The Last of Us is only two episodes in and it’s already one of the most celebrated video game adaptations in years. It’s shockingly faithful to the source material, offering a new glimpse at events that transpired in the celebrated 2013 PlayStation 3 game. In the second episode, however, we see a few ways in which this world differs from the one in the game.
Things start in this episode with another cold open in 2003, before the outbreak of cordyceps. A fungus expert named Ratna who lives in Jakarta is summoned by the Indonesian government to investigate a strange corpse. The body contains fungal growths that terrify Ratna, who hastily tells the military personnel that they need to bomb the city to prevent the disease from spreading.
Back to the Present
Back in the present day, Ellie awakens in the ruins of an old Boston barber shop. Joel isn’t convinced that Ellie is immune to the infection, but Tess thinks the girl could be the real deal. Tess encourages Joel to go along with this plan and convinces him to deliver Ellie to the Fireflies rather than trekking back to the QZ where FEDRA troops will assuredly execute her for showing signs of infection.
Ellie asks the older duo if they’ve ever seen infected “with their heads split open” or “covered in fungus”. The pair neglects to tell Ellie about the most dangerous infected varieties and instead offer her some potentially life-saving advice. As the group ventures out into Boston, they see craters made by bombs–Ratna’s advice was applied after the outbreak, apparently.
This explains how Boston managed to create a QZ for survivors, with the US military engaging in brutal tactics to suppress the infected. As the group makes for the State House, they see a huge gathering of infected and Tess tells Ellie that they’re all linked by a network of mycelia that travel for miles underground. What happens to one infected can be seen by others if they’re all touching the same mycelium tendril.
The group makes their way into the Boston Museum, which has become overgrown. Joel thinks there will be no infected humans inside because the cordyceps outgrowths on the building are dry and long dead. Ellie tragically discovers a recently killed Firefly, though, signaling to the group that the infected humans are near.
Upstairs, the group encounters a pair of grotesque “clickers,” infected who have had flowering bodies of mushrooms split their skulls and replace their eyes. These monsters can’t see, but they have excellent hearing and use an irregular clicking pattern to echolocate their prey. A tense battle ensues and Joel and Tess manage to overpower the two creatures.
Ellie is bitten, again, but isn’t concerned. She’s immune to the infection, after all. Joel is still wary of her and worries that a second bite will surely cause her to turn. As the group makes their way to the State House, they discover that the Fireflies that were meant to meet them are already dead. One of them got infected, and a shootout claimed their lives.
Tess’s Last Stand
Tess reveals to Joel that she was bitten by a clicker in the museum. She has only minutes left before the infection takes hold, and offers to buy the group time as a horde of infected scurry toward their location. Those mycelium tendrils from earlier are fully in play, alerting the crowd of nearby infected that the human survivors are in the State House.
Tess is convinced that Ellie is the key to creating a cure for cordyceps, and manages to get Joel to agree to deliver her to the facility on the West Coast that the Fireflies planned on taking her to. As Joel and Ellie flee, Tess dumps barrels of gasoline and spreads grenades all over the State House floor.
As the infected pour in, Tess tries to spark up her lighter. It stubbornly refuses in a prolonged, sickening scene as an infected “stalker” bears down on her. It leans in for a “kiss,” its horrible fungal tendrils forcing their way into Tess’s mouth in an attempt to spread the infection. Tess’s lighter finally ignites and falls from her hand, engulfing the infected horde in a fireball. Joel and Ellie, rattled, flee Boston in search of the distant medical facility expecting her arrival.