Excitement Rises as Episode Two of “The Last of Us” Brings Even More Surprises and Scares
Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly
By Luke Weidenkopf
After the tantalizing opening of episode one, this week’s episode, “Infected,” begins in Indonesia in 2003, before the apocalypse. It opens with Professor Ibu Ranta (Christine Hakim), being taken by the Indonesian government to examine cordyceps, an invasive fungi . She first studies a sample of cordyceps with human cells, and then examines a dead, infected human being. She first props open the bite mark and sees some sort of fungi lodged underneath the skin. Then she moves to observe the mouth of the dead patient, opens it, and a fungi-like substance begins to grow out of their mouth. She immediately runs out. Then Ranta is placed before a general. He asks her what they should do. She gravely responds, “Bomb.”
The show then pans back to modern time with Joel (Pedro Pascal), Ellie (Bella Ramsey), and Tess (Anna Torv) trying to make it to the City Town Hall, so that they can exchange Ellie for the new battery. Joel and Tess wait to see if the bite has any effect on Ellie but nothing happens. Ellie tells them that she is the possible key to a vaccine or cure. Tess believes that she could be the cure but Joel does not believe it or her.
The two easiest routes to the city hall are overrun with Infected, so they go with a third option, the museum. While walking through, they discover a human who had just died, whose wounds reflect that he was killed by something far worse and more dangerous than a zombie. While entering the third floor of the museum they hear a click and turn to face a Clicker, an evolved zombie that cannot see and only hears. They have to kill both and narrowly make it out with their lives.
As they continue to move forward, Tess explains to Ellie that the zombies and Cordyceps work as a hive mind, stepping on the fungus in one place alerts all Infected nearby of your presence.
They are able to make it to the town hall but discover that all of the Fireflies are dead, having killed themselves in a firefight because one of the members was bitten.
Joel and Tess have an argument about what to do next when Ellie points out that Tess was bitten. Before they can decide what to do a zombie suddenly appears causing Joel to shoot him, alerting all nearby zombies of their location.
They have less than a minute before they are overrun And it isn’t long before Tess decides to sacrifice herself, telling Joel to “Save who [he] can.” Coming to a decision, he grabs Ellie and runs leaving Tess behind as the audience watches her pour out gasoline and grenades and attempt to light her cigarette lighter but it won’t catch flame. A zombie approaches her as she finally gets it to light, throwing it on the ground and destroying everything in the town hall. The episode closes with the camera zoning out as Ellie watches the burning building.
Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey turned in amazing performances in this second episode as Pascal is able to keep this stoic yet heartwrenching appearance. Every time the camera pans to his face, you can track all the emotions that he is going through. His trademarked stare, which he received notoriety for in The Mandalorian (2019 -), is in full effect in The Last of Us.
Ramsey is also turning in a star-making performance as the bratty, courageous teen game players all know and love. Their dynamic and chemistry is essential to the success of the show and early reports show that they should have no problem carrying this series forward.
The other magnificent part of the show is the set design and overall creativity, which you can see especially in this episode. The production value is extremely high and it seems that every dollar was spent making the show feel and look as lived in and realistic as possible. Every scene takes place in an unforgettable and vivid location. Much of this onscreen success must be attributed to executive producer, Carolyn Strauss. Strauss is most well known for creating the hit limited series Chernobyl (2019)and his work on Game of Thrones (2011-2019).
Episode two of The Last of Us featured all the scares, heart, and emotion needed to carry the show. The only question is, can next week get even better?