The following article contains spoilers for episode one of The Last Of Us – be warned!
Is it too early to call The Last Of Us the best video game adaptation we’ve ever seen on screen?
The first episode of HBO’s mega-budget adaptation of NaughtyDog’s hit 2013 game was unbearably tense, vividly recreating many stand-out moments from the source material’s earliest chapters – but with some intriguing tweaks.
Later episodes flesh out the surrounding world and supporting cast with more depth than the original iteration of the PlayStation classic, whereas this opener remains largely faithful in how it sets the stage for the adventure ahead.
The most noticeable change so far is that the dystopian pandemic future has been moved back from 2033 to 2023, which is completely ridiculous, of course – who could imagine living through a pandemic in the year 2023?
For fans of the games, there are several nods to the source material throughout which may go over the heads of newcomers.
One of these is the switchblade Ellie carries – casual audiences may recognise that this is her signature weapon in the games, but it has a deeper significance likely to come into play later this season.
Origins Of The Switchblade
In the prequel comic series American Dreams, we learn that the switchblade was given to Marlene (a Firefly leader) by her friend Anna, Ellie’s mother, who died when her daughter was just a day old.
In the 2013 game, Ellie also received a letter alongside the switchblade, in which her mother wrote about leaving her in the care of Marlene. It spoke of how she thought she didn’t like children until holding her daughter in her arms, ending with the words “make me proud, Ellie!”
Although a minor character within the Last Of Us universe, Anna is likely to have a greater impact later this season. We already know from trailers that Ashley Johnson (who portrayed Ellie in the games) will be playing Anna in the show.
Neil Druckmann, creator of the original game and co-creator of the series, has previously insisted that Anna’s backstory would be much more significant within the TV adaptation, as he now has the space to further explore a character he wasn’t able to within the source material.
The reveal of the switchblade in this first episode, even though its origins remain unspoken, is a first step towards exploring this crucial early chapter in Ellie’s life.
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