Jakarta, Indonesia, September 24th, 2003, opens the latest episode of The Last of Us, the focus on Ibu Ratna (Christine Hakim)- a professor of mycology. Through Professor Ratna, we learn about one of the first cases of Cordyceps in humans with a perfect mix of suspense and horror. The devastating effect and loss of hope is shown through Ratna and Hakim’s powerful but brief performance that will leave a lasting impression on viewers.
The last episode was close to perfect, the only deterrent being Tess (Anna Torv) but this episode confirms Torv delivers a performance as powerful and devastating as Pedro Pascal. There is not a single fault to be found in this episode and it truly delivers in every aspect while expanding on bits and pieces missing from the game. With every change and tweak, it is done to further the adaptation and remains immensely respectful of the source material. Game fans will love the episode for how true it is and viewers that have never played the game can be drawn in and terrified as a clicker makes its way stalking through the screen at the smallest of sounds.
There is no exposition to ruin the episode or the series. Viewers are treated with respect and intelligence as we see outside the Quarantine Zone for the first time with Ellie, who, like the viewer, is experiencing it new. Briefly but effectively, the threats are shown and ominous as the adaptation makes one of the most significant changes to the game through the infected. Now, they can communicate through their fungus. If you step on Cordyceps fungus, they will know even from a mile away, they know where you are and they will come for you. The added intelligence fits seamlessly into the world of The Last of Us, almost as if it should have been there all along. From the beginning of the episode the threat is made clear and even better, it is felt. There is a presence that deepens with each second and if you played the game and were scared of the Clickers, you will still be terrified of them in the game. It is as if the Clickers are taken directly from the game- fear of them included. The threat and danger of them is immense and will have you jumping out of your skin no matter how familiar you are with them. Having played every version of the game, they are just as terrifying in the series.
The heart of the episode, aside from the fear, is Anna Torv as Tess. From the last episode, Tess was the only thing that made the episode slightly below perfect. While Torv’s iteration of Tess is different from the game in feel and performance, it is still a fantastic performance full of heart. This Tess is colder, more pragmatic than the game, but the final section of the episode is the only time I saw TV Tess as Game Tess, and that was okay. Torv delivers a powerful array of emotions with great chemistry to match Bella Ramsey as Ellie showing that, so far, the casting has been spot on even when it creates differences to the source material.
Tess is, for many reasons, the MVC of the episode. There is a partnership shown with Joel that was lacking in the last episode that is great to watch. Anna Torv is exceptional in the episode as Tess with nuanced but powerful performances. The tension and fear created in this episode is truly terrifying, with changes made to the infected respectful to the source but making them more terrifying and sinister.