'Fallout' Is a Worthy Successor to 'The Last of Us'

Created by Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan

Starring Ella Purnell, Walton Goggins, Aaron Moten, Moisés Arias, Kyle MacLachlan, Sarita Choudhury, Michael Emerson, Leslie Uggams, Frances Turner, Zach Cherry, Johnny Pemberton

Photo: JoJo Whilden / Prime Video

BY Rachel HoPublished Apr 10, 2024


Since 1997, Fallout has captivated gamers with its dynamic gameplay, character arcs and, above all else, compelling storytelling. The beloved video game series is the latest to be given the series treatment, with Westworld creators Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan leading the project. Across eight episodes, Fallout builds a post-apocalyptic world that thoughtfully examines political and class warfare, backed by stellar leading performances from Ella Purnell and Walton Goggins.

In a breathtaking opening sequence, a cowboy, Cooper Howard (Goggins), reservedly entertains a children's birthday party. The series quickly settles into its alternate history, as Cooper quietly remarks to the hosts that perhaps giving a thumbs up in pictures isn't appropriate given the volatile nature of the post-WWII world. Nuclear destruction soon takes hold, and the gap between the haves and have-nots are hinted at early when bunker space is held at a premium.

Jumping forward 219 years later, Lucy (Purnell) prepares for her wedding day in Vault 33. What should have been a blissful day that would result in the furthering of humanity becomes a rude awakening for Lucy after an invasion of Vault 33 forces her to leave the comforts of underground life and traverse the Wasteland (a.k.a. Los Angeles).

As the headstrong fish out of water, Purnell's literal wide-eyed performance is incredibly engaging. Although Lucy steps into a world completely opposite to her own and discovers truths about the history she was taught, Purnell never allows Lucy to become a ditzy idiot in need of handholding. Instead, Purnell grants Lucy maturity and intelligence (and humour), giving audiences a perspective to understand the intricacies of a story that's far more interesting than the damsel in distress or the perpetually courageous superwoman lens we've become accustomed to.

Fallout explains the world and backstory to newcomers without distracting from the main storyline too much, which should be welcomed by long-standing fans of the game (as will the excellent soundtrack that, of course, includes the Ink Spots).

Joy and Nolan create a reality that's easy to jump into, with thanks to the characters around Lucy who have a firm understanding of what happened after WWII. In particular, Goggins delivers a balanced performance of a devastated and heartbroken individual who lost his faith in humanity but still hangs onto the love for his family to keep him going.

The series may not rise to the same heights as The Last of Us, but it embodies the similar nuanced storytelling that made the Pedro Pascal vehicle a hit. Fallout offers intrigue, violent fight scenes and strong leading performances that will bring in new fans and please the old.

(Prime Video)

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