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The Last of Us (HBO series), Episode 2: The Clicker’s Kiss

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After a consistent foundation in the episode 1 of The Last of Us, the series begins to introduce us to the dynamics of the leading duo formed by Joel and Ellie. In the first sequence of episode 2 of the HBO series, The Last of Us again expands the background of the games, with the beginning of the infection by cordyceps. On this occasion, she takes us to Indonesia a few days before the global outbreak in 2003 (year of the series).

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It is in Jakarta, the capital and most populous city of Indonesia, where we learn of the first encounter of a mycology professor with the fungus. cordyceps in humans. This scene has several implications for the overall story of The Last of Us. It not only helps to promote the method of contagion imposed by the series, with tendrils in the mouth of those infected. It also reaffirms the heartbreaking conclusion in the introduction of the first episode: there is no medicine, there is no vaccine, there is no salvation..

By the way, we know that the first outbreak occurred in a flour and grain factory in west Jakarta, the environment conducive to the evolution of the virus. cordyceps. The teacher’s confusion and nerves to understand the situation only projects the seriousness of the matter more. It is she herself who suggests the only possible way before the expansion of the mutated fungus in humans, bombing the city and all its inhabitants.

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The Last of Us episode 2
The Last of Us (HBO series), Episode 2: The Clicker's Kiss 44

These scenes have been a significant bonus for players who already know the story closely. We hope that the following episodes do the same and that we can learn a little more about the world of The Last of Us outside of the United States. It is basically the same dilemma that productions like the walking dead, whose plot usually took place in the United States. Exposing other parts of the planet does them good.

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An interesting detail about the outbreak cordyceps Forged in a flour and grain factory, it was out of control long before the first attack. The global distribution chain makes it much easier to expand. Being an oral or bite infection, it is clear that these products were the main means of international transport of the fungus. (even as it would get to Joel’s neighbors). In Episode 1, while Joel, Sarah and Tommy are having breakfast, they mention protests in Jakarta on the radio.

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The scene with the professor in Jakarta takes place on September 24, 2003, so these demonstrations and the opening with Sarah and Joel take place two days later like in the game, the day of the critical global outbreak. Therefore, by then Jakarta would already be mired in the attacks of infected and the bombings would not wait. Such a military strategy to slow down the epidemic would be applied by other countries, some with less success than others.

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Episode 2 of The Last of Us and game remastering (2014).

Returning to Boston –Massachusetts– in 2023; Joel, Tess and Ellie leave the quarantine zone behind for the capitol. Unlike the game, where the night and incessant rain make this part more uncertain, the shortlist goes out to explore in broad daylight. Boston was one of the bombed cities in the United States and 20 years later the consequences are still being seen. Nature has recovered part of its own and it is partly the charm of the environments in The Last of Us. The collapsed skyscraper –The Goldstone Building– on one side of the other is a direct reference to the game.

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In a previous interview, Neil Druckmann, the game’s creative director and co-writer of the series, expressed the Most important change of the series in front of the game. One of these exterior scenes from the series mentions spores, but spores are definitely not a method of contagion in the HBO adaptation. Instead, we can see a large number of infected in a resting state outside of Boston buildings. They practically work like a Esports Extrasntic mushroom GPS system.

This system cordyceps interconnected becomes clear in episode 2. Under the ground the roots (mycelium) communicate in a kind of “social network” to all those infected. If any infected are attacked in a nearby area, a horde will descend on any perpetrator. With the intention of contaminating him and ‘bringing him into the family’. The contagion, however, requires direct contact of the tendrils in the mouth of the infected. Be violent with a bite, or calm with a “kiss” more similar to mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

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The Last of Us episode 2
The Last of Us (HBO series), Episode 2: The Clicker's Kiss 45

In episode 2 of The Last of Us we see Joel and Tess’s relationship with Ellie develop a bit more. Despite not knowing her, Tess acts like a big sister to Ellie. From her Protecting her from her but at the same time teaching her to survive in this new world for her. For her part, Joel is much more distrustful and grumpy with Ellie, but Tess’s attitude helps him understand her better. When the three arrive at the museum they face their first big obstacle: the clickers.

Of all the right things that the HBO series has done by adapting the Naughty Dog game, the clickers are one of its highest points. They visually appeal and maximize the grotesque – yet strangely beautiful – game design. In sonorous matter they cause the same stinging with their groans and creaking, especially if you use headphones or a powered sound system. The protagonists must not generate sound if they are to survive, the only way these blind threats can echolocate their prey.

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It is incredible that after so many years and branches of the zombie genre, with some faster, others more rabid and some more intelligent; The Last of Us came across such terrifying creatures as clickers. This scene in the museum against a pair of clickers is one that players can fully relate to. For spectators, set a precedent for the danger they represent, although it is not the only one, but it is the most common.

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“Just like in the video game!”

Once in the Boston capitol we find another change regarding the game. Instead of Phaedra soldiers; Joel, Tess and Ellie find themselves stalked by a horde of infected and must escape. The game already told us that Tess’s role was relevant but unfortunately short. We were hoping that the series would give him more time thanks to the interpretation of Anna Torv. However, parting with him is drastically changed and much more dramatic. A lighter that doesn’t work when you need it most and a “loving” infected carry the weight.

This is when it becomes apparent how there are infected who can act non-violently if the victims do not resist. After all, what they want is to spread the infection cordyceps. The credits point to the ‘kissing infected man’, which is why the intrusive and uncomfortable final scene can be defined as a kiss. In Tess’s case, it was the time she needed to blow everything up, because bombing is the only solution, as the teacher from Jakarta well assured. 🍄

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The Last of Us it can be seen through HBO Max.

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