The Last of Us Episode 1 review on HBO Max TV Series
Image: Shane Harvey/HBO

The Last of Us on HBO Max Review: Episode 1

As I reached the 30-minute mark of The Last of Us Episode 1, the tears started to flow. There are some obvious reasons, such as the gravity of the situation playing out on screen along with the sense of impending doom, but there was more to this sudden burst of emotion.

The upcoming HBO Max series is of course based on the video game of the same name, and so those who have played it will know what to expect. It wasn’t just those tragic moments from the earliest part of the story that delivered a punch to my gut though. Rather, it was seeing something that I have loved for so many years come to life so perfectly in live-action that overwhelmed my senses. It is this feeling that fans across the world will likely get when they tune in for the first episode of The Last of Us. Here’s our review of Episode 1.

A love letter to the fans

The Last of Us Episode 1 review on HBO Max TV series
Image: Liane Hentscher/HBO

Some may have raised an eyebrow when the cast for The Last of Us was announced, but it is clear that the right choices were made. There’s not a single weak link among the group, each of which are able to demand the spotlight whenever they stand in front of the camera. Nico Parker is especially impressive as Joel’s young daughter Sarah, whether she is trying to make her father smile for his birthday, or slowly realizing the horror taking place. Allowing her some time to really flesh out the character and add some more layers to her relationship with Joel was a fantastic decision.

What also really stands out about the first episode, is the incredible cinematography. The setting of each scene, paired with the lighting used, and rounded out with the stunning sound work is second to none. There’s even one moment, where Sarah sits in the back of a car with Joel and her Uncle Tommy, that feels as if it has been ripped, frame-for-frame, from the video game. It’s a beautiful homage, as the trio take in the dangerous new world forming around them.

The Last of Us Episode 1 review on HBO Max TV Series
Image: Liane Hentscher/HBO

Creator Craig Mazin has worked so closely with Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann, that The Last of Us is not only able to replicate the terrifying nature of the original game, but even at times surpass it. Fear and tension ramps up as the minutes tick by, and it is these moments that viewers will remember long after watching Episode 1. Strap in for what will be an incomparable ride.

The Last of Us TV series Episode 1 review on HBO Max

There’s no reinventing the wheel, and that’s what those behind the HBO Max series The Last of Us have come to recognize with their adaptation of one of the world’s most beloved video games. While additions are made to the story, they are slight, and serve to complement rather than distract. The video game adaptation curse is well and truly over with the arrival of The Last of Us.

Positives and Negatives

  • Each member of the cast holds their own.
  • Writers stay true to the beloved video game's story.
  • Any new additions to the narrative are smartly made.
  • The first episode serves as the perfect foundation for the rest of the series.


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