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Details you might have missed from The Last of Us Episode 2 “Infected”



The Last of Us

The Last of Us HBO Season 1 is well and truly underway as we finally see the Infected in their full, fungal glory. Up until this point, the threat of the infected post-pandemic was largely talked about or heard – but this where we get up, close, and personal. The episode was a masterful exercise in build-up and tension that perfectly illustrates the massive threat that awaits mankind beyond the Quarantine Zones.

Showrunner Craig Mazin previously has hinted at ‘breadcrumbs’ hinting at the infection’s origins and now we finally have a real answer. The show has carefully placed information in full view of the audience. Here, we take a look at some of the most potent info drops and their larger implications and how they might affect the world and the characters moving forward.

See More: The biggest moments from The Last of Us Episode 2

The proof is in the bread

Sarah TLOU

The episode begins with a flashback of sorts as we follow Ibu Ratna, a mycologist in Jakarta examining the Cordyceps fungus in a human subject. There were many theories as to how the fungus jumped to humans, ranging from global warming to even more insidious things such as…flour.

Turns out, the bread theory was ultimately correct. It was revealed through the opening of episode 2 that the fungus has begun to thrive in flour and has infected workers in the factory. This makes Mazin’s ‘breadcrumbs’ comment even more hilarious as the clue was quite literally just bread being the origin of the infection.

As fans might remember, through the pilot episode, Ellie, Joel, and Tommy consistently avoid eating bread. This is sheer dumb luck as Joel forgot to grab a cake for his birthday and doesn’t partake in their neighbour’s biscuits breakfast. The trio somehow managed to avoid eating bread or flour (pancakes) throughout the pilot, which is probably the reason Joel and Tommy survived the outbreak.

Nowhere is safe


One of the most fascinating parts of The Last of Us HBO series is how the fungus communicates. In effect, the fungus is a giant singular organism that grows under the ground and spreads its tendrils all over the place. This essentially provides the infected with an almost real-time map of the entire area.

This came into play later in the episode as the fungus on the ground communicated with the rest of the swarm and led them to the State House where Joel, Ellie, and Tess were. One of the many reasons why this is terrifying is the fact that hiding from swarms is a major undertaking and not one that our characters will be able to make all the time.

Future episodes of the show will probably include more callbacks to this element. It will be interesting to see how showrunners Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin figure out interesting ways to use the fungal network in the show.

The butterfly symbology

Ellie The Last of Us

Both the game and the show have illustrated a careful use of symbology to drive home the theme subconsciously. One of the ways the show accomplishes this is through the repeated appearances of a butterfly. Fans might have noticed that Sarah in the pilot episode uses a butterfly-themed pillow and Ellie wakes up in the second episode with a butterfly fluttering around her.

There are many theories as to what this could mean – with one of them being the philosophical implication of the butterfly. A butterfly typically represents transformation and metamorphosis. On one level, it could be referring to the evolution of the human species into the feral infected.

On another, it could also represent Ellie’s potential for transforming humanity through the cure. Fans of the game might have a clue as to where this eventually leads but who knows, maybe showrunners have a different ending in mind that will catch fans off guard.


Ellie, Riley, and Marlene

The Last of Us

In the pilot episode, Marlene name-drops “Riley”, a character that is yet to appear on the show. Fans of the game remember Riley as Ellie’s love interest who goes off to join the Fireflies. In the second episode, Ellie reveals she had been bitten inside an abandoned mall. But, she lies having about been alone. Additionally, Ellie’s sexuality is also hinted at as she hilariously bucks the idea of there being a “boyfriend”.

Marlene had found Ellie and Riley together in the mall and it is likely that either Ellie or the Fireflies were the ones to put down Riley after she had turned. Marlene also hints at having been the one to have put Ellie through military school, hinting at a stronger connection between the two.

Those who have played the game and read “The Last of Us: American Dreams” graphic novel are aware of said connection. Marlene was once close with Ellie’s mom, Anna (possibly played by Ashley Johnson in the HBO series). It is likely that Anna had tasked Marlene with looking out for Ellie and making sure she is survival-ready to deal with the harshness of the world.

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There is likely to be an entire episode dedicated to Ellie’s backstory with Riley and how she ends up bitten but not infected.

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