It’s that time of year again! Time to celebrate the Resurrection with a weeklong plunge into all things zombie! Here’s the history: In 2008, Dr. Girlfriend and I decided to spend a week or so each year marathoning through zombie films that we’d never seen before, and I would blog short reviews. And simple as that, the Easter Zombie Movie Marathon was born.

For the curious, here are links to 20082009 (a bad year), 201020112012 (when we left the blog behind), 20132014201520162017201820192020, 2021 and 2022.

Here there be spoilers!

I wondered how long it would take The Last of Us to get to the standard, “the real monsters are other people” theme. I guess with only nine episodes, it was going to have to happen pretty soon, regardless. And here it is, just before we reach the halfway point. This episode is the first in a direct two-part story unlike the previous episodes, which have focused on telling complete stories before moving on with the next episode.

This time, Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) make it all the way to Missouri with their new truck before, thanks to a blocked roadway, they have to take a detour through Kansas City. And if we know anything about anything, we should all be shouting at the screen, telling them to avoid cities at all costs.

As expected, they stumble into a trap by unidentified armed assailants and before it’s all said and done, the truck is lost, the bandits, or whatever they are, have all been shot – one of whom was wounded by Ellie – and our heroes are on the run from the coming retribution. The baddies are led by a woman named Kathleen, played by the fantastic Melanie Lynskey from Yellowjackets, with second-in-command Perry, played by Jeffrey Pierce, who did the voice and motion capture for Joel’s brother Tommy in the video game.

So that’s cool.

Kathleen and Perry are hunting someone named Henry (Lamar Johnson), who is on the run with his young brother Sam (Keivonn Woodard), and after finding her dead henchmen, assumes that they had something to do with it and orders a full-scale search. That’s bad news for Joel and Ellie, who spend the rest of the episode in hiding, ending up camping out in a high-rise. Which is where they wake to find they’ve been discovered… by Henry and Sam!

This episode suffers from over-familiarity. It feels like the show creators didn’t really do enough to make these baddies stand out as original or even to really feel all that threatening. They’re standard Season One bad guys, like what we got back when The Walking Dead first started; back when their world hadn’t been changed for very long, so raiders and bandits were mostly normal people. That’s okay, but these guys could have used some more build-up or definition after twenty years in the apocalypse. The most interesting thing about them isn’t even about them. It’s the discovery of a huge, throbbing basement floor in one of the buildings they search. Kathleen orders Perry to keep everyone away from it so they can deal with it later – whatever it is.

I have an idea, but we’ll just wait and see.

We had some good together time with Joel and Ellie, this episode, though. And we get a glimpse into Ellie’s backstory. A hint is all, really, but it should pay off soon. The other real highlight of the episode is Ellie’s jokebook. The sheer number of groan-inducing bad jokes that she shares with Joel is impressive, and she actually slips the best one in when we least expect it.

We don’t get any Clickers or whatever they call the other infected people this time out. That’s a bit disappointing. So far, they don’t really seem like much of a threat, especially not a world-ending one. It seems like organized teams with flame throwers and automatic weapons would be able to clean them up pretty quickly. But the only reason it seems that way is that we haven’t really seen them do anything outside of the two Clickers and the swarm that got blowed up.

I guess there was the premiere, where they really seemed dangerous, but we didn’t even get a full episode of that, and so far all the flashbacks have avoided dealing with the outbreak almost entirely. Is that what is supposed to set The Last of Us apart from other “zombie” apocalypses? That we never see the “zombies”??

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