atching episode 6 of The Last of Us, I was filled with dread. I’d played the game years ago (despite a very rational and healthy fear of all things zombie), and I knew where this episode was headed and what kind of fights Joel and Ellie would be forced into. But then the show didn’t spend hours in one location as Joel and Ellie snuck around trying to avoid getting murdered and doing a little murdering of their own. Instead, the episode moved breezily along and got right to the good stuff — which, in video games, usually means the cutscenes.
This article contains spoilers for the first six episodes of The Last of Us.
The way The Last of Us motors through hours of combat to get straight to the point has been one of my favorite parts of the show. It’s not an action show, but a horror one punctuated by moments of action. We do not spend our time marveling at the characters engaging in cool feats of heroism or neat “gun fu” a la A Better Tomorrow and John Wick. More like real life, the action is a means to an end and is meant to be horrible and maybe a little upsetting rather than awe-inspiring.
That was intentional. Game creator and show producer Neil Druckmann has spoken extensively about his desire to make sure the violence in The Last of Us has impact. “[O]ne of the easiest decisions we made was like to say, ‘Let’s strip all those out. Let’s only have as much violence in this story as is required and no more,” Druckmann told Variety earlier this year. “That allows the violence to have even more impact when you see it on screen than in the game.”