The Last of Us Season 1 Finale Review: Joel's Epic Moment of Truth
HBO's The Last of Us S01E09 "Look for the Light" offers a strong finish to an epic season, highlighted by some amazing Pedro Pascal moments.
The season finale of HBO's The Last of Us in "Look for the Light" parallels the conclusion of Part I of the game almost note-for-note. As consistent with the TV series, Pedro Pascal's Joel and Bella Ramsey's Ellie and their pilgrimage and the barbarism consistent with dystopian fantasy continues to be the focus rather than the infected who happen to also inhabit their world. When we last left the two, Ellie manages to save Joel thanks to not only her makeshift stitching skills but also the antibiotics courtesy of David (Scott Shepherd) and his cannibal town. The following contains minor spoilers of the episode.
The Last of Us: A Familiar Face
The cold opening sees a pregnant woman Anna, played by Part I's star Ashley Johnson, who was the original Ellie in both Naughty Dog PlayStation games. We see how badass Anna is even in a physically limited capacity as she not only carries her daughter but staves off a few infected in the process. The opening doesn't really expand much that the game didn't already reveal that Anna and Marlene (Merle Dandridge) were close. Given the grim way the series treats its original video game counterparts, you can probably predict what happens to Johnson's character. It's a shame she and Troy Baker never shared scenes together in the HBO series.
Back to the present day, Ellie's dealing with her own PTSD, given the trauma from her encounter with David. Those who've played the game won't be surprised by what goes down, and series-only viewers should know that it translates well on television. If you're expecting one final last hurrah against the infected this season as you did in the game, you'll probably be disappointed. Again, as a series that prides itself on building its characters beyond just the threats the game puts them through, it's not a disappointment. In fact, it's a triumph. If the series included all the game content, there would be pacing issues that would affect balance. Being able to take the essence of the game and bring it to life on the small screen with layered details that expand on the original source material is an aspect of the series that's not nearly celebrated enough.
The drama Part I lays out is enough of a foundation that serves "Look for the Light." Directed by Ali Abbasi and written by creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, the final arc had a bit of a Sergio Leonne spaghetti western feel, which is about as consistent with Pascal's characters. We've already seen it in action with the previous episode in "When We Are in Need" and on the Disney+ Star Wars series The Mandalorian. Druckmann knew what he had in the game didn't need to be messed with for the series, and it played out perfectly all the way to the epilogue. What will be interesting is where they'll start the second season since 2002's Part II is heavily reliant on flashbacks and shifts to a different new main character in Abby. Guess we'll have to wait and see when that happens. But for now, HBO's The Last of Us lived up to its hype and then some, opening up a world of interesting possibilities moving forward.