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Left Behind it means so much to anyone who knows the universe of The Last of Us (THE SPECIAL), for those who have played video games Naughty Dog for Playstation. This is why the seventh episode of the HBO TV series aired on Monday 27 February at 3 in the morning exclusively on Sky and in streaming only on NOW, simultaneously with the United States, was highly anticipated since the announcement of the title and the diffusion of the first Images. Expectations, very high, have not been disappointed by an episode which in just over 50 minutes concentrates an impressive series of emotional peaks, capable of tearing apart the viewer’s soul and once again shocking even those who already know the story being told.
Before the bite
Adaptation of the expansion of the first chapter of the Naughty Dog videogame saga, Left Behind is a long flashback, a dive into Ellie’s past when she wasn’t yet humanity’s last hope against the Cordyceps pandemic, when she was just an ordinary teenager at the FEDRA military school in Boston. She tells how she was bitten and much more. The story of a teenager discovering herself, restless, frightened by the sudden disappearance of her friend and roommate Riley. To set in motion the events of the seventh episode and the dynamics that will lead to a maturation of the character of Ellie is precisely the sudden and unexpected return of Riley, who drags her friend on a night escape to discover the wonders of the old abandoned shopping center.
A STORY OF FRIENDSHIP AND LOVE
Left Behind it is a story of friendship, of trust, of love in its purest form. An episode with a photograph made of darkness, semi-darkness, artificial lights with first red and then more yellow tones, capable of exalting themselves especially in the long segment set inside the shopping center. A place where the world has remained suspended and the signs of time and looting coexist with the last remnants of a future that never came true, between blockbuster posters stuck in the theater halfway through their existence and notes announcing an eternal “I’ll be back in 5 minutes ”.
ALL THE BRAVURA BELLA RAMSEY
Bella Ramsey gives yet another proof of a skill that is now off the charts, of an ability to express the widest possible range of emotions. In just over 50 minutes we see her determined, angry, violent, reflective, tender, scared, angry again. The amazement that fills her eyes on discovering escalators for the first time or finding herself at the entrance to a game room full of illuminated screens is capable of reflecting itself, in turn generating further amazement in those who look at it. The expression of her feelings towards Riley moves in her evolution.
EXTRAORDINARY CHEMISTRY WITH STORM REID
Of course, the perfect chemistry that is created with Storm Reid (already highly appreciated in the role of Gia in Euphoria). The two actresses look at each other and find each other in the pauses between one joke and another, between one action and the next. There is great credibility in their acting, the authentic feeling of really being in front of two friends, lucky and privileged spectators of a natural feeling that grows and matures, between ordinary tensions and social obstacles. Ellie and Riley should, at some point, find themselves on opposite sides of the fence that separates the army from the rebels, but the bond that unites them is stronger than even the civil war raging in Boston.
ONE YEAR LATER, ANOTHER ELLIE
Ellie’s journey into the past ends with another heartbreaking scene, one of those punches in the gut that The Last of Us got used to it. The return to the present is as cold as Utah snow and as painful as Joel’s wound. About a year has passed since the events of the mall yet Ellie has changed profoundly, hardened by experiences and by a load of responsibility that is difficult to bear. She has lost everything she loved, she has only this 56-year-old man left who is not her father and yet she is becoming one. And she has no intention of losing him too.
The adaptation of the game to the series
The transposition from the video game to the series is once again very faithful in the essential details, while distancing itself in the secondary ones. Many visual and highly emotional elements are taken directly from the video game and brought to the screen by Mazin and Druckmann, perhaps with an adherence to the source material unmatched in previous installments, at least as regards the part concerning Ellie, Riley and how they were infected. Also thanks to a game segment that is already very narrative and cinematic.
Game segment removed
In the DLC Left Behindin fact, the action is limited and mainly confined to a part that Mazin and Druckmann choose to ignore, or dismiss in a simpler way, that of Ellie’s search for medicines to save Joel’s life: if in the game all this it took place in a haunted department store, with a very long phase of combat against infected and soldiers, in the series Ellie finds a needle and thread among the drawers and wardrobes of the house in which she took refuge with Joel, a dynamic which, moreover, is yet another easter egg of a game in which looking for alcohol and gauze among drawers is at least as important as having good aim.
The scenography as an amplifier of emotion
While losing a strong point of contact in the parallel between the story of the present and the future (both events, in the game, take place inside a shopping mall), the choice rewards from the narrative point of view, with the effect of concentrating the story on the most intense part from the point of view of emotions and feelings to which the sets capable of faithfully reporting the atmospheres of the game provide an enormous contribution.