Welcome to our recap series on The Last of Us, which we’ll try to release every Sunday evening after the episode goes live on HBO. Please stick with us, as we have no screeners for the show. Without further ado, here is our recap.

The Last of Us Episode 1


1968 – During a talk show, a doctor explains that Fungi are the biggest threat to humanity in the future. Specifically, he describes

2003 – Joel (Pedro Pascal) is woken up by his daughter Sarah (Nico Parker). Sarah makes him a birthday breakfast, and Uncle Tommy (Gabriel Luna) picks him up for a job. Sarah goes to school, and when she’s done, she rushes into the city to get her father’s watch fixed. She is rushed out of the shop by the owner’s wife, but not before the watch shop owner finishes the fix. Sarah then heads to the Adler’s, her next-door neighbor who watches her after school She helps with baking and finishes her homework. While checking out a DVD shelf, Nana Adler appears to convulse. When Sarah leaves, she sees Mercy the dog whimpering at Nana Adler’s feet.

Joel returns home late. Sarah gives Joel the repaired watch, and they settle down for a movie. Sarah falls asleep. Uncle Tommy calls and asks Joel to bail him out of jail. Joel puts Sarah in bed. Sarah wakes up around 2 AM with the Adler’s dog Mercy trying to get into her house. Sarah attempts to talk to the Adlers but finds Mr. Adler bleeding out and Nana Adler eating Mrs. Adler. Nana chases Sarah out of the house, but Joel & Tommy arrive to save her. Joel kills Nana and the three drive away.

The Last of Us Episode 1

Joel tells Sarah they think it’s coming from the City. They pass families on the side of the road and cut through a field. They enter a town but quickly find themselves stuck when people run through in the streets. A plane crashes in the town and sends debris into the car. Tommy is separated from them after a car crash, and Joel carries the injured Sarah.

A creature begins to chase them, and a soldier shoots it. However, the soldier then gets orders to shoot Joel & Sarah. The soldier shoots spraying the area with bullets. Joel and Sarah fall down the hill, and Tommy shoots the soldier. However, the soldier shot Sarah, who bleeds to death in Joel’s arms.

2023 – Twenty years later a young child walks through the remnants of Boston. The child collapses and is brought into a medical examination room by FEDRA officials. FEDRA is a militant force in control of the City of Boston. They check the girl, who sets off the infection equipment. They give the girl a shot, promising food and toys. Joel works in a burn pit, and when a truck arrives, the corpse of the young girl can be identified among the dead.

In the quarantine zone, three are hung for leaving the safe zone without authority. A group known as the Fireflies has left graffiti on the buildings, and FEDRA forces some citizens to paint over it. Joel deals hydrocodone to a soldier named Lee, who reveals that efforts to stop the Fireflies have been doubled tonight.

The Last of Us Episode 1

Tess (Anna Torv), Joel’s smuggling partner, finds herself held by local thief Robert. He ripped her off but expects forgiveness for doing so. Suddenly, a bomb explodes, and Tess escapes. She follows a blood trail belonging to Robert, but she gets stranded in the middle of a Firefly/FEDRA gunfight. Mistaken for a Firefly, she’s taken captive by FEDRA.

Meanwhile, Ellie (Bella Ramsey) is chained up and held captive by the Fireflies. She’s forced to repeat the same instructions for days, proving she’s not infected. Joel goes to find Tommy’s current status on a mission but returns with vague instructions that he’s out West in Wyoming. Back at home, Joel drinks and takes pills. He passes out as he wrestles with the idea of going to find Tommy. When Joel wakes up the next morning, Tess has returned home. The two discuss Tess’ injuries and decide to hunt down Robert for the battery.

The Last of Us Episode 1

At Firefly HQ, tensions are high after they’ve sustained losses. Their leader, Marlene (Merle Dandridge), gets pushback from Kim (Natasha Mumba), one of the other leaders. Marlene reveals their plans have been to distract FEDRA. She also notes that it’s to help get Ellie out of town. When Marlene meets with Ellie, it’s revealed Marlene put Ellie in FEDRA custody to hide her. However, when Ellie escaped, their plans had to change.

Joel and Tess go through the tunnels of the QZ, stumbling upon fungi-infected bodies. They find Robert with a bullet in his head. A recent shootout occurred when a deal went wrong. It’s revealed that Marlene, Kim & Ellie are the only survivors of the deal. Joel makes a deal to move Ellie to the Fireflies at the State House in exchange for what they need to get to Tommy. Joel, Ellie, and Tess make their way back to Joel’s apartment, where he sleeps.

When Tess returns, they set out for the State House. They sneak through the rain, only to be stopped by Lee from FEDRA. When he goes to test Joel, Tess, and Ellie, Ellie stabs him. Joel then jumps on him and beats him to death. Tess discovers that Ellie tested positive for the Fungi. She explains that her bite came weeks ago, and the three run out of the quarantine zone.


The pilot primarily serves as setup, but boy, it packs an emotional punch. Pascal delivers everything fans of the series wanted out of a series. He brings Joel’s rage, frustration, and disillusion to the screen with perfection. Ramsey also shines in her limited time, proving tough enough to hang with any set of characters. Her ability to shift within the context of Joel/Tess and Marlene/Kim indicates that she can fit in better than one might expect. At the same time, she also displays the brash arrogance of a teenager who acts irrationally. Even in the apocalypse, teens will be teens.

Mazin takes directorial and writing duties, showing why he’s become one of television’s best minds. Whatever you think of the series, “When You’re Lost in the Darkness” tells an entire story in its 80-ish minutes. There’s plenty to come, but handling the emotional fallout of these characters makes The Last of Us an exciting adventure. More importantly, Mazin takes a huge swing at world-building, which will be essential for the series to exist. On that front, he nails the initial story.

The Last of Us Episode 1

Visually, the series already stands out. When your series boasts visuals and spectacles like exploding airplanes, Annihilation monsters, and zombies, you’ve got a lot to handle. The fact that the detail is never lost in any of these aspects is rather stunning. Each element is so well composed, and Mazin’s transfer of the game to the small screen helps highlight aspects that made the game feel so revolutionary on release. He spends just enough time with Sarah to make that arc full and complete while allowing us the opportunity to return to her via flashbacks in the future. It’s a stunning pilot in many ways, and one has to be excited for the creatures still to come.

The other aspect of that excels in the pilot is the push to explain the contagion. Whether intentional due to COVID or not, it was always important to differentiate The Last of Us creatures from traditional zombies. At the same time, Mazin ensures that we know how dangerous these creatures are from the word go. Enough foreshadowing and groundwork are present to understand the stakes in future episodes. Considering the payoffs came quickly in this episode, we would expect to see some really nasty stuff in the next few.

Alan’s Episode Grade: 9/10

What did you think of “When You’re Lost in the Darkness?” What do you think of The Last of Us? Let us know in the comments below!

Please check out other Sunshine State Cineplex reviews here!

The Last of Us Poster

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