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The Last Of Us Makes A Bold (& Correct) Decision To Bail On The Game's Intro

Warning: This article contains spoilers for "The Last of Us" series.

The dust has finally settled on the heartbreaking and harrowing initial episode of "The Last of Us." The good thing is that all those getting nagged to watch a show based on a game they'd never played may have finally seen what the hype is about. It's only the first week of the show on our TV screens, and already we've suffered a tragedy that has made a dent in our hero Joel (Pedro Pascal). It had to be done, of course. Sarah (Nico Parker) catching a stray bullet is as vital to Joel's story arc as Peter Parker losing Uncle Ben. What made it special in this version of the story is how it all played out, not in the actual moments, but in the build-up to it. 

Sarah's death is pretty much beat for heart-pounding beat as it was in the original game that shook players to their core the first time around. Jaw-dropping as it was back then as it is now, the difference here was the route taken getting there. It was always a safe bet that, like this (and we can only guess), many character journeys are in the series, and there will be some difference between here and the source. What made the live-action exit all the more impactful was the different way we spent time with Sarah and how it may have actually surpassed the original. 

The original game opens a lot sooner to Joel's worst nightmare

When we first meet Sarah in Naughty Dog's original game, we end up in her shoes. Kind of. After gifting Joel his birthday present, the game has us controlling her waking up to emergency news broadcasts and explosions in the distance before Joel (minus Tommy, played by Gabriel Luna in the show) storms in, kills a neighbor, and flees with Tommy onto the highway to the hell we see in the show. The only difference in how these events unfold is that Tommy isn't in prison and being driven back by Joel; he picks them up before heading out. This also happens all within the first 20 minutes of the game.

In hindsight, the game's opening execution and rising tensions are no different from the likes of post-apocalyptic chillers "Dawn of the Dead" or "World War Z," so it's not like it wasn't doable. Kicking things into gear without a moment's notice was a jarring creative choice that landed brilliantly in the game. Here though, its almost the mid-point of the episode that the world starts to collapse, having spent more time watching the virus begin to bubble here and there before exploding into chaos. It also does something for Sarah that the game didn't quite manage.

The best thing about Sarah's death is letting her live

The mechanic Sarah's story has in the game that the show doesn't is you. As the player, it's essential for any gamer to make sure the character they're controlling doesn't die, which unfortunately doesn't go to plan after you switch to handling her father. Even in this short time we're around her, this adds to the drama and makes her demise leave its mark. It's a shock that only resonates after the fact and not before. For the show, though, it's the smartest move to let us learn who Sarah is far more than we originally had the chance to. It's not just on bedroom wall posters or rushed breakfast meals; it's her drifting off at school or heading to see the neighbors, as is often the reluctant task of a kid, but one that shows her good nature and someone you'd hate to lose.

When it comes, it hits and hits differently to our first loss of the pixelated Sarah fans are familiar with while still expanding on the world in a new way that hits the sweet spot on the Venn diagram of gamers and non-gamers. With this differing plot device, there's also every chance we could see more of Sarah in flashbacks or Joel's stifled sleep in a world he's constantly on the edge of. It's another diversion in this live-action take that could establish "The Last of Us" as the game-changer we hope it will be.