The second episode of HBO’s The Last of Us series just hit the streamer yesterday, and fans are already criticizing the show for changing certain things from the games.
The episode, titled “Infected,” recreates several of the first few levels of the original game. It sees Joel, Ellie and Tess sneaking through an overrun city to drop off Ellie with Firefly rebels. In a deviation from the game, creators Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin introduced a new way of spreading the fungal infection. The infected use tendrils from their body and plant a nasty kiss on them, thus giving them the cordyceps fungus.
In the game, one of the major ways in which the infection spreads is through airborne spores; the show’s omission of spores has already caused some fans to feel that the series is being too flexible with its adaptation.
“I’ve learned to expect backlash from sneezing,” Druckman said in an interview with Variety. “I think it speaks to the kind of fans that we have, who are so protective and love the world and these characters so much that anything they see as a deviation, without the full context of what it means, they assume the worst and push back on it. I think that addition is something worthwhile. It’s actually one of those additions where I’m like, ‘Oh man, I wish we had it for the game. I wish we had thought of it years ago, because I love it so much.'”
The Last of Us Episode 2: TV Show vs Game Comparison
Mazin added: “That’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 do feel sometimes, if you just see how it goes, I think you’ll be OK. A lot of that has happened, but there will also definitely be people who are like, ‘You fucked up,’ and I get it. We definitely will not make everyone happy, I know that much.”
The omission of spores makes sense practically for a live action adaptation, as the presence of spores would mean that Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey would have to wear gas masks for much of the shows runtime. However, Mazin insists that the show still has not completely eliminated the spores.
“If you listen carefully, the word ‘spores’ is mentioned,” he said. “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.”
The Last of Us series is just getting started, so it’s anyone’s guess as to how the rest of the show will live up to the beloved video games. For now, though, the creators seem to know that backlash is expected when adapting one of the greatest games ever made.
Carson Burton is a freelance news writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter at @carsonsburton.