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Episode 1 (Fan Creations)

by Cody Miller @, Music of the Spheres - Never Forgot, Sunday, January 15, 2023, 19:55 (462 days ago) @ Cody Miller

Spoilers

Ellie - Are you my fucking mom or something?
Marlene - Do I look like your mom?!

Now, I'm not a fuddy duddy who can't see a black person on screen. But the race swap of Joel's daughter creates a problem. Ask yourself, if you knew nothing about this story, and you saw a Chilean man with a black girl, what would your first thought be? Interracial marriage? Ok, one possibility. Adopted? Ok, another possibility. The fact that a non trivial portion of people will probably assume the latter might seem like a minor point, but I think it's pretty big and has the potential to undermine the major theme and motivation behind the entire story.

The story hinges upon Joel failing with his biological daughter, and thus taking care of Ellie as an adopted daughter for redemption. But it just doesn't work if his daughter was adopted too… it's not really a second chance, it's not Joel desperately trying to make peace. It'd be just a redo. Further, children can just happen, so not being a great father but trying to after you realize that to your biological child, is shitty but at least admirable and I think people would root for you. But if you failed your adopted child? Well you chose it, so you're just a piece of shit.

In the opening, we have no indication that Joel and his daughter are trying to reconnect. No indication he's been a shitty father. But that's so huge… it's the entire reason he carries the guilt with him all those years and sees Ellie as a way to make things right. He was shitty dad who didn't get the chance ot make things right. But as presented in the show… he wasn't a shitty dad at all. He simply lost his daughter.

Lastly, the beginning is from her perspective. IMO major mistake. It's Joel's story not hers. I realize that the game lets you play as her, but on the screen, it feels totally different. If it were Joel's perspective, that would inform us later on as to why he later becomes the guy he is.

So we have an opening that doesn't clearly establish that Joel's daughter is his by blood, doesn't establish that Joel was a shitty dad now trying to make it right, and isn't from his perspective. I really really fear that these seemingly little things are going to compound and rob the story and ending of its punch, because these elements were critical in the game for setting Joel's emotional conflict.

Finally, the opening with the talk show explaining the Fungus was not necessary. I think that info could have been rolled out as needed throughout the story. It felt inelegant.

Ok, with that out of the way, everything after the opening was pretty on point. Great production design and direction, you believe every second of it. The infection detector was a nice touch that was set up for a great tense payoff near the end (I don't remember if this was in the game, with the red/green). The casting was great. Pedro is great as Joel, just nailing it.

My only worry is that folks who haven't played the game are going to be short changed by the choices in the opening. Otherwise, thumbs up.


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