The Last of Us: season 1, episode 9 – Look for the Light

“You can’t keep her safe forever. No matter how hard you try, no matter how many people you kill, she’s gonna grow up, Joel.”


Season finales, especially in big budget genre shows, tend to be things of spectacle, with all the budget thrown at the screen to keep the audience on tenterhooks for the next year. In a Walking Dead season finale, you could pretty much guarantee hordes of zombies invading the heroes’ sanctuary, with action, explosions and headshots aplenty.

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The Last of Us: season 1, episode 8 – When We Are in Need

“I’m a shepherd surrounded by sheep – and all I want is an equal.”


It was back to the main plot for this week’s penultimate ep of The Last of Us, and back to another one of those well-worn post-apocalyptic tropes – the seemingly nice community with a Dark Secret. And it was a Dark Secret that we’ve seen many, many times before.

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The Last of Us: season 1, episode 7 – Left Behind

“It ends this way sooner or later for everyone, right? Some of us just get there faster than others. But we don’t quit.”


This week’s ep is another example of what sets The Last of Us apart from other post-apocalyptic dramas – it’s not an action piece driven by plot, but a character piece that happens to be set after the end of the world. Hearkening back to the heights of ep3, Left Behind is another virtual two-hander, featuring basically only two characters. But unlike the heartrending story of Bill and Frank, this tale unfolds not over twenty years but the course of a single night – a night that changed Ellie’s life in more ways than one.

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The Last of Us: season 1, episode 6 – Kin

“Be careful who you put your faith in. The only people who can betray us, are the ones we trust.”


After last week’s sturm und drang of action and emotion, it’s a much quieter ep for The Last of Us this week. As the title suggests, it’s all about family – both blood and adoptive. We’ve seen Joel and Ellie’s relationship thawing into something like an ersatz father-daughter relationship throughout, and this ep brings that front and centre as both are forced to confront how they feel about each other. Without an Infected anywhere in sight, which might displease some of the game fans watching.

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The Last of Us: season 1, episode 5 – Endure and Survive

“They raped and tortured and murdered people for twenty years. And you know what happens when you do that to people? The moment they get a chance, they do it right back to you.”


Following on from last week’s cliffhanger, this week’s Last of Us was again a fairly conventional post-apocalypse tale, nothing we hadn’t seen before. But this story of revolution against oppression and personal grudges unable to be left behind was well told, and had this show’s now trademark thoughtful focus on character rather than action. Not that there wasn’t action – we may have been here before, but Jeremy Webb’s assured direction handled the story well from a well-structured script by Craig Mazin.

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The Last of Us: season 1, episode 4 – Please Hold to My Hand

“If you don’t believe there’s any hope for the world, why bother going on?”


After last week’s hugely acclaimed sidetrip to tell other survivors’ stories, this week The Last of Us was squarely back to its main story, with a far more conventional episode. I’ve said before that, however handsomely produced and earnestly written, this is not a show that’s particularly original. The obvious, and inevitable, comparison is to AMC’s The Walking Dead, which, let’s not forget, predated the Last of Us game by several years. Yet even that relied on tried and trusted post-apocalypse tropes going back decades, ones aficionados will have seen/read in the likes of Day of the Triffids, or 1970s BBC classic Survivors.

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The Last of Us: season 1, episode 3 – Long, Long Time

“I was never afraid until you showed up.”


Well, that was definitely not what I was expecting three episodes into a prestigious but often formulaic ‘zombie apocalypse’ story. Sidelining the two main characters in favour of a mostly two handed character piece, this early into the show’s run, is a brave move. It’s also, much to my surprise, one of the most affecting, beautiful pieces of television I’ve seen in a long, long time.

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The Last of Us: season 1, episode 2 – Infected

“Save who you can save.”


In every post-apocalyptic story, there’s the chance to show off the devastation of The End of the World by having a wander round an eerily empty, ruined city, with all the modern surroundings rendered unfamiliar by collapsed buildings, rampant vegetation – and, of course, corpses. That is, if your budget allows it; it’s not cheap to clear chunks of real cities in order to film a post-human wilderness. No matter how much CG you use to paint out the reality of the bustling metropolis you’re trying to portray as a desolate ruin.

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The Last of Us: season 1, episode 1 – When You’re Lost in the Darkness

“Viruses can make us ill, but fungi can alter our very minds.”


I’ve got a confession to make. I may seem like the nerd’s nerd, with my extensive knowledge of science fiction, fantasy and horror, in books, comics, movies and TV shows. But I’ve never been a gamer. Even before video games got huge, I never even played Dungeons and Dragons (I’ve tried since and hated it). To me, Zelda is stilled the wizened villainess of Gerry Anderson’s Terrahawks, and I remain baffled by how any Fantasy can be Final when there’s been fifteen of them.

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Interview with the Vampire – the second interview round

“Take a Black man in America. Turn him into a vampire. Fuck with that vampire, and see what happens.”

(SPOILER WARNING – though not so much if you’ve read the book or seen the movie)

It’s probably no exaggeration to say that Anne Rice’s 1976 novel Interview with the Vampire is the second most influential book in vampire literature – after Bram Stoker’s Dracula, of course. For the first time, readers were invited to see the story from the monster’s point of view – and like the creature in Shelley’s Frankenstein, empathise with him. Even pity him. Rice’s Louis de Pointe du Lac was a prisoner of his species, once a man, now driven by his very nature to kill others, and hating every minute of it.

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