The Last of Us – Episode 2 … click, click … aaaaargh!!

Prior to the episode truly kicking off, we get another flashback, this time to Indonesia. Here we find a professor specializing in fungus’ getting called in by the army. They inform her that in a local factory, a person just randomly and viciously attacked some coworkers. After they managed to contain the original person, they also captured the people attacked and in all cases, they became violent and needed to be put down.

They were looking to the scientist for a cure or a vaccine, but with fear in her face, she reiterated the statement made in Episode 1 … there is no cure or vaccine for this. The only option available is immolation and the bigger the bomb the better. We are taken back to a ruined Boston, which serves as an unsettling omen of the series’ current distressed circumstances. It’s truly effective and moving.

Episode 2 picks up with Joel and Tess standing guard over a sleeping Ellie. Now that they know she’s been infected by the Cordyceps virus, they need to figure out if she’s actually safe or not. Tess is definitely on the side of trusting fate here as she feels they (the human race) are due a win and is willing to get Ellie to the Fireflies – a rebel group who may be able to use her to find a cure for the virus.

This episode follows the threesome as they travel through Joel and Tess as they travel through the post-apocalyptic wasteland of downtown Boston. Last week, we received an exhilarating few seconds that showcased what post-apocalyptic Boston looks like outside the Quarantine Zone in “The Last of Us.” This time around, we are rewarded with a magnificent tour – and it’s simply amazing! It is no surprise why so many people love movies or TV shows about end times as there is something thrilling yet sinister when viewing our world distorted and reused. Along the way, we get a bit of a history lesson into how the infected hunt and even some of the different infected types. Although not essential to Joel and Ellie’s journey, it provides captivating details that are beneficial for newcomers who want to understand how the fungus works; yet, intriguing context for those already familiar with their mission.

Unfazed by the surrounding chaos, Bella Ramsey portrays Ellie with remarkable poise and wit. She’s dependable yet creative and constantly stands open to knowledge as she faces more of life’s harsh realities. This episode provides plenty of opportunities for us to get acquainted with Ellie, who we were first introduced to as a defiant and disgruntled prisoner. Even now she is still cheeky and teases Joel and Tess over their plague-related apprehensions by acting like an infected individual. But she also expresses her wit through clever little jokes that are sure to make you smile!

Told that their path to Beacon Hill can go “the long way” or “the ‘we’re dead’ way,” she replies, “I vote ‘long way,’ just based on that limited information.”

As she talks incessantly throughout their journey, the travelers quickly come to understand her life so far: days occupied in classes with other QZ kids, learning about a culture they have not experienced and using whatever free time she has for exploration of forbidden places. At this point in time, there aren’t many indicators that her bond with Joel is growing; he still views her merely as a means to get his brother Tommy who resides in Wyoming.

Click, click …. Aaaaargh!

In Boston – the bombing as we see it, worked. Well, at least it let the government build a safe zone of sorts (although we find that Ellie still got bitten). When the initial path that Joel and Tess were planning on using is found to be blocked by infected, they decide that they need to go through the museum to escape.

As Tess rightly states to Ellie, she may be immune from getting turned, but she’s not “… immune from being ripped apart.” From a bird’s eye view, the sight of an infested colony is overwhelming. Tess’ sobering explanation that they can function as one entity only heightens the fear and dread. However, the worst is yet to come.

When “the long way” proves inaccessible, the three of them attempt to stealthily enter an ancient museum. Unfortunately, doing so accidentally rouses a monster that has killed many amateur gamers over and over.

With their deformed fungal heads and mostly human-like bodies, Clickers are truly a ghastly sight to behold. The irony isn’t lost on us when they make their first appearance in the museum – an establishment meant for preserving our past now under siege by this new species. They haunt the halls like velociraptors from Jurassic Park, attacking with no warning once alerted.

Its relentless pursuit of our trio is so intense and terrifying that it proves to be one of the most suspenseful moments in The Last of Us thus far. Killing one of these beasts is not a simple task; they are fast and powerful, requiring both skill and great caution. Joel and Tess must think on their feet while Ellie is literally frozen with fear.

Eventually, the trio manage to outwit the clicker by using some of the environment around them, but not without a few close calls. The scene demonstrates how survival in this world requires quick thinking and someone who can keep their head when all else fail.

Bye, Bye Tess

The best of HBO is at play here as once again a character we’re only just coming to love, falls by the wayside. While perhaps not having the same depth of feeling we might have for Joel’s daughter, Tess is someone that lasted longer in the game and her early departure was unexpected.

Whille Ellie was bitten/swiped by the clickers, we already know she’s immune. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Tess.

As “Infected” draws to a close, sadness and hope occur simultaneously. The Fireflies headquarters is now no more than a graveyard of corpses when they arrive; Joel quickly understands the dilemma. This was not due to FEDRA’s doings, but rather in-fighting from those who succumbed to infection and subsequently began violently attacking each other. Although Joel wishes them back home immediately, Tess feels something tugging inside her–a nasty virus gnawing away at her insides literally!

Her sudden infection is a clear testament to the mysterious powers within Ellie; her most recent bite appears like nothing more than a simple scratch. Even though Joel remains skeptical, Tess implores him to bring her to their smuggler friends—Bill and Frank whom we will meet next week—and he finally agrees.

In a desperate attempt to save themselves, Joel and Ellie are forced to abandon Tess as the infected hoard advances. Despite her cries of protest, Ellie is dragged away by Joel who knows exactly what must be done in order for them all to survive. As they frantically flee, his gaze lingers on Tess’s silhouette one final time before he reluctantly turns his back; an image that will haunt him forevermore.

I need to give personal kudo’s to Anna Torv’s (Tess) performance here. While she knows she’s infected and going to die, her efforts to destroy as many of the others as possible were incredibly brave, and her sacrifice will be remembered. While trying to light the zippo so she could set the gas on fire, you could see the fear on her face as the infected approach her. In one of the nastiest scenes broadcast to TV in 2023, an infected creature managed to force the fibers of the fungus down her throat. However, she was ultimately able to get her lighter lit and detonated a hoard of infected specimens, concluding this episode with a memorable explosion.

Although we’ve only known her for a short time, the void of her absence will be profoundly felt – not just by us but also by Joel, whose grief is powerfully depicted in an impeccable performance from Torv and Pascal. Even though this scene doesn’t leave quite as lasting an impression because of our shortened acquaintance with this version of Tess, it’s no less devastating.

So long Tess, we’ll miss you! Your selfless act of courage won’t soon be forgotten. Until next week my friends…stay safe!

So what do we & don’t we now know?

  • Ellie is immune to the virus (yay!!)
  • Tess is dead
  • The virus DID originate in Indonesia as mentioned in the first episode
  • We DON’T know where it came from in the first place
  • We know there are at least 3 different types of infected
    • The fast Zombies
    • The Clickers
    • A 3rd version that shoots spores (we’ve yet to see)

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