The second episode of HBO's The Last of Us is now streaming, and "Infected" continues Joel and Ellie's journey in a way that feels faithful to the Naughty Dog video game while introducing some new elements for those already familiar with the story.
Major spoilers ahead.
One significant departure from the game involved the demise of a principal supporting character, with Tess (Anna Torv) receiving a fatal bite from a Clicker and choosing to sacrifice herself to give Joel and Ellie time to make their escape.
Things do play out relatively similar here, but in place of FEDRA soldiers, our heroes are fleeing from a horde of infected. Instead of being killed in a firefight, Tess rigs the Capitol building to explode... but her damn lighter refuses to work when the creatures arrive.
In a disturbing moment that's prompted a lot of debate online, one of the infected approaches the terrified mercenary and plants a grotesque kiss on his victim before she finally manages to ignite the fuel.
During an interview with Variety, co-creator Craig Mazin says he wanted to suggest that the infected were only violent when they were being prevented from spreading the virus.
"Then we landed on this nightmare fuel," he continues. "It’s disturbing and it’s violative. I think it’s very primal in the way it invades your own body. To use an overused word, it’s triggering. It’s a remarkable combination of Neil’s direction, Anna Torv’s acting when there isn’t obviously anything there and our visual effects department doing this gorgeous work to make it all come together and feel real and terrible."
"Part of it was the deviation from the game, where Tess is killed by soldiers," adds Neil Druckmann. "We had a long conversation about what’s more thematically appropriate for this episode, which is called “Infected” and is about the threat of the outside. We’ve left the quarantine zone and that led to this other version where she’s giving an opening to escape to Joel and Ellie by blowing up a bunch of infected. Because we’re cruel to the characters we love so much, it felt like she knows she’s done for, and then the lighter doesn’t work, and we take her all the way to the edge of horror before we finally give her an out."
What did you think of The Last of Us episode 2 and Tess's altered fate? Drop us a comment down below, and check out our spoiler-free full season review here.