Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Last of Us episode 1. If you've yet to tune in and don't want to know anything before watching, then turn back now.
The Last of Us TV show begins by charting the harrowing early days of the cordyceps outbreak as Joel (Pedro Pascal), his daughter Sarah (Nico Parker), and his brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna) piece together what’s going on. In the background of the prologue, we see people getting infected while it’s suggested by the characters that the outbreak may have spread from the city.
However, one Redditor (opens in new tab) noticed some clues that point to a different origin point for the fungus in the opening episode. "I wonder if the initial cordyceps outbreak in the show is spread by contaminated flour," they speculated. "There are too many coincidences that have our main characters avoid eating objects with flour."
As the user pointed out, during the morning of Joel’s birthday, Sarah has no flour so she makes eggs rather than pancakes, the pair refuse the biscuits from the Adlers, and Joel mentions he’s on Atkins, which has no carbs. Then on the radio, the news mentions that riots are getting worse in Jakarta as well, and some viewers have noted this is where the world’s largest flour mill is based.
The clues continue when Sarah gets home from school and heads to the Adlers, who are already in the grips of the infection. She doesn’t take the cookies as they contain raisins, and then when Joel gets back home, he’s forgotten to bring a birthday cake. The fact that they’ve avoided getting infected while also avoiding all of these flour-based products could be a huge clue to how the fungus spread.
Speaking on HBO’s The Last of Us official podcast (opens in new tab), co-showrunner Craig Mazin also dropped a big hint about this theory. While discussing Nana (Wendy Gorling), the character who we first see infected, he mentioned she’s unable to eat biscuits, before adding: "By the way, a lot of little details are going to come back around. 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."
We already know that the series is changing elements of the outbreak compared to the game, including not having spores as its main route of transmission. Therefore, the show may also build out the details of its origin too, which is something the games only lightly touch on.
As Mazin suggests, it seems we’ll have to keep a close eye on the coming episodes to see if there’s any weight to this theory. Check out our The Last of Us release schedule and episode breakdown to make sure you don’t miss a moment. We’ve also taken a deep dive into all of the changes made from the games in episode 1, as well as what exactly that song at the end means.