After its bombastic premiere, The Last of Us episode two, entitled Infected, showcased exactly why the property is in safe hands. As Joel, Ellie, and Tess venture outside the walls of the Boston Quarantine Zone, we get our first exposure to the show’s infected, plenty of Ellie banter, and of course, more recreations of infamous scenes from the video game.
We were surprised to see episode two take us back to its 2003 pre-apocalypse setting once more, this time two days prior to the calamitous outbreak in Jakarta. Similar to the 1960s talk-show scene from last week, the episode opener starts out rather clichéd. A professor of a particular science is whisked away to investigate some disturbing findings. We’ve seen it a million times over. However, with both Mazin and Druckmann’s writing along with some excellent performances, we were left disturbed all over again. It acts as a reminder that The Last Of Us is at its best when the quiet reality of horror sets in.
Flash forward two decades to the crumbling ruins of Boston, and the Cordyceps infection is front and centre after being relatively absent in the premiere. The show takes some courageous new swings with its infected, which are just about as surprising as they are horrifying. As massive fans of the game, our heckles did get up a little bit as this new lore was established, but as Druckmann — in his TV directorial debut — leads us further into the city, the effectiveness of these changes becomes all too clear.
As Joel, Tess, and Ellie venture deeper, the city takes on a haunting new atmosphere. One that is both eerily quiet and empty, with its evils laying dormant in the shadows. The approach added a whole new element of fear to the Boston segment that we hesitate to say was missing from the game, but one that certainly feels amplified here. And the tightening tension comes to a snapping point with the introduction of the infamous Clickers, which not only looked incredible in live-action, but are far scarier than anything we got in the game.
Clashing the inexperience of Ellie with the fearful gazes of Joel and Tess is what made this trepidatious trek through Boston all the more enthralling. Their bemused smiles as Ellie rattles on about long-told rumours of the outside expertly elevated the moments where the seasoned smugglers realise they are in genuine danger. And we move between each of these moments with ease, as we get to spend our first decent chunk of time with Ramsey’s Ellie.
We still don’t entirely feel like Ramsey has embodied the role in the same way that Pascal has, but there were moments where we actually laughed out loud as Ellie annoyed Joel with some witty remark. There is some great back-and-forth between the two characters that we simply cannot wait to see play out as the season progresses.
Fans of the game will be happy to see some of the hallmark scenes of the game recreated in episode two. While some are word for word the same, others have that HBO spin on them, and there is one particular moment that is sure to prove divisive to fans.
All in all, though, this latest episode was another fantastic showcase of how to adapt a game. The changes to the infected are pitch-perfect for television, and the horror of its setting will undoubtedly surpass that of the game for some. We are still early days for season one of The Last Of Us, but Mazin and Druckmann are two for two, with no signs of slowing down. Bring on next week!
To find out when you can tune in for the next episode, click through to our Where to Watch The Last of Us TV Show guide. Additionally, our Full Cast List provides more details about the actors and characters. Once you have watched the first episode yourself, place a vote in our poll and share your first impressions in the comments below.