The Last of Us TV series has been off to a flying start, smashing ratings records and receiving rave reviews from fans. Episode 2 continues that trend with a tense and action-packed episode that feels like it’s been ripped straight from The Last of Us video game.
Here’s a recap of The Last of Us episode 2 ‘Infected’ and a guide to all its hidden easter eggs.
This article contains full spoilers for The Last of Us TV show. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch episodes 1 & 2 over on Binge now.
The Last of Us episode 2: Plot recap
Jakarta, Indonesia, September 24th 2003. Ibu Ratna, a professor of mycology, is shown a sample, which she determines is ophiocordyceps, a fungus that cannot survive in humans.
Protected by a hazmat suit, the professor inspects the human corpse from which the sample was taken, pulling from its throat a handful of fungal tendrils. They’re alive.
Haunted by what they’ve seen, the soldier asks Ratna how they should deal with this infection, which has already spread to fourteen other people (that they know of).
“Start bombing,” she tells them.
Ellie (Bella Ramsey) is being watched by a wary Tess (Anna Torv) and Joel (Pedro Pascal). Ellie is sure she’s not infected, showing her healed bite mark as proof.
Alone, Tess and Joel grapple with the concept that Ellie may be immune; it seems impossible. Tess tries to figure out from Ellie just why she’s so important. They want to know whether the person they’re smuggling is worth it. Ellie reveals there’s a Firefly camp out west with doctors working on a cure. Joel is sceptical about this, but Tess figures they may as well finish the job and get their supplies.
So, the trio pack up their stuff and exit into the post-apocalyptic streets, and we’re treated to another shot of those ominous collapsed Boston skyscrapers.
As they walk through the rubble, Tess explains to Ellie how most of the larger cities were bombed in the early days to curb the outbreak. Presumably, they followed Professor Ratna’s instructions.
Ellie then reveals a bit of history about herself, telling them she’s an orphan with no other friends or family, and that she was bitten when she snuck into an abandoned mall.
Ellie appears quite nervous about the infected showing up and wonders whether the rumours about the cities being overrun are true. Tess and Joel dismiss her concerns, but an animalistic screech echoing through the streets says otherwise.
Moving on quickly, the group are forced to wade through a flooded hotel. Ellie finds entertainment in imagining herself as a hotel guest in the lobby.
“You’re a weird kid,” Joel observes. “You’re a weird kid,” Ellie retorts. Gottem.
Their usual route through the hotel is blocked, so Tess volunteers to climb through the rubble and unlock the door for them.
Left to their own devices, Ellie decides to ask Joel some personal questions. She starts simple, learning that he’s from Texas, before he shuts down her questioning. Their dynamic is seriously so good.
Ellie switches to asking about the infected instead. Joel tells her they can last upwards of 20 years and that he’s killed plenty of them. She asks him if killing infected is hard. “Sometimes,” he says. “What about that guy last night?” Ellie asks, referring to the FEDRA soldier Joel beat to death. Tess returns, saving him from answering.
They continue on through the hotel, eventually finding a vantage point with a view of the Boston State House.
From high above, they see what they’re up against – a writhing mass of infected are on the street. As they watch, something like a ripple goes through the group. Tess explains that long fibres of the cordyceps fungus grow underground, connecting the infected like a hive mind.
With their optimal path blocked by zombies, they’re forced to go through the museum. Cue anyone who has played the game to shudder.
The dried tendrils outside the museum suggest the infected inside may be dead, so they decide to risk it. Tess warns Ellie to stay behind them if they come up against anything, but they still won’t arm her with a gun to protect herself.
Inside the museum, they find a lot of dead cordyceps, but a fresh corpse. Joel and Tess are suddenly adamant that they all stay completely silent, and it’s not long before we find out why.
Creeping through the museum by flashlight, a ceiling unexpectedly collapses. Drawn to the sound is a clicker. These are infected humans that are so far gone they’re blind from the cordyceps growing out of their brains and are guided by a keen sense of echolocation.
The group sneak away from the clicker as stealthily as possible, but one loud breath causes it to turn on them. Joel shoots, drawing another clicker to the room, and they’re forced to run.
Joel, Tess and Ellie become separated with the clickers now hunting them in the dark.
Joel crunches on a piece of glass and the clickers are on them. He manages to kill one by completely emptying his pistol clip. Another one gets an axe to the head from Tess, who arrives just in time, but it still needs a couple of rifle shots before it finally goes down. Just like in the game, these things are tough to kill.
During the scuffle, Ellie has been bitten again, but if it had to be one of them, at least it was her.
On the roof, they take a minute to regroup and patch their wounds. Joel is growing tired of risking his life for this girl, but Tess is sick of Joel’s pessimistic attitude. He goes to check on Ellie who is admiring the sunset over Boston.
Finally, they reach the State House and there are no Fireflies to be found. They check inside and find a number of fresh bodies. Joel surmises that one of them turned and killed the rest.
Tess becomes panicked, desperately trying to figure out where to take Ellie next. Joel has had enough, demanding they call this mission quits, and that’s when Tess drops a truth bomb; she’s been infected.
She compares her bite with Ellie’s and the difference is huge. Ellie’s immunity is definitely real, and Tess needs Joel to accept that. Saving Ellie will help them repent for their past.
One of the bodies in the room suddenly comes to life again. When Joel shoots it, we see the tendril concept in action. The mass of infected in the street are suddenly activating, swarming towards the State House.
They have maybe a minute before they’re overrun. Tess gets to work pouring gasoline all over the room, securing the way for Joel and Ellie to escape.
“Save who you can save,” Tess tells Joel, before he grabs Ellie and runs.
The infected burst into the room as Tess frantically tries to get a spark out of her lighter. One zombie notices Tess; it approaches her and sticks its mouth tendrils down her throat. Yeah, it’s as gross as it sounds.
At the last minute, she manages to strike a flame, and the State House explodes.
This entire episode basically feels like an easter egg, given how closely it follows the game, but here are some specific things we noticed:
- The TV series is continuing to expand on the lore of the game in smart ways with its flashbacks. This week’s opening confirmed for the first time exactly how the cordyceps fungus began, with the scientists pointing to one of the first infections occurring in a flour and grain facility in Indonesia.
- A major change from the game that has become slightly controversial is the removal of spores. In the game, this required characters to wear gas masks whenever they entered an infected zone, but the series has instead switched to using ‘tendrils’ as an added layer of lore. Episode 2 showed this idea in action, and it manages to add an extra level of danger to the infected.
- While Tess was always killed off early in the game, the manner in which she dies in the show differs. In the game, Tess is killed by FEDRA soldiers as they swarm the State House, but here we see her taken out by the infected instead.
- This episode was directed by Neil Druckmann, the creator of The Last of Us games. It makes sense, then, that this episode pays tribute to so many of the gameplay aspects from its source material. Things like wedging open doors, wading through flooded buildings, crossing planks and hiding from clickers are all things players are very familiar with that were translated into the show this episode.
The Last of Us episode 2: Verdict
‘Infected’ felt even more like the video game than the premiere, which will no doubt make fans happy, but somehow it still manages to deepen its character relationships, expand its apocalyptic world and bring white-knuckle tension to the screen in a way that feels right for television.
With this episode, The Last of Us continues to prove it is one of the smartest video game adaptations out there.
Stream The Last of Us on Binge.
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