The Last of Us episode 2 recap and review: Burning questions and Easter eggs

We review and recap the events of The Last of Us episode 2, Infected, which delves deeper into the origins of the outbreak and introduces the nightmare-inducing Clickers.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 24 January 2023 - 2.50pm
Anna Torv and Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us

If the first episode of The Last of Us shocked us by defying the traditions of underwhelming video game adaptations, episode 2 quickly got us up to speed with the horrors and tragedy of this apocalyptic story.

The Last of Us TV series isn't going to cushion the brutal blows and crushing heartbreak of the game for us softies watching the story unfold on TV.

Episode 2, Infected, delved into the origins of the cordyceps outbreak and also delivered an explosive and terrifying early exit for one character we'd only just started to love.

Here are five talking points from The Last of Us episode 2, Infected...

1. The Jakarta flashback

In a similar fashion to episode 1, the show used the cold open to delve a little deeper into the origins and backstory of the pandemic.

In 2003, we watch as mycologist Ibu Ratna (Christine Hakim), Indonesia’s number one expert in fungi, discovers the horrifying truth about what is unfolding with the infection.

The series sprinkles in some little details about the cause of the outbreak and its spread through a factory producing baking flour – suddenly the cookies from episode 1 and Joel’s throwaway comment about being on the Atkins diet take on a different meaning.

It also captures the worldwide scale and impossibility of preventing the apocalyptic events as Ibu reveals the only solution to containing the spread is horrific and almost unthinkable – bombs.

Her words foreshadow the rest of the episode where Joel, Ellie and Tess begin to make their way through the bombed wreckage of Boston. They also help flesh out the complete lack of hope Joel has in these early episodes. When the only answer from scientists is to bomb your own people, hope is going to be in thin supply.

2. Farewell Anna Torv

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey will inevitably get the limelight and attention when The Last of Us concludes, but shouldn't let Anna Torv’s performance as Tess go unforgotten.

We didn't get long with her, but she managed to create a battle-hardened character, who still managed to retain a sense of hope and soul.

In the official HBO podcast, creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann reveal that they fleshed out a full backstory for Tess where she had a husband and kid who got infected. In their backstory, Tess was able to shoot her husband, but not her child – instead locking him in their basement.

Talking about Tess's response to Ellie, the creators suggest that she is reverting to "mother mode" and point out that her bravery in this episode is to "dare to hope".

3. Oh god. The Clickers

If you managed to get through episode 1 and thought, 'Oh The Last of Us wasn't that scary', episode 2 wants to come and have a word.

The arrival of the much-anticipated Clickers delivered some truly horrific jump-scares, but more importantly managed to capture that same sense of dread and chill as Joel, Tess and Ellie crept their way around the fungi-filled museum.

Beautifully choreographed to match up with the gameplay, the Clickers didn't disappoint. Those echoing sound effects will give us nightmares for weeks.

4. Seriously, oh my god - That kiss

In a clever bit of symmetry with the opening scenes in Jakarta where the scientists were probing the corpse's mouth, Anna Torv bowed out with the most disgusting and disturbing kiss sequence that has ever aired on TV.

Gross, disturbing, nightmare-inducing – Tess's smooch with an infected had us reaching for the sick bucket. In a smart bit of filming, the whole sequence was shot in the traditional way you would film a romantic clinch, zooming in for the tender close-up.

It can only be a matter of time before someone starts sharing versions of the scene with romantic music dubbed over the top.

5. Why the The Last of Us actors were told not to play the game

The show's creators have spoken frequently about the fact they asked all the main cast to avoid playing The Last of Us game if possible.

Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann said that everything the cast needed to know was "on the page" and wanted the performances to come "from the inside out", rather than mimicry.

Speaking on the show’s official podcast, the duo cited Pedro Pascal's performance as Joel discovers Tess has been biten as an example of why they operated in this way.

"People asked 'why did you tell the actors not to play the game?'. And it’s for moments like this. This moment isn't in the game," they said.

"The really good screen actors have an incredible sense of where they are in the frame and how close the camera is and how subtle they need to be. Because the littlest things will get picked up.

"There is a moment near the end of this episode where Tess reveals she’s infected and he says 'show me'. She steps forward and he flinches."

The duo said that they loved this acting from Pascal, because it dented the heroism of the character and showed his vulnerability.

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