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The Last of Us Episode 2 Recap breaks down everything you need to know about episode two of The Last of Us.

On this week’s episode of The Last of Us, we took a trip through the ruins of downtown Boston with Joel, Ellie, and Tess and learned more about Cordyceps Clickers (in more ways than one). For this week’s The Last of Us recap, here’s what we loved about episode 2.

How many episodes of The Last of Us

The first season of The Last of Us has nine episodes that are available on Max. The Last of Us airs Sundays on HBO and HBO Max at 9:00 p.m. EST/6:00 p.m. PDT. Read our Max review to learn more about the streaming service.

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Carb watching

Image of Christine Hakim standing in a laboratoryin the HBO show The Last of Us.
Image courtesy HBO.

Craig Mazin, you sly devil!

On last week’s episode of The Last of Us Podcast, show co-creator Mazin teased that Nana’s infection scene hid some narrative breadcrumbs, but who would’ve guessed they’d be literal breadcrumbs? Episode 2’s cold open heads to Jakarta in 2003, as mycologist Ibu Ratna (Christine Hakim) discovers the first human case of cordyceps from a worker at a flour factory.

The sequence, which is full of prime body-horror grodiness, is a nice instance of the show filling in its universe separately from the games. It’s also a grim counterpoint for when Ellie, Joel, and Tess walk through the bombed-out ruins of Boston—Ratna’s diagnosis to level Jakarta to the ground technically wasn’t wrong, but it doesn’t make it any less of a downer.

Clickers 2.0

A clicker monster in a darkened museum from the HBO show The Last of Us.
Image courtesy HBO.

Fans of the game might’ve noticed how episode 2 introduces retconning around how Cordyceps and Clickers operate. Along with new additions like the Clickers’ mouth tendrils and the Cordyceps network, spores are conspicuously absent from the episode. (In The Last of Us games, airborne spores are one of the main ways to spread Cordyceps.)

In interviews with Extraordinerd and Entertainment Weekly, Mazin and show co-creator Neil Druckmann didn’t rule out spores as part of the show’s universe. But they pointed out that it’d be way more difficult to depict spores on-screen if characters constantly had to wear gas masks to survive. (We’d also fully understand if Pedro Pascal has a “no 24/7 full head mask” clause in his contract these days.)

It’s not all grimdark (but still pretty grim)

Bella Ramsey and Anna Torv walking outdoors from HBO's The Last of Us.
Image courtesy HBO.

Game fans know that The Last of Us has no shortage of grim moments and dark moments, but let’s sing the praises of Bella Ramsey for keeping things from getting too grimdark so far.

Ellie has no shortage of reasons to be bummed out, but at the same time, she’s still a (mostly) normal teenage girl who grew up without the baggage that Joel and Tess (Anna Torv) had from the pre-Cordyceps world. She’s interested in life outside the Quarantine Zone and does nonsense bits like her hotel concierge routine just to entertain herself.

One of the episode’s grim ironies also comes from how well Tess and Ellie get along compared to Joel and Ellie. Tess compliments Ellie on her Quarantine Zone adventuring, while Joel’s reluctant to even string together a sentence for her. Those moments give the episode’s ending and Tess’s death another layer of dramatic heft—Ellie’s suddenly lost someone she looked up to, and she’s still young enough to be shell-shocked about it.

Pool day!

In an interview with Variety, Druckmann and Mazin joked about making another episode solely focusing on Joel teaching Ellie how to swim. This recap guide fully endorses this episode pitch for next season and is willing to chip in however much HBO needs to rent a pool at the YMCA. Neil and Craig, call us!

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