Pedro Pascal is known for playing a patriarchal protector figure in The Mandalorian and is set to play a similar role in HBO Max’s upcoming adaptation of The Last of Us. That similarity isn’t even lost on Pascal himself. even since he said it was the “best double-dipping [he] could possibly imagine. And while both of these fictional plays are set in major, well-known franchises, Pascal also played a similar role in 2018’s Prospect, which is well worth watching on Hulu for those who want another dose of “Protector Pascal.”
However, Prospect does not immediately play the Protector Pascal card. Instead of pairing up with another adult for much of the first act or finding his young companion at the end of the first episode, Ezra, Pascal’s character, doesn’t even show up for about 22 minutes. Poster aside, it’s not entirely clear that Ezra will even be a prominent character. This unexpected setup hints at just how slightly different Pascal’s role as surrogate parent or guardian is here.
Ezra is a rogue con man who deliberately ups his charm in an effort to butter the person he’s talking to. It’s a clear separation of Joel and the beskar-clad Din, both of whom speak clearly and with as few words as possible. Ezra’s demeanor also suits Pascal perfectly, as he’s such a naturally charismatic actor who’s used such charm to be a highlight in films like The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent and carry others like The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent. Abyssal Wonder Woman 1984.
That magnetism in this context is a refreshing combination since these types of characters are usually gruff, stoic guys. Ezra isn’t even much of a protector here, often needing Cee – the “Ellie” here – to carry or help his ass in various ways. These elements mean it has the buddy dynamic of The Last of Us, but with a new focus and that makes enough of a difference.
Its sci-fi setting also uses enough of the same lens, but with a little twist. The Last of Us is rather grounded and draws its fungal creatures from science, showing that even its one supernatural element has a basis in reality. Prospect is also mostly at the more realistic end of the sci-fi spectrum, but hints at a larger, more fantastical world where space miners extract ore from small fleshy tentacles in the ground while protecting itself from the spores floating outside, the latter of which bears a direct resemblance to Naughty Dog’s post-apocalyptic adventure. This mix of blue-collar realism and sci-fi works well for both, as they’re relevant enough while being more interesting due to their little creative leaps.
The Last of Us and The Mandalorian are also bigger engagements, but Prospect goes through some of the same beats in a shorter amount of time because it’s a movie instead of a TV series. Since it’s only an hour and 40 minutes long, Prospect can quickly tell a story about two slowly bonding characters without requiring a dozen hours from its viewers. This means Cee and Ezra’s relationship isn’t as complex as Joel and Ellie’s, but that’s not the point here and this disparity gives it another unique feature. It achieves comparable ratings without taking as long.
Prospect is an underrated entry in Protector Pascal’s oeuvre and deserves more attention, especially following the debut of The Last of Us on HBO Max on January 15th. The condensed version of the reluctant partner story is a more digestible way to absorb some of the same general beats in a new sci-fi package. Prospect may not have an onslaught of emotional punches like The Last of Us, but he doesn’t need them to be worth his weight in Poison Spore Gems.