Movies - TV
The Opening Scene Of HBO’s The Last of Us Is A Double-Edged Sword
Spoiler Warning!
This story contains spoilers for Episode 1 of "The Last of Us."
The opening scene in the premiere of "The Last of Us," HBO’s adaptation of the eponymous video game, is a polarizing three-minute slab of surprisingly shapeless exposition that familiarizes viewers with the show's mythology, without including any of the beloved characters. Instead, the scene features a scientist appearing on a talk show in 1968.
The scientist discusses his certainty that if a global extinction event comes around, it will be at the hands of a fungus. In contrast, the game version starts with Sarah's story, before a tightly edited mashup of newscast fragments can be heard over the opening credits, doing their own expositional heavy-lifting before the game jumps 20 years ahead.
The fungus explainer scene does serve a distinct purpose: It establishes an intriguing setup that distinguishes "The Last of Us" from both typical zombie stories and now-familiar pandemic tales. It could hook viewers, even those who may have stumbled upon the show without any context for the game on which it's based.
It also sets the stakes for the story, introducing an intimate, personal story with an impersonal scientific discussion on the global stage. Whether the show's initial jump decades into the past is ultimately helpful or pointless, the show moves on from it quickly, delivering an action-packed opener that's sure to be intriguing to both newbies and game-players alike.