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Surprises along the way in the next episode of ‘The Last of Us’

Bella Ramsey (left) and Anna Torv in "The Last of Us."Liane Hentscher/HBO

I liked the first two episodes of “The Last of Us,” HBO’s series adaptation of the video game. They show us how the two major characters, Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey), come to be traveling the United States together, a surrogate father and a surrogate daughter in a world decimated by an aggressive fungus and crawling with fearful people carrying guns.

But I nonetheless worried that I’d get tired of watching the pair make it through one violent set piece after another. Will they get through the museum? Can they make it through the subway? Are they going to survive the basement? Gunfire, crashes, explosions, bodies — I wondered if, as a video game adaptation, it would become exhausting and repetitive.


And then I reached the third episode, which runs this coming Sunday night at 9, and I understood that “The Last of Us” was going to be so much more human than I’d feared.

The powerful 80-minute story is almost self-standing, a plot-adjacent tale that moved me deeply. It features Nick Offerman as a survivalist who was more than prepared for the outbreak, and Murray Bartlett as a cheerful wanderer, and — well, I won’t say more. I’m glad I didn’t know much when I watched it unfold while previewing the show for review. I will say, though, that it includes a 1970s song that thoroughly deserves to be rediscovered.

The episode also put me on alert that “The Last of Us” is not going to be a predictable ride. It’s the first of a number of episodes — there are nine in all in the first season — that surprised me by not sticking to an action template. It was a welcome left turn, and it was the moment I fell in love with the show.


Pedro Pascal in HBO's series adaptation of the video game.Liane Hentscher/HBO

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at matthew.gilbert@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewGilbert.