It’s that time of year again! Time to celebrate the Resurrection with a weeklong plunge into all things zombie! Here’s the history: In 2008, Dr. Girlfriend and I decided to spend a week or so each year marathoning through zombie films that we’d never seen before, and I would blog short reviews. And simple as that, the Easter Zombie Movie Marathon was born.

For the curious, here are links to 20082009 (a bad year), 201020112012 (when we left the blog behind), 20132014201520162017201820192020, 2021 and 2022.

Here there be spoilers.

Episode 2 of The Last of Us opens with another flashback to 2003, this time in Jakarta, Indonesia, as a professor of mycology (Christine Hakim) is shown the dead-ish body of an infected woman. Upon hearing where the corpse, with its still living and wiggling mushroom mycelia, came from, she informs the government official who enlisted her aid that there is no cure. No vaccine. No hope. She recommends bombing the shit out of anywhere the mushrooms might be, then asks to be taken home so she can die with her family.

And there you have it. Not only is this chillingly effective world-building, it also immediately makes it clear how important Ellie (Bella Ramsey) really is. To the audience, if not to Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Tess (Anna Torv).

Yet.

This episode is all about establishing goals and removing any extraneous characters so that we can focus solely on Joel and Ellie. So, yeah. That means we say goodbye to Anna Torv after just two episodes. Which sucks, because Torv is awesome and Tess was a great character, providing a necessary structural balance to Joel’s more emotional reactions to the world around them. With barely any noticeable effort Torv made her more complex and interesting than any of the other characters.

I’m going to miss her.

But at least she goes out hard as we finally get a look at just what the Cordyceps infection does to a person over time. The introduction of “clickers” is both horrifying and strangely attractive, as they creep around in the darkness, their faces an explosion of fungal blooms, making them blind and reliant on their hearing to track prey.

In order to avoid a mass of the infected, Joel, Tess, and Ellie have to cut through a history museum to reach the Firefly base at the State House. As one might expect, it’s dark and scary, and there are two Clickers roaming the halls making nightmarish noises. The scene plays out as a nice variation on a zombie movie/show standard – the sort of thing that The Walking Dead did nearly every episode until it was so rote that it was almost impossible to make it interesting anymore.

Because the infected are actually actively hunting for victims, rather than just being stumbled upon and having a reaction triggered, there’s a bit more tension here and it was a highlight of the show so far. Although, I had to wonder why they didn’t just shoot them in their mushroomy faces instead of hiding, when ultimately that’s what they do anyway, only under extreme duress.

I assume that because they were free-roaming Clickers, that’s why their deaths didn’t wake up the others. Because that definitely happens later.

As usual, nothing can ever be easy in a show like this, and once our heroes reach the Firefly hideout, they discover that everyone’s dead. It’s not clear why, but apparently someone got infected and because of that they all killed each other? It doesn’t matter, really. The point of the scene is to give us a bigger picture of the infected as a credible threat.

As mentioned earlier, Joel shoots one of the Fireflies as he rises from the ground, an infected monster, and this wakes up dozens and dozens of nearby monsters who swarm the State House. The explanation for this is a great one that is actually true in nature, given that massive undergound mycelial networks that can connect mushroom blooms miles apart, working almost like a massive, shared brain or neural network. The honey mushroom network in Oregon’s Blue Mountains make up the world’s largest organism, stretching over 2,300 acres, all connected through that particular mycelial network. Here are some more creepy mushroom facts, if you’re interested.

I’m not sure why they sexualized Tess’s assault by having the infected man move in to kiss her, spreading their mycelial love. That was a weird and poor choice, in my opinion. As was Joel leaving without grabbing more guns and ammo.

I thought this episode was a step up from the premiere, if only because we get to go out and explore the world of The Last of Us. It’s still following in the footsteps of every other iteration of this story, but it’s well done, and the monsters are especially disturbing. I’d rather Tess stuck around longer, but what are you gonna do?

Internet Daddy needs room to shine.

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