The Last of Us – Season 1

HBO’s The Last of Us is a hit that rarely misses. 

In 2013 the game studio Naughty Dog released The Last of Us. The game was a departure from the studio’s jovial action-adventure Uncharted series. Unlike Uncharted, The Last of Us was carried with dark undertones, horror, and survival elements. As time goes by the esteem this game garners has only grown, and today has solidified itself as a landmark game that is still stylised by PlayStation first party titles. A sequel was released in 2020 taking place after the events of the first game. Lastly a remake of the first game was released last year bringing the game up to scuff with modern gameplay and graphics in anticipation for the HBO show.

Since the launch of the game The Last of Us had been in the process of being developed into a feature film with Sam Raimi at the helm. Many video game properties were stuck in development hell finding it difficult to take an interactive property into a passive form of entertainment. The floodgates seem to be opening for video game adaptations now that HBO’s The Last of Us has given a workable blueprint to exploring an adaptation. Through standalone episodes and expanding on the world’s mythology HBO has made The Last of Us a unique television event that no longer belongs with gamers, but to everyone. 

The Last Of Us

The Last of Us starts off with an interview from 1968 with a scientist talking about how he believes fungi is potentially much more worse than a virus or flu if there was to ever be a pandemic. The story then cuts to the day of the outbreak in 2003. Joel (Pedro Pascal), brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna) and Joel’s daughter Sarah (Nico Parker), experience their last normal day letting us get a glimpse into their life. The day unfolds with things happening in the background that show things are not right, much like how Shaun of the Dead reveals the zombies to the audience unbeknownst to protagonist Shaun. Once nightfall hits everyone is consumed by the chaos. Joel, Tommy, and Sarah leave their homes immediately for an escape as they experience the terror of this “zombie” outbreak. Not everyone survives the night as (Redacted) dies in a shocking scene that is also a revelation of how gone society is. 

Twenty years later and we’re in 2023. The world didn’t recover, it’s barely surviving. The government is corrupt, and fighting with a resistance group called the Fireflies. Joel is changed, his humour is gone, and his occupation is smuggling. Between the infighting Joel has made a steady living for government rations. After a smuggling deal goes wrong Joel finds himself forced to smuggle the teen girl Ellie (Bella Ramsey) for the Fireflies to another town. The episode ends with another reveal that will answer what Ellie’s importance is to the Fireflies. The two will journey across the country over the span of a year to smuggle Ellie to her destination, between raiders and zombies this will not be easy. This is just the beginning of the journey and what an adventure it will be.

The high point of the season comes from the stand alone story of Bill and Frank found in episode three. Joel and Ellie bookend the episode to fit the story into the overarching narrative. The episode chronicles Bill (Nick Offerman), a conspiracy and survivalist hermit, and Frank (Murray Bartlett) who finds haven in Bill’s Town come to live in this world post outbreak. It is one of the most moving episodes of television that will bring tears to your eyes. It’s an episode that shows us why these people choose to live in a world filled with fear and destruction. The answer is love, and the fact that these two can share that for twenty years is why life is worth fighting for. If there was an episode you wanted to show off to someone uninterested in the show, put this episode on and this will have them invested. 

HBO has always been particularly good with standalone episodes. By using them in The Last of Us reveals how we can learn more about the world and leave the confines of the game in favour of new material. After the reception to the Bill and Frank episode I’m sure HBO is looking into a spin-off show that can look at new characters and stories in the world. The thing about Joel and Ellie is it’s just one small story in this world, and there are so many more that can be explored in other characters if they can find an interesting narrative thread worthy of a spin-off. 

The greatest weakness of The Last of Us is that we don’t get to spend enough time with Joel and Ellie together. The game has one of the greatest bonds and as Joel we would do anything for these two characters because we share so much time together. In HBO’s The Last of Us we spend small bursts with the two characters together. Two episodes of the nine are stand alone episodes, one has Joel out of commission, the first episode barely has Ellie in it. Overall, there are like five episodes where there is any time for the two characters to bond, but I don’t know if that’s enough time to earn the emotional payoff to come in the next season. 

The Last of Us season one is a show well executed. I wouldn’t say it is one of the greatest shows ever, not even close, but it’s fun event television. The show will not replace my enjoyment or my continued replays of the game in the future. It’s nice knowing that the story and characters are breaking outside the sphere of gaming and into the greater pop culture. I fear the wait for season two will be a couple of years away, so you have time to experience the two games in the mean time. If you are yet to experience it, The Last of Us is a must watch.

Robert Ring

Check out my review for The Last of Us: Part 1 HERE


Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein

Looking for a gem on Netflix?

Well, Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein may be what you’re looking for. It has everything. It blends comedy, romance, action, and drama all while holding the air with tension the entire time.

Yeh Kaali Kaali Ankhein is a show that begins with an unbeatable shootout against the main character, Vikrant (Tahir Raj Bhasin). By seeing the ending we have an expectation that our protagonist is going to do something that will land him in the iron sights of everyones guns. Next we see Vikrant as a normal child at school being pursued by Purva, a powerful politician’s daughter. Vikrant sees Purva as a source of bad luck for him and refuses her attempts at friendship. Many years pass and Purva is a long forgotten memory, as we see Vikrant having just finished college. At this point in Vikrant’s life he has found the love of his life, Shikha (Shweta Tripathi), although their relationship is being hidden as her parents share major political differences to Vikrant’s family. Without a well paying job Vikrant’s father brings him into the politician’s tendrils. Vikrant now finds himself working with Purva (Anchal Singh), who has been counting the days since their last meeting. Every time Vikrant pushes to escape Purva and her family, he is met with life threatening pushback, to him and his loved ones. Finally without his consent he is betrothed to Purva, and this is only the beginning of the story.

This was a show I knew nothing about and decided on it after seeing a preview for it while scrolling Netflix. Sometimes I challenge Netflix shows to captivate me in five minutes before I opt out, and this one certainly did. I finished it over two sessions. Due to the flash forward we see at the start of the show I thought it was going to be a one and done series. However, by the end we don’t see how Vikrant gets to we where we see him at the start. In hindsight it appears that producers saw the potential hit in their hands and opted for a second series to continue the story instead of finishing it off here.

I highly recommend everyone watching this fantastic show.

Robert Ring

Game of Thrones – An Overview

(Spoiler Free)
When you think of landmark television today, most people will point towards George R. R. Martin’s epic series Game of Thrones. There’s no dispute that Breaking Bad is still the king of television, but Game of Thrones is altogether a different beast.


In the beginning, most people were not aware of A Song of Ice and Fire. No, we were drawn to the studio that gave us hit after hit with shows like The Sopranos and Six Feet Under. Although once the show started getting promoted, it was a question of whether there would be substance behind the fantastic look of the show. The first episode was enough to see that this show was going to be the Ben Hur of television. Then the first season showed us that it was willing to sacrifice the main characters, so every confrontation going forward was spent clinging to the edge of your seat. Every one of these characters died without closure and a sense that there was much more to their story. Several seasons later and the cast we started with was now far smaller than we would have guessed.

Once the series had surpassed the book material, it turned away from the shock deaths and the qualities that had made it what it became in its DNA. The last couple of seasons became safe and followed the conventions of the genre. In these last two seasons, the main stars that had survived to this point were all given closure and in turn, a happy ending. The final season was met with a lot of criticism from fans because what they had expected would happen did not. It could be looked at as though Game of Thrones conformed to its conventions by switching the DNA of the show at the end, and therefore continuing to surprise us.

Game of thrones whitewalker

The fan outrage Game of Thrones is suffering at its conclusion will not hurt the legacy of the show in the long run. The show has raised the scope of television and will remain in top ten lists for a long time. For those who have never seen the show don’t let the outrage stop you from watching the show. I, for one, think the ending was rather good.

Robert Ring


Picard is Back!

I never understood why there was always a divide between Star Wars and Star Trek. You have to dig to find any comparison. That being said Star Trek is better. Star Trek is about discovery and politics, battles of the mind, and no not the force. Each Star Trek series has given us a very different politically charged captain that has been shaped by their past but will endeavor to uphold the prime directive as necessary. Unlike Captain Kirk, who would instead speak with his fists, Captain Picard is the intellectual of all the captains. This is seen in the very first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Captain Picard must win with his intellect to persuade the omnipotent being Q to leave mankind alone. There were no fists raised, nor would a fight of brawn have led to a victor. Picard is not without fault because he can be arrogant in his ideas over others, but this only humanizes him. Star Trek: The Next Generation was a risk when it was released, one that paid off in thanks to the talented Sir Patrick Stewart. Without him the show may have failed, a fact easily forgotten as the Star Trek brand was never really that big at the time, which is why it was off the air after only three short years.

I think it is safe to say that Captain Picard is the reason Star Trek has the extraordinary fanbase it has today. Captain Picard was the necessary baton from Captain Kirk needed to shepherd the franchise in a new direction. And now we are lucky enough to see Captain Picard shepherd us again into the newest generation of Star Trek. That’s right, Patrick Stewart came on stage at the Star Trek convention in Las Vegas to reveal that Picard is coming back in a new show. There are no more details than that at this point. What will an old Picard be like? Well, I’m excited to see. I expect we will see a ton of cameos from throughout Next Generation, Voyager, Deep Space Nine, and dare I say, Captain Kirk. Also, just because Sir Patrick Stewart is older, doesn’t make him any less a great actor, he was one of the best-supporting roles in Logan last year.

Check out this YouTube video from Pogo. It’s the best mashup of Captain Picard’s vocals.

Make it so, Captain Picard,

Robert Ring

The Good Place

Sitcoms have been around since the beginning of television, and the genre has continued to be stagnant ever since. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing for a sitcom because they focus on a close group of characters that are thrown into a different scenario every week. Every sitcom seems to eventually cover similar story paths. Watch The Dick Van Dyke Show, and it will share the same familiar sitcom beats like any other today. Seinfeld broke most of the rules of a sitcom while Friends began to give us these tremendous melodramatic cliffhangers with every season’s end. Scrubs rolled those two together in a medical setting with poignant resolve with each episode’s end. The problem with sitcoms is inevitably its expiration date. By five or six seasons every situation that could be thrown at these characters has been done. Even the reliance on running gags can’t save them. Seinfeld may be the exception to this as the sitcom could find a story in anything and also daringly going into the taboo with the episode about masturbation.

The Good Place puts a fresh perspective on the sitcom genre by actually feeling like the series has an ultimate heading. It feels like the show is telling one complete story that is broken up into smaller chunks. Each episode is titled as a chapter like a book, and like a book, each chapter has a mini-cliffhanger that forces the viewer to want to watch just one more chapter. So how can The Good Place seemingly redesign the sitcom? Simply, it takes place in the afterlife, and can, therefore, do anything with that canvas. The first episode shows a group of people being inducted into ‘The Good Place,’ that being a place with an architect played by Ted Danson, as heaven for these people. The problem is Kristen Bell’s character Elenor has been mistaken for someone else. Her character was a terrible person, lacking any morals. The show begins with her trying to keep her identity under wraps but develops quickly into a show sharing attributes from Defending Your Life with a sprinkle of Kafka. The kicker for her is how absurd and torturous the bad place is so she must wrestle with her moral compass to better herself so she can stay in the good place.

The Good Place shouldn’t be reviewed any further because it will spoil the story. I will say that even though each episode has a mini-cliffhanger, each season’s cliffhanger manages to flip the script as to where you think the show is going. The first two seasons are out now. If you’re an Australian resident, you can catch them all on Netflix. I hope this series concludes with five seasons and no more. The small episode count of each season helps not detract from the overall story with the usual filler episodes other shows endure. Ted Danson and Kristen Bell are fantastic, and their chemistry will keep you coming back for sure. Give The Good Place a watch!

Robert Ring