My Thoughts On The Last Of Us TV Show - Episode 2 & 3
Infection of the body and heart.
No one expected that episode 1 of HBO’s The Last of Us TV show would be so good. And luckily for us fans, it was not a fluke. Episode 2 (Infected) and 3 (Long, Long Time) are both exceptional pieces of television. It’s safe to say this is one hell of a show.
Episode 2 continues from the events of the first episode, following Joel, Tess, and Eliie as they make their way to the Firefly’s pickup point in Boston. Just like episode 1, the pre-title card scenes are bone chilling.
It shows the origins of the cordyceps virus in Jakarta through the eyes of mycologist Dr Ibu Batna, who is called in by the military to advise on how to quell the outbreak. While examining a deceased host of the fungus, she is petrified to see the fungus still alive inside. Dr Batna races out of the room. When she is asked what the military should do, she replies with a single word, “bombs”.
This opening perfectly conveys the threat the cordyceps infection posed to humanity. It is by far scarier than the actual zombies shown later in the episode, and really made me think about its parallels to the coronavirus. What if our cities were bombed? It’s a scary picture.
Boston’s set design is incredible. Certain locations and scenes are set-up to be just like they were in the game, including the iconic scene of Joel and Ellie looking at the state house across the city.
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We also learn more about how the fungus works in the game, such as how stepping on a single alive tendril of it can awaken an horde infected across the city. It is cool to see the show explore its own take on the infection.
You know how once you get to the state house and realise the Fireflies aren’t there, Tess reveals that she is infected. Well in the game she then sacrifices herself to fight off the incoming FEDRA soldiers. Her logic is that she would rather die to bullets than turn.
But the show changes this. Tess now sacrifices herself to blow up the building once the horde of infected get inside. I feel like took away the emotional plot-point of not wanting to lose her humanity from Tess’ ending.
What ensues is a dramatic finish as Tess struggles to ignite the oil while zombies stream after Ellie and Joel. She then almost succumbs to a kiss of infection, before finally dropping her ignited lighter on the floor. The scene cuts to Joel and Ellie, now well outside the building, as the entire thing goes up in flames.
Episode 3 is where HBO makes perhaps the first major use of its license to explore stories not told in the game, and while doing so also deviate from the established sequence of events.
‘Long, Long Time’ is not about Joel and Ellie at all. Instead it is about Bill, the beloved gun-nut who Joel and Ellie go to in search of a car. It explores Bill’s life from the day of the outbreak, and how he turns his corner of town into a self-sustaining and infected free environment for him to live in.
Bill then meets Frank, a random man who stumbles upon Bill’s enclave, and who he threatens to shoot. Frank begs for a meal, before Bill checks whether he is infected or not, then promptly helps him out of a ditch and into town.
The two end up doing the deed. Frank stays. They fall in love. The episode explores story through the years, from initial apprehension arguments over what to do with the town, meeting with Joel and Tess, and even a gunfight with raiders in the middle of the night.
But the main ethos of the episode is growing old together, and how your will to live dies along with the one you loved. It is being heralded as one of the greatest episodes of television ever, and despite my low emotional quotient, I can also say it worth a watch.
HBO took some pretty big sidesteps in terms of narrative with these two episodes, and its nice to see the positive reception they got despite this. The Last of Us has proved that its world and characters don’t need a video game to shine. That’s how great they are.
I didn’t feel like writing anything after watching episode 2, not because it wan’t good but because I just didn’t feel like it. Maybe I’ll club episode 4 and 5 together just like I did with these last two?
Anyways, there will be a Stray review out in the first half of February, so look forward to that. And hopefully a big God of War Ragnarok one by the end of the month. Thanks and see you later!