Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Last Of Us: Episode 2 Recap - A Tess Of Friendship

Contains spoilers for "The Last of Us" Episode 2

After last week's gripping premiere, HBO's "The Last of Us" is back again to test our nerves and emotions with another top-tier installment. The show's second episode sees Joel (Pedro Pascal), Tess (Anna Torv), and Ellie (Bella Ramsay) hit the road to get the youngest of the trio back into the hands of The Fireflies. The reason for this is finally revealed to Joel and Tess, who take the information in very different ways. One of them, in particular, clings to it as their last bit of hope all the way until their bitter end.

Let's not get all weepy just yet, though. Before Torv's brave and broken-hearted character gets taken from us, we get a lot more info on how the infection came to be and how much of Dr. Newman's (John Hannah) prediction proved to be right on the money. How did the human race lose a fight to the death with fungus, and what kind of spoils went to the victor? Also, what terrifying elements have changed from the original game and how might they drastically alter how things play out in the future? Well, let us break it down because, from this point on, we are silent. SILENT.

Patient (Almost) Zero

Just like last week's episode of "The Last of Us," we're taken back to reality with the opening of Episode 2, fortifying the nightmarish realism that the show has, so far, done an impeccable job of staying in. Dropping us in Jakarta, Indonesia, two days before Joel's world fell apart, we find ourselves at ground zero of the infection with Dr. Ibu Ratna (Christine Hakim). She's been called in to assess a fungus found on a woman that went on a rampage in a rice and flour factory.

Unfolding more like an alien sci-fi movie than anything, this all-new chapter to the beloved story is far more frightening in the assessment following the autopsy than the autopsy itself. After pulling still very active tendrils (the alteration to the original infection from the game) from a corpse, Ratna asks a bunch of questions and is mortified by the answers she's given. Not only has the victim's attacker not been found, but 14 other employees from the site have also gone missing. Ratna's advice is chilling as she advises to bomb the city to contain the spread, no matter the cost, requesting to spend her last moments in a civilized world with her family before all goes to hell. Talk about a cold open.

The Butterfly Effect

Cut to the present day, and just like how last week opened with Joel's daughter waking up to the world, this week starts with his inevitable surrogate daughter stirring from her first night outside of the Boston quarantine zone. What's interesting about this scene are the visual elements the show includes to bring the viewer into the story. While in a fetal-like position, this living, breathing second chance for humanity is joined by a butterfly that comes into the frame circling her, an insect that literally comes from the action of metamorphosis and rebirth. It's another stunning image in a show that has already given us plenty, and it doesn't stop there.

Rolling over, Ellie wakes to find Tess and Joel watching over her with a gun drawn. The two smugglers are soaked in shadow, keeping their distance from the immune outsider bathed in light. It's a beautiful image, akin almost to a moment in "The Last of Us Part II" when Ellie finds a guitar and plays a song that has already been used in promotional work for the series: "Take on Me" by Aha (via YouTube). After Tess and Joel debate whether the miracle cure with a smart mouth is worth the hassle, they head off to deliver the "cargo," only to hit a huge snag.

History Bites

After leaving their resting spot, the three continue their journey to the drop point, with Tess having a chat with Ellie along the way. The two have great chemistry together, as the former talks about how she was bitten while wandering through an off-limits shopping mall, which does impress Tess quite a bit. As talk of infected continues, Ellie probes her two new guardians about what's out there in the unquarantined zones, which gives fans of the game a few references to familiar foes. "So there aren't superinfected that explode fungus spores on you?" she asks, itching for info. "Or ones with split open heads that see in the dark like bats?" Well, she's half right.

Given that "The Last of Us" creator Neill Druckmann has made it clear that spores are out and tendrils are in with this version of the story, it feels safe to say that the feared big bosses known as bloaters won't be packing that kind of heat here. That said, the alternative, as explained by Tess, sounds even more terrifying. When their path is blocked by a swarm of nesting infected, Tess assures Ellie that they still pose a threat, even at a distance. "You step on a patch of cordyceps in one place, and you can wake a dozen infected somewhere else," says Tess. "You're not immune from being ripped apart." Wise words, indeed. Shame they're some of her last.

Fright at the Museum

From here, another sequence is presented like an incredible carbon copy from the game when the trio takes a trip to the museum. Fans of the game will no doubt be paying close attention to every detail as Joel, Ellie, and Tess head into what has become a relic of history itself. As they do, all it takes is a decimated corpse to have Joel and Tess sharing a look of panic over what else could be waiting for them in the shadows. Then, once they hear a click or two, all of their fears become reality. 

Just as getting the right cast for the characters in this world, nailing their most feared adversaries is also vitally important to the success of this adaptation. In the case of the clickers, their introduction is a pitch-perfect tour of terror. Skimping on clear shots of the creatures in question, we only get a few good looks at the iconic monsters as the out-of-focus figures shuffling by our heroes build the tension brilliantly. Unfortunately for the live-action characters, these classic beasties are even more difficult to deal with, as now even a heavy breath (not merely a loud footstep) is enough to trigger them. The attack is enough to show Ellie just what dangers have been growing outside of the quarantine zone. Sadly, she also learns firsthand the deadly consequences of tangling with the infected. 

The Long Kiss Goodnight

Joel is still concerned after Ellie gets bitten yet again, but she still shows no sign of infection. His glass-half-empty attitude has taken its toll on Tess. "Just take the good news for once," she pleads to Joel, knowing full well that she has only bad news on the way. After making it to the rendezvous point, the trio finds the remains of a Firefly team who killed each other when an infection got in the way. Joel decides going back home is the only option, but there's no chance for Tess. She's been bitten; the infection is taking effect and it's a bittersweet sign that Ellie's immunity is real.

What follows is a tremendous turn from Anna Torv as a woman out of options, facing incoming danger, and with no choice but to accept her fate and save the lives of her companions. "I never ask you for anything. Not to feel the way I felt," she says before Joel tries to stop her, adding one final heartbreaking detail to their relationship. "Shut the f*** up because I don't have time." 

It's a performance only elevated by Pedro Pascal's stoic look of devastation as Joel tries to stop the inevitable. Her request is heartbreaking: "Save who you can save." Without a word, Joel grabs Ellie and runs, leaving Tess' final moments to be a deadly, tendril-laced kiss from an infected — a twisted version of the intimacy she wanted with someone else. It's the first loss Joel and Ellie share together and sadly, it's certainly not going to be their last.