2. The Last of Us
I am not a gamer, but The Last of Us immediately caught my attention with its description. A fungal infection called Cordyceps causes a pandemic that results in its victims becoming zombie-like creatures, while also contributing to a complete breakdown of society as a whole.
Episode one introduced us to the initial breakout of the infection. We meet Joel and his young daughter Sarah, who we immediately assume will be our main characters. Again, I was not at all familiar with the storyline involved in the video game, so you can imagine my shock and dismay when Sarah was killed in that first episode. That was only one of the many heartbreaks to come, as I would discover.
The Last of Us is a real tear-jerker, but it is also definitely a horror series. The infected are terrifying, both in actions and appearance, and worst of all, they bite. Once you are bitten, it’s curtains for you…that is unless you are young Ellie, who appears to be immune.
Joel, still scarred over the loss of his daughter 20 years earlier, ends up working to transport Ellie safely to a group known as the Fireflies. And along their travels, they meet – and often lose – so many people, both good and bad.
There’s Tess, Joel’s girlfriend, who agrees to help transport Ellie. There’s Bill and Frank, two men who forge a deep relationship as they live in Bill’s makeshift compound. There is Kathleen, a bitter and ruthless leader who has lost her humanity. We meet Henry and his little brother Sam, Joel’s brother Tommy and his pregnant wife Maria, and a psychotic cult leader/ preacher. We go back in time to meet Ellie’s friend Riley and even Ellie’s mother, who died shortly after giving birth to her.
It’s an exhausting, horrifying, heart-wrenching journey that we take in this nine-episode horror series, but it’s oh, so satisfying as well. While actors Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsay as Joel and Ellie are standouts, the other actors also give us rich characters that we actually care about (whether that caring takes the form of love or hate).