Let’s take a closer look at HBO’s The Last of Us trailer, including Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson’s cameos

This weekend we got another look at HBO’s upcoming TV adaptation The Last of Us.

I’m a huge fan of The Last of Us (which you may have noticed), and have watched this trailer several times already. Now, for your enjoyment, I’ve highlighted some of the little details that you might have missed on a first watch.

As a quick recap before we dive in, watch this trailer below. Please note that after the video I will discuss points that could be considered spoilers for Naughty Dog’s video game series. If you’re keen to avoid these, this is your tip for somewhere else.

“If you don’t think there’s hope for the world, why bother going on?”

The first thing to note are the previously announced cameos from Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson, who play Joel and Ellie in the original games.

This latest show trailer has given us a closer look at their characters, and rather touchingly, Johnson has now been confirmed to play Ellie’s mother, Anna Williams.

Ashley Johnson as Anna Williams (I’ve brightened this photo so you can see her face better).

Anna is a character we never see in the games, but thanks to in-game references, dialogue in Left Behind, and the American Dreams comic, we know that Anna was a nurse before the Cordyceps outbreak.

At some point, she befriended Marlene, and after the outbreak began, she gave birth to Ellie. Anna died soon after Ellie was born, but before she passed, Anna wrote Ellie a note and entrusted Marlene to take care of her.

This note reads:

Ellie,

I will share a secret with you, I am not a big fan of children and I hate babies. And yet… I stare at you and am just overwhelmed.

You are not even a day old and holding you is the most incredible thing I have ever done in my life – a life that is about to be cut short.

Marlene will look after you. There is no one in this world I trust more than her. When the time comes she will tell you all about me. Don’t give her too much of a hard time. Try not to be as stubborn as me.

I’m not going to lie, this is a pretty messed up world. It won’t be easy. What you must always remember is that life is worth living! Find your purpose and fight for it.

I see so much strength in you. I know you will turn out to be the woman you are meant to be. Forever… your dear mother

Anna

Make me proud, Ellie!

The letter from Anna in The Last of Us (Page 1).

The letter from Anna in The Last of Us (Page 2).

Troy Baker will play James, who is one of David’s group in The Last of Us. David runs a group of cannibalistic survivors.

In the game, David, and by extension his gang, act as antagonists in The Last of Us’ Winter chapter. Below you can see Baker’s character to the left (when looking at the screen) of Scott Shepherd’s David, along with a photo of his in-game counterpart.

Troy Baker as James, with Scott Shepherd as David, in HBO’s The Last of Us.

James with David in The Last of Us (video game).

According to IMDB, Baker will only appear in one episode of the upcoming show, while Johnson will appear in three.

As for David, here he is threatening Bella Ramsey’s Ellie with a meat cleaver – yes, I can say that I’m going to dislike him as much in the show as I did in the game.

Scott Shepherd as David.

David in Naughty Dog’s video game.

This trailer also gives us a closer, and rather emotional, look at the show’s focus on family.

Along with Pedro Pascal’s Joel and Bella Ramsey’s Ellie, we also see brothers Henry (played by Lamar Johnson) and Sam (played by Keivonn Woodard), couple Bill (played by Nick Offerman) and Frank (played by Murray Bartlett), as well as new characters Marlon and Florence, who are a “married couple surviving alone in the wilderness of post-apocalyptic Wyoming” (played by Graham Greene and Elaine Miles).

Below you can see these characters and, where applicable, their video game counterparts.

Keivonn Woodard as Sam.

Sam with Ellie in the game.

Lamar Johnson as Henry.

Henry in the game.

Nick Offerman as Bill.

Bill in the game.

Murray Bartlett as Frank.

The couple catches fire.

Graham Greene as Marlon.

Elaine Miles as Florence.

Speaking of family, this trailer also gives us a taste of how Joel and Ellie’s relationship will develop over the course of the series. At the start, Joel tells Ellie that she’s not family, she’s “cargo”. But as the trailer progresses, the growing love between them is evident. “You may not be her father, but you were somebody’s,” Henry comments.

Ellie asks if she is family.

Joel remains straight-faced and serious when he tells Ellie that she’s a load.

Now, this wouldn’t be The Last of Us without us addressing the clicker in the room. Oh, and the bloat, the runner and the chaser. Yes, the four stages of Cordyceps infection have now been showcased in their goosebump-inducing glory thanks to HBO’s latest spot.

We saw two stages of infection in HBO’s previous The Last of Us trailer – runners and clickers.

Runners are the first, and also weakest, stage of The Last of Us’ infected enemies. In the games, they can swarm players in large numbers, but their attacks are quite slow. However, the second phase of the series’ infection creates enemies known as stalkers.

Stalkers are fast and deadly in Naughty Dog’s games, and they look just as fast in HBO’s show. Our brief glimpse of the stalker in the recent trailer shows the infected on all fours aggressively scurrying across the screen – and I’m not going to lie, it freaks me out.

HBO’s take on The Last of Us’ stalkers.

Now for the fourth stage of the Cordyceps infection.

In an incredibly effective shot, which also rounds off the trailer, we see the series’ bloat rising ominously from its fiery surroundings. This fire makes me wonder if this is the same scene as the picture above with Bill and Frank and if this means this is when Frank gets infected.

HBO’s take on The Last of Us’ tumors.

I mentioned earlier that this trailer focuses on family, and the love that comes with it. Well, it also gives us a look at some of the humor that we can expect as well.

As with the video games, particularly Part 1, Ramsey’s Ellie clearly has a playful sense of humor. The trailer shows us the moments after Ellie reveals her immunity to Tess (played by Anna Torv) and Joel.

Ellie shows her scar and proves her immunity.

As the adults discuss what to do with this new information, Ellie comments that the Firefly family was impressed that she hadn’t turned into a monster, before the scene cuts to her jokingly twitching as if she’s about to transform themselves.

She’s stopped by a curt “no” from Tess, and Ellie’s a-dork-able awkwardness here made me smile.

Ellie pretends to transform.

It became difficult.

Next, I want to talk about scenes from the trailer that can be directly compared to the same scenes from the games.

First, here’s Ellie with Storm Reid’s Riley in the photo booth (from The Last of Us’ DLC, Left Behind).

Say cheese!

Ellie and Riley in the Left Behind DLC.

Second, here’s Ellie crossing between buildings by walking along a plank while being escorted by Joel and Tess.

Ellie cruises confidently in HBO’s adaptation.

And the same moment from the match.

Next up, here’s Joel, Ellie, and Tess approaching the Capitol building in the show and in the game.

Joel, Ellie and Tess approach the Capitol Building in the show.

Approaching the capital in part 1.

Finally, I would like to draw your attention to the militia group that patrols the streets of what I Think that is Kansas City.

The show’s producers previously announced that Melanie Lynskey will portray a new character named Kathleen, who will reportedly be a “ruthless leader of a revolutionary movement in Kansas City”. I think these frames might just show that group in action.

Kathleen’s group?

Kathleen herself (photo from previous trailer).

The Last of Us’ TV adaptation will debut on January 15th in the US, giving it a January 16th launch here in the UK on Sky Atlantic. Do you want to watch?

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