New photos and videos from the set of HBO’s upcoming adaptation of The Last of Us focus on Joel and Ellie as the two explore the series’ “University” set and recreate an iconic moment from the 2013 video game that the show will (mostly) follow.
Towards the end of The Last of Us game, Joel and Ellie arrive at the University of Eastern Colorado. They believe that is where the Fireflies are currently stationed, but soon discover that the Fireflies have abandoned that location and have moved their operations to Salt Lake City. As they work their way through the campus, though, they discover that it is not nearly as abandoned as they initially thought it was.
The entire campus sequence is one of The Last of Us‘ greatest “levels,” but it’s arguably best remembered for the shots of Joel and Ellie riding through the campus on a horse. Not only does that visual carry quite a bit of narrative and emotional weight, but it helps sell the state of the game’s world and how the series emphasizes the idea that you can find occasional moments of serenity and beauty even in a seemingly hopeless situation.
Well, these photos show that the series will recreate that famous sequence as closely as possible.
There are even a couple of videos fresh from the set featuring Joel and Ellie riding a horse that really sell how stunning that location and sequence look in the show as well as the seemingly “natural” look the series may be trying to achieve.
All of that just looks so good. I imagine it would be tempting to overproduce this series and overthink the visuals, but as you can see in the videos above, there’s a simple beauty to finding the perfect natural location and letting the storytelling of the moment really do the legwork. Those shots look like they could have just as easily come from The Road, which is quite the compliment given that The Last of Us was almost certainly influenced by Cormac McCarthy’s novel.
Of course, the bigger takeaway from these videos and photos may just be the shots that show the Firefly logo spread throughout the campus. While the only sign of the Fireflies that we see in these photos is their logo (which makes sense given that they’re no longer using the campus as a base by the time that Joel and Ellie arrive), this is really the first time that we’ve seen any reference to the Fireflies in these production photos so far.
It’s also worth mentioning that some of the recent media from the campus shoot even give us what I believe is our first look at Joel in action.
There are even a few photos that seemingly show soldiers running around the campus, which again seems to confirm that Joel and Ellie will encounter roughly the same trouble at that former Firefly base in the show that they run into during the game.
As we’ve discussed when talking about some of the other recent The Last of Us set photos, everything we’ve seen of the University set shoot so far really does seem to confirm that the show will stick fairly closely to the games. While there are obviously some major story moments that happen after the University sequence that we know fans are curious about, all signs so far point to a faithful adaptation.