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January 13, 2023
X-Ray Vision
The Last of Us Video Game, Part 1

In This Episode

On this episode of X-Ray Vision, Jason Concepcion and Rosie Knight revisit The Last of Us! First in the Previously On (2:28) they discuss the latest Antman and The Wasp: Quantumania trailer, discussing Kang, the microverse versus the Quantum Realm, and more. Then in the Airlock (15:36), Jason and Rosie dive deep (deeep) into 2013’s The Last of Us, recapping some of the first parts of the iconic game as well as discussing character, story, and playability. 

 

Tune in every Wednesday & Friday and don’t forget to Hulk Smash the Follow button!

 

Nerd Out Submission Instructions!

Send a short pitch and 2-3 minute voice memo recording to xray@crooked.com that answers the following questions: 1) How did you get into/discover your ‘Nerd Out?’ (2) Why should we get into it too? (3) What’s coming soon in this world that we can look forward to or where can we find it?

 

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The Listener’s Guide for all things X-Ray Vision!

Incredible Hulk Vol. 1 #156 (1972) – written by Archie Goodwin, pencils by Herb Trimpe, inks by Sal Trapani, letters by Artie Simek, edited by Roy Thomas.

 

Avengers vol. 1 #88 (1971) – written by Harlan Ellison and Roy Thomas, pencils by Sal Buscema, inks by Jim Mooney, colorist uncredited, letters by Shelly Leferman, edited by Stan Lee.

 

The Road (2006) – written by Cormac McCarthy, winner of the 2007 Pulitzer Prize.

 

The Girl with All the Gifts (2014) – written by M.R. Carey.

 

True-ish Grit (2013) – Grantland article written by Tom Bissell on The Last of Us.

 

Can “The Last of Us” Break the Curse of Bad Video-Game Adaptations? (2022) – written by New Yorker editor Alex Barasch on the making of the HBO show.

 

TRANSCRIPT

 

Jason Concepcion [AD]

 

Jason Concepcion Warning. This podcast contains spoilers for the video game The Last of Us, parts one and two, but mostly one. A Minor Spoiler for The Road by Cormac McCarthy, which came out in 2006. Get your get to your local library and read that. Plus a potential spoiler for Ant-Man and the WASP: Quantumania that was revealed in the latest trailer. Be careful. Yeah. Hello, my name is Jason Concepcion.

 

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, movies, comics and pop culture.

 

Rosie Knight In this episode we got previously on the Ant-Man and the WASP Quantumania trailer.

 

Jason Concepcion And in the airlock we’re going to be revisiting The Last of Us video Game, the Masterpiece video game from Naughty Dog recently remastered on the Sony PlayStation platform. So get that if you’re interested in getting involved in The Last of Us stuff.

 

Rosie Knight And as always, if you want to jump around, check the show notes for timestamps so you don’t get spoiled or you want to hear our theories again and again, you can just jump back to them.

 

Jason Concepcion All right, let’s get into it. First up, a little bit of news. This trailer dropped Monday evening after we had recorded our first episode of the week. It is the Ant-Man Quantumania trailer. The movie comes out February 17th, directed by Peyton Reed, written by Geoff Love Ness. Paul Rudd is Scott Lang, Evangeline Lilly as the WASP. Jonathan Majors, of course, spotlighted as Kang the Conqueror at New Addition. Kathryn Newton, as is the new Cassie Lang and William Jackson Harper as potentially Quasar. We’re getting this from IMDB. Listen, here’s. I’m a mark. I don’t know what to tell you. I thought this trailer looked great, and I’m very excited.

 

Rosie Knight It looks so good. I mean, look one, you got Kang, and they fully committed. They didn’t give him some weird military back story. We didn’t have to see some strange uniform. He’s wearing purple, he’s wearing green, he’s wearing boots, he’s wearing a cape. Is he wearing a miniskirt? I hope to see it. Although currently he’s in shadow, but it looks like a classic costume. And then not only that, but it’s this super weird cosmic tail. And yeah, that PR, the email they sent out was really interesting because it confirmed that William Jackson Harper is playing this character called Quaz, which a lot of people are saying is Quazar. And also we got David Dastmalchian who is going to come back, but not as Hurt. He’s playing a character called Veb. I think we see Veb and Quaz and then this other character that they announced called Jen Tora, I think we see them in the first trailer. They’re three people that kind of stand there. Veb, I think, has this glowing head. That’s my guess. So you’re getting really weird stuff. You’re getting great returning cast members, and that’s before we even get to M.O.D.O.K.

 

Jason Concepcion M.O.D.O.K.

 

Rosie Knight You know, the Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing. He’s here. And it looked like I thought for a minute I was like, Is that Paul Shear? But it wasn’t. It was Corey Stoll. It was Corey Stoll’s giant head.

 

Jason Concepcion I love that wrinkle. Little surprised they left the maskless frame in the trailer is a reveal. But I love the fact that Corey Stoll sucked in to the quantum realm, is still there, still around, still doing Corey Stoll shit.

 

Rosie Knight That’s definitely what it is. I think a lot of people were wondering when the rumor started going, Oh, it’s Corey Stoll. He’s going to be playing M.O.D.O.K.. You know, his alter ego in the comics is George Tarleton. People were like, Oh, they must be recasting him. He’s a great actor. It’s kind of like Gemma Chan going from Captain Marvel to Eternals and being a new character. But no, I think you are correct. I wrote a piece yesterday about it. I think that Yellowjacket, as we saw at the end of Ant-Man, gets sucked in and kind of mangled to the subsequent comic sighs, and I think that’s likely why his head is this giant size. I think it might be part of one of the only parts of his body that’s left, and we see him sitting in the famous M.O.D.O.K. chair. Let me get get that shot that we kind of had teased from some toy leaks. Of course, the ultimate location of M.O.D.O.K. in some kind of battle armor, which is very interesting. So that doesn’t really exist in the comics. But yeah, this is this movie is going to be absolutely wild. It’s going to be absolutely wild.

 

Jason Concepcion Here is what I think is pretty easily gleaned from the trailer. Seems like so Scott obviously disappeared in the snap, returned in the blip five years later. Saved the world is part of the battle against Thaddeus but lost five years raising Cassie who we see being released from prison and is gone maybe on a on a kind of darker, more criminal minded path. I wonder where she gets that from, Scott? Okay. And so, Scott probably thinking, God, I wish I had that time back. I could have raised Cassie, right? I could have done a better job by her. Then comes this message from the quantum realm. They get sucked in there, and my guess is, Kang, Kang just wants out. Kang has been trapped in there for this version of Kang the Conqueror has been trapped in the quantum realm and can’t get out and needs Scott’s help getting out. And in return for him getting out, he will, I guess, return Scott to a to a timeline where there’s Snap didn’t happen.

 

Rosie Knight Yeah, it’s unclear. What is very clear is that, you know, Janet Van Dyne, played by the icon Michelle Pfeiffer, has a she has a history with Kang. I like to imagine that they had a romantic and quantum entanglement while she was that we see her you know, she she’s told how she kept the secret and we see her hiding something that looks a lot like the rings that we saw Phastos was making in the tunnels and the ten rings from Shang-chi. So it’s going to be some kind of artifact that could be connected to the ten rings. It could be a different version of them that it seems like Janet hid in the quantum realm while she was there. And we’re going to see that classic Ant-Man heist story coming in again, which is always the way every movie got to do a heist. And I think it’s very fun to imagine where that would go. I I’m interested to see how they sell the emotional journey of Scott being willing to do something terrible to get this time back, because I don’t know if it aligns with how I see him. But maybe that darker road that Cassie went down, maybe that’s the thing that he wants to change and that would be a believable arc. But yeah, I mean, this thing looks bonkers. And one of the weirdest things about it is that pulling all these characters, Jen, to cry low, that Jarella had like one appearance and they’re pulling these characters from really weird, incredible Hulk storylines. So I’m very interested to see if that’s something that’s going to come up.

 

Jason Concepcion That’s what I was going to say. This really is The Incredible Hulk enters the micro verse story.

 

Rosie Knight Exactly.

 

Jason Concepcion Basically, it’s the Hulk get sucked into the micro verse where he falls deeply in love as.

 

Rosie Knight Always.

 

Jason Concepcion As all as he always does when he goes to another realm and gets, you know, ensnared in this micro verse war that he then has to fight in, yadda, yadda, yadda. But it feels like that’s.

 

Rosie Knight Yeah, well, I mean, what.

 

Jason Concepcion They’re doing.

 

Rosie Knight Here, there’s a direct connection to that because Krylar, his first appearance was during that micro verse event in Hulk 156 and Jen Tora, who we know is going to be played by Kate O’Brian, thanks to the PR blast that came with this trailer, that’s, that’s Jarella’s niece. Jarella is the person that Hulk fell in love with. So it’s very interesting to see them.

 

Jason Concepcion Deeply, deeply in love.

 

Rosie Knight Yeah. Like, it’s very interesting to see them pulling from this micro-verse stuff, which is also like this very interesting, controversial stuff, because later on the micro verse would be connected to the micronauts, which Marvel no longer has the rights to. So it becomes this very kind of fun, weird, deep history moment. But I’m interested to see there is actually an issue during that microbus arc in Hulk 154, where Hulk is microbus sized and he crosses over with Ant-Man and it has like a really cool cover where like he’s like fighting a rat and he’s like flying over the top of him. So I do, I Look, Hulk, we saw, you know, Mark Ruffalo loves this character. There’s so many cool things they could do with it. I don’t necessarily know if we’re going to get a whole cameo, but I do feel like he’s one of the characters that they’re really interested in placing into these stories like they did with She-Hulk, you know, like his role in an Infinity War especially. So yeah, I’ll be I’ll be intrigued to see. But I love that they’re taking from these weird kind of eras. I wonder if that’s Peyton Reed and Jeff Lawrence, too, because they’re around our age and I feel like the micro-budget stuff, if you’re just a little bit older than us or you’re around our age and you would dig it in the back issues, that is probably something that’s like close to your heart. That’s like a weird arc. So I’d be really interested to know if this was more of like a a personal look back, kind of like how Jessica Gao was bringing a lot of the stuff she loved from She-Hulk to that story. Yeah, Looks absolutely bonkers.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah. If anybody has a Marvel unlimited plan or access to old comics, check out that that Hulk in the microburst run. First of all, that is you know was a very influential storyline that romance is very influential. Hulk fans still talk about it and you’ll see also the kind of template that, you know was later followed in some of the great, you know, Hulk crossovers like Planet Hulk. I think Planet Hulk is like, yeah, is built on the bones of the Hulk in the Micro verse story.

 

Rosie Knight Yeah, the Hulk as a as a fish out of water not being able to be that huge, looming kind of singular beast that he’s always been that’s been able to help. And that definitely very much travels through those other Hulk events. So, yeah, it’s really fun. It starts in Avengers 88. I’ve just been rereading it all today after getting there, after watching the trailer. So it begins in 88 and then it’s basically like random issues from Hulk 1482, Hulk 203 So great thing to check out. Like Jason said, if you have an unlimited account or if you’re just going through and doing some back issue digging because trust me, those are some weird issues. I’m sure you can just still find them around in about.

 

Jason Concepcion Next up, let’s talk about The Last of Us.

 

<AD>.

 

Jason Concepcion Okay, we’re stepping out of the airlock and into the year 2013 to discuss the video game phenomenon that was and that is The Last of Us.

 

Rosie Knight Ooh.

 

Jason Concepcion The Last of Us released on PS3 in June of 2013. Developed by Naughty Dog. This is their kind of like they had already made a name for themselves in the kind of like cinematic third person action space with the Uncharted series. Absolutely wonderful story about an Indiana Jones knockoff who kills 800 guys in order to heist, you know, various like gold objects from around the world. And then they come with the Last of US, which just seemed to knit together. You know, a bunch of strands of things that were kind of like in the air at the time. This is like post the banking collapse, still like, you know, post-9-11 era, this kind of post the road, this kind of dystopian story about a middle aged guy and a teenage girl who he has to escort across the post-apocalyptic wasteland and the kind of the troubles they get in and and the relationship they have. It was written by and developed by Neil Druckman, who kind of led the development of the game that directed it and then kind of designed the writing direction. And I remember this was one of I was an Xbox person and so. This game was one of the reasons that I saved up money in order to get a PlayStation because I was watching, you know, gameplay of it, and particularly the multiplayer gameplay, which I was very into at the time as like Big Call of Duty Black Ops person and it just looked. It just looked absolutely mesmerizing. It was grittier and and like more in air quotes, realistic than anything I’d seen before then. And then, you know, playing it for the first time, you kind of never there’s just it’s an indelible experience. It’s one of those games where kind of like resident evil but very different, where your character, the character, whoever you’re controlling, whether it’s Joel or Ellie, feel so vulnerable. And that just affects the way that you play the game and it creates an enormous amount of tension. Just game I really love, and I think it’s one of the best stories told in a video game of all time was your experience playing this game?

 

Rosie Knight Yeah, nice game. I totally agree. Like this game and God of War, those were like two big game changes for me. I’d always been predominately into fighting games and platformers and I really remember both of these games feeling like, Oh, this is if a platform game was 3D and had puzzles like Tomb Raider but was also a fighting game and you have to learn different combos and different ways to disarm people and you can stealthily creep up on people. And it was kind of, I think about The Last of Us a lot because it is this really interesting cyclical thing. And as we cover this in the show, I’m going to be just talking about sword time because it kind of blows my mind. So lost versus developed in 2009, which is six years after the Walking Dead comic comes out and the walking the influence of the Walking Dead on the kind of conception of this game and the tone of this game. When you think of the comics, it can’t really be erased, you know, because it’s such a unbelievable kind of change in the way we approach zombie storytelling. But the thing that blows my mind is the game was in development a year before The Walking Dead TV show started, which to me is just so wild because this establishes so much of the tone and the vibe and the emotions that then would go on to become a big part of The Walking Dead. So I kind of see The Last of US in The Walking Dead as this really interesting cyclical. Constantly inspiring each other and taking inspiration from each other.

 

Jason Concepcion I see it very I see a lot of The Road in it to The Road, I think. Oh yeah, I want to say was published in 2006.

 

Rosie Knight Oh yeah. And Cormac Mc Carthy, I mean that book.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah. You know, first of all it’s in that story you’re talking about relationship between a father and son. But very similarly, it’s like the, you know, the father is the protector of this teenage boy. And the end the kid is.

 

Rosie Knight Mm hmm.

 

Jason Concepcion So innocent in a way. We’re talking about the way Ellie is depicted in this in this story. It’s very much similar. So innocent and kid like in a way that feels dangerous in that world. And I think the other thing that that really hit, you know, above and beyond the fact that you’re talking about this, you know, parent child kind of construction is, you know, in The Road, there’s a moment where they get cornered by, you know, one of the cannibals that’s that’s running.

 

Rosie Knight Spoiler alert.

 

Jason Concepcion Spoiler alert, sorry. And the dad shoots the guy. He had one bullet in a revolver and then wood carved to look like bullets and painted black that so that he put in the barrel so it would look like he had a full barrel. And that kind of, like lack of resources. We’ve only got one of these. I’ve only got one lighter and barely. It is it is absolutely integral to the experience of playing The Last of Us, in which you’re just scrounging around for every four pieces of things to make knives, to make Band-Aids out of it, to make health potions out, to.

 

Rosie Knight Upgrade your gun, you know, like all different things.

 

Jason Concepcion One thing that also I wanted to mention. Is that while you know Druckman is led the development of the game, there’s you know, there’s like hundreds of artisans and craftspeople that you know were worked on this game. Below the line you can look up the Last of Us credits and there’s pages and pages in there too. And they were while, you know, Druckman is going to be the headline name, a lot of people worked on this game and they created an absolute masterpiece. So let’s talk about let’s let’s recap the game. We’re going to cover the Prolog through the chapter, the Cargo. And this game opens with, I think, one of the most effective cold open prologs ever in games because it has to do several things. One, it has to launch your characters, make you care about them set up the world. Two,. It has to teach you how to play. The game on some level has its share to move around what the buttons do, how to interact with objects to as to teach you how you know, how you move, what the movement speed is, what the things you are going to interact with are. And it does all of those things in a really pulse pounding way. The year is 2013, where an Austin, Texas Joel blue collar guy and kind of like hobby ish guitar player is at home fielding phone calls about work, talking about work. And it appears he’s in the construction business and somehow it’s in some form or fashion. He’s talking about a contractor that is either not doing what they’re supposed to do or has some kind of gripe. Meanwhile, his daughter Sarah is asleep on the couch. It’s just a regular night in their life.

 

Rosie Knight Just a normal a normal night. The in no way kind of hints towards the bleakness of of what is to come.

 

Jason Concepcion Absolutely not. Joel is we we discover on the phone with his brother Tommy, who also is in business with him somehow. And Joe’s like, listen, we can we’ll talk about this stuff in the morning. He can wait. Sarah is out of bed way past her bedtime. And the reason she’s out of bed, you know, wearing pajama pants and a t shirt and sleeping on the couch. The reason she’s doing this is because she wants to give her dad a birthday gift. It is a new watch. And you can be using this watch all throughout the game. It’s a new watch with like a military style field strap, a replacement for an old his older broken watch. And here we get some of the really wonderful voice acting and dialog with Troy Baker playing Joel, Ashley Johnson playing Ellie. Ashley Johnson, by the way, fun fact in Marvel’s The Avengers. She is the waitress during the Battle of New York.

 

Rosie Knight Yep.

 

Jason Concepcion Who runs out and is like, Oh my God, they are the Shetari going to kill us all. No, Captain America is here. That is Ashley Johnson. Joel says, Where do you get the money for this? Drugs. I sell hardcore drugs. Oh, good. You can start helping with the mortgage then Funny shit. Then there is some plaintive acoustic guitar music, which we’re going to get a lot of over the course of this movie. And Sarah is falling asleep. Joel carries her to bed much, much later, dead of night. Sarah’s awoken by the ringing telephone, and it’s Tommy, and he sounds desperate. He needs to talk to Joel. But before Sarah can get any kind of information, the line goes dead, and Sarah rises from bed, really kind of groggy and confused. And it’s at this moment that the player takes control. It’s like. It’s a it’s a pretty it’s a jarring moment because I think you’re not expecting. Yeah. You know, like you’re you’re hard wired. At least I am that like, oh, at some point I won’t be playing. You’ll just like the fact that the first person that you are, that you are playing as is Sara lets you know how this game is going to really interestingly subvert your expectations of video games.

 

Rosie Knight I totally agree. Because also like when I was first playing it, I remember kind of thinking like, Oh, well, I haven’t heard his name yet. Maybe this is actually like Ellie’s origin and I didn’t know about the time jump or anything. So I’m like, Where could he be? What’s going on? And what I love about this is like, it has to do, like you said, a really hard job. It essentially has to teach you what you need to know about how to use the buttons, how to move, how to interact, but in a way that isn’t an exposition dump and it doesn’t have the it doesn’t have the kind of get out of like I remember with God of War, they’ll just kind of be like, this button, hit this button, hit this button because you’re like fighting a demogorgon or a Titan or something. So it doesn’t feel odd because you’re in that fighting mood. But here, they’re still building up to that big horrific reveal and that big kind of tragic, cold open. So it’s really interesting to kind of be walking around and they want you to explore the room. That’s one of my favorite things about this game is it has that puzzle element to it. Like.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah.

 

Rosie Knight This time I definitely found different things. There’s all different things you can interact with, but this was the first time I think when I was replaying it for the for the part where in the bathroom there’s a newspaper and when you pick up the newspaper, the newspaper talks about how all these people are getting sick and there’s this guy and you’re like, Oh, okay, So this is a world where something weird has been going on, but they never really saw it going this way because you don’t. Right. We’ve lived to date. So you think it’s going to be okay? And yeah, it’s just such an immersive and interesting situation and it’s very smart foreshadowing because it immediately is immediately like, Oh, you won’t just be playing this, Joel, Get ready to play and see this world through a kid’s eyes, because that’s like a large part of what you’re going to need to do.

 

Jason Concepcion It also subverts your concept, or at least my concept of what playing a video game.

 

Rosie Knight Mm hmm.

 

Jason Concepcion Means because I think in, in, in for much of the last of us for like, you know, I would say 70% of the game, you’re barely playing a video game. What I mean by that is, you know, a video game is interactive. Mm hmm. You’re playing as a character, right? But I think the way most of us think of that is you’re controlling this, you know, set of pixels, but you’re making the decisions, you’re doing all the things. The Last of Us is not that. You are on rails. You are making certain decisions in moments of action when you’re taking on, you know, soldiers or Fireflies or infected about how to move through the world, about, you know, like what to craft and how and whether to either kill an enemy or sneak by them. But. Joel is going where he’s going.

 

Rosie Knight Yeah.

 

Jason Concepcion And you can do nothing about that.

 

Rosie Knight Yeah. I think is one of the most interesting things on this replay is like I, I understand in hindsight and this is like knowing this is like knowing the lottery numbers after you’ve already won. So this is not some deep insight, but like I can see how part of the reason that people loved this and how it got so many new people into triple-A gaming is this is essentially a movie. Yeah, it’s a movie. It feels like you’re walking through a movie. Yeah. It’s like, what if you were in a movie and you could look at some things on the wall or you could occasionally feel like you’re making a moral decision for your character, but especially in this early stuff, you know, you will have people that are guiding you where you need to go, even if you try and go in a different direction and explore something, you will end up back on the path that you need to be on because there is a story that the creators wanted to tell and that might sound like it’s constricting or you know, it. It keeps you from exploring the world, but that’s not how it feels at all. And also the reason that in this case I can definitely say that putting you on those roles is right is because the story that it tells is just so great and it has like one of the best payoffs, kind of incredibly compelling.

 

Jason Concepcion So as Rosie mentioned, now, the game is asking us as Sarah to kind of explore the world for the first time and then the first piece of this world that we can explore is Sarah’s room. And it is a typical. Teenage girls for whom posters magazine covers tax. The wall is a boom box, lots of CDs. It is 2013. There’s a little TV, there’s a dresser with lots of little personal knickknacks and items and things on it. And on top of the dresser, we see a triangle symbol draws us forward. And now all of a sudden, we understand, okay, this is how we read things in this world. So you could press it to read it. And it’s Sarah’s birthday card for Jill, which she forgot to give him. She says, I forgot to give him this. And the cover is a green dinosaur, which is really wonderful in retrospect, as I was kind of replaying, because it’s this first suggestion of one of the game’s kind of deep themes, which is extinction and life continuing. You know, here’s this image of a dinosaur, this creature that ruled the earth for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of millions of years and died out. And now life goes on, but in a different form. And it and it almost leads you to wonder if Joel, you know, long after Joel and Ellie and Tommy and Marlene and everybody have died out, if the infected create some kind of world of their own, like maybe, you know, there maybe there will be something else. Some kind of other thing that arises thousands and millions of years after this.

 

Rosie Knight I think that’s one of the most prescient questions that this game raises. And there’s a really brilliant book by Mike Carey called The Guy With All the Gifts, which is very funny because the plotline and arcs of the characters are very similar to the last of US. And like, it came out like kind of just almost a year afterwards. But obviously the book had been being written for a long time. Mike carries an X-Men. Right. Just a great guy. And that book basically takes that question and adds this lens of who gets to choose who lives and dies in those situations and what does it mean? And it’s so profound, and I just cannot recommend that book enough as a companion to the game and the show when you start watching it. And it’s one of those it’s like Deep Impact and Armageddon and Volcano and Dante’s Peak. But in this way, it happened with a video game in a book. And it’s I love that you pointed out because I think that’s such a good guess. And kind of that interesting notion as well of dinosaurs were terrifying and they were. All conquering. They ran away. And now, years later, they are on a birthday card.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah, a little cartoon.

 

Rosie Knight Little cute but card like. And to imagine how far you’d have to go into the future for the infected to become something that was less scary and more of just like a story people tallies is really interesting to think about.

 

Jason Concepcion The overt theme, of course, of the game is love what you would do for someone you love, how love and selfishness can kind of be the same thing. And here we get a taste of of how much Sarah loves her dad. She’s written in the card. Dear Dad, Let’s see. You’re never around. You hate the music I’m into. You practically despise the music I like. And yet somehow you still managed to be the best dad every year. How do you do that? Happy birthday, pops. Love, Sarah. Sarah. Now, you can do. You can linger in the room. You can do anything. But here we go into the darkened house. And Sarah is looking for a dad. She’s calling out for him. As you move her through the through the empty house, you go into the bedroom. John’s bedroom is empty. But here, this game is so good at delivering exposition in little dribs and drabs and at just the right time. Here, his TV’s on, and you get a local news report where the reporter is standing on a local street in Austin and is delivering terrifying news. There’s some kind of infection on the loose. Those who are stricken are apparently, you know, overcome by aggressive and violent instincts. Behind the reporter, you see soldiers patrolling scenes of destruction. There’s buildings on fire behind them that Sarah clearly, you know, seems to recognize that place. She says, oh, that you know, I know where that is. And you see the time. It’s 1:47 a.m. And then before anything else can happen, there’s an explosion, the building behind and explodes and the news cuts short. All of a sudden there’s dogs barking outside, which perfectly leads you to turn Sarah towards the window. And you look out the window, which has this view of some woods and then the downtown Austin skyline behind it. And there’s just starting to be fires blooming behind those trees somewhere in the city. And things are starting to get scary at this point. Like if you’re playing this for the first time, the hairs on the back of your neck just starting to stand up because this is a totally darkened house. And that feeling of vulnerability is one that this game will absolutely weaponize. And you’re feeling it right now for sure for the first time. Absolutely. Sarah, Ghost pilot, Sarah downstairs. Now there’s police cars racing down the street. You see Joel’s phone on the kitchen counter, Another triangle. You can pick it up. Sarah goes to pick it up. Eight missed calls, bunch of texts from Tommy, no signals. So clearly that just happened. The cell phone towers just went down. It’s happening fast. Whatever is happening. And you can see from the text that Tommy is racing towards the house. There’s a note on the fridge for Sarah on the stationery of Sarah’s youth soccer team and says, I’m going to be home late tonight. Go ahead and order food. See you in the morning, Dad. Another nice character note. Just contrast the the the kind of like loving and warm writing style of Sarah with with Joel’s very utilitarian note here, No love, just see you in the morning, Dad. And. It just it leads you to imagine the regret that Joel surely feels as the rest of this story picks up decades later. There’s a light on in the study in this game, who uses light so well? Because that draws our attention Again. Sara walks towards the light, which is again, Jill’s office, and you walk by these sliding doors and you hear. There’s like a strangled sound. I don’t know how you would describe it, but it’s kind of like half a bark.

 

Rosie Knight It’s a kind of like two rolls strangled. It’s horrible. It’s the kind of noise where if you were in a horror movie, you would say, I’m not going in there. It’s no noise. You’re like, No, but she needs to find out that she’s worried. She’s a kid. And that’s another thing that’s very smart about this game because it puts you in vulnerable positions, but that take you out of your own comfort zone. Everyone can remember being a kid and creeping around your house and oh, there’s a power call or you don’t know where your parents are. If you’re woken up after a nightmare. And this opening very much invokes that. So much so that I’m sure there were players who were like, Oh, I don’t want to play as a little girl. But I think by the time you get to this and you’re creeping slowly into that room and you’ve heard that noise, I think everyone at that point is in your you’re starting to feel the fear.

 

Jason Concepcion So that noise happens. And you know, if you’re a player like me, you have Sarah look outside because you’re standing right next to a sliding glass door and the outside the backyard is completely dark, but very ominously, like there’s a tire swing back there and it’s moving and not like the wind moved it, but moved like moving, like something ran by it. Just as you enter the study, there’s another sliding gas glass door and there it’s open and Joel comes running and he’s fucking panicked. And he’s like, Did anyone come in here? He immediately goes over, gets his gun from the drawers, loading it. He’s telling Sarah to stay away from the door. Sarah is like, What’s going on? Joel says the neighbors, the Coopers, they’re sick. Something’s not right with them. And then before anything more can happen. And here is like a scene that feels ripped from 28 Days Later. Jimmy, who I am, who I believe to be Jimmy Cooper, their neighbor, by now infected. Yeah. Just crashes through the glass door. And Joel has to shoot him. Just has to shoot him dead. Now, Sarah is in a state of absolute shock. Joel takes Sarah to the driveway. Tommy’s there just in the nick of time. Everybody jumps in, and now it’s a race. The idea is it seems to be take Highway 71, kind of out of town because the army is setting up roadblocks in order to quarantine the area. Probably wisely so no one can get out, you know, with the infection to spread. But they want to be on the other side of that because clearly, like the infected, it’s not like they’re just sick in their bedrooms. They’re running around doing really bad shit. This is Harry. This is when you’re just like, Oh.

 

Rosie Knight Fuck, yeah. And this does. And then another great exposition there in the car. What does that mean? That means they can listen to the radio. So you’re getting this information. And what I loved about this, the I was doing the whole time when I was playing at this time, you mentioned the, you know, the sliding glass doors and the ability to look out of windows. That’s something that blows my mind in this game because there is constantly things going on, whether it’s the wind blowing something or a building blowing up. And when you’re in the car, you can in the backseat as Sarah just constantly turn around and look. And I was getting so scared like I would see something and I was sure that somebody was going to come and get me. And you can really build up that tension as that kind of leading you through like, Oh, this is bad, but you’re there and you can hear them talking and and you can really just be looking at the you see people packing up their cars. You see things like exploding in the background. You see things running across the road. It’s it’s wonderful.

 

Jason Concepcion About that exposition. We get some more of it now where Tommy is, you know, Tommy’s super excited. He is saying that whatever’s happening here, this outbreak, they thought it was just happening in the Southwest, but it appears to be happening all over the country. And that leads you to wonder, like, is it happening all around the world? Sarah asks the question that I think anyone would ask, which is like a risk. Is it us? And then Joel And you can feel his that that kind of like fatherly impulse to like, shield his child from anything troubling or dangerous or worrying is like that? I don’t know. We’re fine. It’s just the people in the city that are sick about us. We’re fine. Yeah. Jimmy Cooper worked in the city. He’s tweet mentions. So now it’s letting you know where Joel’s head is at. I would put his head.

 

Rosie Knight They establish Joel’s character very well in this moment. They’re like, Don’t get it twisted. This is who this man is.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah. So there’s a family on the road with kids, and they look scared. And Tommy’s like, Oh, we should stop. And Joel’s like, No, no, no, no. You keep going. We’re not stopping. Somebody will come for them. You haven’t seen what I’ve seen, and we keep going. And here you, you know, again, this is who Joel is. When Joel is with the people he cares about, everybody else can go fuck off. He doesn’t care.

 

Rosie Knight There’s a great line that I love where Tommy’s like, But they have kids. And he said, So do we. Yeah. And, you know, Sarah is very hurt by this moment, kind of for a couple of minutes afterwards, she’ll say, like, we should have helped them. We should have helped them. Yeah. Alas, probably bad for that family. They didn’t get in the car, honestly.

 

Jason Concepcion I mean, there’s no.

 

Rosie Knight There’s no good version.

 

Jason Concepcion There’s no good version zero. Good version that. Yeah, Tommy runs into the back of a gigantic traffic jam. Everybody who is awake at this time has been listening to the news, is trying to do this exact same thing they’re doing, which is get the fuck out of town.

 

Rosie Knight It’s a nightmare.

 

Jason Concepcion At a time. It’s a nightmare. And then right in front of them, as they’re wondering, okay, what do we do? Somebody gets out of their car to yell, Hey, like, what’s the hold up? And they are just immediately set upon by infected. It’s horrific. They get out of there, Tommy accelerates. They take a turn and end up like on a on the streets of, like, a town that looks like. Like the village, like on the outskirts of Austin somewhere. There’s people running everywhere. And then they get T-boned by another vehicle and everything goes black.

 

Rosie Knight Yeah. I just also want to say before this, there’s another really great Joel is like socks moment, which is like that they’re outside like a movie theater and all these people are running, like you said in that kind of stuck and, and, and, and he’s just like drive.

 

Jason Concepcion He’s just like.

 

Rosie Knight Random. He’s like, run them over. And Tommy’s like, No, I’m not going to do that. Like, I can’t do that. And he’s like, There’s people behind us, too. And Joe is like, I don’t care. Just reverse. Like, just kill them. Like you said, it’s a tunnel vision of protecting the people that he loves to the point where he’s built up these walls towards everyone else. And everyone else, like you said, can just go get fucked. But yeah, they T-boned is all going badly for them.

 

Jason Concepcion And by the way, this is where, you know, we’re going to be talking about this all throughout. I’m sure this show, our coverage of the show and our continuing coverage of the game, because the central question of this story is if you had to give up someone you love to allow everyone else to have everyone they love cured free of the dangers of this terrible cordyceps fungus that’s out there to basically save the world, Would you do it? And the answer, Joel, and you know it from the first minutes you play this game before you even start playing is in which you’re about to do is now. So after we wake up from this car crash, we’re now Joel we’ve we’ve the player is taking control of Joel and we crawl out of the wreck and are immediately attacked by an infected. And here again comes the tutorial portion of this cold open. You’re told you can hit the square button to kind of, like, get the infected off you. You kind of like hammer that square button. This is another kind of like a thing that people who played the Uncharted Games would be familiar with this kind of mechanic. And again, I’ll point out like this is barely interactive. This is not you know, you’re not like this. You’re just like button mashing. This is like barely, barely a game. And I mean that in the most complimentary way because it just it it keeps you invested by letting you do the most efficient and like, simple. Yeah. So we realize now it’s pandemonium in the streets. Joel gets Sarah out of the car, she’s hurt, her legs probably broken. Joel gives Tommy the gun, picks up. Sarah And now we’re running. And at this point, I don’t know about you, Rosie, but at this point, as you’re kind of maneuvering through danger and picking your way through the crowds with Tommy covering us and you kind of dodging infected and dodging other people, I’m this is when the first time I played, I started to think, oh, I think this is kind of what the game is going to be. Yeah, this is the game. It’s right now.

 

Rosie Knight Evil. You have to survive. Yeah, it’s kind of like the Walking Dead out of the city, but you’re going to keep coming up against different infected communities. But right now it’s like, you know, in that town, it’s very Raccoon City. Like, you have to go out. You have to survive. Oh, how wrong we were.

 

Jason Concepcion Extremely wrong. There are lots of horrors to be seen here on this kind of like run to safety wherever safety could be. There is like a gas station that explodes. There’s people on fire. Joel, Sarah and Tommy ends up in an alleyway. Tommy has to shoot and infected, and then Tommy ends up. They end up cutting through like a bar with Tommy holding the door against the infected holder style so that Joel and Sarah can escape. And you end up piloting Joel to a wooded path. There’s a bunch of crash cars here. And at the top of the path, there is a soldier who helpfully mows down the infected that have been chasing you and Sarah. But. Something is and you can tell that something is right because the soldier is like, Don’t hold on. Don’t you stay right there. And then confers with someone over the radio to be like, okay, what are we doing here? I’ve got like two people. Yeah, got it. And Joel knows what’s coming. The soldier opens fire. Everybody falls down the hill. Tommy shoots the soldier, putting that threat out. But, you know, heartbreakingly, Joel crawls over to Sarah, and she’s hit in the stomach and she dies in really one of the most realistic video game deaths in the sense that there’s no fucking music, There’s no you know, there’s no text on the screen. She doesn’t even finish what she’s saying. She just dies. And the voice acting is incredible. The graphics are just troublingly real and it’s a brutal moment.

 

Rosie Knight Yeah, I. I mean, there’s there’s there’s so many brilliant little choices that happened for this. When he’s on when the soldier is on the radio, in case you are not as cynical as Joel and you don’t understand what’s going on, he says, But one of them’s a little girl, and that’s when you know. I love this. Like, obviously R.I.P. Sarah. Like, I don’t I don’t love that kid died. In fact, as a as I’m growing older my my capacity for violence is is.

 

Jason Concepcion Same.

 

Rosie Knight This lowering and I found the replay of the game is incredibly violent but I love this choice so much I think it’s the strongest choice until the end, which has like one of my favorite kind of moral quandary endings that I love. But I think that the choice to have Sarah killed by the soldiers is like the smartest choice that this game makes, because it would have been so easy for her to just die from being killed by one of the infected. That’s the nature of zombie games. It gives them a reason to hate zombies. Or the infected legacy is like, Oh, this is really terrible. But instead it’s that horror of humanity. It’s like this is what people will do when they’re put in this situation. They won’t help you. They’ll follow orders and they’ll just kill a child, and that’s it. It sets up how angry Joel is. And when you’re killing many, many soldiers, as you do throughout this game, you’re like, you know, they shot Sarah. You’re like, this is okay.

 

Jason Concepcion Not to mention at all, like really trenchant points and not to mention that the soldier from a different perspective is doing exactly what Joel does at the end of this fucking game, which is kill the thing that is the danger, because in making that choice to take lives, because this is for the greater good. Now, in terms of Joel, the greater good is the personal relationship that he is going to develop with Ellie and everything else. And everybody else in the world can fuck off. For the soldier, its if this infection gets out, we’re fucked. Like it’s terrible for all these people. I like I’m not saying it’s this isn’t horrible, but this infection can’t get out.

 

Rosie Knight No, I. I love that take. Because you know what else? That is incredibly smart that you’ve kind of just given me a light bulb moment about is like you. We kill so many people in this game, especially in the evening. You trust me, You kill barely any infected in the opening chapters of this game. You just kill a lot of people. And it’s kind of unbelievably smart and surprisingly empathetic for a game like this in like a post kind of Call of Duty world. To begin with, the death that is so emotionally hammering. And then be like, Oh, you have to kill a lot of people. And every time you kill someone, what the game really wants you to be doing is thinking about Sara dying and how much that ruined you and who would be ruined by these people’s deaths that you’re just so casually causing isn’t very smart storytelling. And it it just sets up the kind of bleak tone. And obviously on a narrative level, it establishes like a really, really great conflict and an arc for Joel that will go on, especially when he meets Ellie. But yeah, I just I think it’s such a good, brave decision to have it be a soldier, a human who kills her. That’s always the most heartbreaking version of these kind of things. There’s a.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah.

 

Rosie Knight There’s a brilliant Walking Dead spinoff show that was like a y, a Y, a spin off show. I think it was called Walking Dead World Beyond. But it has a very it definitely took a lot from this because there’s a really great storyline about one of the kids coming to terms with killing a zombie, killing a walker. But the reality is that they killed a human and that’s really what they’re coming to terms with. And I just think that is the most interesting area arc to explore in these zombie stories. Nobody look, we’ve seen so many zombie stories in our in our lifetime. But what really catches people about this, about the walking that that nature of humanity and how it responds in that circumstance. That is the story that we want to see. And I think that’s why the walk, that’s why the Last of US was so affecting because of little choices like this.

 

Jason Concepcion It’s maybe the best, most effective, most impactful for me version of like the classic zombie story theme, which is actually where the monsters that we see on these are doing.

 

Rosie Knight Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

Jason Concepcion The zombie. Yeah, it’s us. The zombies are doing what they do. They’re a state of nature, you know? But we are the ones making the choice to torture each other, to exploit each other for our things, for our resources, to sell things and sell people to survive. We are the ones choosing to do that. The the the infected are living out there in a very in a state of balance, not attacking each other certainly. X-ray Vision will be back.

 

Jason Concepcion <AD>.

 

Jason Concepcion And we’re back. We cut to 20 years later and we meet Joel now. He’s waking up. He is grayer, is obviously hardened by the years that have passed and the loss that he has suffered. He wakes up at a secure, safe quarantine zone in what is still called Boston, to pounding on the door, and the person at his door is Tess, his hard drinking partner in smuggling and also lover. We can definitely.

 

Rosie Knight There’s something here. These two are almost symbiotic in their ability to stealthily move around the city, kill people and smuggle shit. They they are survivors first and foremost, and at the moment they survive by relying on each other. But it is clear from the outset that that is not some kind of deep seeded, trusting, loving relationship. That is the nature of the world that we live in. They have to survive and at the moment. They are useful to each other to do that.

 

Jason Concepcion Tess a big enters. She’s got a big new black eye and she’s yelling about some kind of smuggling meet up that Joel missed. Joel? Joel kind of, like, fucked her on this deal. It had to do with pills for ration cards. Whatever it was, test took care of it. But on the way back from the deal, she got jumped by four dudes who she doesn’t say, but who we can guess are now dead.

 

Rosie Knight It didn’t go well for them. It did not go well for them.

 

Jason Concepcion Because Tess, we’ll say it now for the first time, is a psychotic murderer.

 

Rosie Knight She is a mass murderer. And she will take you on a journey. At every point. She’s like, Let’s go do this thing. And it really turns out that you are going to have to mass murder a lot of people to do it. Maybe that’s just the nature of the world. But Tess has a tendency towards being a martyr. She will.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah. Yeah, she is. If the thing that she wants is on the other side of a lot of people, Tess will take the path that takes her through the people. Yeah, because that’s just who Tess’s.

 

Rosie Knight And that is something very interesting that the game does that I have begun to see on my replay, because I’m coming at it from this more critical perspective. I’m not just like high playing it when I’m like a teenager. Oh yeah. Like, but like the game sets you up on multiple. Missions where if you go test this route and you try and kill a bunch of people, when you get further in, you will never survive. But if you can stealthily get around and avoid killing people, you can get through it really easily. And it establishes and there are ways to get through with combat. You can be the badass, You can you can work, you can pick those things.

 

Jason Concepcion Just really hard, but.

 

Rosie Knight It’s really hard. And I love that they kind of establish the rules of what you think the game, how you kill people because they’re in our way and we need that things. But then they’re like, Oh, but actually if you want to try not to kill people, maybe that will be easier. Sometimes it’s very interesting, but yeah, they’re off the robot and that’s going to go badly for Robert.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah. So, Robert, these dudes were that test probably killed were sent by Robert, who was a former like smuggling partner in smuggling, maybe like a person they had.

 

Rosie Knight Dealt with like that. An ally.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah. And apparently Robert double crossed them on a deal for a bunch of guns. And Tess wants the guns back. And guess what? She knows where Robert is. He’s in a warehouse in area five, so she’s like, Do you want to come fuck Robert up with me? Angels like Eliska on the way. We get some some of this again, wonderfully delivered exposition where Tess is telling us that seems like more people from the quarantine zone have been getting infected by the cordyceps. Joel, I think rightly suggests that this is because people have been breaking quarantine. People like Joel and Tess have been sneaking probably to get stuff. It is suggested, though never really laid out in any kind of detailed way that that the quarantine zone authorities are like it’s like a dictatorship, like a totalitarian dictatorship. There’s it’s hard to understand like what shape that takes, certainly because like Tess and Joel have no problems walking around and it seems like they have no problems getting fake IDs to move through checkpoints. But, you know, whatever shape that takes, life in the quarantine zone leaves people wanting and certainly it drives people like Joel and Tess to, you know, go outside the law in order to, you know, get stuff. Which leads me to think of, oh, I forget the name of the guy he like is one of the philosophers. He’s responsible for the postmodernist philosophy. But he said something like, It’s much easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism. And that is on display here, because obviously Tess and, Tess and Joel are out here looking for ration cards, which are today’s currency.

 

Rosie Knight I think that’s a really great point because again, when we talk about the exposition and also this is a game that is very focused on character, there’s a lot of great worldbuilding visually because it’s a video game and it has an unbelievable amount of, like you said, artisans, animators, people working on it. But a lot of the stuff that we come to glean about the world in general is much more of that, what is going on and the idea that there are definitely most of the economy within the zone of the quarantine area is a smuggling bartering kind of culture which very much heavily leans into capitalism. And we get into those moments later on, especially in kind of just when we start to explore what there is, there’s these kind of brutal curfews.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah.

 

Rosie Knight And if you don’t follow the curfew, you’re getting shot. So there’s like we don’t know at this point, like who is in charge, Why is this happening? But we it’s not a good time to be alive.

 

Jason Concepcion Not a great time. Tess and Joel on their way to Robert, try to go through a certain checkpoint, but on their way through the checkpoint, the checkpoint gets hit by the Fireflies, who we have learned through the exposition dump during the credits are a extremist militia group who are dedicated to finding a cure for all this. Like the the suggestion, again, not really laid out, but the suggestion is by their very existence is that the zone authorities are complacent or happy enough to be ruling this little rump of civilization that’s left over. Whereas the Fireflies, you know, this ragtag collection of of armed scientists and everyday people who just want to return to the world as it was, are actually interested in doing something in order to cure this fungus to to to stamp it out. So they’ve just attacked and Joel and Tess end up having to go a different way. They go through, you know, a building that is part of the smuggling network. We’re looking for Robert here. Now we start to arm. And you start to pick up the stuff that Joel and later on, Ellie, you’re going to use in order to, you know, navigate through this world. And for Joel right now and for the player right now, that’s just a knapsack to hold scavenged items and a nine millimeter pistol. Eventually, we end up outside the quarantine zone where it is gorgeous. It calls to mind Chernobyl.

 

Rosie Knight Yeah.

 

Jason Concepcion You know, this place where something horrendous has happened that has driven humanity away, but nature has reclaimed it. It’s like beautiful greenery, destroyed buildings.

 

Rosie Knight It’s my favorite thing about this game, and it’s my favorite thing about the choices that they made to differentiate it from what we’ve seen before. It also fits in with the nature of what you were talking about, this idea of extinction and how the world continues on and life continues. You know, life will find a way, all that kind of stuff, because, yeah, it’s this horrific quarantine zone and the cops are there and the army is there and you can’t go through without your ID’s. And they’re basically keeping people prisoner in this space. But they can’t stop the plants from going. They can’t stop the ponds from bubbling up there. It’s so beautiful and it is just such a nice change from the dark, darkly lit kind of tombs that we’re used to in in horror video games. And this does have some of that. Like there is a lot of spooky.

 

Jason Concepcion For sure.

 

Rosie Knight You can find the.

 

Jason Concepcion Tombs here.

 

Rosie Knight And you’ve got and you’ve got a flashlight and you’ll see this, of course. But it these moments of beauty in these flashes, they will, as you play through the game and as we go to talk about in future episodes, they lead to some of the most kind of emotionally stunning moments in the game. And I love this choice. And it makes me it just makes me really happy. And the remastered version is even more beautiful.

 

Jason Concepcion It’s gorgeous.

 

Rosie Knight Than I remember.

 

Jason Concepcion It’s beautiful. Yeah, it’s beautiful. In one of these ruined buildings, we encounter the spores for the first time, Tess and Joel have gas masks, which they put on in order to avoid being infected by these spores. I guess it doesn’t matter if you get them on your clothes and stuff later. Like, you know, like, as long as you don’t bring them in. I’m not going to question Joel and Tess. They’ve been doing this a long time. And they know what they’re doing.

 

Rosie Knight If you have the mask, You’re okay. Yeah. And if the mask breaks, you’re fucked, as we find out.

 

Jason Concepcion I’ll be interesting to see, you know, when the show airs, how sciency they make that. Because clearly, I think if you get the fungus, if you get the cordyceps on your fucking shirt and then you touch your shirt, feels like you’re going to have to take it. Yeah, you’re going to have to, like, decontaminate. Anyway, so we encounter the spores and you see the source of the spores, which is like this person who’s been, you know, it suffered an advanced infection. It’s his body seems almost like torn open by the spores with these, like, tentacle like things coming off of them. It’s almost like a melding of plant and and person in this kind of like body horror kind of way.

 

Rosie Knight Very body armor. And there’s sort of like it almost looks like fingers are growing out of random parts of the bodies, which I’m assuming a kind of these cordyceps like mushroom fungal kind of situation. It’s really creepy. And and in those moments you really invoke that Resident Evil kind of dead space like, oh, it’s coming around the corner. But it’s very funny because they don’t, they let you have it. They let you fight. They give you a taste. But really, you’re here to get robots. And that means killing humans. That means that’s the that’s the bleakness of what you have to do to survive and to get to the part of the story that is so important.

 

Jason Concepcion Well, you get to do that shortly after seeing the source of the spores in this building. You find a, you know, some other scavenger who is out here, a very, very heavy apparently like a file cabinet and piece of the wall, I think has fallen on this person. And and now they are infected and they beg Joel and Tess to just put him out of his misery. Just do it. And now you are given the choice. You are, Joel. And you can either kill him or leave him. I don’t know about you, but I put him out of his mind. Killed there again? Yeah. Yeah. Because, like, you know, it’s not. The other way. It’s a terrible choice, but the other way is worse. And this gives you, again, of the taste of the kind of moral bleakness that you’re going to be faced with as Joel. But, Tess is going to be faced with a similar choice later. And unlike Joel, who is us, she has no hesitation and does not think about it at all. She just does the kill em thing. Eventually, Tess and Joel arrive at like some squalid camp, you know, Bernard into these, like, narrow city streets, and it is fucking bleak there. There’s like, there’s, like, bare knuckles. Yeah. Even going on.

 

Rosie Knight Fighting. People are trying to fight you. Like, if you get too close to people, they’re going to push you. Nobody knows, Joel. Nobody cares. But they know Tess.

 

Jason Concepcion Tess has a lot of respect here.

 

Rosie Knight Maybe a lot of ex-boyfriends, too. And when she calls, some of them like an ex headache. And I’m like, Oh, yeah.

 

Jason Concepcion So as we move through here, Tess kind of gets gets further pinpoint on where Robert is going to be. They move around the corner test drives a local with some ration cards to get that pinpoint a location for Robert. And just as we head off around the corner here come three dudes Robert’s. To muscle, apparently, Robert. Whatever Robert is doing out here in the in the wasteland, he is managing to accrue power. People are following him. And you see that in this moment. And they’re like, you can’t go any further, yada, yada, yada. What do you want? Tess is like, Oh, really? And just shoots the first guy.

 

Rosie Knight Yeah.

 

Jason Concepcion Flat out. Just like cold blooded, executes the first guy. And now you get your first taste of real combat in this game.

 

And you’re in trouble because now you have to be shooting some people because these men are armed.

 

Jason Concepcion And this is and this is like the kind of guy and you’ve got like nine bullets. Yeah. So Joel and Tess work together to take care of the other two. And then as you move past this, you encounter the rest of Robert’s men. They apparently didn’t hear what just happened some ways away to their compatriots, and they’re just kind of walking around and you have to sneak past them, maybe choke them out if you want to bash them over the head, whatever the case may be. But as you’re moving through this world again with this great exposition, you’re getting these little secret, overhearing these little snippets of conversation that paint, you know, what the world is. You hear, for instance, one of Robert’s people talking about the Fireflies. Yeah. And how there seem to be gathering people to them as well, just the same way that Robert are doing. And as you move through this world, the only thing that you’re struck by is, one, how dangerous and how exposed you feel all the time. And the second is Tess is a fucking psycho. Yeah, she is a psycho.

 

Rosie Knight She is. She is past the place of being a broken survivor. She is forever changed. There is no going back.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah, whatever happened to her is bad.

 

Rosie Knight She will kill anyone. That is her first. You are given the choice. This is when you start to learn how to be stealthy. How to they say strangle someone. You can say you may be just choking them out until they go unconscious. I believe you’re probably killing them. And you start you can you can pick up bottles that you can throw to distract people. You can kill people with bricks. You can there’s that you can get you get a shave at this point, which is very dramatic. Right. But Tess will always shoot first, not bother to ask questions later.

 

Jason Concepcion No question to ask.

 

Rosie Knight She’s been through it.

 

Jason Concepcion Yes. Finally, we get moving through this, this thicket of enemies. We get eyes on Robert, that cocky son of a bitch, Tess says. And then after several other like about three other very, very bloody fights and then a squirrely foot chase through the alley, we corner Robert. Guns are gone. He says they’re gone. He sold them to the Fireflies. Just it’s like, Yeah, well, I want him back. And Robert’s like, Robert, now again, this excellent voice acting. Robert realizes that because he’s of no value anymore to Tess, he doesn’t have the guns. He’s probably going to fucking die. He knows Tess. She’s a fucking psycho.

 

Rosie Knight It’s going to happen.

 

Jason Concepcion It’s going to happen Right now. He’s gone from this guy who is like a budding warlord, you know, like gathering strength to about to get fucking done on the ground in an alley. And so he’s desperately begging for his life by basically pitching like, this crazy adventure. Hey, here’s what we do. You know, us three, I’ll get you in to meet the Fireflies and you kill him. And then you take the guns back, and we’re good, right? And the test is like, now, and she just fucking shoots him in the head. He’s done tests, and Joel, Really more tests. But Joel’s Joel for the ride. Joel’s along for the ride. Now, this is interesting. So test is, like, I still want the guns, and Joel goes along with it. My read on this is. Joel died 20 years ago, and he doesn’t care if he dies. You now, this is dangerous.

 

Rosie Knight I think everyday for Joel, every day for Joel is the worst day of his life. Yeah, but he’s also absolutely numb to it. I think it’s very interesting how they have a miss that drop, because it opens up so many questions. The first time you pray, like, Yeah, well, every day is like what they said. Especially bad day for him. Was this an anniversary? Was he just wasted? Like, was he so out of it? And he doesn’t care. And I think he doesn’t care. It’s every day is like, if this is the last day, then fine.

 

Jason Concepcion Fine. Okay. You want to do some crazy shit? We’re going to take on the Fireflies who we just saw launch a devastating attack on, like, armed soldiers in the zone. Yeah, sure. Like, yeah, go for it. I know it. So as they’re discussing, having to meet up with the Fireflies some way, somehow, you know, in a wonderful stroke of luck. The Firefly leader in the quarantine zone, Marlene, who has been wounded in one of the fights that took place, you know, a couple of minutes ago, staggers up and she says, I can get you your guns back, but you have to do a job for me. And Tessa’s like, okay, you know how many ration cards you need? What do you need? Moved in and she’s like, No, no, no, no smuggling job. Marlene needs them, apparently, Tess and Joel, because one. All the people they were going to use, they just killed. And two, despite the fact that the Fireflies looked pretty punchy in that recent attack on the on the checkpoint, they’re getting ground down, at least in the quarantine zone. The Fireflies are, you know, almost used up. She says that the zone authorities apparently needing a scapegoat for how shitty things are in the zone. Like they just want to take people’s mind off of how shitty things are in the zone. And therefore they launched this attack on the Fireflies to just kind of like, have an enemy that’s out there that they can the people can blame things on. They initiated the hostilities against the Fireflies. In the Fireflies are on the losing end of this. We’re trying to defend ourselves, Marlene says. So now it’s Joel, Marlene and psychotics sneaking their way past very, very heavily armed soldiers. And again, you’re getting this. The game is introducing you to the various enemies in a really, really wonderful fashion to get to the firefight. Hold out base. Marlene is gut shot. She’s barely on her feet and she leads them and Tess to it looks like a schoolroom or what do you think? I’m not sure what this room is.

 

Rosie Knight It’s very unusual. And the fact that she needs Joel to help open the door, not just help us, you know, Tess that we can open a door with the triangle. It’s a very heavy door. I wonder if it’s some kind of locker or a cooler or.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah.

 

Rosie Knight It’s something, but but it does look like at one point there was some kind of classroom or or base there that people were were teaching in. It’s very interesting. And obviously this is like a huge moment because this is this is where we meet Ellie.

 

Jason Concepcion Right. So this is this is the cargo to be smuggled. We meet Ellie. She is behind this door. Ellie, seeing that, what a bad state Marlene is in is concerned. She’s. Oh, my God, Are you okay? And it’s a jarring moment because it’s the first time since Sarah, so I don’t know. You know, your mileage may vary, but for me, maybe like 3 hours of gameplay or something like that, three and a half hours is the first time in three and a half hours of gameplay that you’ve met a character who cares about someone else.

 

Rosie Knight Yeah, in.

 

Jason Concepcion A way that is not toxic and a person that is not related to them, just a person just showing kind of like care for a person who’s hurt. Not a thing that Joel or Tess Trafficking any more.

 

Rosie Knight Yeah, and it’s, it’s such a good moment as well because like, it’s not, it doesn’t the moment that we meet Ellie is so well-established because the first thing she does when she sees Marlene coming through the door, she like pulls out a knife and it’s like.

 

Jason Concepcion She’s ready.

 

Rosie Knight Joel and Tess. She’s like, Get the fuck away from her. Like, this isn’t someone that she’s even particularly that close to. But she sees someone’s injured who she knows, and she sees two strangers and she’s ready to fight. But that doesn’t take away any of her empathy or compassion for Marlene. She’s just trying to protect that. It’s the opposite of what we’ve seen from Tess and Joel. And it’s it’s a really great moment where you kind of get to learn so much about this kid, and it opens up this intriguing mystery of how would they know each other? Why would the cargo be a little girl? What’s going on?

 

Jason Concepcion It’s also a very interesting moment from the perspective of Joel, considering where this story goes. You I, I guess because, you know, you’re so familiar with the game. And I you know, I’ve recently played The Last of US two sequel that had come out like, like a year and a half ago or something.

 

Rosie Knight Yeah. 2020.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah. I kind of expected it to be more of a a moment that lands and they really just kind of throw it away. It’s almost nothing like Ellie shows up and it’s.

 

Rosie Knight Joel has like no reaction to it.

 

Jason Concepcion He’s no reaction to it. He doesn’t give a shit. He’s completely dead inside. And Marlene is like, Okay, here’s the job. You take Ellie to a group of Fireflies that are waiting at the state house, State houses in Back Bay. They’re currently like in the North End, so like basically across the city. And Ellie is like, What? I’m not going.

 

Rosie Knight Who is this guy?

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah. What? Tess, meanwhile, is not about to do jack fucking shit until she sees the guns. Do they exist? I thought you were taking me to see them. Where are they? And now they don’t exist. And I have to do this thing. And now you can’t. So Marlene’s like. Yeah, I’ll show you the guns, Tess. They’re at a firefly base, but we can’t all go there because it’s too dangerous for Ellie to be on the streets. We will eventually find out why Ellie is so prized, but it’s too dangerous a trip for her to make. What? We will go. You and I will go. And Joel, you will stay with Ellie and watch over her. And Ellie’s like and take her to the to the Fireflies. And Ellie’s like. That’s crazy. Like what? She’s. I’m not going with. How do you. Granger? How do you know these people? And then we find out how. Tommy brother. Tommy Joy’s brother Tommy is apparently a former ferret firefly. His whereabouts currently unknown. And clearly, he vouched for Joel once upon a time and also very clearly his word. And that vouching carried a lot of weight with Marlene, considering again, how. How much hinges on Ellie surviving. And, I had I wondered in this moment, like. Did Tommy tell Marlene about Sarah? Because why else would Marlene do this?

 

Rosie Knight I think his yes, I think they. In this moment, there’s so much tension and frustration and history in Tommy joining the Fireflies, you know. Joel is horrified that he joined this militia group. He’s upset. He feels rejected. He mentions it to Marlene. Marlene and Tommy were obviously close enough that she trusts him. I believe Tommy told her, and I don’t believe that Marlene is coming into this with some. Like he had a daughter. He’ll care. I think. Right, It is. She probably hopes that’s the case. But I think it’s a more cynical. Approach of, well, I know his loss. So perhaps this is like some I’m going to exploit that I can exploit. And maybe he’ll do something good for a change because of it. I think I think Tommy told Marlene.

 

Jason Concepcion Right. I think he said something to the effect of, Hey. I know somebody who doesn’t care whether he lives or dies and is a really badass person moving through this world who I think would react in a deeply loyal and emotional way to this girl. Ellie. I think he said something like that to her. Ellie, of course, is unsure. And we we can understand from the way she talks and the way she’s responding now that she’s not not scared of anything in a way that I think because of her age, you are like, that’s dangerous for you to not be scared of anything. But she’s fierce and very wisely. She you know, she would say like, I don’t know, this fucking guy. Who the fuck is this guy? You’re going to send me off alone with this fucking guy? I don’t know. But Tess is like, Hey, hey. Joel clearly is not wild about it either. No. Like, I think he sees Ellie in this moment as, like, a weight that would. Yeah, it would hold him down, but.

 

Rosie Knight Just around his neck. He doesn’t need that. He doesn’t need the emotional connection. He doesn’t need a kid. It’s I find it very interesting, too, because when you think about the time jump, what you’re talking about with Ellie is somebody who grew up only knowing this world.

 

Jason Concepcion Only knowing this. Yes. That’s such a great point.

 

Rosie Knight I find that so interesting. And I can’t wait to see how they explore that in the show. But yeah, it’s it’s very intriguing and neither of them are not interested. But of course, the game goes where the game goes.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah. And of course, Tess wants those fucking guns back. She needs him back and she wants to see him. So she’s like you just. Joel, just fucking do it. Take her to the North Tunnel and wait for me. How hard could it be? And Joel and Ellie head off, and thus begins that part of the tale, which we all pick up at a later date. Incredible game. Wonderful game.

 

Rosie Knight Yeah.

 

Jason Concepcion There’s a lot of great things to read. If you want to read more about this game that were that were written in the time that it came out, I think of Tom Bissell Church Great on Grantland, which is a place you need to write for. Here’s a quote from that. I played through a chunk of the Last of US in the company of a talented professional level designer. It was instructive. The game opens in a little girl’s room. My low level designer friend walked around the space impressed first foremost by the convincing ness of his character’s sleepy head animation set. Then he began to point out art assets that seemed to him particularly well made. That, he said at one point is an amazing fucking beanbag. It’s just yeah, it’s just an incredibly immersive game. The New Yorker wrote a really cool piece about whether the Last of US can become really the first high quality video game adaptation in history in either film or the television space. I guess, you know, I don’t know how people feel about. You know, it’s fucking Assassin’s Creed or some of these other adaptations out there.

 

Rosie Knight But it’s the cultural agreement that we have made is that video game adaptations rarely live up to the video game.

 

Jason Concepcion And I’m excited to cover the the television show Rosie and to see how tightly or loosely it hews to the story and arc of of the original game. I think you’ll find some. For those of you who end up reading The New Yorker article, there’s some cool tidbits in there about how Craig Mazin, showrunner, kind of designed the show’s episodes as kind of video game levels where it’s like you go to a place, you meet some characters, and then you go to another place in another episode and you kind of leave those characters and places behind. Fascinating to watch the show. I can’t wait

 

Rosie Knight Yeah, I mean, we’re in a really interesting place because this show currently has 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Dan And that is reviews from Everywhere from IGN, you know, which gave it an almost perfect score to. Like The Hollywood Reporter. All these different kinds of people who are enjoying this adaptation. I saw lots of kind of things that could have sounded hyperbolic. The idea that this is going to be the first smash hit of the year for HBO. But from people’s responses, it really sounds like they’ve managed to capture something. About the game that was so special was still making accessible to people who haven’t played it. So we could we could be getting this could be our first widely recognized prestige video game adaptation made in America. So I’m very excited and I can’t wait to talk to you about it more.

 

Jason Concepcion Yeah, we’ll be continuing our coverage of The Last of Us, both the game and the show here on X-ray Vision, and that’s it for us this week. Rosie, anything to plug.

 

Rosie Knight Plug, plug, plug, plug, plug. You can find me the usual places. Instagram, Letterbox’d. I’m RosieMarx, if you are interested in Ant-man and the WASP: Quantumania had a big M.O.D.O.K. explainer go up on IGN, which was so fun. And I put a little theory in that kind of building more on what me and Jason are talking about today, about Yellowjacket and his role in the movie. I’ve got some cool stuff coming out other places. Prime Time on Nerdist. The usual spots Den of Geek. I have a big Den of Geek cover story coming out soon I can’t talk about, but it will be out soon. I did some cool coverage of Willow. The final episode is out today. That’s a lot of fun. So yeah, just. Just all good stuff. And I love all bad video game movies. So I’ve written quite extensively about many of them.

 

Jason Concepcion Catch the next episode of X-ray Vision Wednesday, January 18th. Because remember, we’re now dropping episodes two times a week. That’s twice the deep dives Wednesday and Friday in your podcast feeds. Also, if any of you caught the Golden Globes. Yes, that’s right. The Golden Globes are back. They’re not racist anymore and they’ve solved all their problems. They are back. And you saw Ke Huy Quan’s heartfelt speech and maybe you have or have not seen Everything Everywhere All at Once. First point of order. Watch Everything Everywhere all at Once if you haven’t seen it. And then listen to our episode featuring an interview with the film’s directors, the Daniels, because they are so creative and that movie is just really, really great.

 

Rosie Knight It’s really incredible. Michelle Yeoh won too. I’m hoping that this is going to continue through awards season, and that was just such a delightful chat. I’m ready to see it. Angela Bassett won for Black Panther. So we go some some of our faves have been winning. Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on YouTube. Follow XRVpod on Twitter, where we are always retweeting cool stuff. We’re responding to your amazing tattoos. That was something cool that we got to do recently. And of course, check out our Discord to meet and hang out with a bunch of our RAD listeners. We’ve got really great mods in there. It’s just a ton of fun and me and Jason are in there and active too. Also, we love hearing your Nerd Outs, it’s one of our favorite things, but we also know that you have a lot of great theories, so if you want to share them, Nerd Outs will now also be a place for you to share your theories, favorite shows, movies, comic books, books, Any theory you’ve got. Send them to us. Send your tinfoil iest fan theories in a two minute or less. Voice Memo to X-ray@Crooked.com, and we will discuss the ones that really spark our imagination on the show.

 

Jason Concepcion And it doesn’t matter if it’s a show that’s not on the air right now. Yes, it’s out of Seasons House of the Dragon. We’re past you and we’re waiting for season two. You be anything that you want.

 

Rosie Knight If you love it. We want to hear it.

 

Jason Concepcion We want to hear it. Five star reviews. We love them. We need them. We got to have them leave us. The five star reviews wherever you can leave reviews. Here’s one from Music My Refuge: look forward to listening every Friday. Jason and Rosie are the best super knowledgeable in all things us nerds love, but they’re able to talk about it in a fun, personable and inclusive way. Thank you.

 

Rosie Knight Thank you. That’s what we try to do

 

Jason Concepcion MusicMyRefuge. That is what we try to do. And we’ll see you next week. 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 Vasillis Fotopoulos. Delon Villanueva and Matt DeGroot provide video production support Alex Reliford handles social media. Thank you Brian Vasquez for a theme music Goodbye.

 

Rosie Knight Bye.