On Sunday, we got our second episode of HBO Max’s The Last of Us. If you look back at my review of Episode 1, I spoke to the amazing lore building and set up for the series that occurred. Episode 2 briefly continues this with a flashback to the very beginning of the outbreak in Indonesia.
How It All Began
There are slight spoilers of the opening scene ahead. This episode opens with another flashback to the very beginning of the fungal outbreak in Jakarta. We begin in a laboratory with a doctor who specializes in fungus from the University of Indonesia. She is asked to take a look at a specimen that turns out to be one of the very first infected. This is where it gets scary. It began in a grain factory where the perfect substrate for the mutated cordyceps laid the groundwork for the spread. The fungus mutates to survive in higher temperatures due to increased global temperature. In turn this allows for it to survive in the human body. All of this together equals apocalypse.
The reason this scene hits so hard is the visible feeling of doom in the doctor’s eyes and mannerisms when she discovers that multiple employees of the grain factory have gone missing. It was an immediate sense of realization that the end was coming and there was nothing that could be done to stop it. If I’m being honest, it was the very first time that I felt a sincere sense of dread watching a piece of fiction.
Amazing Casting Choice
After the prologue we pick back up with Joel, Ellie, and Tess trying to transport Ellie to the Fireflies at a rendezvous outside of the Quarantine Zone in Boston. I will be avoiding spoilers from this point forward. I would, however, like to speak to how absolutely perfect Bella Ramsey is as Ellie. We didn’t get to see too much of her in episode one, due to a big portion taking place in the beginning of the outbreak. For those who haven’t played the games, Ellie is a foul-mouthed loner of a teenager. She was born in this post-apocalyptic wasteland and has the grit to prove it. Bella Ramsey was immediately accepted as Ellie, due to her amazing performance as the confident, and somewhat arrogant, Lyanna Mormont in Game of Thrones. We’re two episodes in and she certainly fits the bill for this character. Her ability to encapsulate this character’s angst, rage, and raw emotion has been a huge highlight of the show thus far.
The First Look at The Infected
We also finally get our first look at what the infected are like in hordes in this episode. It is an absolute nightmare of a scenario when you realize that fungus acts as somewhat of a hivemind when all of the roots are connected. Imagine a zombie apocalypse but with trip-mines and alarm systems for the zombies. The dread building continues through this week’s episode due to a combination of amazing sound design and slow pacing when encountering danger. The payoff in this particular episode is also fantastic. I don’t want to go into details, but it definitely ends in a bang.
The first two episodes of The Last of Us are available to stream on HBO Max.
Side Note: Google “The Last of Us” and click the mushroom!