The Last of Us introduced a fresh agony: a hulking, merciless version of a Cordyceps-infected animal known as bloaters, just when you thought you'd reached your greatest fungal-freakout.
The first bloater from the HBO series that sprang out of the ground during Kathleen and Henry's fight in a cul-de-sac is well-known. Even with molotov cocktails, nail bombs, and shotguns at your disposal, they are very difficult to kill.
In HBO's official podcast, series co-creator Neil Druckmann explained that the gigantic beast looks and moves differently than its deadly brethren.
“When you first get infected, there’s a term called a ‘runner,’ which is just a recently infected [person],” he said. (Think of Joel and Sarah's elderly neighbor in the premiere.) “Eventually the Cordyceps grows through your face, cracks it open, takes away your eyes, your vision, and you become what's called a ‘clicker,’ because now these infected use echolocation to find their way.” (See also:
Druckmann continued, adding that the fungus does not always follow the same strategy as humans do. "Sometimes, when they know they're going to die, they go underground to a dark place and they settle against a wall, they settle against a corner, and the infection becomes part of the environment."
Those who don't become familiar with their environment are destined for something terrifying. "There are certain people that are so strong and huge that they can live longer," said the executive producer. "And it just becomes that much more dangerous, again as we go forward."
Is it any wonder that Craig Mazin, the co-creator, is making a deal? There's no stopping them.
"We also thought, look, whatever this thing is and however it got that way, there was this notion that it might be more dangerous that at some point you realize, you're not killing it," he said. "No one is ever killing it."
“People don’t rip along the waist,” he said, adding that the script originally demanded that Kathleen's friend, Perry, be killed by picking him up and breaking him in half at the torso. In the end, they eventually went with the game-loyal decapitation maneuver you see in the episode.
What did you think of the introduction of the bloater? Tell us in the comments!