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'The Last of Us' Episode 2 recap: More heartbreak as we see scary scope of infection

HBO's hit show gets darker and scarier, wth Pedro Pascal's character Joel experiencing another massive loss

After a bombshell season premiere, HBO's The Last of Us (on Crave at 9:00 p.m. ET Sundays in Canada) keeps the heartache coming in Episode 2, titled "Infected."

Here's everything you need to know from Episode 2 of HBO's The Last of Us (spoilers ahead):

We ended the premiere episode with Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Tess (Anna Torv) starting their journey to get Ellie (Bella Ramsey) to a group of Fireflies outside Boston's quarantine zone. Episode 2 begins by establishing the global scope of this fungus.

The episode begins in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Sept. 24, 2003. Ibu Ratna (Christine Hakim), a professor of mycology at the University of Indonesia, is taken by local officers to a lab to examine a specimen.

She identifies the sample as Ophiocordyceps, which is problematic because it was taken from a human, and Cordyceps cannot survive in humans. Until now.

Christine Hakim in HBO's The Last of Us (Liane Hentscher/HBO)
Christine Hakim in HBO's The Last of Us (Liane Hentscher/HBO)

The professor then goes into a protected room, wearing a full hazmat suit, where she sees a woman’s body, with what looks like a gunshot wound in the middle of her forehead. Examining the woman’s leg, Ratna sees a bite mark, similar to what we saw on Ellie’s arm in Episode 1. The professor cuts open her leg to see a white substance under her skin.

Moving up to the woman’s mouth, the professor pulls out these white fibres, fungus tendrils, growing out of the mouths of the infected person. Seeing this causes the professor to jump back in fear.

What’s discovered is that over the course of about 30 hours, a woman working in a flour and grain factory became violent and attacked four coworkers, bit three of them. The woman was shot by police.

The people this infected woman bit were taken for observation, but were executed a few hours later. Officers don’t know how the first woman was bitten and infected, and they confirmed that 14 workers from the factory are missing.

Ratna is asked what officials can do to stop this fungus from spreading to more people, but she has a bleak recommendation.

“There is no medicine. There is no vaccine,” she says. “Start bombing. Bomb this city and everyone in it.”

Bella Ramsey and Anna Torv in HBO's The Last of Us (Liane Hentscher/HBO)
Bella Ramsey and Anna Torv in HBO's The Last of Us (Liane Hentscher/HBO)

Story behind Ellie's bite and why she's so important to the Fireflies

After that grim introduction to the episode, we get back to Joel, Tess and Ellie.

As we saw at the end of Episode 1, the three of them are getting out of the quarantine zone. But after seeing the bite mark on Ellie’s arm, Tess and Joel have to figure out what they signed up for, and what kind of danger they may be in.

Ellie wakes up in a refuge stop with Tess and Joel staring at her, gun in hand. Ellie maintains that she’s not infected and explains what Marlene (Merle Dandridge) was doing with her.

What we discover is that Marlene found Ellie when she had been bitten after sneaking into an old mall, but Ellie never turned into a monster. Marlene’s team had been testing her everyday and while the mark on Ellie's arm remains, that was the only change in her after being bitten.

Marlene’s plan has been to get Ellie to a Firefly basecamp with doctors who are working on a cure. They believe whatever happened to Ellie is the key to creating a vaccine to save what's left of humanity.

Joel isn’t convinced, saying that he’s heard about miracle cures before, but it never works. He’s adamant that they need to go back and leave Ellie in the quarantine zone, while Tess thinks they should just get her to the Fireflies as quickly as possible to get their car battery and supplies.

Bella Ramsey and Anna Torv in HBO's The Last of Us (Liane Hentscher/HBO)
Bella Ramsey and Anna Torv in HBO's The Last of Us (Liane Hentscher/HBO)

They continue their journey, with Ellie absolutely taken aback from being in the open city, particularly during the daytime.

Joel, Tess and Ellie go into an abandoned hotel, walking through the flooded building with frogs and other animals now inhabiting the space (in addition to some floating dead bodies).

This is the beginning of The Last of Us setting up the future bond between Joel and Ellie. In one particularly poignant scene, Ellie is alone with Joel and she asks how long infected people live. He tells her some last about a month or two, but others have been walking around for 20 years. She then asks if it was hard for him to kill infected people, knowing that they were once real people. He says “sometimes.”

Looking down from the balcony of this abandoned hotel, there is just a sea of infected people lying together, squirming on the ground.

“The fungus also grows underground, long fibres like wires, some of them stretching over a mile,” Tess says to Ellie. “You step on a patch of Cordyceps in one place and you can wake a dozen infected from somewhere else. Now they know where you are, now they come.”

“You’re not immune from being ripped apart.”

Pedro Pascal and Anna Torv in HBO's The Last of Us (Liane Hentscher/HBO)
Pedro Pascal and Anna Torv in HBO's The Last of Us (Liane Hentscher/HBO)

What happens to Tess in 'The Last of Us'?

The trio then travel to a building that used to be a museum. There’s fungus growing across the front door but it’s “bone dry." Joel explains this means any monsters could all be dead inside, so they proceed.

But they come face-to-face with an infected creature. While Joel tries to fight it off, Tess and Ellie run to a safer place in this abandoned museum. Joel ends up with Ellie, crouching right next to creature, which Joel ends up shooting. Then Tess runs in with another monster chasing her, which Joel kills as well.

After trying to fight them off, we find out that Ellie has been bitten, with Joel now even more skeptical that she’ll survive a second bite without turning into a monster.

Ellie, Tess and Joel make it to the truck they were set to take for the journey, but they’re met with dead bodies. All the Fireflies at the post have been killed after one of them got bit. Now Tess and Joel need to figure out where exactly Marlene needed Ellie to go, but there is no one alive to guide them.

That’s when we get to the big reveal. Tess has been bitten, she’s infected with a massive bite mark on her shoulder, up to her neck.

As Ellie takes the bandage off her arm, the new bite mark hasn’t gotten any worse.

“Joel she’s f-cking real,” Tess says. “I need you to get her to Bill and Frank’s, they’ll take her off your hands. They’ll handle it from here.”

“I never ask you for anything. … This is your chance to get her there and keep her alive.”

As Joel runs out of the building, Ellie is resistant to leaving Tess behind. While the professor in Jakarta was hoping to spare the rest of the world by bombing the city in 2003, Tess is pushing Joel to "save who you can save," in their current circumstances.

Before a swarm of infected creatures enter the building, Tess spreads a container of gasoline and hand grenades over the floor of the building. When they enter, one creature comes right up to Tess, putting its tendrils in her mouth. She takes a lighter and throws it on the ground, setting the building, and everything in it, on fire.

With that heartbreak, Joel and Ellie continue on their journey, to be continued in Episode 3. The episode where we finally found out who Bill and Frank are, and their connection to Tess and Joel.