If you're watching several post-Apocalyptic tv shows at the same time, it becomes difficult to remember which pandemic just killed almost everyone (Station Eleven), which resulted in a world full of plodding, snarling zombies (The Walking Dead), and which resulted in vampire-like beings (The Strain). Then there's The Last of Us on HBO, where mutated fungus in flour-based products results in near-instantaneous transformation into a creature covered with nauseating bulbous tumors.
1. Construction worker Joel (Pedro Pascal, top photo) lost his daughter on the first night of the Apocalypse (she is presented as the protagonist, just to mess with viewers' heads). Twenty years later, he is living in Boston, a horrifying dystopia much worse than anything conjured up on The Walking Dead, a police state where they have public executions of anyone who breaks any of the hundreds of repressive laws. Hardened and dour, he is working as a smuggler along with his non-romantic business partner Tess.
2. Joel's screw-up younger brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna) also survived, but the two are estranged because Tommy went over to the Dark Side or something.
Joel and Tess are hired to deliver sassy 14-year old Ellie to a location I can't remember. She's special because she's the first person in history to be immune to the fungus, so her blood can be used to make a vaccine.
On the way out of decrepit, decayed Boston, partner Tess is inundated by disgusting bulbous monsters. Then it's just the two, trudging through the pristine forests that are just outside the city. Wait -- outside of Boston there are miles and miles of suburbs. They stop in various places for supplies and fight the disgusting bulbous monsters.
3. For a reason I'm not clear on, they have to stop by Bill and Frank's -- a gay bear couple (Nick Offerman, left, Murray Bartlett, below) who live in a very nice house with hot water and electricity, pair rabbit stew with Beaujolais, and play Linda Ronstadt songs on the piano.
4, In Episode 3, we see their 20 year relationship from beginning to end. Bill, a survivalist, was hiding in an underground bunker when the military rounded up everyone else in town to kill (to prevent infection?). He lived alone for several years, until Frank showed up. He had never been romantic with anyone before, but apparently his only human contact in years sparked some interest.
5. Next, in Missouri for some reason, Joel and Ellie encounter dour revolutionary Kathleen and her dour nonromantic partner Perry (Jeffrey Pierce).
6. The revolutionaries want to find and kill hardened bandit Henry (Lamar Johnson) and his deaf, sick, autistic brother Sam (how vulnerable can you get?). But Joel and Ellie bond with the two. They fight disgusting bulbous monsters together. But Sam is bitten! You know this won't end well.
7. This doesn't technically count, but in the video game version of The Last of Us, deaf, sick, autistic Sam is a teenager, played by Nadji Jeter.
8. Joel and Ellie finally reunite with Joel's younger brother Tommy (was that the game plan?), who is living in Jackson, Wyoming with his pregnant wife. But they argue, and the two leave.
While Joel is fighting his life-threatening injury, Ellie encounters dour cult leader David (Scott Shepherd) and his nonromantic partner James, who threaten and traumatize her in various ways before she kills them.
9. I spend most of each episode desperately trying to avoid looking at the disgusting bulbous monsters on the screen, but I got a brief glimpse of Philip Prajoux (right), playing one who infects Joel's nonromantic partner Tess by exuding tentacles into her mouth.
10. Riley Davis (bottom) reputedly plays a "Young Firefly Soldier" (Fireflies are terrorists or freedom fighters, depending on which side you are on), whom Joel provides with drugs in Episode 2.
Oh, well. The last episode of The Last of Us airs on March 12th.