Caution!!! The article contains spoilers about the second episode of The Last Of Us.
Based on the critically acclaimed video game of the same name, The Last of Us is all about the relationship between the survivor Joel Miller (Peter Pascal) and the fourteen year old Ellie (Bella Ramsey) spanning the post-apocalyptic United States.
The second episode aired (available in Italy on Sky and the Now TV streaming platform) meant that gamers could finally see the new changes made by the two showrunners, Neil Druckman e Craig Mazin, to the television series. Changes that have been much discussed and which, initially, were not welcomed.
Druckmann and Mazin explained the final scene starring Tess
In a recent interview with Variety, the two showrunners explained that disgusting kiss that took place at the end of the second episode. During the development of the show, Mature he built on what the game had established regarding the nature of the infected and wanted to expand on the science behind the spread and behavior of hosts, asking himself “Why are the infected violent?“.
This has led to non-violent interaction between Tess and the infected, what Druckmann describes as “the edge of horror“:
“Mature: We were doing some early research on what the mushroom looks like in real life, and we had a really good model for what it looked like in the game. We wanted to go further and say, “Okay, what are the different shapes and functions?” I found a picture created by an artist that depicted a person who was swallowed by the mushroom and there were tentacles in his mouth. We were already talking about it and asking ourselves these philosophical questions: “Why are infected people violent? If the aim is to spread the fungus, why do they have to be violent?”. We realized that this is not the case. They are violent because we resist, but what if you don’t? What would it be like if you stood perfectly still and let them do this to you? Then we landed on this fuel. It’s creepy and violent. I think it’s very primal in the way it invades your body. To use an overused word, it’s triggering. It’s remarkable the combination of Neil’s direction, Anna Torv’s acting, and our visual effects department who did an amazing job to make it all come together and feel real and terrible.“
“Druckmann: Partly it was the detour from the game, where Tess is killed by soldiers. We had a long conversation about what was more thematically appropriate for this episode, which is called “Infected” and is about the threat of the outside. We left the quarantine zone and that led us to this other version where she gives Joel and Ellie a chance to escape by blowing up a bunch of infected. Because we are cruel to the characters we love so much, it seemed like she knew she was doomed, but then the lighter fails and we drive her to the edge of horror before finally giving her a way out.”
The initial inspiration of Druckmann for the award-winning video game The Last of Us it came to him while watching a segment of the popular BBC documentary, Planet Earth, in which insects are infected by Cordyceps fungi that change their behavior. In the series, a mutation of the fungus causes humans to survive, turning them into murderous creatures motivated only to spread the infection by any means necessary. Depending on the duration of the presence of the fungus in the body, there are different grotesque stages of the infection.
In the original video game, Cordyceps can be transmitted through the bite of a living infected person or by spores spawned from a deceased infected host.
However, the show eliminated spores as the dominant transmission route and included mycelium tendrils as another way to transmit the infection. The tendrils start from the host’s mouth, but also sprout from other parts of the body to form a vast network that extends deep into the soil of an infected area. When one of the mushroom’s branches is disturbed, all nearby infected are alerted. With the continuation of The Last of Usaudiences will see how HBO’s changes to the Cordyceps mushroom will affect Joel ed Ellie on their harrowing journey.