In This Episode
On this episode of X-Ray Vision, Jason Concepcion and Rosie Knight flee some cordyceps! First in the Previously On (1:11) they discuss the latest Mandalorian season 3 trailer, including the baby and the vibes. Then in the Airlock (5:10), Jason and Rosie dive deep (deeep) into the premiere of HBO’s The Last of Us, recapping and discussing game differences, cast, hard choices, and small choices.
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The Girl with All the Gifts (2014) – written by M.R. Carey.
Jason Concepcion Warning This podcast contains spoilers for the premiere of HBO’s The Last of US. Hello, my name is Jason Conception.
Rosie Knight And I’m Rosie Knight.
Jason Concepcion And welcome to X-ray Vision, the Crooked Media podcast where we dive deep into your favorite shows, comics and pop culture.
Rosie Knight In this episode, Previously On We’re going to be digging into that Wild Mandalorian Season three trailer.
Jason Concepcion Let’s go.
Rosie Knight The Baby is Back. The Baby is Back.
Jason Concepcion The Baby’s Back.
Rosie Knight And in the airlock, we’re going to be talking about that unreal premiere of HBO’s The Last of US, which I just cannot wait to talk about because it looked.
Jason Concepcion I can’t wait to talk about it.
Rosie Knight It was so good.
Jason Concepcion And of course, this is an a la carte podcast. And if you want to jump around and just pick the little bits you like. Check the show notes in the timestamps for the topics that we talk about and where they are coming up. Let’s get into that Mandalorian trailer in the Previously On. First up, okay, A Mandalorian Season three trailer debuted during Dallas Cowboys versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which is why I tuned in, also to see Tom Brady get stomped. But Ben looks great. Not a lot of new stuff from. Compared to the trailer that had been out there but really, really fun. Looks great. The Baby is Back.
Rosie Knight The baby’s back. Lots of vibes, very vibey. Lots of very Mandalorian.
Jason Concepcion Here is some just like in in no order. Some things that popped out to me. Greef Karga, the come up continues. He looks great.
Rosie Knight I love Carl Weathers. I love to see it every day.
Jason Concepcion He, no one has looked more delighted to be in a role than Carl. Like every time I watch him, you can see him being like, can you believe this? This this great.
Rosie Knight Yeah. He like, I love it.
Jason Concepcion This is fucking great.
Rosie Knight Hopefully he’ll be directing some more episodes.
Jason Concepcion Yeah, the robes. Like the fact that he seems to be in control of. Of a significant power structure now is really cool. That is great.
Rosie Knight Yeah. Also, the armor. Was that like flashbacks? Are they going to be a major role again? I’m hoping that it’s the latter, but it’s really interesting. It’s weird to say, oh, a lot of mandalorians because like there really aren’t a lot of them, but in.
Jason Concepcion They seem to be all there.
Rosie Knight Yeah, yeah, yeah. We see that Din is basically he’s in a position where he’s trying to reimagine what the Mandalorians can be.
Jason Concepcion Right.
Rosie Knight Outside the.
Jason Concepcion More progressive.
Rosie Knight Outside of death like something. And he’s got to, you know, go back to Mandalore because he took office, took off his mask so he could go, baby. Yeah. You know, So it will be very interesting to see. For me, I love to see some weird alien races. So we had you might have seen the a Kawakian monkey lizard, a.k.a.. Salacious Bikram. It wasn’t Salacious Bikram. I Probably by yelled Salacious Bikram. And then obviously, I know in our Discord, people were, like, really excited. Like, is that Babu Frick? Is it Babu Frick Well, there’s two of them, but at least they knew that. Yeah, it’s Azellan I believe is what they’re called. So I love Babu Frick. I’m happy to see it. I love to see some weird alien creatures.
Jason Concepcion Me too.
Rosie Knight Also I’m very interested. You know, you talked about let’s talk about like Annakin and Order 66 and also.
Jason Concepcion Like more Flash.
Rosie Knight Jedi Temple.
Jason Concepcion We Okay, so that’s probably a battle droid that’s cutting open the door. That said, I’m just going off of the color of the laser that appears to be cutting the door open. That said I do wonder if we’re going to see a de-aged Annakin doing a lot of murder stuff. And it feels like to put that in the trailer sets up. We’re going to let you know how baby Yoda escaped Order 66.
Rosie Knight Yeah, they know.
Jason Concepcion We’re going to tell you how.
Rosie Knight They know what that evokes when they put that in the trailer. It evokes horror and terror and yeah, well, you know, Hayden’s back now so we could see it. You know, we we saw what they did with Luke. It would be much easier to do it with Hayden. And yeah, I’m. I’m very excited. I love the show. I love the baby. You know, I love Pedro. I’m so happy things are going so well for him right now. Like.
Jason Concepcion What a week?
Rosie Knight What a week. When he shared the trailer, I was just thinking, like. Oh good for him. I was, like coming off the back of like, one of the best reviews. Well, the best reviewed live action video game adaptation ever.
Jason Concepcion Well let’s get in, we’ll get it back. Actually, let’s just do that. Up next, the premiere of HBO’s The Last of US. We’re stepping out of the airlock and into the broken down streets of Boston, looking better than ever if you ask me.
Rosie Knight Looking great.
Jason Concepcion To talk about the premiere of HBO Max’s The Last of US adaptation created by Craig Mazin and Naughty Dog EP, Neil Druckmann, starring Pedro Pascal as Joel, Bella Ramsey as Ellie, Anna Torv as Tess, Gabriel Luna as Tommy, and more people that we haven’t really seen yet. Let’s talk about this first. You mentioned it in the Previously On, there’s been, you know, the kind of tagline for this or at least the the media narrative is here is the video game adaptation that has broken the curse. Now, some have said, well, what about.
Rosie Knight So. So I think the thing is to say animated because like we’ve had arc right?
Jason Concepcion Live action. Yeah.
Rosie Knight Live action.
Jason Concepcion Right. Right. And honestly that’s that is a big deal because when you’re talking about something like arcane. It’s I’m not I’m not trying to undercut how cool it was and how legitimately great it was. Even if, like, you’re like me, you’re not a League of Legends person. It was great. You’re still talking about a computer generated visual medium to another computer generated visual medium.
Rosie Knight I was going to say the mediums are similar, so it feels better. Yeah. Yeah, they’re cousins. I like that.
Jason Concepcion This is a completely different animal. And I was blown away. I was.
Rosie Knight Yeah.
Jason Concepcion I it to me, it was a lot like the House of the Dragon adaptation in which we know a lot of the stories played the games, both one and two. You know where this goes. People have replayed the games, there’s DLC, so people play the games multiple times and for good reason. But this adaptation, it’s not just like, you know, making the parts that wouldn’t work as a television narrative, work as it is that they everything is really, really additive. And like House of the Dragon. Even if you know the story, there’s a ton of surprises there for you.
Rosie Knight Yeah, I think that’s really a great point. I’d say definitely House of the Dragon comes to mind. Also, it reminds me kind of of what they did with the Star Wars animated shows where you’re meeting these characters, but you’re getting these huge moments of context and spending much more time with them. And I think especially as we go in to the later episodes, that is going to be where this show really shines. But I thought the first episode was so brilliant. I mean, we’ve talked about that cold open in the game, you know, quite extensively. And to be able to bring that to life here and make it even more heart wrenching, even when you are not in control, which was our biggest question, is how does this story feel when you are not an active part of it? And you know what still feels as moving and engaging and exciting as ever.
Jason Concepcion Okay, let’s get into the recap. Episode one When You’re Lost in the Darkness, written by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann. Directed by Craig Mazin. We open in 1968 on a talk show, kind of like a fictional version of Firing Line. There’s a host. He’s talking to a pair of intellectuals about a parent, you know, pandemic threats, epidemiological threats, the kind of things that keep them up at night. One of them mentions, hey, commercial travelers, is this really dangerous amplifying effect? You know, bacteria, a virus can be in Kenya, then it could be in Chicago and it can go around the world very quickly. And the other one is a much more interesting and seemingly out of the box concern, which is fungi. Unlike viral or bacterial infections, fungi, he says, can actually hijack the nervous system. And he uses LSD as an example, which the ergot fungus, which is kind of like natural basis for lysergic acid, which many surmise has caused like various mass freak outs in medieval times. I don’t know if anybody has ever looked into this, but there’s like, you know, there’s these various, like dancing plagues where like an entire village in medieval, like Germany, just like.
Rosie Knight Shared hysteria.
Jason Concepcion Shared hysteria. So there’s a lot of there’s a lot of supposition that that ergot fungus caused that. And then he mentions these very specific funguses that attack ants and also wasps that hijack their their brains and basically turn them into puppets. And then he says, Hey, yeah, obviously, like fungi can’t survive temperatures at the internal temperature of the human body and hotter. But what if the world got hotter? And of course, we know that the world will get hotter. As we’re living through it right now. And yet, Rosie, I was really struck by the the decision to go with 1968, because it was really that was the kind of like consensus, the mass American consensus, worst year in American history before any of the years that have happened in our recent lifetimes. You know, like you had obviously Vietnam and the Tet Offensive, and that was going terribly or opening Americans eyes to how weren’t they? They were not going to win that war, Not to mention the images of violence street, you know, just like beamed into American households every single night. Martin Luther King was assassinated that year. Robert F Kennedy was assassinated that year. There are riots that ensued. There is the Democratic National Convention, which turned into a police riot as the police just like viciously beat down protesters in full view of cameras. Prague Spring. It was a it was a really, really chaotic and crazy year, and I think it makes sense that they would it’s such a small detail, but really cool that they set that talk show in that year.
Rosie Knight No, I love that. I think this is such a great exposition, airy opening where you have these brilliant performances and it feels very Chernobyl, it feels very on the nose. There’s like a tiny piece of.
Speaker 2 It does feel Chernobyl.
Rosie Knight That. And I absolutely love the way that you start with the first intellectual who in our world he was right, because guess what? We lived through COVID. And this the reason that it spread so fast was very much to do with commercial travel. So you have that little nod without feeling out of this world. But then you get to listen to somebody basically explain how the quarter steps will work in a way that doesn’t feel like an exposition dump later on. Yeah. And I love the way that at the beginning when he says fungi, people are laughing in the audience. But by the end, when he makes the point about global warming and what if the world got hotter, everyone just absolutely goes silent. And the talk show host says to him, you know, well, what would happen if all of that happens? And he just looks him and he says, Well, we lose. And, you know, that’s what we know.
Jason Concepcion And we should mention. I feel like I should mention this is the 1968 fictional 1968, the first like official Exxon funded internal studies about what would happen when petroleum byproducts are injected, hydrocarbon byproducts are injected into the atmosphere at a mass rate, appeared in 1977 in their internal documents, where they basically were like, Oh yeah, we’re going to get global warming like it predicted it was in 1977.
Rosie Knight It was unbelievably, specifically correct.
Jason Concepcion Yeah. Like so.
Rosie Knight Recently, people have been looking at those studies again and they just knew and they did it anyway.
Jason Concepcion Yeah. So that was only nine years in fictional world after this. We open on Austin, Texas, 23 and now here comes our cold open. And I’m sure fans of the video game now are like leaning in. As soon as we go here, we meet Sarah, a teenager. She wakes up her dad, Joel. It is Joel’s birthday. Sarah is making him breakfast because it’s her birthday. We get this wonderful feel for their relationship, in which Joel, obviously the breadwinner. You can tell he takes a lot of pride and feels a lot of pressure in providing for, you know, this this family unit that that they have here. But you can also tell that Sarah is taking care of him in a very particularly emotional way and these kind of small moments. And it’s a really wonderful acted scene. He’s 36, which ages up Joel, I think a little bit from the video game.
Rosie Knight Yeah, it does. And also, like, I really just want to shout out Nico Parker here who plays Sarah.
Jason Concepcion So I’m like, Man, I’m sad that we don’t get more of her.
Rosie Knight She is so brilliant. And they found all these little ways from the T-shirt she wears this from the game to the way they like her, especially once you get into the car. But there are these uncanny moments where you feel like you’re in the game just visually. But she’s so wonderful. I love this moment where it’s kind of this. Joel Yeah, he’s the breadwinner. He goes to work, but really Sarah is taking care of herself. There’s this great moment when she’s cooking him breakfast where he’s like, Have you done your homework? And she just gives him, like, a scathing look.
Jason Concepcion Yeah. He’s like, What was it? Fractions?
Rosie Knight And she’s just looking at him like, you know, I’m like. You don’t even ask me this stuff because that’s not your purview. Like, you got to work till 10 p.m. every night and you pay the rent and I make sure things around to get done. And it’s, that’s those two have such great chemistry.
Jason Concepcion That’s a good call. It reminds it reminded me it really resonated with me because I think, you know, my mom, with the help of our grandma, really raised me and my brother. And I was when it became clear that she didn’t need to be like, are you doing your homework? She just like, checked out of it because it was like not it was not going to be, you know, a big priority in terms of like the things that she needed to do on a day to day level. It’s like, I can’t remember. I think she stopped looking at my report card, like in the fourth grade. She’s like, okay, I got it. You’re.
Rosie Knight You’re good.
Jason Concepcion I’m going to I’m going to go to work now. Tommy arrives. Uncle Tommy arrives. Tommy, a Desert Storm veteran. It’s clear from this is a little bit of a fuck up. He works for Joel. Joel is keeping him employed via his contracting business.
Rosie Knight He was also, like, a little bit late.He missed the breakfast like, a little like.
Jason Concepcion It’s the birthday. Like. And also, like Joel has, like, a time crunch. He needs to get out, like, at a certain time so that he can spend time with Sarah. And here’s Tommy fucking it up again. And as they’re getting ready to head out, there is a news report on the radio. Not a lot. It doesn’t really mention anything other than that There was unrest in Jakarta, and American citizens are being urged to leave. Suggesting that whatever’s happening is happening around the world.
Rosie Knight Yeah, and I love this. There’s a great moment here. Another great little bit of character building where Tommy and Joel try and work out where Jakarta is, and they both just have no idea. And I.
Jason Concepcion Middle East.
Rosie Knight Yeah, I love the way that that shows like the smallness of their life and before it has to expand into this kind of huge epic kind of adventure of going across the country in a totally new way. But of course, Sarah knows because Sarah’s the student. Sarah is the student. It’s so good.
Jason Concepcion This is how you do exposition, this is how you do character building in a way that doesn’t feel like, Oh, you’re just telling me how these people are is.
Rosie Knight Because also there’s really a lot of dialog, like there’s actually still a lot of space and a lot of like eating and quietness. And Tommy’s putting something in. It doesn’t feel like you’re constantly being bombarded by prestige TV exposition. It very much feels like you’re in the game. And something else that kind of blew my mind I wasn’t expecting was the use of the handheld camera, which is such a huge part of the game. And the visuals of the game is that feeling of that shaky cam. And as soon as we kind of follow Sarah up the stairs, we really get into that and you feel like you’re in the game and you’re controlling that character.
Jason Concepcion So Joel and Tommy head out to Tommy’s truck. Sarah goes up to her dad’s dresser. She has a little bit of money out there. Maybe if you haven’t played the game, you’re like, Sarah, you rapscallion takes a little money, but also takes his his broken watch and a great recreation of the watch from the game. A kind of field watch style, watch military style watch. And then also and I thought was like a wonderful artistic flourish. She takes out his folding knife, which has this wonderful engravement of like, horses running on the on the blade. Just, you know, something that we will the game players will know from the second from the sequel is is you know, the addition of horses and she just kind of sits with it and considers it for a little while and it feels like this wonderful, like almost magical moment.
Rosie Knight You know, it’s that feeling is when you’re a kid, you know, she runs her finger down the blade like she’s perceiving the knife and understanding in that moment. Like everything scary about everything, about the danger of what it can do, but also the beauty. And it’s just such a good childhood moment. And it also very much feels once again like you’re in the game and you’ve picked something up out of the drawer and you’re looking at it and she kind of gets distracted by the knife and is just staring until Joel starts bibbing the horn.
Jason Concepcion Yeah.
Rosie Knight And you kind of get that. Whoa. And she breaks out of her reverie, and it’s just a really great moment.
Jason Concepcion Yeah, just is really, really cool. Since Sarah comes out and we meet the next door neighbors, an elderly woman named Connie who seems like she clearly can’t move on her own and is probably you know, it’s certainly suggested by what you see in that kind of throes of like dementia or something of that sort. And her son, Buddy Garrity from Friday Night Lights, who we all love, they it’s very clear that they are lonely. They invite Sarah over that night to come just hang out. Joel, you know, is lightly teasing her about it. And it’s very clear that, like, neither of them want to spend any time over there, but also like Sarah through that, and it’s a wonderful performance again, lets you understand what a warm and generous person.
Rosie Knight Yeah.
Jason Concepcion She, she doesn’t want to go, but yeah, she will go.
Rosie Knight She’s hung out with them, she’s kept them busy, you know, she’s kept them company but she doesn’t want to do it. Neither does Joel. I really feel for anyone watching the show who didn’t know where this was going because their rapport is such a brilliant fake out and they’re so wonderful together.
Jason Concepcion Later in school, Sarah is sitting in English class when she notices because of the reflection from a student’s bracelet that he’s got a tremor. She doesn’t think.
Rosie Knight What a great visual storytelling.
Jason Concepcion It’s really good.
Rosie Knight You don’t do a siezure. You don’t do anything again. He adds. I love that use of the word magical that you say, Yeah, because it really is this kind of magical realism, that liminal space between like, is everything normal or is something huge about to change? It captures that feeling when you’re a kid of like the the light in her face in class. And I’m like, is it someone she’s got a crush on? Is trying to communicate with her or something?
Jason Concepcion That’s what I thought initially as well.
Rosie Knight It’s like it’s just a little tremor. They didn’t go all out and it’s just that Sarah is beginning to notice that things are something is wrong.
Jason Concepcion Right. And then as she. As she leaves school and goes to get the watch fixed, here again is another hint of something big about to change. There are police cars racing around and the the repairman wife comes out and basically shoos Sarah out of the shop. After only a few minutes, it’s like 3:00, they close at 7. She’s like, no, no, no, we’re shutting down. She clearly seems panicked, but in a way where she doesn’t want to alarm Sarah. Luckily, the repairman has finished his work, and she just tells Sarah to go home. Go home, Go home. Go home. Sarah ends up at the neighbors now, as she’s going to the neighbors, there’s military jets that kind of do a quick boom overhead, which depending on what part of the country you live in, is. Maybe not a strange sight, but, you know, these kind of like clues are accruing.
Rosie Knight I was definitely. I was definitely catching some jokes about that. They do again, they do such a good job this kind of walking through the suburbs with these huge jets booming.
Jason Concepcion Yeah.
Rosie Knight But as someone who’s lived the last seven years in, like, the south bay of L.A.
Jason Concepcion Yeah.
Rosie Knight That’s just my everyday life.
Rosie Knight Helicopter jet.
Jason Concepcion Yeah.
Rosie Knight I was like, I will never know when the zombie apocalypse is coming because it will just sound like normal. I’ll just be like, Oh, it’s there again.
Jason Concepcion Yeah. Even in L.A. proper, up where I am, you know where the entire county is nestled between several huge military bases and there is constant traffic over. So again, we would not probably notice.
Rosie Knight That wouldnot give us a hint. But Sarah knows. And again, I love I really love you know, what I thought was so cool? I think a lot of times in movies, if you see a singular person, especially a child, and they they’re walking and above them all these kind of military jets, that feels almost like a triumphant Top Gun esque victory moment, you know, And they subvert that here. She’s just so alone and terrified and she knows in her heart like something bad is going on, but just nobody else has noticed it yet.
Jason Concepcion And again, this is an example of how additive this show is. In the game, of course, we only get the scene where, you know, Joel wakes Sarah up and she presents him with the watch and he asks how she got it fixed. And you never really know. This. The show uses the game almost as an outline to drop story beats in between these other beats, which we already know about. And it does it in this really expansive, wonderful way. So over at the Neighbors, the Adler’s, you know, she asks, Hey, have you noticed anything Ms.. Adler’s daughter asks. Have you noticed anything strange going on? The woman essentially says no, and then it’s like, Hey, making cookies, raisin cookies. It’s again clear Sarah doesn’t want those, but she’s very, very kind and nice.
Rosie Knight Okay, I need to say so. So they’re making the raisin cookies, right? Sarah goes into the living room, in my opinion, what is the scariest moment of the season?
Jason Concepcion Very, very creepy.
Rosie Knight She starts to look at the DVDs. Right. Something that obviously we’re meant to guess, like it’s 2003. But she’s kind of into them and she wants she wants to borrow a DVD. This is obviously part of the reason that she’s cool with going over there.
Jason Concepcion Oh, The Hangover. Look, they have The Hangover.
Jason Concepcion And as she’s picking a DVD, she is in focus. And behind her, out of focus is the mother is and she begins to have a seizure and you see just blurry in the background. And if you’re not paying attention, you might not even see it because Sarah is right there in full focus looking at these DVDs with all the excitement of a teenager, looking at DVDs, and in the background, we see the mother’s mouth open and kind of, you know if you’ve played the game, what this means. But it’s it’s looking bad. It’s looking bad but Sarah missed it. And Sarah gets out of this moment unscathed and asks to borrow the DVD escapes, the raisins and heads out the house.
Jason Concepcion What she does notice is that the the Adler’s dog has taken a very keen interest in in Mrs. Adler and is staring at her in a very unsettling way. Later, Joel arrives home from work. He is an hour late. He seems very tired. There are issues at work that he’s like, You don’t care about this. He didn’t bring the cake that he had promised to bring home. He had promised to bring it. He then promises again, Listen, on my life, I will get one tomorrow, which is just.
Rosie Knight Heartbreaking.
Jason Concepcion So brutal. Sarah then pulls out the DVD, which is some kind of ninja action movie sequel.
Rosie Knight Viper 2. Got this Viper 2 or something.
Jason Concepcion And you know, it’s one that quickly, very clearly, you know, it was eager to watch. So they settle in to watch it. Sarah falls asleep. While she’s asleep Joel gets a call from Tommy, and Tommy has been arrested very clearly again. And he needs somebody to bail him out because it’s Friday. And if he and if Joel doesn’t come bail him out tonight, that’s it. He’s in there for he’s in county for lock up for, you know, the entire weekend and Joel leaves, leaving Sarah at home in the gathering dark. And it’s in that time about 2 a.m., a little after 2 a.m., that shit really starts to go wrong. Sarah wakes up to the sound of helicopters, the sound of various electrical infrastructure exploding, other explosions. She car alarms, dogs barking. She wakes up, turns on the TV. Only the emergency broadcast message, which is very concerning.
Rosie Knight Ih it’s very alarming.
Jason Concepcion Yeah. And then things just happen with a gathering and terrible momentum. The Adler’s dog shows up. Sarah’s like, What? You know, it’s panicked. It runs away from her. She goes to check on the neighbors. They are dead or mortally wounded. And Connie Adler, the seemingly elderly and infirm woman, is like hunched over her daughter or daughter in law just doing something horrible with strange tentacles coming out of her mouth. Sarah flees right into the path of Joel and Tommy’s truck. They are pulling up clearly like they are very panicked as well. Tommy has a fucking rifle out, so he’s like ready.
Rosie Knight Joel hits Mrs. Adler with a massive wrench. Like.
Jason Concepcion Yeah.
Rosie Knight They know something is going down. I think this is a really small. When Sarah wakes up, we’re talking about something that is almost directly taken from the game. That is the moment when you are in this is the part where it’s this is the part and you’re walking around the dark house and you’re looking for your dad in the game. She’s woken up by a phone call from Tommy. But I really like this added context that they bring to Joel and Tommy’s relationship here, where the reason Joel is out is not because of work, it’s because he’s getting Tommy and she’s woken up just by the general chaos of what occurs. But in this moment that she gets outside and you see Joel and Tommy come together. To protect. You see a different side of that brotherly relationship. These two can do anything together, including just like absolutely wreck someone like this is not the first time they’ve done that, though. It is the first time they’ve probably done it to a zombie.
Jason Concepcion Yeah. Tommy ends up shooting Mrs. Adler, which is shocking to Sarah and certainly shocking to Tommy and and Joel, who have no idea what is happening. They flee in the truck, Various things happen. The truck ends up. And this is the part.
Rosie Knight And this is so from the game.
Jason Concepcion This is the part. Yeah. And this is the part of the episode that is like ripped almost directly from the game. There’s the one shot where they’re driving up to an intersection and and Tommy is saying, what do we do? And Joel and Joel’s is like, okay, we’re going to take 71. We’re going get out of town. And that is almost shot for shot. And then when see the squad cars going by.
Rosie Knight And when you see Jimmy’s house on fire.
Jason Concepcion Yeah, that’s exactly.
Rosie Knight Jimmy’s house on fire.
Jason Concepcion Amazing.
Rosie Knight And then you get to that moment that we were talking about so much on our last Last of US episode, where we’re talking about the game where Tommy is trying to navigate his way through these crowds of people who are trying to survive. And Joel is just saying, kill them, run them over, don’t care, just drive.
Jason Concepcion We got to do it. We got to do it.
Rosie Knight Same as that moment that we talked about that says so much about Joel, where he won’t help the family with the kids. You know, that happens in the show. It’s very interesting. And much to the show’s credit, how well they have managed to cherry pick the moments that make you feel like you’re directly in the game, just as you might be getting a little bit out of the the direct canon of the game. They just go boom. Throw back in to a moment and this is so well done. And you get that Sarah, shots of her looking all around, seeing everything that’s going on.
Jason Concepcion They play it off her face really wonderfully. And it’s a testament to again how high quality that game is that you can scoop an entire scene out and have it be, you know, triple A television.
Rosie Knight And they set up something here that I feel like really comes through in the car that then is definitely brought through to the kind of the next part of the show, which is that they begin to start lighting it very much like in the game. In that moment, you feel there are moments when you’re looking at Niko Parker’s face and it just feels like you’re in that uncanny space of being in the game because of the way that they liked it. And as this kind of continues and then you get to that, you know, the time jump that we’re going to get to from then on. There are so many moments where if you pause your TV, it was like watching Cincy for the first time when I watched that movie and pause it and it would just look like, oh friends, the principal and the comic might be like, What you. And this is like that where especially in this moment and then later when Joel and Tess begin to kind of go around and look around the quarantine zone. There are so many moments where if you pause them, you’re like, is it just from the game? Is it just from the end? They’re so good at building the mise en scene in the cinematography and then adding this kind of lighting and I’m sure felt, Does that make you feel like it without ever feeling too much.
Jason Concepcion Yeah. So, you know, it unfolds slightly differently. We get a big plane crash that was called. That is what causes Tommy’s truck to wreck. Joel and Sara are separated from Tommy. Sarah is injured. Joel has to carry her, chased by infected. They rushed down to the riverside where they all agreed they would. They would meet Uncle Tommy there and a gunshot rings out, taking down the infected that’s chasing Joel and Sarah. And it’s a soldier. And here is the moment again, almost played directly from the game where you know Joel and carrying Sarah like we’re not sick. We need help. And the soldiers like you. No, don’t move. And then radios for confirmation about what to do. And I thought this was whoever this voice actor is great performance from this person, because you get a little bit more of that when that when the soldier gets the order and goes, I’m sorry, could you say that again?
Rosie Knight Hm Mmm.
Jason Concepcion You at least feel like, okay, this is really fucked up and everybody understands how fucked up this is, but also a testament to how really dire this situation is that the only thing that anybody can come up with is don’t let this infection spread by any means necessary. You take people down and so gunshots, you know, the soldier opens fire, Joel is grazed. But of course, Sarah is mortally wounded. Tommy shoots the soldier and we get a really heartrending scene of Sarah expiring and Joel’s arms almost before. And this is another great another great little moment. She dies and he misses it.
Rosie Knight Yeah.
Jason Concepcion He’s like, he looks away and he doesn’t see it. And it’s such a microcosm of their relationship.
Rosie Knight Exactly. And the thing that I love, again, if we’re talking about like character beats and moments, look, Tommy might be the fuck up, but every point is Tommy, who is coming in clutch at the last minute. Tommy is the one who shoots the soldier. The soldier is about to shoot Joel, just in the face. Tommy shoots him, and then it’s Tommy who notices that Sarah dies. Yeah, but it’s Joel who’s holding her. Joel’s just. He’s. He’s trying to get her up. He’s going to save her. It’s going to be okay. And she’s on his shoulder and he misses it. But Tommy sees. Just so many interesting. That could seem like a Dual ex-machina, so that, you know, Joel doesn’t die, but it never reads like that. It just says, these are this brothers relationship and it is extremely fucked up, but this is just how it’s always been. And in that moment, again, like you said, Joel misses this huge moment. It’s there. It’s the note from the game, you know, it’s.
Jason Concepcion Yeah.
Rosie Knight It’s be back late,Dad. Without the love. It’s all the little things he did that didn’t that are going to haunt him after Sarah’s untimely death. Just huge shout out to Nico Parker.
Jason Concepcion Yeah. Cool detail.
Rosie Knight I’m like, please please bring my back from Flashbacks. Like, she is so brilliant. So yeah, I would love to see it.
Jason Concepcion X-ray Vision will be back. And we’re back. We jump to Boston 20 years later, 2023. A young boy in what we are going to discover is kind of mid stages of infection staggers to the gates of the quarantine zone. Formerly Boston’s North End, one of several areas run by the FEDRA authorities, what’s left essentially of the U.S. government. And after some very cursory tests, I mean, it’s clear by looking at the kid, they show a sign about like the timeline of infection, which is basically you’re infected and then a day later you are a full on raving zombie. And there are various stages along the way where you can tell by tremors in the limbs and etc.. And it’s clear that this boy is in the throes of this. And a soldier kneels, tells him soft, you know, wonderful platitudes. And then they inject him with some killing serum and bye bye.
Rosie Knight I was absolutely just flabbergasted is the only word. Yeah, that is like the only way. How do you follow the Sarah cold open, which is we’ve talked about everyone’s talked about one of the best cold opens of all time. How do you follow something that heart breaking with this double gut punch of one of the most horrific. It’s it’s so sad. And it’s so well done. Like like you said, you know, this soldier, this kind of FEDRA agent who seems to be like poor kind of soldier. You know, we see this test and it goes red. You know, red is bad, green is safe, red is danger. And she sat and she says, you know, once you’re better, we’re going to get you all these toys. What’s your favorite food you’re going to be able to eat it. Don’t worry. He’s just giving you an injection.
Jason Concepcion It’s medicine and.
Rosie Knight Medicine. And then, you know, boom, he’s just the dead body in the back of the van about to get burned. I mean, that was that to me was the kind of grim and gritty, like, bleak reality of. The apocalypse, this kind of post-apocalyptic world that The Walking Dead often strove for. But it was very rare that they would hit it in that way emotionally to me. And I just thought that was so well done and just absolutely horrible.
Jason Concepcion Not to make this a Walking Dead criticism fest, but I, I, you can’t help in that moment where the boy comes to the top of a rise and you see Boston spread up before him to not make the comparison. I, it, in my mind immediately flashback to that Walking Dead television show.
Rosie Knight Of course.
Jason Concepcion And I thought the one detail there is this it’s small again but it’s so good and shouts to the production designers and the wardrobe people, his taped up shoes.
Rosie Knight Yeah.
Jason Concepcion We’re not making new shoes, you know. And so here are these like scavenged pair of basketball shoes with the soles taped to the upper. Using packing tape that he’s shuffling forward in.
Rosie Knight And and then like you know that was such intentional choice that like super producer Saul just said, when we see his body the shoes are the thing that let us know it’s the kid. Yeah it’s like the size of his body, his red T-shirt. But those shoes, that’s when you really know, like, oh, they just they murdered that kid.
Jason Concepcion Yeah. So after we. And honestly, what choice do they have? I don’t know. I don’t know.
Rosie Knight It’s a complex conversation, but let’s, let’s put a pin in, slash, let’s remember this moment, because this is this is a moment this is.
Jason Concepcion The central conversation of the story.
Rosie Knight Central conversation of this show. Who decides who gets to live and die in a zombie apocalypse? Is this virus a dangerous thing that is killing humans? Yes. But is it also an evolutionary part of nature? Is this just kill or be killed? Is this Darwinism? And who gets to make those decisions? And also, as we’ll know when we meet Ellie soon, we don’t necessarily know how everyone’s going to respond to abide. So they it’s a really brutal moment. But like you said, this is kept the quarantine zone relatively safe for 20 years.
Jason Concepcion So when next we see this young boy’s body, it’s being it’s being carried from a truck by Joel and dropped into a fire to incinerate it, along with dozens, it seems, of other bodies, people who have died, not from infection and from other reasons. And there is Joel. He’s now 56 and this is how he earns his ration cards, which are the currency of the quarantine zone. You go out, you you go out for daily work, whatever needs to be done around the quarantine zone, whether it’s, you know, going down in the sewer and cleaning it out or street sweeping or what have you. But of course, Joel, also on the side, has a thriving criminal enterprise with his now obviously lover changed from the game. It’s only suggested that she’s his, you know, romantic partner with his partner Tess, who together they, you know, are active in the kind of like smuggling networks that keep the QC going. And that clearly happen with the connivance of various members of the quarantine zone authorities. As you see later, when Joel sells some hydro pills manufactured at a FEDRA facility down in Atlanta to a guard in exchange for cigarets and some ration cards, plus a car battery to be delivered later that Joel needs for something we’re not sure. Now. Of course, FEDRA is not the only force in the zone. There’s also the Fireflies. We see their graffiti all around and they are an armed militia dedicated to we’re later to find out, Bring back democracy again. Their aims are kind of just like FEDRA is evil and we need to overthrow them and they don’t like what they’re doing. Their political agenda is hard to pin down. Yeah, similarly. But the hints that we get are tantalizing.
Rosie Knight Yeah. FEDRA is basically a fascistic dictatorship that is keeping the people in these quarantine zones because it’s easier for them and they can make money off it and they can run their little, you know, executions and they can run their little, you know, smuggling rings and everything. And Firefly is a kind of just a at this point, like a general revolutionary militia, like we you’ve played the game, you know, kind of what their main names are. But like you said, this idea of kind of a generic idea of democracy coming back and the idea that there is something that FEDRA are hiding from people.
Jason Concepcion The Guard later warns Joel to stay off the streets because apparently FEDRA is really going to start cracking down on the Fireflies very, very soon. And the guard essentially says, hey, mistakes happen. We’re going to just shoot anybody we see. So they to shoot elsewhere, we meet Tess and in a great reconfiguring of the storytelling from the game. Tess is is being held by Robert who is another one of these kind of, you know, catch as catch can criminals in the QZ zone. He’s on a smuggler he’s got his henchmen you know standing around her. She is sitting on a chair. She’s got her fresh black eye, clearly bruised up. They tuned her up significantly, but. The dynamic is fascinating. Robert has very clearly ripped Tess off on a deal for a car battery. Not delivered the car battery. You know, clearly the one Joel was interested in. But here’s the dynamic. Robert has Tess prisoner, but he is very, very obviously frightened of her. And he’s retribution. Frightened of what? Tess and Joel. He just says, you know, the person you’re with, what they might do if they harbor this grudge on this on the on the on the deal that he is double crossed them on. And he’s basically saying, hey, okay, Tess, listen, can we just can you just forgive me that I fucked you over because just do it, please. Like, walk out of here and we’re fine. And Tess is basically like, Yeah, don’t worry about it.
Rosie Knight Yeah, sure, sure.
Jason Concepcion It’s fine. Listen, you know, and he’s like, and Robert, it’s really funny because at one point Robert is like, But my guys, they beat you up. And she’s like, Yeah, but like, just fucking.
Rosie Knight Yeah, she’s like it’s done, man. Don’t worry about it.
Jason Concepcion And are you yelling and reprimand them. Yell at them, yell at them right now.
Rosie Knight They’re your guys. Yeah.
Jason Concepcion Yeah. And you know, the discussion however, is cut short when there is a huge explosion that blows out the wall of this dungeon that that, that Robert is this basement of an apartment complex that Robert is is holding Tess in. And this is the Firefly attack against FEDRA forces. Tess escapes but then is quickly scooped up by FEDRA and we cut to elsewhere. For a firefly safe house in which we see a young girl chained to a radiator. And this is Ellie going under the name of Veronica, you know, trying to hide her identity somewhat. Real name, Ellie. But telling everybody that her name is Veronica right now. And these various people that are coming in are testing her for the symptoms of infection. Do you, you know, count to ten? But, you.
Rosie Knight Put your arm out and hold it.
Jason Concepcion Put your arm out and hold it. No tremors. Her her thinking is completely clear. She flips them off and it’s a really, really cool, unexpected. Introduction to one of the main characters of the show. And I thought that, you know, the same thing with with the Tess and Roberts scene, where very, very smartly, Mazin has given you the beats of the things that happened in those first few chapters of the game before you think you’re going to get them. The explosion doesn’t happen at the checkpoint. It happens right there when Robert and Tess are having their discussion and you don’t even. You know, in the game, you’re, you find Robert at the end of like this kind of long string of fights and missions but you you get it early and then here you meet Ellie early It’s it’s really, really well-paced and well done.
Rosie Knight Yeah, I love those. I also love this because we know. That this is another great sleight of hand. We know from playing the game that both Tess and Joel are killers. They have to be to survive. And Tess especially seems to have a very brutal outlook on what you need to do. They do a really small thing here where, once again, they set up your expectations. Oh, these are the heroes. Even if they have to do things that, you know, sell drugs, that those things that now we know are not some morally wrong things that just to do with the situation and the way that you live. And this is a very interesting exploration of this new economy and what people have to do to survive. But we know that when things get going, we’re going to see this different side of them. And I find that very interesting because this is a kind of even after that wild opening. This is a very slow burn episode in the quarantine. This is knowing where things are. That explosion that happens, Tess just takes that in her stride. You know, this is happening a lot like these attacks are happening. And it is so interesting to see that moment of, you know, Tess. You know. Yeah, well, we’ll talk about it in a minute.
Jason Concepcion Well, I was just going to say.
Rosie Knight Yeah.
Jason Concepcion The it’s wonderful how they set up how deadly Tess and Joel are just by Robert being fucking scared of them.
Rosie Knight Exactly. Exactly. It’s so smart. We don’t need to do a ten minute chase.
Jason Concepcion We don’t even have to see them.
Rosie Knight They don’t have to kill 50 people in the first opening of the show.
Jason Concepcion Just scared.
Rosie Knight Also, I have to say.
Jason Concepcion He has this woman in his clutches, and he. She’s going to do it. And he’s scared.
Rosie Knight I will say as well. Something I think is very smart about this first episode I think is very interesting and quite a brave choice to not focus on that P.O.V. shoot em up aspect of this game.
Jason Concepcion I agree. It goes away from that very consciously at various moments when you think it’s going to go to that.
Rosie Knight And it’s very interesting. And then I’m sure, you know, we will get those moments in later episodes because this is an apocalypse that is similar to what we would know as zombies. It’s this quadriceps apocalypse. So you’re going to have to kill some monsters. You’re probably going to have to kill some soldiers, which we know from what we’ve seen in the opening, Joel won’t have a problem doing because they killed his kid. But I love that instead of it going straight there, which I have to say, so many action games, that is often the focus of the adaptations that we’ve seen in live action, which I think can be part of the problem. And instead we get this ultimate worldbuilding that brings in the characters. Early on, Allie tests Robert in new ways, but that still feels very much in line with what we love about this game.
Jason Concepcion Yes, it’s so good. We see Joel skipping a huge line of people waiting to go sit down with a ham radio operator, which is apparently the only means of communicating beyond the walls of great. That was a really, really wonderful bit of world beyond, Hey, you’re skipping the line, but nobody.
Rosie Knight Does anything.
Jason Concepcion Nobody wants to step to Joel is clear that he just has a very, very dangerous aspect. He sits down with the operator who clearly knows him and has talked to him quite a bit. The cigarets that he bartered for are for this guy. And the guy basically says, Hey, nothing, no messages from Tommy. I’m sorry, I’ve been sitting here when I’m not sitting here, my wife is sitting here. When my wife isn’t sitting here, my son is sitting here and not the stupid one, the smart one is sitting here and there’s been no messages at all. And the operator pinpoints for Joel, the last known position that Tommy had, which is this radio tower that was communicating with Boston. And it’s all the way out in fucking Wyoming. And Joel is like, Great, I’m going there. I guess I’ll have to go there and find out what happened to Tommy. And the operator is like, No, no, no, no. Joel. What. It’s three.
Rosie Knight Wyoming.
Jason Concepcion Quarters of the way across the country. And he says, the thing that is, you know, the the basic thesis of every single zombie story, there are worse things out there than the infected. And it’s us, it’s slavers, it’s raiders, it’s the various depraved human beings that either because of their needs for survival or because there’s any kind of societal check on their depravity has been removed currently. Run things in those wastelands out there. Don’t go in jails like, Oh, I think I’m going to go. So he goes home. He he goes to a hiding place and takes out his map and a crowbar and an ax and various weaponry that he needs. And there’s a great moment where the camera switches from Joel kneeling at his hiding spot to the bed, and then it pans down and you see that the bed is on cinder blocks. And it’s a really cool small moment where you it’s telling you that all kind of steel that can be repurposed for weapons or anything like hard metal has been scavenged from this. It’s gone. It’s gone. Joel has Joel is certainly repurposed that stuff himself. And then Joel Downs, a bunch of oxy and a bunch of zone alcohol, and he passes out and I’m like, Joel, man, you’re 56, bro. You need to.
Rosie Knight Take a break.
Jason Concepcion You need to slow it down. Please. When he wakes up, Tess is there, He sees her injuries and he’s alarmed. She lies to him about some of the details about what happened, but then tells him, Hey, I was also locked up by by FEDRA and then says, okay, now here is the thing that happened and basically tells him that, yeah, Robert double crossed us for the battery, which means no truck, which means no going to get Tommy and Joel is fucking irate. But tests and here you’re getting a wonderful understanding of their interplay in a. It’s a good subversion of the game in which Tess is the psycho maniac killing everybody. Here is tests being like, Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Joel, calm down. If you walk out of here half cocked looking for Robert, he’s terrified of you. He is going to freak out and he is going to flee. And we’re never going to fucking find him. So you need to cool down. Act like nothing is wrong. Nothing is bothering you so that we can find out where Robert is and we can fucking kill him. And it’s, again, a wonderful kind of subversion of the Tess character where she’s kind of like the headier one.
Rosie Knight Yeah.
Jason Concepcion But also a killer. Still a killer.
Rosie Knight I love that she like you. It starts at this really tender moment where she gets into the bed and, like, spoons Sam, and you kind of see this cuddle, and then they just quickly get to that talk about the time. Well, killing time. Yeah, that’s the. That’s the pillow talk in that house.
Jason Concepcion Yeah. We go back to the safe house and we meet Marlene, the Firefly leader played by Merle Dandridge, who, by the way, same voice actor and and, you know, mocap actor from the game. So really cool moment there. Yeah. She gets some very, very tough questions thrown at her by her Lieutenant Kim. Why are we attacking the feds for no reason? This is pointless. You know, like, why is there a random girl chained to a radiator? And Marlene’s like, okay, everybody get out of the fucking room. And then she tells Kim that the attacks on FEDRA are to lure FEDRA away from the safehouse that they are at right now. They’re happening all over the zone, but not here. And secondarily, the girl is important and here’s why. And then she hands Kim a note that was, I guess, sent from another Firefly safe house, not in the zone, but like across the state, which we’re going to guess right now is like some sort of laboratory. You know, like there are scientists involved with the Fireflies.
Rosie Knight There’s somewhere there’s a lab where people are moving towards this idea of a cure, but they’re not FEDRA people, they’re Fireflies.
Jason Concepcion Right. And so whatever is in that note, it’s clearly big because Kim is like, Oh shit, whatever you need. Like, I get it now. Like, we’ll do it. Elsewhere Tess gets the location for Robert’s battery deal, and it’s a building that they remember and they know how to get to is accessible via the subway tunnels. Back at the safe house Marlene gives, quote unquote, Veronica, who we know as Ellie, her pat back. Here’s this wonderful peace offering. Right. The pack contains her switchblade, which Ellie eagerly leaps to, gets it right in her hand, telling you this is what this world is. This is a girl that knows nothing other than this.
Rosie Knight Literally.
Jason Concepcion She grew up in. This is her normal life.
Rosie Knight She was born in this world. This is it.
Jason Concepcion And. Marlene then explains to Ellie that it was she that placed Ellie at the FEDRA Military Academy, basically an orphanage where they train kids to eventually be FEDRA soldiers slash cops all those years ago. And this brings up some really, really fascinating questions like is Marlene Ex FEDRA? Are the Fireflies ex FEDRA?
Rosie Knight Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Are they a break off group of a part of FEDRA that was trying to find a cure and then FEDRA kind of went corrupt and went lazy. And changed. So they broke off.
Jason Concepcion And has had the Fireflies been earmarking kids for something like this suggestion that they are involved in some way in Ellie’s life from the very beginning is fascinating. And that feels like a thread that we’re going to unspool more and more. Like is is this Firefly mission towards a cure? Has, is it more planned out than this seemingly ad hoc, Oh, we found this girl and now we need to move her someplace. Is there a plan that has been kind of in motion for a while suggested here? And it’s fascinating.
Rosie Knight I think that’s a really important thing to know, especially because this is a very interesting addition. Again, I would point people towards the girl with all the gifts that came out kind of contemporary to this. This sounds almost directly inspired by the set up of that book where we meet a bunch of kids in a school classroom who are being taught in a kind of military school, and then you come to learn something about them. So I love this. I think. As we know where this is going because we played the game and the game is heartbreaking and amazing. I’ll be very interested to see what the implications of this are, because they could be really, really massive and they could also either add to or take away a little bit from that.
Jason Concepcion Yeah, it’s a dangerous.
Rosie Knight Impact.
Jason Concepcion It’s a dangerous play for sure.
Rosie Knight So I’m very interested. I’m excited to see it, especially because Marlene is so great just in this. This is like really the first time we’ve gotten to meet her. And you really get that connection between her and Ellie. And I want to know more. I want to know if they were picking kids, if that was some kind of study. They did some kind of DNA that they were looking for. Very interesting.
Jason Concepcion We get a mention here from Marlene of Riley, who is a character from the Last of US DLC and who we know from that game, had a very close relationship with Ellie. And it’s very clear that Riley has has died somehow. Marlene is using Riley’s example to say, Hey, was Riley a terrorist? No. Ellie is like, Oh, the Fireflies terrorists. She’s like, Well, was Riley a terrorist? Like, we’re not terrorists. And then she later tells Ellie the reason for all this trouble. Ellie is the only known person who has been infected with the cordyceps fungus. Who, it has not become a zombie, did not fall ill, is seemingly immune. Huge, huge deal. Elsewhere, Tess and Joel are in the subway tunnels where we see what happens to you after the kind of zombie phase of the cordyceps infection has run its course, you basically just turn into a mushroom, a disgusting mushroom that explodes out of your body and ends and glues you to whatever surface your corpse happened to explode next to. It’s this very body horror thing. Again, this very aliens alien kind of like look of being, like, molded into a surface and it’s super, super gross. And notably Tess, hard ass, is terror like is jump scared when she sees it.
Rosie Knight Yeah. She is jump scared. It’s very it lets you know that even within the quarantine zone where these people are battle hardened for 20 years, there are things that can shock them. There are things that being chilled to kill a man for some pills. That’s not going to stop you being scared by the fact that there is a nightmarish mushroom fungus that could take you and turn you into a wall decoration. You know, it’s it’s horrific. And I love this because I also think it leans in again to that question that we talk about, which is like this nature evolution, like. Yeah.
Jason Concepcion This is also this scene. Great addition by subtraction. So in the game here, this is your first encounter. When they go into the tunnels, your first encounter with the spores and what to do. Your characters take out gas masks and you walk through the spores and you’re not infected, which never made sense because like the spores, you take off the gas mask, the spores are still all over your clothes.
Rosie Knight Shirt, you breath them in.
Jason Concepcion In your fucking hair. You’re going to still get to bring them in. So very wisely. Mazin and Druckmann for the adaptation have done away with the fucking gas mask and now it’s zombie stuff directly like, Yeah, yeah.
Rosie Knight It seems like from Ellie’s arm and from what we see that it’s some kind of bite, some kind of blood situation like, like all classical zombies.
Jason Concepcion Yes. Tess and Joel arrive at the building, and guess what? It’s the Firefly safe house. They discover that a gunfight has broken out, and Robert, along with a number of Fireflies, have been killed. Robert died, man, doing what he loved. Trying to fuck a double cross somebody.
Rosie Knight Selling a busted battery.
Jason Concepcion Selling a busted battery. It turns out the battery didn’t work. And. And the Fireflies were like, Hey, we’re not buying this. And a gunfight broke out and they all died. Except for Marlene, who is gut shot, very seriously wounded. And Kim, who doesn’t have an ear anymore. Folks, these are not exactly the Navy SEALs. The Fireflies. You know, like, why? Just a quick aside. Big, you know, top secret safe house where we’re launching attacks all across the zone to draw FEDRA away. Why are you doing this here?
Rosie Knight Why do you want me here for your battery? Just get. Just do it somewhere else. Lately, Robert has, like, a shitty hideout that just got blown off. Like, go there, like.
Jason Concepcion Go there.
Rosie Knight Why did you bring this man who loves the double cross people to your secret safe house where you’re keeping the salvation of the known world? Like, please. Do better.
Jason Concepcion Hey, look, let’s do the deal. Let’s do the deal in the hallway outside where we’re holding Ellie. Like, let’s do it no matter what we show you. Yeah, we do it anyway with the Fireflies based at this safe house, there’s other Fireflies, But they. You know, the ones based here now apparently wiped out. Marlene has no choice but to offer Joel and Tess, who she knows are hard asses. Very capable. She says offer them a deal. If they will take Ellie to a group of Fireflies waiting across the city at the old State house outside the QZ. She will provide Joel with a truck, with gas, with the fucking fresh battery in the truck, guns, whatever they need to make their journey to Wyoming to go find Tommy. Now, Joel, your test is like, do you trust her? And of course, no.
Rosie Knight Absolutely not.
Jason Concepcion At all. And this girl clearly does not trust her. But we get a few pieces of information, one that Marlene knows not only knows Joel from reputation, but knows them because Tommy was a Firefly. And this is a point of contention between Joel and Marlene, who Joel feels turned his brother against him in some form or fashion. Oh, we should also mention that in this moment, Ellie comes bursting out and gives you an idea of the fight fierceness that she has because bursting out of her room switchblade at the ready. And Joel just like throws her into a wall.
Rosie Knight He just lashes her into the wall. Like he does not care. She is nothing to him, a sandbag. He just throws around. And then Joel’s like, toying with her, keeping her knife. You know, it doesn’t set up a particularly great rapport between the two, but it shows us a lot about Ellie. And another thing this episode does is keep in one of everyone’s favorite things about Ellie, which is like she curses like.
Jason Concepcion A lot.
Rosie Knight A drunken sailor. And they kept that in there. And do see Bella Ramsey, who’s just was so great as Lianna Mormont and is now just bringing that same attitude, but even more so. It’s just wonderful to see it. But yeah, when Joel throws her against that wall, I mean, you feel the impact.
Jason Concepcion Yeah, they are wonderful in this role and I like that. Just like the introduction of Ellie and Joel in the game, it the show kind of throws the moment away a little bit. Like maybe in lesser hands there’d be this instant, Joel looks at Ellie.
Rosie Knight And sees Sarah.
Jason Concepcion Yeah, it’s a girl at about the age. Joell has seen teenage girls before. Like you’ve seen children the age of his his daughter there. It’s. It’s a throwaway moment. I think that makes the relationship that grows between them even more impactful later on. So, yeah, Tess smells desperation, understands that Marlene needs them and also has access to shit that they want. So Tess steps up, makes a deal, says, okay, listen, here’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to take her. But if we get to the spot and the Fireflies then want to take us to another place to give us the shit, we kill Ellie right there. The Fireflies that we’re meeting need to have the truck, the guns, the battery, everything right there so we can leave right there. And if that isn’t ready again, we execute Ellie. And Marlene’s like great. Good. Yes. And Ellie’s like, Wait, hold on.
Rosie Knight Sorry. What?
Jason Concepcion So they all leave. Joel takes Ellie to his apartment and puts her inside while Tess and Joel stay outside in the hallway to kind of discuss, like, what happens next. In that brief time, Ellie breaks Joel’s smuggling code that he has hidden in a in a book of pop music hits. The only part of the code she doesn’t figure out in this moment is what eighties music means. Joel comes back, Tess goes off to get supplies, and Joel immediately falls asleep. A nice inversion of of the, you know, the opening scene in which it’s Sarah that falls asleep and Joel, it stays away. Joel immediately nods off when he wakes up. Ellie is telling him that he mumbles in his sleep and she’s looking out at the rain and kind of reflecting on how she’s never been beyond the walls of the accused. She asks Joel. Have you been out there? And he’s, he’s like, Yeah. Tess and I go, The last time we went was about a year ago. So Ellie is somewhat put at ease by this feeling like, okay, I’m with people who theoretically know what they’re doing. And then she very, very capably bamboozles Joel into revealing what the eighties code means. She says, Oh, by the way. Oh, sorry. Yeah. I forgot to mention when you were asleep, the radio came on. What is? Wake me up before you go go, mean? And Joel, his head goes down and he’s like, Fuck. And that is how Ellie realizes. Aha. Eighties music means trouble letting you know that, like, for for the obvious look kind of like naivete and and and lack of experience that she has in this world, she’s also very, very capable, fierce and a thinker, smarter than Joel in a lot of ways
Rosie Knight Very cunning, and she’s definitely had to work out ways to survive that.
Jason Concepcion Yeah.
Rosie Knight Belie her kind of small stature. You know, she has the knife, but really it’s the Smarts have probably gotten her this far.
Jason Concepcion So Tess returns and everybody heads off. And of course, we understand from an earlier scene that you get caught outside the wall, you get hung. It’s no trial. They string you up outside. It’s raining, it’s dark and stormy night they encounter pissing against the wall the same guard that Joel has been selling pills to. And now the guard decides, You know what? I’m doing shit by the book now. I know that I’ve been.
Rosie Knight I got what I wanted. And now, you’re in trouble.
Jason Concepcion Now, I understand that I’ve been involved, directly involved in various smuggling schemes throughout the zone. But now we’re bringing you in. Kneel. Put your hands behind your head, etc.. I’m going to test you in for infection. He tests Tess green, then test Joel, green. And we can see the panic rising in Ellie. She doesn’t want she knows she’s going to test red and she doesn’t want her cover blown about what’s going on with her. So as he places the device to her neck, she takes out the switchblade and stabs him right in the fucking thigh. Shit pops off. Joel is, and Tess are trying to talk him. Hey, don’t do. Don’t, don’t do anything rash. Don’t do anything crazy. And Joel flashes back because of the direct parallels. Here is this guy in Soldier Gear again, He’s flashing a light in his face.
Rosie Knight Holding a gun to a child.
Jason Concepcion Holding a gun to a child. The child is right here with him and he just snaps and he kills the guy. After right after that happened, Tess notices that on the handheld testing device that Ellie tested red and now Ellie. And now everything is out in the open and Ellie is showing them the scar from the bite that is healed over and now three weeks old. And she’s saying, listen, I’m not. If I was going to get sick, it would have happened a long time ago. I’m not sick. I know what that looks like. But look, this healed. And anyway, we need to get out of here because FEDRA is coming.
Rosie Knight Tess wants to shoot her in the head. But Ellie, Ellie talks their way out of it.
Jason Concepcion Talks a way out of it, and the three head off into the darkness as the camera kind of pans up and you see the destroyed skyline of Boston’s Back Bay with Lake the I think that’s the insurer, the famous like the insurance building like topples into another building. And they head off into this really deep gathering darkness that just feels terrible and dangerous just by looking at this skyline. And we go to Joel’s apartment where Never Let Me Down by Depeche Mode 1987 comes on the radio. And you know that wherever whoever is sending that.
Rosie Knight It’s going wrong for them.
Jason Concepcion It’s going very, very wrong. And we head into episode two. Wool, that’s how you do it.
Rosie Knight That’s how you do it. It’s so good. And I love I love the ending where they use this musical beat that they just set out a moment ago as a funny character moment to just tell you that like. They’re fucked. Like this is going badly. Well, it’s not just from the people that they’re getting these messages from, which I think people will be really excited about. It’s like I think they were talking about Bill and Frank, you know, So this is kind of stuff that people really want to see. But also just as a tone setter for the show like this is going to end badly. Something I will say, Joel does say many times.
Jason Concepcion Many, many times.
Rosie Knight He knows the way it’s going. He just doesn’t know which way it’s going yet. Yeah. I mean, for I have said this many times, right. I, no surprise, I love a lot of video game adaptations. I think there’s a lot of fun ones. I think I think. There’s ones that are quite actually quite good. I think that I love the campiness.
Jason Concepcion Yeah, Sonic.
Rosie Knight But oh my God, most I would say actually, I dislike Sonic would generally be seen as that. I’m I’m a fan.
Jason Concepcion Sonic is great.
Rosie Knight I love the 90s’ Mortal Kombat movie. I love Double Dragon Movie with Mark Dacascos. Like those are really fun.
Jason Concepcion I like those as well.
Rosie Knight But this as a feat of adapting a story and a tone. We haven’t really seen anything like this in live action. It’s it’s pretty spectacular and I’m really excited. We got a little bit of it in the quarantine zone. You know, there’s those quiet moments, the overgrown weeds of kind of the in the city. But I’m really excited when we get to see. Outside the quarantine zone with these fallen buildings and the overgrown wildlife and getting to have a few more of those quiet moments of nature overcoming and nature coming back even after this terrible thing. I think they did an unbelievable job with this. And I’m also really glad that they didn’t drop more than one episode because I think this is like a really great water cooler everyone will be talking about. It’s been very nice.
Jason Concepcion 90 minutes and it raced by.
Rosie Knight Oh my God, I was shocked.
Jason Concepcion I did not realize.
Rosie Knight When people said it was 90 minutes, I did not realize. I just assumed it was a normal episode. And I was like, what? And it’s been really cool to see people in our discord who’ve never played the game, who just loved it. And it’s been nice to see that online as well, to see people who were just like, I just gave it a try because of Pedro Pascal. I just gave it a try because of Bella Ramsey. I gave it a try because I like zombie stories and to see how drawn into this world they’ve been, even if they’ve never played the game, I think that’s really a testament to how good the storytelling is. If you can make it accessible to an audience who has no idea what Fedor is or Curtis apps or all of that stuff, the storytelling here is so smartly done and kind of sparse, but just tells you what you need to know that I just I’m blown away by how good it is.
Jason Concepcion It did everything that an opening episode needs to do and it did it. Or just in a way that just draws you in. It told you in various dribs and drabs in various moments what the emotional generator of the story is going to be, what the story itself was going to be, how the world works, what the relationships between these characters are.
Rosie Knight What the economy of the world is.
Jason Concepcion What the economy. Like it fleshed it out and really wonderful ways. The casting, we have to say. I mean, we’ve talked about it with Nico Parker, obviously, with Pedro Pascal, with Anna Torv again. Who?
Rosie Knight Oh my God, Anna Torv is so good as Tess.
Jason Concepcion And she’s so good.
Rosie Knight That brought so much nuance and humanity to this like really brutal character.
Jason Concepcion And the way that, that, first of all, loved her in Fringe. Loved her in Mindhunter, you know, like but the way that time and time again the first episode just subverts what you expect if you know the game. You know, Tess, again, you know, we were set up to think that she’s a psycho, but she’s.Kind of the smarter one, kind of like the headier one giving you moments that happened before you expect them. The thing that you pointed out, I think that was so smart, which is like you get these moments where they arrive at the Firefly safe house, Tess, until they take their pants. So this feels like the game. They’re getting all their stuff out of the pack, their guns, they’re getting it right, and then they never do anything. There’s never the fact that there’s no real moment of Holy shit action with Tess and Joel at all. But you feel propelled forward and you understand what hard asses they are, how fierce and how dangerous they are, despite the fact that you never see a single fucking thing. It’s all about how they move through the world and how people relate to them. That is great.
Rosie Knight It’s really cool and it also is a really nice understanding of the difference between storytelling in a video game and storytelling in a TV show. You guys get to see them do all of that in the TV show constantly. In the game, it is part of the action that keeps you going. Another choice I thought was so interesting was to have Joel kill the QZ guard, not by shooting him, even though because, you know, bullets, they’re very rare in this game. You start with four or five, six and you have to find them. You looking through every door to find a bullet you’re picking up. And Joel’s raw anger. Instead, he beats him to death. And that is, again, something that is directly taken from the game. You can regularly beat people to death and strangle them. But what I love here is instead of it just being like, Oh, he’s just that kind of guy. This is a moment of.
Jason Concepcion It’s an emotional break.
Rosie Knight Emotional breakdown. This is a horrific act where he is killed someone that he had a vaguely chill relationship with because of this horrible memory.
Jason Concepcion It’s a really it’s a great point. And I love the way they throw it to Bella’s face there. And you see how one, how staggeringly violent this thing she had just seen is how this thing Ellie just seen is, but also how it kind of cements it like, okay. I’m in. I’m not going to say safe hands. I’m not going to say good hands, but I’m in the kind of hands that you need. You know, they’ll get me the cross this world.
Rosie Knight Let’s just hope the Fireflies have what they want because they will also kill me.
Jason Concepcion Yes, Spoiler alert.
Rosie Knight You know, I definitely want to see I want to just say, like, I was really happy when I was reading the reviews after I watched the screen is like I. I was really happy to see everyone shouting out Bela’s performance because that they’re wonderful in this, the incredible of what they put across with their eyes, the way they’re able to embody this kind of teenage awkwardness and this kind of that faux confidence you have to have as a teenager to make it through the world, let alone, apocolyptic world.
Jason Concepcion I think I’m grown up already. I believe that I’m an adult already when it’s very clear to everybody else that you’re not.
Rosie Knight Exactly. There’s so much nuance in it. And Pedro is obviously he’s so amazing, like Pedro Pascal, like no one’s like, oh, he he is not showing up next to Bella. No, he’s absolutely brilliant. But for Ballard to be able to shine the way they do next to him, that’s just unbelievable. And I’m so excited. To see that relationship, you know, enemies to parental figures, whatever the trope would be. I’m so excited to see that expanded as we go on. Who doesn’t love a lone wolf and cub type story? You know, and this is going to be such a special representation of it. And yeah, I was I was just really blown away. I’m so excited to talk about this series as it goes on.
Jason Concepcion Yeah, I loved the thing that you talked about because. You know, when I was 13, 14, I was like, Oh, I’m a grown up now. I’m like, No, I like I’m actually smarter than most adults. And then now when I see people who are 13, I’m like, You are a baby.
Rosie Knight When I was 20, I think that now because I’m so old, like it really, you know, I always think about that when I was a kid. It’s like when you’re in, you know, in England we call it secondary school, but when you’re in like middle school and you see someone who is above you who’s like a senior or whatever, he’s about to go to high school and you think, Oh, they’re an adult. And then you get to that. Everyone above you looks like an adult. And it just that constant cycle. And what I love about. Bello’s performance is with Ellie. Ellie is always in that space of I can hold my own. I’m an adult, I’m doing it. I’m old. But every so often there is a moment where she sees one of the adults doing something so horrific or so strange. And you get that look in her eye where she knows she’s still a child just in this work. Also, I think it’s very, very interesting to start a show like this and start a story like this. Same within the game. But to see it on TV of a character who remembers the old world and a character whose only I reference is the zombie apocalypse, I think now is such a cool space in The Walking Dead that took them years to get to the place where you can have a child who was who was born that because of the way they told the story. Another thing I really loved about this first episode, you talk, we talked about, you know, and in your great recap is like the ham radio. I love this idea that in the economy of the post-apocalypse, different people with different skills suddenly rise up the ranks. In this world, the man with the ham radio who can talk to people’s families all over the world. He becomes like the most important man, the kingpin. You know, I. Yeah, I watched this. I read this Absolutely Brilliant Walking Dead Comic by Tillie Walden, who’s one of my favorite cartoonists called Clementine. And there’s a great bit in there about a man who makes prosthetics. He trained himself how to make prosthetics because in the zombie apocalypse, that suddenly became something that everybody needed, especially in The Walking Dead, because you can chop off your limb and you survived the the virus. So I love these kind of ideas of economy, like how does it work? What becomes valuable? What becomes, yeah, sure, you can kill people. Actually, that is a skill that a lot of people are getting. Joel tests. But what are the more mundane skills that you can bring that you would would you survive the zombie apocalypse? There’s lots of memes like that. What are the five things you’d bring to like a post-apocalyptic society? Like, can you make bread? Can you farm? Yeah. Do you know how to run a ham radio like a lot of us would be bugs. But. But I like I love those choices that slow burn worldbuilding choices. I’m so excited to see that expanded as we get outside, especially because I think that one of the things that we know from the reviews, from the way people are talking about this, this is a show that isn’t afraid to move away from Joel and Allie. We’re going to get to see the wider world, the different people. We’re going to get to see stories and characters expanded on her just in the game for a moment and get to see them be brought to life. So I’m just really excited for it.
Jason Concepcion Same here. We’re going to be covering The Last of US on HBO. Max on a week to week. And of course, we’re going to be returning to our coverage of the video game, The Last of US video game in weeks to come. That’s it for this episode. Rosie, anything to plug?
Rosie Knight Just you can hear us here two times a week. That’s very cool. I will also be covering The Last of US again. I’m writing all those kind of good explainers. Obviously, we’re getting very close to Quantumania time. Yeah, so I got lots of theories about that. You know how it is. I got some cool, deep dives coming up in to, you know, Polygon regarding Quantumania in the comics, it’s drawing from Also, I just want to say Quaz, you know, people are saying, could it be Quasar? It’s the wonderful William Jackson Hopper. I think that is still a Richards who’s just hiding his. He’s got to hide that. You know, his his name, his place from Kang in the Quantum realm. So he made up a cool name. I still believe he’s a Richards. Maybe Reed. I’m moving towards him.
Jason Concepcion I’m with you.
Rosie Knight I think that would be really cool. So, yeah, that’s my my theory plug.
Jason Concepcion Catch the next episode of X-ray Vision. Friday, January 20 Set is this Friday where we catch you up on The Bad Batch, folks.
Rosie Knight Yeah, and you know it. Subscribe to us on YouTube. Follow our XRVPod on Twitter where we’re always retweeting cool stuff, responding to theories and cool tattoos. So send us all of those. Check out the Discord. The Discord is so much fun. We reference it a lot because me and Jason are always in that as a ton of great fans talking about all this cool stuff, breaking down theories, giving book recommendations. It’s a total joy. There’s also like sports in there. So really covering everything. If you’re a Jason fan, you’ll love our Discord.
Jason Concepcion And you had a watch party. We had a watch party for The Last of US, where we were in there reacting with people on West Coast time, mostly who were watching the show along with us. Five star reviews. So five star ratings. We need them. We got to have them. We want them. Here’s one from Nematon. The Real World Impact of Our Stories. Jason and Rosie are two of the most humble, funny and kind creative storytellers in the business. I’m blushing from the latest blockbuster, the super niche comic Deep dives these to cover plot synopsis, Easter eggs theorizing, and most importantly, the real world impact of the stories we’re currently watching. I read. Thank you so much, Nematon.
Rosie Knight Lovely. And also we love Nerd Outs. There some of our favorite things, we love them, the Discord loves them, but we also know that like us, you have a lot of theories and we want to share them. We get them when we do mailbags, we love to hear them. We get them in our DMS. So now, Nerd Outs will also be a place for you to share your theories as well as your favorite, you know, shows movies, comic books, more. So send us your weirdest, most tinfoiliest fan theories in a two minute or less voice memo to x ray at Crooked dot com and we will discuss them on the show.
Jason Concepcion X-ray vision is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Chris Lord and Saul Rubin. The show is executive produced by myself and Sandy Girard. Our editing and sound design is by Vasilis Fotopoulos. Delon Villanueva and Matt DeGroot Provide video Production support. Alex Reliford handles social media. Thank you Brian Vasquez for a theme music. That’s it. See y’all Friday. Bye.