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The Last Of Us' Premiere Somehow Makes The Game's Intro Even More Heart-Shattering

Contains spoilers for "The Last of Us" Episode 1

If you're familiar with the game it's based on, you already know that the very first episode of HBO's "The Last of Us" begins by setting up the universe in a particularly heartbreaking way. You also know that Joel's (Pedro Pascal) daughter, Sarah (Nico Parker) is doomed from the moment she appears onscreen. Still, before "The Last of Us" moves to its amazing apocalyptic setting, we get to spend some time with her.

As Joel, Sarah and Tommy (Gabriel Luna) go about their day, increasingly worrying news reports and background events tease the impeding Cordyceps apocalypse until it finally unfolds in all its destructive, panic-inducing glory. Their frantic attempts to escape the city end in a dramatic fashion when a soldier shoots Sarah in the gut, killing her and permanently traumatizing Joel. Sarah's demise is a wham moment, and the show stays faithful to the source material in its rough outline. However, "The Last of Us" Episode 1 manages to do the impossible by making Sarah's death an even more heart-shattering experience than it is in the games.

More time with Sarah equals more sadness when she dies

The beginning of "The Last of Us" game treats Sarah as a major, even playable character, as if the game is banking on the player to mistake her for the kid from the marketing material, and uses this to shock you when she suddenly dies. 

However, the game only lets you control Sarah for a few moments of calm before the storm, and she's dead in under 15 minutes. The HBO show takes the time to amp up the trick by effectively making Sarah the main character of the 2003 timeline of the first episode, spending tons of time with her until the moment the mushroom apocalypse truly hits the fan. What's more, Nico Parker's performance makes Sarah an inherently likeable character which, combined with her heavily increased screen time, makes her death a truly shocking moment if you're not familiar with the story. Even if you are, Parker's take on Sarah's final moments is an absolute tearjerker that manages to overshadow its already impressive game counterpart. 

Sarah's death is instrumental in shaping Joel into a gruff misanthrope, which in turn makes his dynamic with Ellie (Bella Ramsey) so intriguing. Simply by paying more attention to Sarah, the show packs an extra punch from the very beginning — as well as lays a solid emotional foundation for the story that lies ahead.