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The Last of Us episode 2 review: Ground rules, clickers, and ‘a new hope’

The second episode of The Last of Us titled Infected marks the TV directorial debut of Neil Druckmann, the creator of the eponymous video game franchise

4/5rating
The Last of Us episode 2 review: Ground rules, clickers, and ‘a new hope’
  • Ryan Gomez

Last Updated: 01.24 PM, Jan 23, 2023

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Story: Joel (Pedro Pascal), Tess (Anna Torv), and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) have made it out of the Boston Quarantine Zone unscathed. They are forced to travel through an abandoned hotel, possibly filled with the infected, before they can hand over Ellie to the Fireflies.

Review: The first episode of The Last Us premiered last week to an overwhelmingly positive reception by audiences and critics. It also became only the second HBO TV show in 12 years to cross 4.7 million viewers, excluding the viewership figures from outside the US. This is a staggering statistic considering the barrage of underwhelming video adaptations over the past decades, such as Hitman, Resident Evil, Tomb Raider, and more recently Uncharted. Fans of Uncharted must be livid with the manner in which the film adaptation was handled by Sony, considering both Uncharted and The Last Us games were helmed by game developers Naughty Dog under the leadership of Neil Druckmann. While one of the adaptations ended up being a commercial cash grab, the other became a faithful iteration under Druckmann’s guidance.

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The only major concern fans will have about The Last of Us is whether the series can sustain its quality and consistently deliver compelling episodes for the remainder of the season. Those who have played the games will be well aware that the story will not disappoint, and based on the evidence of the first two episodes, with regard to the tone and execution, it is abundantly clear that the series as a whole will not disappoint either. In fact, episode two, titled Infected, may have even eclipsed the emotionally charged and fast-paced pilot episode. It focuses on establishing the lore of the story, but with just the right amount of nail-biting moments. It also does not indulge in unnecessary gore and violence, and the human story in this post-apocalyptic world remains central to the narrative.

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Showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann have changed a few elements from the games and have actually plugged any plot holes the games may have had. For instance, a game’s level design would require an obstacle for the player to overcome – be it a horde of infected or FEDRA agents. For a TV show, however, this would hinder the flow of the narrative. So Mazin and Druckmann altered an iconic cut scene from the game and turned it into something even more profound and meaningful. It also adds to the lore and provides more depth to Joel and Tess’s relationship.

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The show’s introduction to the dreaded clickers did not disappoint either. The blind infected who employ clicking sounds like sonar to find humans are nearly impossible to kill in the games, owing to their superhuman strength. The show has recreated an identical copy of the clickers, including the clicking sound and the way they move. And it is somehow even more terrifying than the ones from the games. It would be interesting to find out how the stalkers will be incorporated into the series, and the trailer for the series did feature the gigantic bloaters.

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Similar to the first episode, there is a scene set in a different time period and away from the main characters to provide more context to the cordyceps fungus and the outbreak itself began. These scenes are well-crafted and it provides another layer of sophistication to the show. The next episode could further explore the lives of the survivors and the various factions that have sprung up 20 years after the outbreak.

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Verdict: The second episode titled Infected marks the TV directorial debut of Neil Druckmann. The Last of Us builds on the foundations laid down by the series premiere and delivers yet another riveting episode.

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