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The Last of Us episode 1 recap

January 16, 2023

You get me every Sunday to help you recap the latest episode of The Last of Us. Full of bad takes and not too sober ramblings. But if you missed anything, this is your place. Keep in mind that I’m coming to the series fresh because I’ve NEVER played the games. Is not it. Here is the recap of episode 1 of The Last of Us.

We begin the episode in 1968 as a group of scientists on a TV show discuss the dangers of a fungal epidemic. The now famous zombie bug mushroom appears and we get a warning that global warming could make mushrooms even scarier. This is a terrible warning that I am sure we will take seriously.

HBO is still killing the opening credits game for sure.

Act 1: 2002

After the credits, a title card announces the time jump to 2003. Sarah wakes up and soon after wakes her father and begins to cook him a birthday breakfast. They joke about his school and we meet a new guy. This guy is a little more blunt and it’s clear that the two men work together. Later, we learn that it is Uncle Tommy.

As she prepares to leave, she grabs a watch and some cash. She dwells on an old pocket knife with an engraving. As they walk out, we meet their elderly neighbors.

In class, Sarah is distracted by a bright flash but still seems studious as she takes the city bus at the end of the school day. She goes down to a watch store where she has the watch she took from the drawer repaired. Before she’s finished her transaction, the owner abruptly closes and locks the shop, but not before telling her to go home immediately. She goes home and goes to the old neighbors to visit them. While she visits, they bake cookies. The old woman begins to have a fit. Sarah doesn’t notice and packs her bags to leave. The neighbor’s dog starts whining at the old lady who now seems normal.

As she leaves, she sees and hears two giant fighter jets hovering close to the ground. Later that night, Joel returns home. It’s late, ten o’clock, she told him. He also didn’t bring home the cake he had promised Sarah. She gives him a watch and they fall asleep watching a movie. Someone calls very late at night. The voice on the other end says he’s in jail. He (Tommy) asks Joel to bail him out. He puts Sarah to bed and heads for the jail. As he leaves, a number of helicopters fly overhead. The noise from the street becomes more and more restless. The Emergency Broadcast Network is activated. The neighbor’s dog knocks on the window and Sarah goes out into the street to investigate. The dog refuses to return to its owner.

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Sarah enters to investigate. The house is not great. Lots of blood and the old lady apparently attacked everyone and spit some kind of fungus on them. Sarah runs and the old lady runs after her. Joel pulls up in his truck with Tommy and hits the old lady with a wrench. They run.

In the truck, we learn that it is a virus. Spread mainly in the city. She fears that they are already sick. They pass a large burning house. They also pass a broken down car and the couple have a baby. Joel orders Tommy to continue. The army controls one side of the highway and there is a traffic jam on the other. They go off road until they hit a county highway. Along the county highway they head into town and things are even more chaotic in town. Lots of people lots of cars. Lots of chaos. A plane crashes near the location of the truck.

Everyone wakes up in the truck which now appears to be lying on its side. Everyone is fine if not shaken up. Zombies are everywhere. Sarah’s ankle is broken. Tommy and Joel separate. Joel picks up Sarah and they head for the river, but not before coming across a giant zombie feeding ground. The zombies run after him in a restaurant. They are very quick if not clumsy. It’s not good that they almost caught it but not before someone shoots the nearest one. The person who shot the zombie is a military soldier. The soldier radios for directions. The superiors tell him to kill them both. Tommy kills the soldier but not before seeing Sarah on the ground. Sarah was shot in the stomach. He tries to stop his bleeding but there is a lot of blood. He tries to pick her up but she is already gone.

Act 2: 2022

Twenty years later, another child walks through the woods. The child is young. Not much older than nine or ten. As they climb the hill, we see a war zone of what Boston looks like. There are giant walls and policemen manning the doors. The little child faints in front of them. She is brought into a room in a wheelchair. Not quite unlike another fungal favorite The Girl With All the Gifts. They ask her what her name is. If she is alone. She has a scratch on her leg. The policeman tells her that after getting medicine, she can have the food she wants. They give him a chance.

We head into the community and there’s a pile of burns with a mountain of bodies. I mean if his mushroom is really burning a good idea? Joel drives a truck and we see him throw the body of the kid we just met on the pile of corpses. She must have been infected. Joel receives his salary and accepts a new job the next day.

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Inside the community, things look pretty bleak. A number of charges are read before a number of civilians are hanged on the public gallows. Did I mention things were grim? Joel trades hydrocodones for various paraphernalia with a soldier. Joel also wants a truck. They negotiate on the truck. The soldier tells Joel to stay off the streets because things have gone downhill lately.

When you are “Loose in the Darkness Look for the Light” is written EVERYWHERE.

In the darkness of Boston, a person named Tess hears a number of excuses from a con artist who sold her a battery she never got. The guy seems like a little bad guy. Tess wants to end it all but just when where they are a bomb blows a hole in a wall and she stumbles through the rubble. Just then, a group of soldiers stop her and she tells them that she is not a FireFly.

We finally meet Ellie, who is chained to a radiator. A woman walks in and reviews a checklist of tests. Ellie knows them all, passes them all, and is very angry.

Meanwhile, Joel heads to an apartment building where a giant line of people leads to an apartment with a man who has a ton of radio equipment. Tommy has disappeared. Tommy has been gone for three weeks. Was the last scene in Wyoming in a tower. Our radioman tells Joel not to go. That there are raiders and slavers in the open county.

Joel stomps around his own apartment where he lifts a floor and unpacks a map and a ton of tools. He is planning a trip. But first he mixes up his booze and his pills. After passing out later that night, someone walks in and lays down next to him in a clearly familiar and affectionate manner. It’s Tess. She explains why she looks so tired. She explains to Joel that his battery is missing. She worries that Joel will go crazy and ruin the deal she made with Robert, who was the petty crook. They will find it and get the battery and their money.

We get our first look at fireflies. Marlene seems to be in charge and she gets pissed off by one of her subordinates. We also learn that the fireflies are fighting the government which is currently called Fedra. Fedra is this authoritarian military regime. Ellie is being held by this group and they have some sort of information on Ellie and it involves taking her out west.

Tess and Joel discover where the battery is and devise a strategy for revenge.

Marlene brings Ellie a bag full of items, including a switchblade. Marlene reminds Ellie that she was the one who saved her from being shot by the soldiers. We also learn that Ellie was previously placed in a Fedra military school. Marlene takes offense at the term terrorists and brings up someone named Riley. We also learn that Ellie has a bigger purpose.

Tess and Joel head to the sewers. They find a room where someone has been eaten alive by a myriad of different fungi. It’s a scene very reminiscent of the excellent Annihilation. As they go up to another building, they find the crook dead alongside all of his henchmen. They then hear some people struggling. It’s Marlene and Ellie. Ellie tries to attack Joel.

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Marlene also wanted the drums. We also learn that their story involves Tommy. Marlene tells Joel and Tess to take Ellie to the Firefly base and they’ll give her gas and a battery and whatever else they need if they bring Ellie to the hideout. Ellie doesn’t like the plan but reluctantly accepts Joel and Tess.

They walk past Joel’s apartment and the adults have a conversation as Ellie explores the apartment. She finds a book and quickly deciphers the radio code. Joel goes to bed and takes a nap. He wakes up a few hours later at dusk. Ellie looks out the window. She is afraid to go beyond the wall. He tells her he’s been a lot and they’ll be fine. Tess returns. He says it is time to leave.

Fedra is patrolling in force as the three of our main characters head out of town. Our drug-dealing cop catches them and gives them fungal tests, but before Ellie can take hers, she stabs the soldier with her knife. Joel finishes him off. We also learn that Ellie is positive for the virus. She tells them that she tested positive for three weeks but is fine. She is not sick.

As they get away, we get the needle on Depeche Mode’s 80s classic Never Let Me Down Again. It’s an 80s song that, in radio parlance, means trouble. The song plays as the trio heads into the ominous area surrounding Boston.

Fungal thoughts.

  1. If you haven’t read The Girl with All the Gifts, you need to. I just wrote a chapter about it here. Email me if you want a copy.
  2. Pedro Pascal is really great.
  3. Merle Dandridge plays Marlene in-game and on-screen. It’s very cool.
  4. Joel is an Iraqi veteran. I feel like it’s going to be important.
  5. So this show and this game is very ACAB.
  6. Bella Ramsey will be in The Orphan 3. I’m calling her now.
  7. The Weirdest Thing Super Needle Drop Seems To Be Here To Stay

Tyler Unsell

Tyler has been the editor of Signal Horizon since its inception. He is also the director of Monsters 101 at Truman State University, a course that combines horror movie criticism with survival skills to help middle and high school students learn critical thinking. When he’s not watching, teaching, or thinking about horror, he’s the director of debate and forensics at a high school in Kansas City, Missouri.

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