Summary of "Actually That Good" - The Last of Us Season 1 Analysis (HBO 2023) ft. @GameProf @levelstory

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00:00:00 - 01:00:00

The hosts of the YouTube video discuss various aspects of The Last of Us Season 1 in detail. They comment on the challenges of adapting a video game into a TV show and the changes and additions made to the characters' backstory. They also discuss the setting, character development, and tendency towards violence of Joel, as well as the potential evolution of fungal infections. The hosts analyze the reveal of Ellie's immunity and the challenges that may come with Season 2. They criticize certain scenes for being unnecessary and out of place, while praising others for their emotional impact and thematic importance. Overall, they offer an in-depth analysis of The Last of Us Season 1.

  • 00:00:00 In this section, the group discusses the first episode of The Last of Us season one, "When You're Lost in the Darkness." They note that while there were a few scenes transplanted from the game that felt out of place, they didn't have a problem with it overall. They also discuss the absence of Amy Hennig and the benefits of the tag team of Craig Mazin and Neil Druckman. The episode covers the outbreak of the pandemic and the death of Joel's daughter, Sarah, before flashing forward to his life as a smuggler. The group discusses the changes and additions made to the backstory of the characters, which they believe effectively set up their motivations for the rest of the season.
  • 00:05:00 In this section, the analysts discuss the challenges of adapting a video game like The Last of Us into a TV show. The lack of player engagement with the characters and story means that the show must use different tools to connect with the audience. The first episode is given more time to establish characters and create empathy since the player is not actively directing them in the way that they do in the game. Furthermore, the show delves deeper into the science behind the pandemic, which allows it to explore the processes and procedures that make a global outbreak possible. This approach helps to resolve the tension between the fantastical nature of the game and our sense of reality. Additionally, the shift from an interactive to a passive medium means that some changes must be made to the characters' personalities to make them more appealing to the audience.
  • 00:10:00 In this section of the video, the hosts discuss the intense and well-done opening of "The Last of Us" series, which sets the tone for the rest of the show. They also point out the decision to have the show take place 20 years after the pandemic hits in 2003, which provides an interesting perspective on life before and after the apocalypse. The hosts also discuss the surprising plot twist revealed in the first episode, which mirrors the game's storyline. They appreciate the show's attempt to do something different and the fact that it has garnered widespread appeal even among non-TV watchers. Finally, they briefly touch on the show's decision to change the dates to match the year of release, which they find intriguing.
  • 00:15:00 In this section of the video, the hosts discuss the setting of The Last of Us series and the character development of Joel. The show takes place two years after 9/11, and the hosts feel that it was interesting to include a shot of George Bush to capture the political climate of the time. They also note that Joel is slightly different in the show compared to the game, as the audience gets to see a more affable and lovable version of him. The hosts discuss how the characters in the show discuss Joel and his capacity for good, which is a slight difference from the game. However, the hosts feel that this sets up the idea that Joel has good in him, along with a brutal pragmatism.
  • 00:20:00 In this section of the video, the hosts discuss the character of Joel and analyze his tendency toward violence. While they agree that he is not necessarily a sadist, they note that there is a meanness to Joel's actions and an almost pragmatic efficiency to his violence. They also discuss the potential evolution of fungal infections and how it could lead to a worldwide outbreak, as depicted in the show. They then recap the events of episode two, where the characters encounter blind infected and Tess sacrifices herself to buy Joel and Ellie time to escape. The hosts praise the excellent acting in the episode and find the flashback scenes to be particularly interesting.
  • 00:25:00 focusing on the nitty-gritty details of the cordyceps and how it works, but in this section of the video, the speakers discuss how the gross and haunting Jakarta sequence sets expectations for how a cure for the cordyceps virus could actually be made, and lends credence to Joel's reticence to entertain the idea of sacrificing Ellie. They also touch on how if done poorly, the focus on the sci-fi elements could completely change the genre of the story, but ultimately, they agree that the sequences are well done and do not detract from the overall narrative.
  • 00:30:00 In this section, the speakers discuss their thoughts on the reveal of Ellie's immunity in The Last of Us Season 1, with one saying that while it works for a casual viewer, pushing the gas a bit harder on this element could have changed the genre and the understanding of the story. They also speculate on the challenges that could come with a Season 2, with the need for restraint and whether the story can sustain it. The speakers touch on how the story could be read metaphorically and allegorically and whether raising scientific questions about the story's plausibility misses the point. They then discuss the ending sequence of the episode, with one sharing their surprise at Tess's death and the mechanics that led to it.
  • 00:35:00 In this section of the video, the analysts discuss the scene where a character blows herself up in front of a group of zombies. While the scene is intended to be a gross-out moment, the analysts agree that it is unnecessary and does not contribute to the story or character development. Moreover, the idea of adding a physical intimacy dimension to a zombie attack feels uncomfortable and bad for no reason. They also point out that this scene is the only change from the original game that the analysts do not like, and it feels weird and out of place in the overall series.
  • 00:40:00 In this section, the YouTubers discuss a particular scene from the first episode of The Last of Us series, which involves a group of survivors trapped in a store with a horde of zombies outside. The scene drags on for too long and feels like it was written by Stephen King in the '80s, with a lot of needless gore and sexual undertones. The YouTubers suggest that cutting out the zombie kiss would have made the scene much better, and that the extended sequence involving the zombies adds little to the plot. They also mention that the scene feels out of place in the rest of the series and takes them out of the story.
  • 00:45:00 In this section of the video, the hosts discuss the emotional impact of the Frank and Bill storyline as adapted for the HBO series. While they acknowledge some initial disappointment with the decision to have Bill also commit suicide, they ultimately see the adaptation as adding to the story and presenting a definitive portrayal of Bill's homosexuality. They also note that the adaptation alters the role of Bill from a comparison point for Joel in the game to a way for viewers to see a softer, more likable side of Joel.
  • 00:50:00 In this section, the hosts discuss their thoughts on "The Last of Us" season 1 episode, "That Good". They enjoy the change in Jackson as a setting and the nuanced performance of the actors playing the characters. They particularly appreciate the small moments, such as the interaction between Frank and Bill while they are fixing up the town. The hosts discuss the lack of episodes like "That Good" in serialized TV shows and praise the episode's ability to stand alone. Overall, they believe it to be the best episode of the season emotionally, showcasing different reactions to various situations in a post-apocalyptic world.
  • 00:55:00 In this section, the video's hosts discuss the role of the "Escape from Bill's Town" episode in expanding the story thematically, even if it doesn't necessarily contribute directly to the plot. They note that the episode provides a counterpoint to Joel's life and the absence of meaningful relationships after the death of Tess. Additionally, the hosts discuss the thematic importance of the episode in exploring the reasons why people are still trying to survive outside of quarantine zones in a post-apocalyptic world. Finally, they praise the show's use of prosthetics and wigs to make characters look believably aged.

01:00:00 - 02:00:00

In this video, the team of reviewers share their thoughts on The Last of Us Season 1 adaptation. They praise the show's success in adapting the story and characters from the game into a new medium and note the show's attention to detail and storytelling. They discuss various episodes, character development and scenes in the show, but opinions vary between them. Additionally, they discuss the successful adaptation of video games in other media, particularly in Japan's anime, and the future of video game adaptations. Lastly, they share their thoughts on the DLC that serves as a prequel to The Last of Us and how it reveals more about Ellie's character.

  • 01:00:00 In this section, the video discusses the theme of the show and how it presents an alternative to fixing the apocalypse and returning to the way things were before. This theme is established in the early parts of the show and is built upon throughout with the various characters and their actions. The discussion also touches on the use of sign language and the added backstory of Henry and Sam, which enriches their character development. Additionally, the group reflects on the quest for a car and the utility gained from it. Lastly, they address their confusion about the Kathleen subplot and how it fits into the show's overall theme.
  • 01:05:00 In this section of the video, the speakers discuss the portrayal of morality in The Last of Us Season 1, specifically in relation to the opposing factions of the Freedom Fighters and Fedra. They note that the show falls into a common trope of making both sides morally grey by revealing that the Freedom Fighters, initially presented as the "good guys," also do bad things. This approach can come across as lazy, and there is a missed opportunity to explore the complex motivations behind people's actions. Additionally, the speakers criticize the show for suggesting that violent rebellion is inherently wrong and limiting the idea of rebellion to non-violent methods. While the episode has some good moments, it is not as impactful as others in the series.
  • 01:10:00 In this section, the hosts discuss the fourth episode of The Last of Us series and agree that it does not measure up to the previous episodes. The combat sequence feels like plot, and not as well-structured as the following episodes. The hosts feel that episodes four and five could have been a single episode, and the fourth episode could have been shortened or altered. Despite this, they note details that add texture, such as Joel's decision to kill with a knife to save bullets. The episode's cliffhanger ensures viewers return for the next episodes.
  • 01:15:00 In this section, the hosts discuss episode five of "The Last of Us" series, which is directed by Jeremy Webb and written by Craig Mazin. The episode follows Joel and Ellie, along with Henry and Sam, as they try to escape the city using underground routes that Henry knows. During their escape, they are attacked by a sniper and a horde of infected. Henry confesses to Joel that he caused Kathleen's brother's death, resulting in Kathleen's anger towards him. The hosts praise the episode for fleshing out Henry and Sam's characters and for adding a layer of communication with Sam's deafness. They also discuss Ellie's attempt to cure Sam with her blood, which marks a significant point in her character development.
  • 01:20:00 In this section, the reviewers discuss their thoughts on the ending of the first season of The Last of Us. They praise the addition of Ellie's guilt over not being able to save Sam and the personal nature it brings to the story. The action-packed car chase scene is also highly praised for its excellent choreography and tension. The ending, which involves burying a character and leaving a sign that says "I'm sorry," is described as a lot to take in and emotionally impactful. Overall, their reactions to the season's end were positive, but also left them feeling emotionally drained.
  • 01:25:00 In this section, the speakers discuss how The Last of Us adaptation succeeds in adapting the story, characters and events of the game in a new medium, which is rare in video game adaptations. They point out how the series grants more narrative relevance to what was just an obstacle to be overcome in gameplay by translating it into more intense scenes in the series, such as the sniping turret and bloater sequence. They compare it to other video game movies that just take memorable visual and conceptual elements and build a story around them, ignoring the original game's story. Overall, they deem the adaptation to be a success and look forward to future conversations about video game adaptations.
  • 01:30:00 In this section of the video, the speakers discuss the successful adaptation of video games in other media, particularly in literature and Japan's anime. They note that Japan has figured it out a long time ago, but the West is only starting to catch up. They contrast successful adaptations like Halo novels with poor adaptations like the Max Payne movie and express their excitement about the success of The Last of Us TV show in creatively transposing game elements to tell an interesting story, rather than treating elements as just a reference to the game. They attribute this success to Mazin and Druckman's relationship, particularly Mazin's restraint.
  • 01:35:00 In this section, the speakers discuss the care put into adapting The Last of Us and express hope that future video game adaptations will receive the same level of attention. They also acknowledge the influence of individuals like Neil Druckmann and the latitude given by HBO in allowing the show to be what it is. The episode six of the first season is also discussed, including the memorable Joel and Ellie argument, the Jackson maneuver, and the setup for season two. Overall, the speakers express admiration for the show's attention to detail and storytelling.
  • 01:40:00 In this section, the group discusses the difference in Joel's reluctance to take Ellie under his care in the HBO series compared to the game. In the show, Joel's reluctance is due to his physical limitations, whereas in the game, it's due to his emotional baggage from losing his daughter. The team agrees that the vulnerability shown by Joel in the show humanizes his character more and adds emotional depth to the show. However, one of the team members expresses concerns that this scene is revealing Joel's character arc too early, and it would have been better to see that arc occur naturally on screen. Despite this, the scene and the character are still effective and bring a new, emotional layer to the story.
  • 01:45:00 In this section of the video, the speakers discuss whether the scene in which Joel confides in his brother about his growing feelings for Ellie was a good or harmful choice for the show. While one speaker feels that it was unnecessary and could have been excluded without affecting the show, the other argues that it was a necessary step towards highlighting the vulnerability and closeness between Joel and Ellie. They also discuss how this scene affects the subsequent argument between Joel and Ellie and how it may have undercut its impact. Overall, the scene was well-written, but opinions differ on whether it was a good or bad choice for the show.
  • 01:50:00 In this section, the speakers discuss the Last of Us Season 1 Episode 4, which features Ellie and Riley watching a movie and is a departure from the show's usual focus on action and character development. They comment on the scene's similarities to the game's version and discuss the movie they were watching, which was revealed to be "The Goodbye Girl". The conversation then transitions to discuss the emotional scene between Ellie and Joel, with the speakers praising the acting and dialogue, and how it effectively captures the range of emotionality that the two characters experience. They conclude with appreciation for the episode and its exploration of another side of the apocalypse with a new set of people.
  • 01:55:00 In this section of the video, the group discusses a DLC that serves as a prequel to The Last of Us which provides more insight into Ellie's past. The DLC explores Ellie's time at a boarding school and her relationship with her friend Riley, who joins the Fireflies. The group shares their opinions on the tension building up to the inevitable infected attack, with some members feeling distracted and others being fully engaged in the story. Overall, they praise the DLC for delivering a fun yet tragic episode and revealing more about Ellie's character.

02:00:00 - 03:00:00

In this video analysis of The Last of Us Season 1, the hosts focus on specific scenes and episodes and discuss the impact of the changes made to the original game. They highlight the effective execution of the scene in the abandoned mall and how it shows Ellie's reflection on her ability to save Joel. The hosts praise the show's handling of cannibalism and rapey elements and Joel's character development in the game, prompting players to confront the morality of their choices. They also appreciate the show's recontextualization of the game's ending sequence and discuss the rushed pacing of the final episode. Overall, they appreciate the show's thought-provoking storytelling and look forward to a possible second season.

  • 02:00:00 In this section, the speakers discuss the scene in The Last of Us where Ellie and Riley are in a creepy abandoned mall and how it was executed effectively. The scene has a build-up that is similar to what we might expect when there's an infected or a zombie, but the slow zoom into a Halloween prop store is cleverly done. They also discuss how the scene is impactful even for those who have played the game and how it shows Ellie reflecting on the last time she lost someone and wondering if she will be able to save Joel.
  • 02:05:00 In this section of the video, the analysis focuses on episode 7 and episode 8 of the series. In episode 7, the small-scale narrative helps escalate the stakes of the upcoming episodes, and while the interpersonal drama is still present, it is combined with the sense of lethality and the need to survive in a world that requires bad decisions. In episode 8, Ellie sets out to hunt but is captured by David’s group. David reveals that his group has been resorting to cannibalism and Ellie must fight for her life in a grizzly final assault where she is forced to cut him into pieces with a meat cleaver. Joel finds her traumatized and in the snow, and they leave the community center as it burns down.
  • 02:10:00 In this section, the commentators discuss the changes made to the character of David in the HBO series compared to the game. David is now portrayed as a religious leader, which allows for a clear portrayal of his sinister and cultish nature. However, the series also adds an explicit rapey element to his attack on Ellie, which feels unnecessary. Additionally, the series offers a rational explanation for his cannibalism, which makes it feel less cartoonish and more relatable. Despite these changes, the commentators feel that the show gets away with its portrayal of David, as his character remains objectively bad and the killing of him by Ellie feels justified.
  • 02:15:00 In this section of the video, the hosts discuss how the show deals with cannibalism in the story, noting that it's a common trope in post-apocalyptic zombie fiction. However, the show makes it specific that the cannibals are only eating already dead bodies for various reasons, which adds more complexity to the story. They also discuss the impact of making the attempted assault on Ellie explicit, which changes the character's reaction to the killing. The hosts also praise the show's handling of violence and how it doesn't always show everything, leaving some things to the viewer's imagination. They also mention Joel's interrogation scene and how it showcases his character's dark side. Overall, they praise this episode and how it deals with various themes in the story.
  • 02:20:00 In this section, the analysts discuss how the TV show telegraphs Joel's character to make it clearer that he is not a good person, which is something the game didn't do explicitly. They explain how the show provides a point of comparison between Joel's and Ellie's actions, with Joel's actions being more barbaric, and Ellie acting purely in self-defense. The analysts also noted that the show plays with perspective and how the viewer identifies with the character, and they went into it knowing that they need to make Joel's character more explicit to the audience. They highlight the media literacy issue, where viewers may be uncritical of Joel's actions because they develop a relationship with him, and that they needed to emphasize that what Joel did was not the morally correct decision.
  • 02:25:00 In this section, the speakers discuss the impact of Joel's character development and the controversial decision players are forced to make at the end of the game. By setting Joel up as a more sympathetic character, the weight of his actions becomes even more significant. In the pivotal moment where players must choose to kill the doctor, the game forces the audience to be complicit in this decision, making them feel the full gravity of the situation. This also ties into the way the game establishes Ellie as the new point-of-view character, allowing players to experience the aftermath of the decision through her perspective. Ultimately, the game's ending leaves players questioning the morality of the choices made and emphasizing the theme that sometimes life doesn't go as planned.
  • 02:30:00 In this section of the video, the hosts discuss the inclusion of the scene where Anna is bitten as she gives birth, which is supposed to be the reason why Ellie is immune. The hosts agree that the scene could have been cut from the show since the origin of Ellie's immunity wasn't really necessary. However, they also mention that the scene adds more dimension to Marlene's character, who is emotionally affected by the decision to kill Ellie and find a cure. Nonetheless, they both agree that the explanation was not needed, and TV shows don't have to explain everything to make it better.
  • 02:35:00 In this section, the analysts discuss the performance of Ellie and how it translated to the game when it was remade. Ellie's physicality is highlighted, and the analysts praise the moment when she realizes that she needs to get Joel away from her when Joel is not ready for the possibility of Ellie dying to create a cure. The scene where Joel is killing the Fireflies in order to save Ellie was also discussed, and the analysts mention how the show effectively portrays violence as a negative and disturbing occurrence through music and montages, unlike the game, which empowers the player by giving them powerful weapons.
  • 02:40:00 the games that came out around the same time that were trying to subvert the way violence and morality were portrayed in video games. However, some people may have missed the subversion and simply saw the protagonist as a mass murderer, taking the opposite lesson away from the game's intended message. The game's final boss fight with hordes of enemies requires strategy, which could have gone over some players' heads who were not trained to think critically about video games. Furthermore, some people justified Joel's decision to murder all the fireflies by claiming that the organization was inadequate to achieve its goal, which the game does not imply. Nevertheless, The Last of Us remains a gateway for many people into critical thinking in video games, and it has a lot of meat to dig into while remaining accessible yet still challenging for the average person.
  • 02:45:00 In this section, the speakers discuss the ending sequence of The Last of Us game and how it was recontextualized in the TV adaptation. They also talk about the importance of the story being a single-shot execution that provokes thought and creates conversation rather than just leaving the player/viewer with a win and being done. The speakers express their relief that the TV show did not introduce new characters or concepts and speculate about how it could have become a sequel hook, which would have handicapped the story of the second part of the game. They praise the show's restraint and discuss how it has so much meaning that you can't stop thinking about it for a decade.
  • 02:50:00 In this section, the YouTubers discuss the impact of Joel's big decision in the series and how it was perceived by the audience. They note that the perception of the decision was initially a feeling of a massive loss of life, but upon further analysis, it was a potentially bigger loss of life that could have been prevented. They also comment on the difficulty of capturing the same emotions as the video game in a TV show format, where the audience is not playing the action themselves. They also anticipate the second season, given the mixed reception of the game, but are curious to see the continuation of the story and the characters.
  • 02:55:00 In this section of the video, the speakers discuss the pacing of the last episode of The Last of Us Season 1 and why it may have felt rushed to some viewers. They note that the one-to-one translation from the game to the show may have contributed to this feeling, as well as the suddenness of the events leading up to the climax. They also acknowledge that this pacing may work for some viewers but not for others, depending on their personal taste in media. Overall, they express their appreciation for the show's existence and look forward to the possibility of a Season 2.

03:00:00 - 03:10:00

The Last of Us TV adaptation has stayed true to the game's story, and the hosts express their appreciation for it as well as their hope for Hollywood to continue making more video game adaptations. They talk about their excitement for the potential of the show and future seasons, hoping for the continuation of visually gorgeous storytelling and the characters' interaction with different situations. Additionally, the guest speakers promote their individual platforms such as, Sam's YouTube channel, David's podcast "I'll Sleep When I'm Done Talking", and his Twitch channel, urging viewers to check them out via the video's description. Lastly, the hosts promote their podcast where they watch and discuss every episode of Daredevil, focusing on its philosophy, storytelling, themes, and ideas through close readings.

  • 03:00:00 In this section, the speakers discuss their appreciation for "The Last of Us" TV adaptation and how it stayed true to the story of the game. They express their hope that Hollywood will continue making video game adaptations and tell the stories that are worth telling. They also discuss their excitement for the potential of the show and future seasons. The speakers mention their desire to see the continuation of the visually gorgeous storytelling and characters' interaction with different situations. Overall, they are pleased with the show and believe that it will have a positive impact on the cultural understanding of video games.
  • 03:05:00 In this section, the guests discuss where their work can be found on the internet. and @levelstory on Twitter is the platform where the audience can find Connor, who is currently working on an April Fool's project. Sam's work can be found on his YouTube channel and he mentions his video about The Last of Us Part Two. David's work is available on his podcast "I'll Sleep When I'm Done Talking" and on his Twitch channel @abandoned_warehouse_live where he streams himself playing video games. The guests urge viewers to check out their work and provide links in the video's description.
  • 03:10:00 In this section, one of the hosts promotes their podcast where they watch and discuss every episode of Daredevil, focusing on its philosophy, storytelling, themes, and ideas through close readings. They invite viewers who enjoy their approach to check it out, and express gratitude to their guests for joining them on the show.

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