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The Last Of Us' Craig Mazin Says There Are Breadcrumbs That Hint At The Infection's Origin

HBO's "The Last of Us" takes place in a post-apocalyptic world that has been overrun by a fungal infection that takes control of the human brain, turning any infected human into a violent monster controlled by the fungus. This process is explained in the episode's first few moments by Dr. Neuman (John Hannah), who deliberates about the threat of parasitic fungus with his colleague during a talk show appearance in 1968.

Neuman's fears come full circle in the year 2003 when a mass outbreak of the Cordyceps fungus sparks a global pandemic and transforms most of humanity into bloodthirsty Infected. We first meet one of these Infected when Sarah Miller (Nico Parker) visits her neighbors, the Adlers, in order to return their dog. Upon entering the Adler's home, she discovers that Nana Adler (Wendy Gorling) — who was in a catatonic state prior to infection — has sprouted fungus-like tendrils from her mouth and has bitten the two other members of the Adler family.

Nana quickly turns her attention towards Sarah, before Joel Miller (Pedro Pascal) puts her down with a well-timed swing of his wrench. Considering the fact that Nana only appears in two brief scenes before her infection and eventual death, it might surprise some fans to learn that her story might actually be the key to unlocking the origin of the Cordyceps infection itself — as hinted at by "The Last of Us" producer Craig Mazin.

Nana's story could hint at the infection's origin in flour

During the first episode of "The Last of Us Podcast" (a series hosted by Troy Baker that discusses each episode of "The Last of Us"), executive producer Craig Mazin discussed the implications of Nana's story within the series — and how it acts as one of many "breadcrumbs" that will pay off later on.

Specifically, Mazin referenced an early scene in which we see Nana being force-fed biscuits by Mr. Adler (Brad Leland). "We made a point of making this sort of joke about how she couldn't even eat biscuits ... By the way, a lot of little details are going to come back around," teased Mazin. "We don't want to give spoilers but I will say this: careful viewers of this episode will be rewarded repeatedly because little bits of breadcrumbs have been planted that are going to pay off later in interesting ways."

This comment seems to imply that there is more than meets the eye in regard to these biscuits that Nana was eating, and that there are even more moments throughout the episode that could have major implications moving forward. Although it might seem insane to believe that these biscuits could have something to do with the infection itself, Mazin's offhand comment seems to line up perfectly with a Reddit theory that claims the Cordyceps infection might have originated in flour.

There are multiple references to flour throughout the episode

In a Reddit post published shortly after the release of "The Last of Us" Episode 1, u/anagost theorized that the mass Cordyceps outbreak might have resulted from contaminated flour — specifically due to the numerous moments throughout Episode 1 where Joel and Sarah Miller avoid eating flour.

Most obvious amongst these is the comedic scene in which Nana is seen eating her biscuits, since Mr. Adler offers them to the Millers and they politely refuse. Other hints include the fact that Sarah has no flour to cook pancakes, Joel's comment that he is on Atkins (a zero-carb diet), Sarah's refusal to eat Mrs. Adler's raisin cookies, and the moment when Joel forgets to buy a birthday cake. U/RealSteamedHam also added that the world's largest flour mill is located in Jakarta, Indonesia, which the radio at the beginning of the episode indicates is the start of the infection.

Considering the fact that Mazin's comments about "breadcrumbs" came directly after speaking about Nana and her biscuits, it seems like there could be some credence to this theory — especially since (as pointed out by u/wowitskatlyn) the fungus itself comes out of Nana's mouth, almost like it came from what she was eating. Although we'll have to wait and see if this theory holds water, there are certainly plenty of hints throughout Episode 1 that flour could be the source of the infection — and that those biscuits may have led to Nana's horrific fate.