The Last of Us made its TV debut earlier this week, with reception so far praising the show for its faithful adaptation of the game it is based on.
However, there are some areas of the show that deviate slightly from Naughty Dog’s original telling of Joel and Ellie’s story. The most notable of these, which was announced ahead of the show’s release, was that there would no longer be spores spreading the Cordyceps infection.
Now, upcoming dialogue between Pedro Pascal’s Joel and Bella Ramsey’s Ellie (shared as part of the BBC’s audio review of the series) has revealed another way the virus can spread in the show. Please note, the below contains spoilers for The Last of Us.
This dialogue sees the two characters discussing how the infection began. Ellie suggests a person must be bitten to become infected with Cordyceps, and asks Joel what he thinks the first infected person was bitten by (her guess is a monkey).
It is here Joel reveals that, while no one knows for sure, it is widely assumed the Cordyceps mutated and got into the food supply, contaminating everyday products like flour and sugar.
“There were certain brands of food that were sold everywhere, all across the country, across the world – bread, cereal… pancake mix,” Joel tells Ellie.
“You eat enough of it, it’ll get you infected.”
He continues: “So the tainted food all hits the store shelves around the same time, Thursday. People bought it. Eat some Thursday night or a Friday morning. The day goes on, they started to get sick. Afternoon, evening, they got worse. And they started biting.”
Following the first episode’s release on Monday (if you are in the UK), show creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann alluded to this upcoming reveal about the infection’s origins in the show’s accompanying podcast. In fact, Mazin cheekily stated there were some “breadcrumbs” in this episode that people may spot regarding the outbreak.
Meanwhile, if you now go back and rewatch episode one, you will clearly see these breadcrumbs and just how close Joel and his family were to becoming infected.
Sarah wanted to make pancakes for Joel’s breakfast, but didn’t have the right ingredients, so made eggs instead. Their neighbours offered them both biscuits as they left their house in the morning, with Joel declining the offer saying he is on the Atkins diet. Then, when Sarah visits the same neighbours later that day, she is offered some freshly baked cookies. However, Sarah turns her nose up at them when she is told they are raisin (understandable, I always feel cheated when I think I am getting choc chip and it turns out to be the disappointment of raisin). Lastly, Joel forgot to pick up a cake for his birthday, much to the disgruntlement of his daughter.
This all meant that, when the outbreak began, Joel and his family were not one of the many who were infected. Their neighbours who had been eating the biscuits and cookies, however, were, resulting in one of the most unnerving moments I can remember from a show in years. In fact, I have goosebumps just thinking about it again now.
For more on The Last of Us, you can read my episode one recap here.