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How the TV show changes the lore of the game

An infected human known as a "Clicker" yells at the camera.

Screenshot: HBO/Kotaku

The last of usTV adaptation is a rare bird when it comes to staying true to its source material, especially when it comes to video games. But even a show that wants to be as authentic as HBO’s treatment of the hit PlayStation series has to make a few changes to adapt to a different form of storytelling. After the premiere of the show’s second episode, “Infected,” we now know a little more about how the infection spread and where it likely came from. Expect this blog to receive future updates as the show progresses.

The last of us tells a story of post-apocalyptic survival in the aftermath of a catastrophic pandemic that changes the world permanently as we know it. In The last of usTake science fiction, the zombie apocalypse is caused by a mutated form of a very real fungal infection. The show keeps this premise, but makes a few key changes that affect the lore and storytelling. But that’s not the only change the show is making. World events, infection specs, character relationships, and more are all gently tweaked with this live-action journey across a post-apocalyptic America. It should go without saying, but what follows contains spoilers for The last of us in TV and game form.

Image for article titled The Big Ways The Last Of Us Show Changes The Game's Lore

Ditto: Fungus among us

The last of us has an all too real source of inspiration because of its contagious plague. What the show and game call “cordyceps” is known in nature as ophiocordyceps, a fungus that targets ant colonies in tropical forests. Similar to how The last of usHumans respond, the real-world ophiocordyceps takes over the minds of ants, physically reshaping their bodies and directing their behavior to serve as nothing more than a vector to spread spores that can infect other ants.

read more: The last of us Makes for good TV, but it’s a tough wait after a real pandemic

Fun fact: While ants appear able to sense when a member of their brood is infected (by removing the infected individuals when necessary), they largely avoid infection by staying high in the forest canopy and traveling along a network of constructed trails high above the forest floor to reach the literal “cemeteries” of infected ants below. to avoid. Keep that in mind the next time you play on The Last of Us Part II.

Don’t hate onophiocordyceps too much either. He also suffers from it a hyperparasitic infection known as O. unliateralis. They are parasites, all the way down.

Change: Spores are out, tendrils are in (and this stuff kills you much faster)

One of HBO’s first, and perhaps sharpest, deviations The last of us takes from the show is how cordyceps spreads in the first place. While a bite from an infected person still transmits the disease, the airborne spores of the wild are replaced by tendrils that stream from an infected body to enter another victim and infect them.

A woman in a hazmat suit holds up contagious fungal vines with tongs.

Screenshot: HBO

The game often requires players to navigate areas with traces, necessitating a gas mask to avoid infection (although they often seem to take off those darn masks before it seems safe). While gas masks aren’t exactly a game item that players interact with much, the vulnerabilities of breathing in the infection remain a moment of high tension.

Showrunner Craig Mazin explained that this change came from a need build a little more credibility in the world of the show. “If we put spores in the air,” Mazin said Comic bookit would be pretty obvious that they would spread everywhere and everyone would have to wear a mask all the time. It’s a welcome change, as we wouldI’m bereft of Pedro Pascal’s wonderfully expressive face as if we were on that other show he accompanies another youth with special physiological features. The world is full of original ideas.

read more: Of The last of usPedro Pascal becomes the father of the internet

That said, Mazin hasn’t ruled out traces on the show over time, saying, “I don’t necessarily know if we’re going to see traces this time around, but to say our world is devoid of them wouldn’t be do. be accurate,” in a interview with Variety.

Signs on a wall indicate how quickly the infection spreads after a bite.

Screenshot: HBO/Kotaku

Another important change of the infection concerns the speed with which a person turns around after being bitten. In the game, the revelation of Ellie’s bite and immunity leads Tess to say “everyone will turn in two days”. In the show, as noted in the in-world documentation, the time until the turn varies depending on where someone is bitten. In the show, a best-case scenario is a bite to the leg or foot, seemingly lasting 12 to 24 hours. A bite to the trunk or other mid-body area sees transformation in two to eight hours, while a bite to the neck, face, or head results in a five to fifteen minute grace period.

Fun fact: The sporulation (sorry) for the tendrils of the cordyceps may well have its origins in the video game. Eagle-eyed fans saw this in concept art before, but also in unused voice lines called tendrils. A recent interview with Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin indicated that the idea indeed came from looking at some conceptual drawings, although it is not clear if these are the same concept art that appeared in the official 2013 art book.

We looked at concept art where the implication of the fungus grows under the skin. What if that was the thing? It’s not so much about the bite, they just need these tendrils to move from one host to another and that’s how the infection spreads.

Same thing: runners, clickers and overgrown areas (oh my)

While a few infected forms that appear in the game have yet to arrive in the show (we haven’t seen a bloat, shambler, or stalker, for example), runners and clickers are in full form and match their behavior as it appears in the game . Episode two also showed that, just like in the game, specific areas with high concentrations of infected become disastrous dens of death, decay, and fungal overgrowth.

read more: The last of usSecond episode ends in tragedy

Episode two introduces us to his clickers, which are a mirror image of the shiv-vulnerable beasts we’ve come to expect in video game form. As in the game, Joel indicates to Ellie that these creatures cannot see, but instead have razor-sharp hearing which they likely use to echolocate.

Fun fact: The show goes one step further in matching the clickers to the game, featuring the same voice actors who devoted their talents to clicking, yelling, and making all sorts of weird noises in the games.

Change: The infected appear to be connected

It is not entirely clear whether this is or not not exist in the game’s fiction (although it would explain why some of these bastards seem to know where I am too quickly), but as Tess tells Ellie in the second episode, the infected seem to have a network and some sort of share uniform awareness and sensory input: “You step on a piece of cordyceps in one place and you can wake up a dozen infected somewhere else. Now they know where you are, now they come.”

This can be seen in real time in episode two, where the disruption of recently infected people quickly leads to a horde descending on Joel, Ellie and Tess – the last of whom is dead. utterly repulsive on screen. Join the ranks of Game of ThronesDavid Friedman and DB Weiss, Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin contributed to the time-honored male tradition of depiction of horrible coded violence against women on screen for being so “triggering” and “violating”. Good job guys. How are you going to shock us next time?

Read more: HBOs The last of us Does Tess Dirty

Same thing: the infection spread through contaminated crops

The last of us since a video game isn’t very concerned with exploring too many details of pre-outbreak society, or even where the infection necessarily came from. But as seen in a newspaper article, Sarah can dive right in the prologue of the first gameleading up to the outbreak includes “the Food and Drug Administration’s investigation of crops potentially contaminated with mold.”

The opening of episode two reveals that some of the first cases of infection did indeed break out in a flour mill. In a later episode, a character talks about cases of contaminated food, mainly flour (which we’ll talk about in a moment).

Change: A Narrative Patient Zero

While the show simply stops shy of saying exactly who and where patient zero is, it opens episode two by taking us to a new place where the infection is about to reach a dangerous point of return: Jakarta, from which Sarah us told it is the capital of Indonesia just one episode ago.

read more: The last of us Episode One Recap: Taking a Ride

Deviating from the mention of South America in the in-game newspaper, the show decided that for whatever reason it would be appropriate to suggest that the outbreak first started in an Asian country.

Change: Joel didn’t get infected because…the Atkins diet?

So both in the show and in the game, we know that contaminated crops play an important role in the spread of the infection. But if flour, a fairly common ingredient in most foods, was one of the main transmission vectors, how could Joel avoid it?

While we know that Sarah couldn’t make pancakes given that they ran out of flour (and that she didn’t eat her neighbors’ tainted cookies because of coarse raisins), flour certainly would have existed elsewhere for Joel to get in touch with. have come up with? Well inside episode oneJoel tells his neighbor it’s his turn the Atkins diet. Although at first I assumed this was a simple nod to a very silly keto-adjacent diet popular in the 2000s, such as Esquire noticedfans speculate that Joel’s aversion to carbs probably kept him safe as the world fell apart.

So there you go: Weird, probably unhealthy diets can make a difference after all. Let’s just hope the show doesn’t haunt us with more forgettable elements of early ’00s American culture.

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