The first episode of the highly anticipated video-game television adaption has not disappointed, many critics agree. (Spoiler-Free!)
I am not a critic. I am a fan of the video game, though. I played it to completion within days of its release.
I fondly remember the day it arrived. My brother ordered it from a site that sent the game out a day before its UK release. I was a student at the time, and probably bunked off to play it. I can’t remember now exactly, although I do remember when the Joel edition (pictured below) arrived I was there to recieve it. I knew nothing of the game, and decided to give it a whirl.
By the time I reached the aftermath of the apocolpyse I had shed several tears I didn’t expect to let out that day, and I was completely hooked. This was it, the best story-driven game I had experienced to that point, and likely, ever. The characters and story were so well-written, wonderfully animated, and brilliantly acted.
It’s a gritty, grim, and emotive story with a father/daughter relationship at its core that in truth, I admit, made me wish I had a child of my own to form such a strong bond with.
When I was playing it through on Hard mode all those years ago, I can remember feeling a real sense of urgency when it came to protecting Ellie, as after just a few hours of being her protector I felt a strong paternal instinct. There are few games that have illicited such an emotional response from me, and as such it will forever hold a special place within my heart.
The sequel which came out in 2020 was a lesson in subverting expectations, to the outrage of many fans. I already hope the TV show won’t be so divisive. In fact, after season 1, I wouldn’t have a problem with them dumping most of the source material. This is, after all, a different take on the same story; I have high hopes for the show, and it doesn’t need to follow the same direction the sequel took. Anyone who has played the game will know what I mean…
The first episode of the HBO show starts off brilliantly, as they take the time to build the story, with a relatable scene to we who have lived through COVID, wherein pundits discuss pandemics, and the possibility of infection wiping out the human race. It’s an interesting opening that entices viewers new to the story while also rewarding fans by letting them know early-on how faithful they are going to be to the game’s story.
The tone and atmosphere of the show are spot-on! Every fan can agree with that. It’s a dangerous, dark world with scant hope. Our protagonist, Joel, who is brilliantly acted by Pedro Pascal, just so happens to be a dark and dangerous man with a broken watch. He seems like he is the wrong man for the job, as the protector of Ellie, a troubled teen who has no problem raising the middle finger to anyone, played by Bella Ramsey.
I have read from numerous sources that the actors were instructed not to play the games, or even watch them on YouTube because the showrunners wanted them to give their own performance to the characters. With how close this feels to the game, I highly doubt either of the main stars listened to this advice, and I think the show is even better for it. As for anyone complaining that Bella doesn’t resemble Ellie…I don’t think it matters at all. It’s a role that is going to be very demanding of the actress, and I think she is going to prove a lot of people wrong. Also, there’s a fierceness to Bella that I think suits the character well.
I can’t wait for the next episode. I know it has aired already by the time I’ve published this, although due to busy schedules I have to wait until my partner and I are both free to watch it together.
I’m highly optimistic at this point for what the show can become. Right now, it is loved, although in the future it may be loathed by some, as was the second installment in the game series. But there is no contest in my eyes, this is the best video-game adaption I’ve seen, and I am overjoyed as a long-time fan!
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