The Last Of Us Director Defends Episode 2's Divisive Kiss

The Last Of Us Director Defends Episode 2's Divisive Kiss
Images via HBO

Written by 

Tom Chapman


25th Jan 2023 10:51

Warning: The Last of Us Episode 2 spoilers ahead

To quote Hot Chocolate, "Started with a kiss, never thought it would end like this." If you've been keeping up with HBO's The Last of Us series, you'll know everyone is talking about THAT shocking finale from Episode 2.

Wasting no time adapting Naughty Dog's 2013 survival horror, Craig Mazin's nine-part series is rattling through the source material. Unfortunately, this means we said goodbye to Anna Torv's Tess just two episodes into The Last of Us.

There have been some major swings away from the source material, and instead of spores infecting the remnants of the human race, there's a connected hive mind of Cordyceps monsters.

This led to a harrowing showdown between Ellie (Bella Ramsey), Joel (Pedro Pascal), and Tess, with the latter having been infected and sharing a "kiss" with a fellow infected.

The Last Of Us Showrunner Defends Tess 'Kiss' 

Speaking to Variety, Craig Mazin discussed the episode's ending and why the writers went with this instead of Tess being gunned down by FEDRA soldiers like in the game. 

"We were doing early research on how fungus appears in reality. I found this image that an artist had created of somebody that had become subsumed by fungus and in their mouth, there were mushrooms," said Mazin. 

Saying that they were discussing the philosophical questions of why the infected need to be violent, Mazin concluded that they don't need to be if you don't resist. He asked the horrifying question, "What if you don't? What does it look like if you just stand perfectly still and let them do this to you?"

Explaining why Tess got the "kiss," Mazin added, "I think it's very primal in the way it invades your own body. To use an overused word, it's triggering. It's [a] remarkable combination of Neil's direction."

As for Torv's tragic performance, Mazin concluded, "Anna Torv's acting when there isn't obviously anything there and our visual effects department doing this gorgeous work to make it all come together and feel real and terrible."

The Last of Us Game Director Neil Druckmann serves as Executive Producer on the show and threw in his own thoughts. "Because we're cruel to the characters we love so much, it felt like she knows she's done for," said Druckmann.

"And then the lighter doesn't work, and we take her all the way to the edge of horror before we finally give her an out."

What's Next For The Last Of Us?

In our review of Episode 2, we called The Last of Us' second outing better than the first. As well as departures from the games in terms of how the infected work, both opening scenes have given us flashbacks that flesh out the story of the outbreak.

Early reviews claim that the upcoming Episode 3 is the big one - serving largely as a standalone about Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett). 

Beyond that, we expect the episodes to follow a pretty linear path to the end of the first game, with Season 2 promised to start adapting 2020's The Last of Us Part II

The trailers have confirmed more flashbacks, as well as a cameo of Ellie voice actor Ashley Johnson and an adaptation of the beloved Left Behind DLC to explain who Riley is.

If The Last of Us continues on its current trajectory, we're excited to see whether each episode can continue to one-up the previous one.

Tom is Trending News Editor at GGRecon, with an NCTJ qualification in Broadcast Journalism and over seven years of experience writing about film, gaming, and television. With bylines at IGN, Digital Spy, Den of Geek, and more, Tom’s love of horror means he's well-versed in all things Resident Evil, with aspirations to be the next Chris Redfield.

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