The International Changemaker

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The International Changemaker

The International Changemaker

The Last of Us: How a Fungi Replaced Humans

An advertisement poster, made for the premiere of The Last of Us show’s release, January 15, 2023. Featuring main actors Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey.

Being one of the most streamed post-apocalyptic series, The Last Of Us (2023) is based on a PlayStation Exclusive game released in 2013. The Last Of Us features the challenging adventure of a man and a teenage girl. The show is directed by Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, who consulted with the game developers on every episode to maintain a canonic atmosphere of the original product.

The show takes place in ruins of the world that people used to dominate, with the majority of the population deceased or infected with fungus virus – cordyceps. Cordyceps is a parasitic infection, which quickly results in loss of consciousness and complete control by the fungi over the body if reaching the human’s bloodstream. Freshly infected people still look human-like; however, the ones that have been infected for a while have serious deformations of their bodies, with fungal elements growing over their heads making them completely blind in some cases. The objective of the fungi is to spread and corrupt more organisms, which makes infected ones extremely hostile and threatening to humans, attacking and biting healthy survivors.

A comparison of The Last of Us show’s actors with their original character prototypes of PlayStation’s limited game, released as an advertisement on January 15, 2023. (Courtesy of HBO & Sony Interactive Entertainment)

The main storyline takes place 20 years into the apocalypse, introducing the main character Joel Miller, played by Pedro Pascal. He and his girlfriend live in one of the few remaining settlements in the US, located in Boston. Joel makes money by smuggling and distributing drugs and other supplies. The city is controlled by a corrupt militarized group called FEDRA, which used to be special forces that seized many cities at the beginning of the virus outburst. Joel is forced to cooperate with Fireflies, a coalition that is spread all around the former US and stands in opposition to FEDRA. His work with the Fireflies leads to him meeting a teenage girl named Ellie, whom he has to protect on her journey to Fireflies headquarters. Due to unpredictable events, they are forced to stay together for much longer, which strengthens their bond and develops a father-daughter relationship.

One of the highlights of the show is the outstanding makeup for the infected and a realistic setting design that makes you experience the post-apocalyptic vibe. The brutal condition of the infected in the game was one of the most iconic parts of it, changing your gameplay completely when you encounter the blind “clickers” as your enemies, and the show’s makeup artists did a phenomenal job at designing their fungi deformations. As for setting design, the world you see really does look like it’s been 20 years since the virus outbreak, creating an authentic atmosphere and helping the audience feel it, down to the smallest detail. Although some of the events in the show happen too quickly due to the series being 9 episodes long only, it successfully covers all of the most important moments and keeps the iconic ending of the original game, beautifully finishing the first season.

A frame from an original game The Last of Us, released on 2013 by Sony Interactive Entertainment (Courtesy of Sony Interactive Entertainment)

The show does a good job of being interesting for people that have not played the game, and provides new perspectives for the audience that is already familiar with the universe, making it a great choice for a Netflix night for anybody. Both the game and the show are great pieces of media that you can check out, especially if you enjoy post-apocalyptic style in games or series. But since watching shows is easier and is way more flexible than gaming, I suggest you watch the show and consider purchasing the game if you enjoyed the story.

With the leading directors announcing that the following season will be released at the end of 2024/beginning of 2025, there is enough time to watch the first season and discover that cinematic universe for yourself.

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About the Contributor
Makar Kraev, Codeitor-In-Chief
Makar Kraev is Coeditor-In-Chief of the brand new EF Academy newspaper - The International Changemaker. He is an active participant in EF community life, including serving on the Student Council and as a School Ambassador, which he earned through effortful work and a noticeable dedication to leadership tasks. Makar stimulates his colleagues to achieve outstanding results in article creation and is excited to be amongst the first-year crew of the journalism class at EF Academy.

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