Episode two packed in quite the punch on Sunday night. It rallied in more than 5.7 million viewers, which was up 22% from the series debut last week. Giving it the title of the largest 2 week audience growth for an original drama series for HBO/HBO Max in its history. Last week set the tone for the series perfectly and the opening sequence this time did not disappoint. Let’s dive right in.
Spoilers below… stop reading if you haven’t seen the episode.
The Point of No Return
We are taken back in time again to Jakarta, Indonesia, September 24, 2003. Where we are at the beginning of the outbreak and meet Ibu Ratna (Christine Hakim), who is a professor of mycology at the University of Indonesia. She is taken from a café by the police officers and this is when the dread sets in knowing these officers took her for a reason. We see her taken into a private facility where she is told to inspect something under a microscope. There she discovers through her years of knowledge and experience that this in fact Ophiocordyceps. A fungus that at that point in time can only infect insects, not humans. She is perplexed and then goes in with protective gear to examine an unknown woman’s body, who has a bullet hole in her head and bite mark on her leg. The bite mark looks unusual to her so she further inspects and sticks some tongs into her throat where she pulls out tendrils looking to curl their way onto anything with a pulse.
She drops the tongs in fear and amazement knowing at this exact moment that this human got infected with this particular fungus. After we see her sit down with the officer who brought her in. He explains to her that this happened at a flour and grain factory outside the city. Let’s take it back to the first episode where we saw Sarah and her neighbor making cookies. This is how we learn how this became worldwide and everything becomes full circle. The flour from that factory went worldwide infecting everyone.
He gets into detail explaining to her that one woman became violent all of sudden and started attacking people. We know now how easily one virus can travel between people from our very own COVID 19 pandemic. She then asks how many workers are missing in hope that maybe they will be able to contain this. He says 14 and that they brought in a few for observation, but them were put down due to their violent nature.
It is in the perfect pin drop moment that she knows that there is no hope left to save us. She tells the officer with shaking hands that there is no cure or medicine. That they need to bomb the city with everyone in it to stop the spread, killing millions. They are at the point of no return and need to prepare for the worst. In this final moment that perfectly spans into our time we see how she finally accepts the imminent future for us and asked the officer to drive her home to be with her family. The sense of lost hope and potential collapse of civilization can be felt here and the acting was top tier.
The World We Live In Now
We are brought now into our present time. We see Ellie (Bella Ramsey) be interrogated by Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Tess (Anna Torv). They want to know how she is infected and not turning. She explains it to them but Joel seems to not believe it. Tess wants to know why she is so important to the Fireflies. She tries to scare Ellie telling her that Joel and her are not good people. Finally Ellie says that there is a Firefly camp out West working with with scientists for a vaccine and what they found in her is the cure that they need to end this. Joel says its all nonsense but Tess seems to believe her. Tess finally makes Joel accept that this can actually be real.
They finally go outside and you can see in the daylight the complete destruction of the city. We also see from the advice of Dr. Ratna that that the governments bombed all the major cities to stop the outbreak from spreading. It clearly did not work and we are left with giant craters where Ellie explains that “it looks like a fucked up moon”. Kudos to the cinematographer Ksenia Sereda, production designer John Paino for giving us this beautiful yet devastating world and putting it all together straight out of the game. We are then met with screams where we learn that this is the injected.
They start to walk through this city to meet up with the remaining Fireflies as promised by Marlene at the Capital Building. They are blocked by every turn due to the toppled over skyscrapers and collapsed buildings. Everything that is overrun with vines and fungus and that we built in ruin. The trio then enters a completely run down grand hotel which is semi-submerged in water. They trek through muddy green waters and Ellie tells them like in the game, that she doesn’t know to swim. She finally realizes she can walk through it. They make it to the tenth floor but are blocked by debris and falling walls. Tess decides to go through to find a way out. While she is gone Ellie tries to bond with Joel but he is reluctant and guarded. Tess finally comes back with a way out for them. They then come to the balcony, looking down at a a big group of injected swarming around. It is then Ellie realizes that they are all connected.
Fear of the Unknown
Tess then explains to them that they are indeed connected and that the fungus grows underground miles and miles long through a network of fungal threads. You can step on one and they all know where to find you. That horrifying fact paralyzes them from a second. The gravity hits Ellie like a freight truck. All of them then decide to head into the museum as a shortcut to the Capital Building. We see fungus all throughout the vines and grass. Joel says its bone dry so they think they are indeed safe. Tess however warns Ellie to stand guard anyway because she even knows what lies beyond in the dark. They make their way inside the museum and fans of the game already know what to expect. However the jump scare comes pretty quickly when we hear that horrifying clicking sound nearby.
They come across a dead man who has been torn apart and Joel then finally realizes that the clickers did this. He tells everyone to keep quiet and they make there way through the museum. Trying to be as silent as possible but failing when falling debris comes crashing down on them. The anticipation and fear sets in when we hear the dreaded clicking sounds of the nearby clickers. These are no ordinary clickers that we have seen and are blind but have extremely sensitive hearing. Due to the falling debris they become aware that humans are near them. The trio start to fight the incoming injected but Ellie gets bitten. She says “well, if it had to happen to one of us,” knowing of her immunity.
The Kiss of Death
They get outside and Tess starts to act strange with Joel telling him that for once “take the good news and that we can actually win”. They finally get out and make their way over a wooden bridge to the Capital Building where they are then met with dread. All over we can see dead firefly solders. The feeling of hopelessness returns because they were supposed to be done and deliver Ellie to them. Joel decides they are done and going back to QZ, but Tess fights with him and tells him that “their luck had to run out sometime”. With that realization Ellie knows that Tess is infected from the last fight. Defeated Tess shows them the bite mark right between her shoulder and neck. Tess pleads with him to take Ellie to Bill and Franks to convince them that this real. To give a humanity a fighting chance. One of the dead soldiers wakes up and Joel shoots him which then activates the fungus on the ground. With that horrifying realization Joel says they only have a minute before then swarm in. Tess starts to throw gas on the floor, tells them that she is going to sacrifice herself and tells Joel to “save what you can save”.
Joel then takes Ellie running off who screams not to leave her. In one of the most tragic and horrifying last scenes we see Tess try to light the gas, when suddenly injected start to swarm in. One sees her and gets close to her, Horrified she sees the fungus come out of his mouth coming towards her. He then kisses her while when she finally lights the gas creating an explosion and engulfing everyone in flames. Outside we see Joel and Tess watch in horror of what is happening and the outcome of what they need to do.
Here is a preview that HBO/HBO Max has provided us with below:
Cast includes Pedro Pascal as Joel, Bella Ramsey as Ellie, Gabriel Luna as Tommy, Anna Torv as Tess, Nico Parker as Sarah, Murray Bartlett as Frank, Nick Offerman as Bill, Melanie Lynskey as Kathleen, Storm Reid as Riley, Merle Dandridge as Marlene, Jeffrey Pierce as Perry, Lamar Johnson as Henry, Keivonn Woodard as Sam, Graham Greene as Marlon, and Elaine Miles as Florence. Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker also star in the series.
Brace yourselves because we are going to be in for quite a ride. New episodes of HBO’s The Last of Us will be airing on Sunday at 9:00 PM EST, running up to the Season 1 finale on March 12, 2023.