Last week on The Last of Us, we were introduced to Joel and Ellie as they set out on their journey to deliver Ellie to the Fireflies and we learned that Ellie is infected. Read on to find out what happened this week!
Jakarta, Indonesia, Two Days Before Outbreak
It’s September 24, 2003 and we’re taken back to Jakarta, Indonesia, a location notably mentioned in the pilot during the Millers’ breakfast. A professor of mycology (fungi), Ibu Ratna, is brought to a local hospital by the police where she is asked to identify a specimen. It’s ophiocordyceps. After stating the sample cannot possibly be from a human — Cordyceps can’t live in humans — she’s taken to the morgue to inspect the body it came from.
Donned in a HAZMAT suit, she finds a human bite mark on the woman’s lower leg, and she cuts through the skin to find not flesh, but blooms of fungus. Upon inspection of her mouth, Dr. Ratna pulls a collection of still-twitching tendrils from her throat (and I gagged and thanked my lucky stars I was no longer eating my dinner).
The victim, a worker at a flour and grain plant, had been an ordinary woman 30 hours prior before suddenly becoming violent and was killed by police. The three coworkers she bit in her outburst also needed to be executed within hours. The person who bit her is unknown and 14 other employees are missing. The officer begs her for a vaccine or a medicine, and Dr. Ratna informs them there is none. Her solution? Bomb the city.
Joel and Tess are ready for answers after Ellie wakes up the following morning, as Ellie runs off to use the bathroom (with a magazine for toilet paper) Joel doesn’t care she still hasn’t turned, he thinks it’s going to happen eventually. He wants to take her back into the QZ and find another way to get a battery but Tess knows this is their best shot and that Ellie would be killed immediately.
Tess threatens Ellie enough to have Ellie spilling the truth about her situation, Marlene is sending her to a Firefly group out west to help them find a cure. Joel has heard this story a million times before but it doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, if they get Ellie to the Fireflies they get what they want.
The trio heads out into the city to complete the job, Ellie finding a crater from a bomb that hit Boston. Clearly, Jakarta wasn’t the only city that utilized this method to try and slow the spread. The 10-minute walk to the statehouse is blocked, leaving the options to be the long way or the really effing dead way. Ellie recounts to Tess how she got bit, in the old mall in the QZ that no one is allowed to be in, and when Tess asks if she was alone Ellie responds yes.
As they walk along, Ellie is surprised the stories of hordes of infected in the city aren’t true, the people with their heads split open and see in the dark like bats seem like a myth now. But right on cue a screech is heard from the distance. And it definitely didn’t sound like a bird.
In a scene that will sound oddly familiar to those who played through the Pittsburgh chapter, Ellie, Tess, and Joel wade through the lobby of an abandoned hotel where Ellie discloses she can’t swim, but thankfully this water is only knee deep.
The way is blocked again and Joel boosts Tess up through the rubble so she can try and clear a path. Joel and Ellie attempt small talk and fail, Joel unwilling to say anything beyond he’s from Texas and was at some point in Detroit. She asks Joel how long the infected live for, and he tells her most live one or two years, but some have been walking around for about 20 years.
She continues and asks if he’s ever killed one — he’s killed many — and when she asks if it was hard to kill them knowing they were people once Joel responds with sometimes. When she asks about the guard from last night, Joel is saved from having to answer that one by Tess getting a door open and finding them a way out.
Thankfully they’re on the 10th floor because a horde of infected lies below on the ground. With the replacement of the game’s spores with tendrils, we get an explanation here of how it works. The Cordyceps grows underground and has what serves as wires stretching beneath the Earth for miles sometimes, with one step on a patch of Cordyceps you can wake an entire horde and alert them to your location. While Ellie may be immune to infection, she isn’t immune to being torn to pieces.
The Boston Museum
Ah yes, a place I’m very familiar with. At least here we arrive in the daytime. Joel tests a web of tendrils and finds it bone dry, his hope is that all the infected inside died along with it. He’s quickly proven wrong when Ellie finds a very fresh dead body not far from the entrance. From here on out, they travel silently. No questions, no exceptions.
As they make their way through, the ceiling collapses as they enter a room on the second floor, effectively trapping them as the oh-so-familiar song of a clicker rings out. And there they are, lumbering along with their mushroom heads. Thankfully they can’t see, so the three hide behind a glass case and hope for the best.
It doesn’t work, and Joel and Tess engage and the three get separated. Joel, in a tactic that made my game-loving heart sing, distracts the clicker on his tail by breaking glass, taking advantage of the fact the clickers can only hear, and hides to reload his revolver. He finds Ellie as our fungi friend still stalks around until Joel steps on some glass (we’ve all been there, man) and he’s forced to kill it. Another runs out at them, attracted by the gunfire, and Tess appears and plants a hatchet right in its sprouting head.
Ellie was bit again, but Tess and Joel press forward, Ellie crossing the plank as she does in the iconic scene from the game, with an almost exact recreation of the cinematic following. Tess is notably shorter and tense with Joel as he tries to wrap her twisted ankle, but the three continue on.
Bad news, there are no Fireflies at the statehouse. They’ve all been killed, one was infected and they all took each other out. Tess is frantic, searching for a map, anything. Joel insists they’re going home, but Tess says she’s staying. She’s been bitten. This is the end of the line for her.
She compares her wound to Ellie’s, which is already starting to heal, leaving Joel no choice but to believe that Ellie’s immunity is true. She begs Joel to get Ellie to Bill and Frank’s, reminds him that she’s never asked him to do anything for her, not even to reciprocate whatever feelings she felt, and when an infected roars to life and Joel kills it, unfortunately, it activates whatever tendril web is surrounding them. The other bodies that had appeared to be dead come to life and the entire horde they saw from the hotel is on their way.
Tess opts to set off an explosion with her inside, ensuring Ellie and Joel have a safe escape.
Episode 3 of The Last of Us premieres next Sunday, January 29 exclusively on HBO and HBO Max.