Looking back at ‘The Last of Us’: Did the show need more gore?
The last of us took on the daunting challenge of turning a video game into a show and delivered an extraordinary performance with one of the best first seasons we’ve seen. Every decision the show made — whether it was Recreation of exact scenes from the game or with the game’s actors in newly discovered roles – included careful curation of the storytelling, building on honoring the source material as we introduced ourselves to a new Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey). And the show’s bolder decisions to step away from the game’s canon and reinvent certain (fan-favorite) scenes made things even better, despite initial misgivings.
While The last of us changed some storylines, including Bill and Franks and even the Cause of Cordyceps, a unique way the show shaped its own character, was to downplay the game’s violence and gore. Yes, the show had its fair share of violence, but it was significantly less gory than The last of us‘ style of play. This might have been disappointing to some, but it was an incredibly smart decision that made the show’s banter with violence and gore all the more meaningful.
show writer explained Craig Mazin(Opens in a new tab) that he worried that endless blood scenes would become numbing to an audience. If he replicated every ounce of the original gameplay, including having to repeatedly shoot his way through NPCs (non-playable characters), the violence on the show would be expected. The intentional decision to reduce violence made for scenes like Joel’s display of animalistic aggression is all the more surprising and important.
Seeing Ellie’s sporadic moments of violence made her a little (well, a lot) creepier.
Photo credit: HBO
The reason Joel’s torture scene in episode 8 was so heartbreaking and shocking in part because the show never introduced us to this side of him earlier and left us room to expect better from him. If we had seen early on all the gory violence Joel was capable of, let alone every episode, the torture scene wouldn’t have made as much of an impact or teased (in just the right amount) who Joel was about in the finale to become. Recognizing the hostility of The last of us and its characters, but keeping it isolated was ultimately a salvation for the show — keeping it going a level of exhilaration of the game without the risk of pity fatigue.
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Even the game’s gore is downplayed by changing scenes like Joel’s stabbing, which the game credits to him fall off a platform and land on a metal spike(Opens in a new tab), did not detract from the intended shock factor. We all felt the same “oh no” when Joel turned around and revealed he was stabbed. And other scenes, like Ellie finding a human ear under a table in David’s (Scott Shepherd) mansion, also teased the right amount of gore without sacrificing their (or our) fear. We didn’t have to see David dismember a body, like in game(Opens in a new tab)to understand what Ellie would be going through and who she was dealing with. Ultimately, the wildcard decision falls to a dystopian, post-apocalyptic show not wallowing in blood and guts kept the focus on ours characters.
It’s all about these two.
Credit: Liane Hentscher/HBO
The last of us it’s not about that Blowing up flatulence, it’s about Joel and Ellie. Minimizing Joel’s violence to an extreme scene of tunnel vision aggression gave us a clear understanding of the scope of his character and what he can become for the people he loves – something that wouldn’t have been so shocking if we put it in would have seen every episode . Likewise, limiting the show’s gory violence meant we could better understand Ellie. We get to see her reactions to Joel’s animosity in landmark moments, rather than a continuous, unforgettable tug. We remember her initial attraction in the pilot where her violent side almost activated, and then her anger at it in the finale when She realizes that Joel has failed her. Containing the violence meant we really could see Ellie and pinpoint the exact moments that were influential for her.
Although it was disappointing for some The last of us‘ Decision to make his violence a rarity rather than a spectacle was the right one. We all love a good squeamish fight scene, but that wasn’t what this season was about. The real draw was watching Joel and Ellie are becoming something newsomething they could both be if they wanted to – and all that ultimately means next season for them.
The last of us now streaming on HBO Max(opens in a new tab).
https://mashable.com/article/the-last-of-us-gore Looking back at ‘The Last of Us’: Did the show need more gore?