In hindsight, it was pretty clear that HBO’s take on The last of us it was going to end one of the best moments of the source material. Again in episode threeJoel and Ellie find a deceased mortal kombat ii game cabinet, prompting the youngster to excitedly tell her grumpy guardian about Mileena’s iconic fatality in which she eats her enemy and vomits up their bones. In the game, it is a fictional arcade game called The turn she tells Joel, and for those of us familiar with the game and its DLC chapter, Left behindthis served as a pretty strong indication that The turnHBO’s iconic moment in the adaptation of that DLC would also be altered. Indeed, it was. While the sentiment is still fun, the use of Mortal Kombat rather The turn both ooze corporate synergy between PlayStation Productions and Warner Bros. Discovery, missing out on a moment of tragic wonder that was a standout segment in the original. Left behind DLC.
The last of us games are full of in-universe media. As Joel and Ellie fight their way through Naughty Dog’s version of a post-apocalyptic America, the two frequently come across remnants of the world before cordyceps fungus destroyed polite society and discuss them in considerable detail. wild starlighta series of comics that works as a collectible in The Last of Us Part I, is a personal favorite of Ellie’s. It is a science fiction series that follows a character named Dr. Daniela Star who goes on adventures across the galaxy. As you collect these comics throughout the game, you get bits of the story from the blurb notes at the back of each volume, but the real value of them is in the way they expand on the character of Ellie in both. games. She develops a fascination with space and wishes she could have been an astronaut in a world not ravaged by infection, and Dr. Star’s catchphrase of “to the edge of the universe and back, endure and survive” is a touchstone. theme.
At another time, Joel and Ellie find an advertisement for a movie called dawn of the wolf that is clearly a tribute to the Twilight series, which Joel mentions watching with his daughter Sarah just before the outbreak. Both wild starlight and dawn of the wolf make appearances in the show’s seventh episode, which acts as a nod to old fans and talking points about how characters like Ellie and her post-apocalypse-born best friend and first love Riley lack much of a cultural context for what they’re saying. The world was like before.
However, the show also incorporates a few more real-world marks to illustrate these concepts. During Ellie and Riley’s date at a mall in episode seven, they stop by Victoria’s Secret and comment on how ridiculous and impractical lingerie seems in a world where they live in military boarding schools and join revolutionary groups like the Fireflies. . It’s a good scene and allows Ellie and Riley to joke around a bit as they continue to explore the abandoned mall, but it also highlights the reality that TV shows are more likely to do product placement deals with real brands than games, which which results in a divergence from the source material in an episode that mostly replicates its adaptation pretty directly (heh).
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But while the Victoria’s Secret scene is more of a passing moment added to the original Left behind story, one of the game show’s most divergent points in this episode occurs when Ellie and Riley go to an arcade on the top floor of the mall. When they arrive, Riley opens a slot machine, so the girls can play some of these games that no one has been able to play in decades. This includes mortal kombat iiand while Riley instructs Ellie pretty hard at first, we see our girl bounce back and win a match at the end.
In a vacuum, the scene is very cute. We love a comeback story, and Ellie is clearly a quick study in a fighting stick. But in contrast to the original game scene, something is missing. Due to some key differences in how that scene plays out, it serves as a most poignant case study in how much of humanity’s culture, art and tradition has been lost, and how people who were born after the outbreak only They could imagine what these things were like.
instead of playing mortal kombat ii In the game, Ellie and Riley find an unusable arcade cabinet for a fighting game called The turn. At first, Ellie is bummed that she can’t play, but Riley tells her that she still can, she just has to close her eyes and listen to her narration. The camera zooms in on Ellie’s face as she closes her eyes and listens to Riley recount a fight between characters called Angel Knives and Blackfang, with the player making fighting game entrances reminiscent of real-world fighting games like Street Fighter and yes even Mortal Kombat, as it ends with a fatality-style ending complete with convoluted button prompts. As Ellie imagines the fight, the light from the game screen illuminates her face and we hear what she thinks the scrap would sound like. Despite never having played a video game before, the recreation in her mind, bolstered by Riley’s descriptions, seems pretty accurate. But after Ellie wins the imaginary battle, the two have to go back to the real world where they can’t actually play a round of The turn.
Left behind it’s full of these kinds of moments where Ellie and Riley walk through the stores in the mall where they’re not quite sure what the practical use of the merchandise they’re playing with is. The show combines two scenes from the game together by having Ellie and Riley dance in game-accurate Halloween masks just before things start to go wrong for the couple, but in-game, the girls spend quite a long period searching in a Halloween store and wondering why people were buying scary clown and ferocious werewolf masks. This is a motif throughout the series, of younger characters wondering what the world was like before the outbreak, only able to imagine what it might have been like to live in a place where an infection hadn’t destroyed everything. around them. That’s why Ellie imagining herself playing The turn it hits differently than actually watching her play Mortal Kombat.
But even outside of the world building and color theme that the original scene brings, the use of Mortal Kombat it specifically feels like corporate crap that doesn’t sit well with me. Mortal Kombat is owned by Warner Bros., and HBO Max is a streaming service owned by Warner Bros. The next game in the series was unceremoniously announced during an earnings call on Thursday, and now you’ve put the fighting game series in front of millions of people to pique their interest. Its convenient that The last of us would have a scene that Warner Bros. could easily turn into a bit of product placement, and while it’s a fun reference for much of the audience who will have their own memories of playing Mortal Kombat in an arcade to draw while watching Ellie and Riley bond over the game, it seems to push what made the original arcade scene great aside for a bit of cheap promotion.
we are almost done with The last of us‘ first season, and while the show has been pretty consistent in quality, it’s been dealing with a lot of back and forth between be faithful to the original material and have new ideas. Yeah changes are big or small, I found myself examining the show through this lens and theorizing as to why each change was made. Some feel determined, like having what appears to be a dina cameo in Jackson’s segment as a way to plant seeds for the second seasonor completely reimagining the story of bill and frank to lead more directly to the questions the show will ask at its end. Others have felt petty, like the changes to Tess’s final scene in episode two. But this? Just convert one of Left behindThe best moments of ‘s in an advertisement. If nothing else, when Joel tries to give Ellie a similar museum experience in season two, he’ll probably feel that much more special to both viewers and Ellie.