Warning! This article contains spoilers for The Last of Us episode 2. If you've not yet watched and don't want to know what happens, then turn back now!
While the premiere of The Last of Us stuck pretty closely to the source material, its follow-up deviates significantly in its final few moments; Tess, Joel's smuggling partner, is killed by a clicker (and explosion), not FEDRA, like she is in the game. Now, creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann have explained why they chose to amplify the threat of the infected early on in the HBO adaptation.
"Why would FEDRA even be here? What are they doing?" Mazin argues, when Troy Baker, who voices Joel in the games, asks about the change on the latest episode of HBO's The Last of Us podcast. "There's nothing there for them to police, really. The whole point of a QZ is that there's a big wall, 'The bad guys are out here, we're in here'. I get why they police the buffer zone so that people can't freely travel back and forth and bring the infection into the QZ. It just didn't make much sense to me to have FEDRA all the way out there.
"We had set up that they were meeting the Fireflies at the State House to tie back into the Tommy thing. 'They'll give you a truck, they'll give you a battery. You'll get everything you need. The Fireflies are waiting for you,'" he went on.
"Also, we wanted a chance to show a different result of being infected, which was not one of mere violence or horror, but rather a sick kind of community. We'd set it up [in episode 2] already that they're connected. Ellie says, 'They're connected' and Tess says, 'More than you know'. Now, at the end, we had the opportunity to show how connected they were. They can sense that she's one of them," Mazin continued, acknowledging the fact that Tess (Anna Torv) had been bitten by a runner in a previous scene. "Then the bad thing happens."
Said "bad thing" appears eerily like a kiss, as Tess, stands her ground against the approaching creeping clickers and prepares to strike up her lighter, ignite some flammable liquid, and blow them all up. As the main monster gets nearer, though, her lighter jams, and the still human-like creature opens its mouth to reveal those horrid tendrils we'd already seen in episode 1. It latches its mouth onto hers and leans into her, as the camera cuts to Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) outside – and the whole building suddenly goes up in flames.
The Last of Us continues on Sunday, January 29 on HBO and HBO Max in the US, and Sky Atlantic and NOW the following day in the UK. Ensure you never miss an episode by checking out our The Last of Us release schedule and our breakdown of how many episodes are in The Last of Us.