I’ve to be brutally sincere: I discovered episode 1 of “The Final of Us” a bit uninteresting. I attributed that to it being a pilot telling a narrative I already principally knew, however in a 5 star ranking system, I’d in all probability give it a 3. Excellent news, although: episode 2 is means higher!
We open in Jakarta on Sept. 24, 2003. A lady, Ibu Ratna, professor of mycology on the College of Indonesia, is detained by a serious-looking navy authority and dropped at what appears to be a hospital. There, Ratna inspects a corpse, which has a nasty chew on its leg and a mouth stuffed with still-moving mycelium.
Measured in opposition to the intro to the primary episode — the speak present bit — I believed this was a lot stronger. The primary intro had the unenviable job of getting to clarify the thought of an apocalyptic fungal an infection to an viewers which will have been primed for simply one other zombie TV present. Right here, we all know what’s occurring, and the opening sequence coasts on that, delivering dread and melancholy during. When the professor realizes the scope of the issue — at that time, solely about 15 contaminated individuals unaccounted for — she tells the navy man: “Bomb. Begin bombing. Bomb this metropolis and everybody in it.” Clear-eyed about the issue, Ratna asks to go dwelling and spend her remaining time along with her household.
(It is a Craig Mazin speciality, by the way in which. If you happen to preferred this taste of “scientist grapples with an awesome, inhuman catastrophe in entrance of a bureaucrat,” boy do I’ve excellent news for you about Mazin’s earlier present, “Chernobyl.”)
We minimize to Ellie, who wakes as much as discover Joel and Tess standing guard over her. They interrogate her and be taught that her vacation spot is a Firefly navy base, the place her miraculous survival may assist manufacture a treatment. Joel says he’s heard all of it earlier than, and desires no a part of it.
There’s some beautiful staging on this scene. Ellie sits below a beam of sunshine, tufts of grass and flowers sprouting round her. Joel, then again, is in the dead of night. And Tess, because the scene progresses, steps from out of the darkish with Joel, ending up proper between the 2. The entire time, Joel’s fingers shake (a hairline fracture; he brushes it off). Tess’s religion, in the meantime — in every thing she thought she knew concerning the an infection — is shaken too. Tess finds the center floor, and the journey continues. Ellie is probably not who the Fireflies suppose she is, however delivering her will nonetheless internet the adults what they want: a automobile battery.
Exterior, the group comes upon a crater. “Is that this the place they bombed?” asks Ellie. It’s, Tess says. Most large cities, we be taught, have been hit like this. However it’s not obvious that it labored in all these different locations, or what “labored” means, for that matter. A bit later, when Ellie references zombies that use echolocation, Tess and Joel change apprehensive appears.
Again to again, we get two one-on-one conversations between Ellie and both Tess or Joel. (This is named juxtaposition.) Tess feedback that Ellie is a bizarre child, however she’s clearly warming to her. They discuss how Ellie acquired bit within the first place (she provides a type of solutions that feels prefer it’s omitting one thing, like we’ll be revisiting this in a later episode, perhaps), and you may sense there’s a flicker of recognition when Ellie talks about breaking into an off-limits space within the quarantine zone. That’s Tess and Joel’s bread and butter; they’re smugglers, in spite of everything.
Joel and Ellie have a more durable time discovering frequent floor — or reasonably, their dynamic is shaping up otherwise than Tess and Ellie’s. As a paternal guardian protector sort determine, Joel strikes in to avoid wasting Ellie from a skeleton-falling-over jumpscare because the group heads towards the State Home. That’s some extent within the Joel column. However Ellie isn’t actually primed to make dialog with a man who she is aware of has undoubtedly considered killing her. She wisecracks, and the one heartfelt forwards and backwards the 2 have is about killing contaminated. Does Joel really feel dangerous killing them understanding they have been as soon as individuals, Ellie asks? Generally, Joel says.
Taken collectively, these two conversations kind an fascinating impression of the trio. They virtually appear to be… a household? I hope nothing dangerous occurs!
There’s an impediment on the way in which to the State Home: a mass of contaminated, seen from the roof of the resort. We be taught a bit extra concerning the guidelines of the world right here. As a patch of sunshine passes over the zombies, we see them writhe in a wave-like movement, in unison. Tess explains that they’re linked. If you happen to step on a patch of cordyceps in a single place, an underground fungal connection alerts cordyceps elsewhere, like a visit wire.
Seeing as that route is closed, the group opts to undergo a museum. There’s a passage on the roof that’ll deliver them nearer. The museum’s facade is roofed in fungal development, however Joel assessments it with the butt of his rifle and declares it bone dry. Maybe, he causes, the contaminated inside are lifeless. However once they enter, Ellie stumbles upon a physique that appears very not too long ago lifeless. And it appears worse than different victims have; Joel and Tess are visibly freaked out by the state of this corpse. However for the trio’s functions, the one means out is thru, so silently they go.
Silence is the important thing phrase right here. Keep in mind these zombies Ellie talked about that use echolocation? Right here they’re! When the group makes it to the second ground, the ceiling caves in behind them, obstructing their means out. The commotion additionally attracts two zombies; Joel indicators to Ellie that these contaminated can’t see, and transfer round primarily based on sound. (These seem like clickers, a sort of zombie from the sport.) An exhale from Ellie units one off, and Joel fights it off whereas the second chases Tess and Ellie. At a sure level, Ellie and Tess break up up, and the eye focuses again to Joel, who regroups with Ellie. The digital camera work right here actually turns up the stress: By my estimate, the contaminated are off display greater than on on this sequence, with tight zooms taking them off our radar. The combat ends with Joel capturing one zombie and Tess lodging a hatchet in one other.
Ellie is bitten once more, however shrugs it off: “If it was going to occur to one in all us,” she says, trailing off.
“You alright?” Joel asks Tess. Twisted ankle, she responds.
Joel goes to bandage Tess’s foot, however is rebuked when he asks if she thinks the second chew may truly infect Ellie. She needs him to look on the brilliant facet. Perhaps for as soon as, she says, they’ll truly win. He appears out towards the golden dome of the Massachusetts State Home, and within the solar, one thing resembling a smile crosses his face.
Because the group approaches the State Home, they see a truck. It’s empty, and there’s a corpse not removed from it. A path of blood leads indoors. Tess hurries indoors, solely to search out extra corpses. One acquired bit, and the wholesome ones fought the sick ones, Joel determines. To him, this implies the journey is over, and it’s time to go dwelling. However Tess is adamant: Joel now must get Ellie to her vacation spot. Ellie figures it out earlier than Joel does: Tess is contaminated.
Her fingers shake and her voice wavers as she asks Joel to decide to take Ellie to Invoice and Frank, who she says will take her off his fingers. (For the file, we don’t know who Invoice and Frank are, but, although individuals who have performed “The Final of Us” might have some sense of what the story is there.) There’s some blink-and-you’ll-miss-it characterization right here, too: Pleading with Joel, Tess tells him she by no means requested him to really feel the way in which she felt. Tess and Joel are shut sufficient. However the takeaway right here is that Tess discovered one thing resembling normalcy within the post-apocalypse: love. It doesn’t appear to be Joel ever did. No less than he by no means admitted to it.
As this scene has unfolded, Joel has stood rooted in place, mutely nodding or shaking his head. Out of the blue, one of many corpses shudders to life, and it is a world by which Joel is comfy once more. He strides over with authority and shoots the zombie within the head. Then, we see tendrils flit up between the corpse’s fingers. The underground fungal wiring Tess was speaking about earlier than has been activated, and a horde of close by zombies awakens. No matter time Tess thought she had with Joel left is definitively minimize brief.
Save who it can save you, Tess tells Joel. So he grabs Ellie and hauls her out of the constructing, leaving Tess behind.
Tess begins upturning barrels of gasoline and scattering round grenades, meaning to blow up the zombies which have arrived. However she struggles to flick on her lighter, attracting the eye of a zombie that’s a bit extra human than the clickers we noticed earlier (he has recognizable facial options, together with one eye). In what has maybe been my least favourite sequence on this present thus far, the zombie vegetation a tendril-full smackeroo on Tess; it’s a cursed mirror picture of the popularity and intimacy Tess needed from Joel. Because the mycelia work their means into her mouth, we see the lighter lastly produce a flame.
From Ellie and Joel’s vantage level outdoors, we see an explosion burst from the State Home, with a handful of contaminated burning up on their means out of the constructing. Ellie appears shocked. Joel’s facial features, in the meantime, calls into query Tess’s earlier assertion about his feeling towards her. His gaze lingers, his eyes water — then he remembers Ellie, turns away from the State Home and retains strolling.
Questions and observations
- This episode is all about Tess. She will envision a future. She needs to know issues about different individuals. Episode 2 is about her character refracting off of Ellie and Joel, and what’s revealed about the primary characters in that gentle.
- I’ve seen numerous YouTube movies theorizing that the supply of the fungal an infection is contaminated flour. Sarah, Joel and Tommy pointedly keep away from any meals with flour in it in episode 1, and on this episode, the outbreak is sourced to a flour and grain manufacturing unit in Indonesia. It’s an fascinating easter egg should you’re into that type of factor (although I’m not).
- There’s a snippet within the intro sequence the place we see an abstracted individual’s face. The fungal development then continues out of the brow — simply as cordyceps actually do to their insect hosts.
- There was an entire brouhaha over the present not having fungal spores in it like the sport did. Effectively, should you care about that, Ellie says the phrase “spores” across the 20 minute mark. Eat your coronary heart out. This has been this week’s version of Spore Watch. I’d not depend on this being a recurring phase.
- A frog performs a piano on this episode. The piano sounds shockingly good for being submerged in water and presumably not being tuned for some twenty years. Each piano tuner I’ve ever spoken to says you want to tune them not less than annually, or the pins get tousled. Perhaps I’ve been getting ripped off.