I'm not a zombie movie guy. I liked World War Z, but shows like "The Walking Dead" and Dawn of the Dead just aren't my thing. Gore just makes me queasy. And I have about the same level of enthusiasm for video games. Again, just not my thing.
But "The Last of Us," on HBO, has proven to be an unexpected exception, a TV series that nominally is about zombies that is based on a video game, that I've found to be utterly addicting and thought-provoking.
"The Last of Us" is the story of a post-apocalyptic America in which a mass fungal infection has created a pandemic that transforms people into zombie-like creatures. Pedro Pascal plays Joel, a man with a dark past who is tasked with taking Ellie (Bella Ramsey) across a hazardous country because of a belief that she may be carrying immunities that could save the human race..
What is extraordinary about "The Last of Us" is that for the most part, it isn't very gory. It has spasms of violence, some of it pretty rough. But the tension levels are off the charts, because at every moment, around every corner, there is the possibility of an attack. At the same time, Joel and Bella are such finely drawn characters, and played with such investment and intensity by Pascal and Ramsey, that we are hanging on their every move and emotion as they navigate not just the dystopian landscape, but each other.
I loved "The Last of Us." I'm glad that, while the first season is over, it won't be the last we'll see of Joel and Bella. They have a conflicted, complicated and often fractured relationship, and I can't wait until season two.
I have two recommended wines this week:
The 2018 Cedar + Salmon Pinot Noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley, a delicious wine that I had with a salmon belly carbonara.
The 2018 Cotes du Rhone Reserve from Chateau Mont-Redon, a full-bodied red - 80 percent Grenache and 20 percent Syrah - that I served with a seafood risotto
That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.