Review: ‘The Last of Us’ Episode 2 – “Infected”

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HBO’s series premiere of The Last of Us is now the second biggest debut in more than a decade, since the release of Boardwalk Empire in 2010. The premiere episode was a great introduction to the characters and world of TLOU, receiving positive reviews from both fans and critics alike. But is the second episode better than the first? Let’s explore what  The Last of Us episode 2, titled “Infected”, has in store for viewers.

[Warning: Light spoilers for HBO’s The Last of Us episode 2 and The Last of Us game are below!]

Flashbacks expand the story in The Last of Us episode 2

Flashbacks seem to be an integral part of the series, which weren’t present in the game version of The Last of Us, showing what the world was like before Day 0. Viewers see the behavior of scientists, the military, or even ordinary people when they found out about the virus outbreak. In this episode, we see a scientist in Indonesia reacting to the discovery of one dead body that’s been infected with the fungus.

The dead woman’s body, which the scientists inspected, shows a bite injury with developed fungus flesh underneath, which she thought was impossible. Checking the deceased patient’s mouth, she finds fungi there that tried to infect her as well. After leaving the room, the scientist suggests that the only way to stop this is to bomb the entire city and hope that will be enough. We can see fear in her eyes because she knows what will happen next and wants to spend the last moments of her life with her immediate family because there is no cure and nothing can stop it.

As in the first episode, we see a pre-zombie world showing exactly how the whole virus broke out and the plan to defeat it. As we know, there was little they could do except burn bodies and isolate cities by turning them into fortresses.

I hope we’ll see more flashbacks because they do an excellent job of showing viewers who have never played the game what Day 0 was like. As well, this allows fans of the game to discover something new that they haven’t seen before.

So far we’ve learned about the origin of the fungal virus that turned people into zombies, the events of Day 0, the post-apocalyptic rules, and learning that there is no cure. But there’s still plenty to talk about in future episodes.

TLOU’s second episode “Infected” is shorter but it’s for the better

The second episode, titled “Infected”, is about 40 minutes shorter than the premiere, which was almost an hour and a half. We last saw Joel (Pedro Pascal), Ellie (Bella Ramsey), and Tess (Anna Torv) heading to two collapsed skyscrapers in the middle of Boston, Massachusetts, during a rainy night. Now it’s another day, and compared to the game, the developers decided to skip the entire sequence inside the skyscrapers that introduced us to the very dangerous and violent Clickers.

Instead, we have an explanation of what happened to the city, how it was bombed, and how people are still trying to move through the city to safe points. But as they do so, they’re turned into zombies. Fortunately, the hotel sequence, which showed a bonding scene between Joel, Ellie, and Tess acting like a “mother figure,” stayed in the show. 

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Joel & Ellie in episode 2 of The Last of Us (HBO/Warner Bros. Discovery)

After finding a bunch of zombies, both players and casual viewers learn something new about them, namely that there are no spores in this world (at least for now), and that the fungus thrives through the soil and zombies. Although there was a sizable element of the game where players had to wear gas masks, from the developers’ point of view, this is something that was a big challenge to explain, so they chose a different way.

In an interview with Comicbook, Craig Mazin co-creator of the series said:

“In the game, there are these where you encounter spores, and you need to put a gas mask on. In the world that we’re creating, if we put spores in the air, it would be pretty clear that they would spread around everywhere and everybody would have to wear a mask all the time and probably everybody would be completely infected by that point. (…)

We challenged ourselves to come up with an interesting new way for the fungus to spread, but mostly I think we just connected with the soul and spirit of the game. We were caretakers on behalf of all the fans but also on behalf of all the people who haven’t played the game who need a television experience that is holistic and connected to itself and doesn’t feel like you need to play a game to understand.” (via Comicbook)

This quote indicates that Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann know what they are doing, adapting their script ideas from a game to a live-action series and not the other way around.

Intense ending that fills the plot holes in The Last of Us game

There is an intense sequence in a museum, which introduces viewers to the very dangerous Clickers, which are basically blind zombies who have very good hearing, are incredibly fast, and horridly brutal. I won’t spoil too much, as this review contains light spoilers, but the ending of this episode is a great development on the events of the game.

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The Last of Us episode 2 behind-the-scenes promotional photo (HBO/Warner Bros. Discovery)

We see how some zombies infect people without biting them, and how as soon as the fungus senses the presence of a live one. It sends a signal to all zombies with the exact place where they should be. In the game, that scene at the end was cut and we didn’t see what happened next. We can assume they may do something similar in future episodes to fill in the blanks of the game.

So far, these two episodes of The Last of Us work well as a great introduction for viewers unfamiliar with the source material and a great product that expands the story from the game. The upcoming episodes will be full of emotional scenes and story arcs, and should be a fantastic adaptation of the game, honoring its legacy while adding new things to match it.

The first two The Last of Us episodes are available on HBO and HBO Max, with new episodes arriving weekly. Did you like it? Let us know on Twitter and our Discord channel. And if you haven’t already, check out our review from the premiere episode!

Review: HBO’s The Last of Us Premiere

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Big fan of all sorts of pop culture stuff. I also enjoy ambitious cinema. Games, music and graphics are all within my interests. I have a great fondness for the Arrowverse series, especially The Flash.
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