The Last of Us episode 2 review

Boston in ruins, The Last of Us episode 2
A word of warning: This review contains heavy spoilers from The Last of Us episode 2 “Infected”. Proceed with caution.Fantasy Warden

The Last of Us episode 2 aired on HBO max on January 22nd. It is reported that the episode was viewed by 5.4 million viewers which is a 22% increase in comparison to the first episode. In this review, we will do a full breakdown of The Last of Us episode 2 tittle “Infected”. Personally, I can say that this episode is better than The Last of Us episode 1. The length is more appropriate (just over 50 minutes) and the overall story from the episode felt complete.  Without further ado, let’s see what happened in episode 2 of TLoU.

The opening scene of the Last of Us episode 2 “Jakarta 2003”.

The first scene we get is actually a flashback from 2003. In the first episode of TLuO we heard that something terrible happened in Jakarta. We can only assume that it was the ground zero of the infection but now we get more info on this event.

Jakarta scene breakdown

Ratna Pertiwi (Christine Hakim) is a professor of mycology at the University of Indonesia. As she is having her lunch in a restaurant, a military officer approaches her and takes her to a secluded location. At the military facility, Ratna sees a corpse of a person infected by the cordyceps. She examines the body and discovers that the spores have spread throughout the victim’s body. Ratna also saw the source of the infection is a human-made bite on the victim’s leg. She panicky rushes out of the lab and the scene is cut.

We see Ratna sitting nervously on a sofa in the facility as the officer approaches giving her tea. They have a conversation about what happened. The officer informed her that the infection has started in a nearby factory and that 14 other workers are missing. He asks for a cure or a vaccine. Ratna’s hands shake and she replies: “There is no cure. There is no vaccine“. The officer is stunned by the answer and in confusion, asks her what should they do. Ratna replies “Bomb. Bomb the entire city and all the people in it.”. The scene ominously ends as Ratna, holding her tears, asks to be taken home to spend time with her family.

Professor Ratna talking about cordyceps with a soldier

Jakarta scene analysis

I think the scene is marvelously done. It is difficult for every zombi-like movie or TV show to actually put a scientific background on the events that happened. What we usually get are vague explanations that center around an unknown virus mutating or being used in military experiments (The Walking Dead, Resident Evil, 28 days later, World War Z). TLoU seems to be actually trying to do some science in order to explain the cordyceps infection outbreak and it is working.

This scene is a great filler for that purpose – we get to see the gravity of the events unfolding as a top scientist starts to panic. We see the expression on the officer’s face when he learns that no cure or vaccine is available. I like how Ratna’s hands are shaking when the officer tells her that 14 more people are missing, this really adds up to the drama of the scene. At that moment she realizes that the outbreak is inevitable – and so does the audience. The acting in this scene is outstanding, Christine Hakim shined as Ratna.

Present-day Boston events

The rest of the episode is basically Joel, Ellie, and Tess trying to move through bombed-out Boston. The first scene we get in this part of The Lost of Us episode 2 “Infected” is the one in which Ellie sits in the room while Joel and Tess are looking at her. Joel is still not having it – he doesn’t believe that Ellie is immune. Tess seems to start believing this might be true. Ellie is having fun and mocking them both. At the end of this scene, they stare at Ellie enviously while she eats her chicken sandwich.

Ellie serves as a comedy relief throughout the episode and this part is no different. We get some character development through dialog and overall, the scene is interesting. The fact that Joel is portrayed as hardened, suspicious, and pessimistic at this point is right on the spot since that’s exactly how he behaves in this chapter of the game.

Ellie, Tess and Joel talking (The Last of Us episode 2 "infected")

The hotel scene and explanation of how cordyceps communicate

After deciding on taking the long, but safer route, Ellie, Joel, and Tess arrive at a deserted hotel. The scenery of the ruined hotel, covered in moss and flooded is done magnificently. There is an easter egg in this one as Ellie complains about not being able to swim, something that all gamers find especially irritating and tiresome in the game. Joel shows her that the water is not that deep so they proceed, completing a nice reference to the game. Soon, they find out that the longer route is no longer an option since it’s overrun by infected.

At this moment we find out more about how the infection actually spreads – and it’s different than in the game. For those who don’t know, the infection in the game spreads in two ways – through aerosol fungi spores and bites. This is the reason why they had to wear gas masks very often in The Last of Us game so I suppose they wanted to avoid walking with gas masks in the series. In the Last of Us episode 2 “Infected” we find out that the cordyceps are actually connected and have a sort of a hive-mind. That means that they can communicate to a certain point and, as it’s explained in the show if you step on a part of it, the infected from the other parts will know your location. Now, this is not something new, we had hive-mind spores in other movies and shows as well (Annihilation and Star Trek Discovery just to name a few). However, this game-changer will mean that The Last of Us world will be more stealth-and-sneak than clash-and-slash. 

A bunch of infected on the street in the last of us episode 2 infected

The museum scene and Clickers encounter

Having no other choice, the gang decides to go through the museum. In this place, we get some of the best game references so far. As they move through the museum, the infamous “clicker” sound is heard. After a brief shoutout, probably the best scene in the entire episode is the one in which Joel hides behind a post and starts reloading his revolver – every gamer will instantly see the reference as this is something that had to be done in the game hundreds of times. The clickers are nicely done, and the costumes and props used on them fit them perfectly – basically, they do look like the ones which terrified us in The Last of Us game. After a brief shoutout, Ellie, Joel, and Tess manage to slip them and find themselves in the Capitol.

Joel reloading his revolver while Clicker is approaching

Tess’s demise and the final scene of The Last of Us episode 2

Finally, they arrive at Capitol and are faced with a terrible discovery; Tess got bitten and is infected now. The dialog is taken from the game which is neat. What was different is the fact that not FEDRA was on to them but infected. Tess, not wanting to become one of the infected, decides to give Joel and Ellie some time to escape by making her final stand there. She uses gasoline and hand grenades for that and in the final hour, after an infected gives her a death kiss, she manages to light the gasoline with a lighter and blows up the Capitol as well as all the infested inside.

The scene was nicely done although some may argue that she could have just used one of the grenades to ignite the room. I guess the lighter was more dramatic at the moment so they decided to go with that. Overall, although the scene is not the same as in the game (FEDRA just shoots her after she takes out two soldiers), it was still fun and a nice ending for this character.

Clicker shown full screen, TLoU

Final thought’s on The Last of Us episode 2 “Infected”

As we said in the beginning, I would say that this episode is better than the first one. We learned something new about the origins of the infection and how it spreads. We also saw some really cool action, especially with Clickers. The show didn’t strain from the source material (a lot) and overall, it was well-directed and acted. I am still not sure how good the casting decision for Ellie was but in this episode at least, her performance was decent. I would say that the show is heading in the right direction and we look forward to seeing what The Last of Us episode 3 “Long, long time” will bring us.

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