It’s just mere weeks until HBO’s The Last of Us premieres in mid-January. The series based on the award-winning horror video game franchise of the same name has been dropping new images almost every day in December leading up to the adaptation’s highly anticipated debut. Now the latest image gives us another look at Pedro Pascal’s Joel and Anna Torv’s Tess.
The image has the two partners in crime sitting on a post-apocalyptic staircase sharing a rather tender moment — the calm before the storm. After the heart-breaking prologue, Joel and Tess introduced fans to this now iconic franchise. The pair worked together as smugglers for hire on the outskirts of Boston. When we meet them at the beginning of the first game, they’re tasked to transport simple “cargo.” We later find out that cargo is a young girl named Ellie. Transporting a child doesn’t rub the duo the right way at first, especially Joel. They have to navigate a rundown, infected-infested Boston in the game’s first act to get Ellie to the drop-off point. However, in typical The Last of Us fashion, nothing goes to plan.
Anyone who’s played the games can guess what tragic scene follows this image, but we’re not going to spoil it here for anyone who’s going fresh into the series. Joel and Tess in the first game shared a compelling relationship full of mutual respect, friendship, and a possible romantic spark. They kept each other grounded in their insane new reality. Pascal and Torv don’t even need to speak, this image says it all. This is just authentic Joel and Tess. The quote accompanying the image, ripped straight from the game, “Save who we can save”, is also an emotional line shared between the two. It’s repeated throughout the rest of the franchise’s games.
The Last of Us is a franchise based around horror-rich storytelling, complex themes, muddled relationships, and satisfyingly tragic characters. This moment between Joel and Tess fully embodies that. It’s going to be really exciting to see what Pascal and Torv bring to these two smugglers’ dynamic. You feel Tess’ impact on Joel and his evolving worldview throughout the entire series. There are no small parts in The Last of Us and, in terms of pure thematic impact, Tess is certainly one of the biggest influences on Joel.
Pascal and Torv’s journey together starts when The Last of Us premieres on HBO on January 15. The series will consist of nine episodes and will not only focus on the main narrative from the first game, but it will also incorporate elements from its DLC story Left Behind and The Last of Us Part II.