HBO aired the second episode of its video game adaptation “The Last of Us” last night and finally brought the game’s iconic ‘Clickers’ to life in live-action form.
In addition, the episode delivered several key moments and levels from the game – from the rooftop plank walk to the admiring the view, the flooded hotel, the abandoned museum and more. Other elements were different, such as a standalone intro flashback to Indonesia in 2003 and the final moments of the episode.
Just like in the game, the clickers are infected people who have had the cordyceps fungus in their system for so long that it has burst through their faces and rendered them blind, aggressive creatures with highly accurate hearing and a form of echolocation which they use to locate their prey.
Speaking with Variety, creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann reveal that initially the series was “going to have much more of an international view of things” says Mazin but ultimately that didn’t happen.
Druckmann says like with the game, the outbreak’s origins are kept vague, and it was “always important to never say, ‘OK, here is patient zero, the exact origin’” in the series. They do make it pretty explicit in the two episodes thus far that contaminated flour is one of the main ways the fungus initially spread.
Mazin says they made sure the word ‘spores’ is mentioned. The fungus spreads through spores in the game, but in the series, it seems to be through a bite or through mouth tendrils. Asked about the show’s lack of spores thus far, Mazin says:
“I don’t necessarily know if we’re going to see any spores this time around, but to say that our world is devoid of them would not be accurate. We don’t quite know yet: That’s part of the fun of adaptation, and leaving these blurry edges of the map for our characters to discover as the adventure continues.
[It’s] all right if people are upset by it – I don’t blame them. Everybody dreams of working on something where the fan engagement is to this level, where people will argue about these things or feel passionate about them… I get it. We definitely will not make everyone happy, I know that much.”
Another key difference new to the series is the interconnectedness of the fungus, which can act like an intelligent and vast single-living organism – touching fungus in one place can trigger infected people mile away to come running. Druckmann says: “It’s one of those things that would make amazing gameplay. I wish we had that in the game.”
Check out the trailer for episode 3, and the making of featurette for episode 2 below, which goes heavily into the clickers design.