The Last Of Us – Episode 02 – Infected Review

The Last Of Us - Episode 02 - Infected Review

*It’s rare that we at Player 2 cover anything that isn’t in the video game realm, but with it’s roots firmly in gaming, and the prestigious talent involved in it, HBO’s adaptation of The Last Of Us is an incredibly fascinating project. So join us, each week as we dissect the newly released episode, from the series’ first to its last.*

The first 80 minutes of The Last Of Us, the series’ premiere completely allayed any fears that I had about this adaptation of one of my favourite games of all time. It seems as though the rest of the world is of the same mind as well, with millions tuning in on levels that were only exceeded by the premiere of the Game Of Thrones spin-off, House Of The Dragon, and the internet ablaze with positive sentiments. What has been one of the most exciting elements has of course been the overwhelmingly positive reception that the first episode has received from developers at Naughty Dog themselves, but episode 02 is a pivotal point for the show – can it maintain the rage given the enormous narrative beats that it was striking with the first episode? Thankfully, it turns out that the next 50 minutes were nearly as enthralling as those that came before. 

The conclusion of Episode 01 left all viewers with a cliffhanger. Ellie has been outed as having been bitten, but of course, there’s no sign of infection, and both the healing of the wound as well as her own word suggest that she is somehow immune. This places everything that Tess and Joel had known about the world so far into question, but before that, a flashback. Similar to the prior episode, “Infected” takes us to a time before the outbreak, to Jakarta specifically, a location that was referenced during the premiere, and you loosely heard discussed as a key point where the outbreak took hold – well now we learn a bit about what happened. The distressing opener shows how a woman, a fungal expert is summoned to examine a corpse, one that we quickly learn was bitten by an infected, we learn that she, as well as three others that she proceeded to bite after succumbing to the virus, have all been shot, but the source of the infection has not been found. The doctor, mortified by the scenario and understanding of how a cordyceps fungus can spread quickly comes to a conclusion that we then see evidence was implemented in the US as well – bomb Jakarta, it might be the only way to contain and kill the infection – but of course, we know that didn’t work. 

Joel and Tess might be grappling with what Ellie could possibly be for humanity, but they can’t afford to linger with the numerous threats, both human and infected that the world now presents, and so their journey to meet the Fireflies and exchange Ellie for a car battery resumes. While there are numerous exchanges between numerous permutations of the three, each incredibly engaging, often a product of Ellie’s young, curious mind, the interactions aren’t the focus of the episode. Where “Infected” places its focus is upon the infected themselves, presenting the viewer with a sea of infected, as well as introduces us to Clickers for the first time. The gamers will of course be familiar with the Clicker, but for new fans, Ellie serves as the vessel for learning all that you need to know. Having begun to scale a the stairs of a museum, the level above collapses, engaging a pair of Clickers who tear into the room. Joel non-verbally conveys to a panicked Ellie that they’re blind but have hyper-sensitive hearing, but as we know, once they’ve identified their target, they move at lightning speed, something that creates incredibly tense moments both in-game, but also throughout the coming sequence. Naturally, the environment that they’re in isn’t conducive to silence and so several noises are made that activate the Clickers and prompt a desperate fight for survival, and several well-considered actions distract their blind pursuers. 

Not only do we learn about the Clickers and what they can do, but this episode actually provides viewers, regardless of their familiarity with the game, a new piece of information, about how the cordyceps work themselves. According to Joel and Tess, the growths allow hordes of infected to be connected, and so, with one agitated, the rest of the horde will come running. But dry, broken-up cordyceps are also a sign of no infected activity in an area, prompting the climb through the museum.

The encounter with the Clickers doesn’t end well though, Ellie is bitten again (although there’s no effect) and Tess “rolls her ankle.” They manage to escape however leading to a brilliant recreation of one of the game’s most subtle, peaceful moments, Ellie absorbing the hauntingly beautiful look of an overgrown and reclaimed by nature Boston – no matter the medium you “can’t deny that view.”

As the trio arrives at where they’re supposed to meet the Fireflies, it’s immediately apparent that things haven’t worked out well for those who were once there. Dead, but quite fresh bodies litter the area, but not only is the lack of car battery a problem, but Tess comes clean, admitting that she was bitten and infected in her struggles against the Clickers, and after one infected emerges, gets killed but in doing so engages the outside horde, Tess realises that this is her final stand and consequential moment of sacrifice. As the horde runs to the library, Tess soaks the floor in petrol, and grenades, and attempts to light it up. After many failures, she is grabbed by an infected and we see it disgustingly pass the cordyceps into Tess, right through her mouth, but not fast enough to stop her from finally igniting her lighter, and blowing the building sky high. Joel and Ellie, who had already escaped witness Tess’ final stand from afar, before trudging off to find Bill and Frank bringing about the end of the episode. 

While the episode isn’t as long as its predecessor, nor does it cover as much subject matter, it was an incredibly important pillar in highlighting to the viewer the immense threat of the virus, and what it does to those who’ve been infected. For fans old and new, there were new pieces of information here, aspects that only served to expand the world that the game established. Interestingly though now, after two episodes, Joel and Tess have both walked past infected and have not reached for a respiratory mask, nor expressed any concern about the spores that are an integral part of the game’s world. The spores floating in the air can infect anyone without a mask on, but they’re not shown in the TV series for reasons that are not yet clear.

We’re nearly a quarter of the way into the series thus far, and while Episode 02 doesn’t pack the same level of narrative punch of its predecessor, it’s a fascinating piece of world-building, and sets the stage for the core partnership that underpins the game, that of Joel and Ellie, alone, fighting for survival.

The Last of Us is available to stream now on BINGE, with new episodes every Monday. This episode was reviewed with early access kindly provided by BINGE.

Have you seen our Merch Store?

Check out our Most Recent Video

Find us on Metacritic

Check out our Most Recent Posts