists have reassured the public that such a mutation is highly unlikely, even with the changes wrought by global warming. Even so, it is a terrifying premise, especially just a few years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Watching the warning signs of the spreading plague in the show evokes chilling memories of the early months of 2020. The suspense builds to a violent peak within the first half of episode one, with twists and turns that immediately make the viewer sympathetic for Joel, played by Pedro Pascal. A time jump takes the audience twenty years after the onset of the fungal apocalypse, where stellar worldbuilding depicts crumbling cities overtaken by nature, a military government using force to maintain order in dreary conditions, and whisperings of a rebel movement protesting the harsh conditions of martial law. We see Joel scraping out a difficult existence by working as a smuggler, cynical and jaded after years of hardship. But by the end of episode one, there’s a glimmer of hope for the world in the form of a teenage girl who is seemingly immune to the deadly fungus. Is she the key to a cure? That is what Joel and everyone who is hooked on this show is wondering. To find out, carve out some time to tune in. You will not regret it.