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The Last of Us shares its theory of the spread and origin of the infection

The Last of Us Episode 3 explains how cordyceps spread across the world and how society collapsed in only of two days.

The Last of Us shares its theory of the spread and origin of the infection

How did it all begin? In the highly praised episode 3 of The Last of Us, Ellie asks Joel the question that has been on our minds. “And it all went to shit in one day? how? Come on, there was no Cordyceps. The people were fine. Eating in restaurants, taking planes... and then suddenly there was. How did it start? Because if they have to bite you to infect you,who bit the first person?”,wondered the young girl. ”Was it a monkey? I’m sure it was a monkey! In FEDRA (Federal Disaster Response Agency) schools they don’t teach you how our government screwed up with the pandemic”.

Joel chooses not to lie to his partner and tells her the truth, scary as it is. "No one knows for sure, but it is believed that cordyceps mutated and contaminated some food, some basic ingredients such as flour or sugar. There were brands of food that were sold all over the country, all over the world. Bread, cereal or pancake batter. If you ate enough you would get infected. The contaminated food arrived at all stores on Thursday around the same time. It was sold and consumed that night, or in the morning. Hours later, people fell ill. Between afternoon and night they got worse and then began to bite. Friday September 26, 2003. On Monday there was nothing left.

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The origin in the series is Indonesia, but Latin America in the games

Joel's explanation is in line with those shown in the prologue of episode 2 of The Last of Us. In that one, the series showed us Jakarta, the most populated city in Indonesia, and the source of the infection. They told us that it all started in a flour factory on September 24, 2003. The showrunners did not pick this date at random, as it is two days before the death of Sarah, Joel's daughter, which exposes the speed at which everything spread. In a matter of hours, as Joel says,the fungus traveled from one side of the planet to the other.

This is one of the few details in which the series deviates from the game. Because in the latter, back in 2013, we were told that cordyceps mutated in South America, where it contaminated various crops through which it passed to humans. This could be read in a copy of the Texas Herald that served as a collectible and that could be read in the prologue with Joel and Sarah:

“The Food and Drug Administration investigation of the crops potentially contaminated with mold continues across the country. Initial lists distributed to vendors across the country warned against crops imported from South America, but now the scope has been expanded to include Central America and Mexico. Several companies have already voluntarily removed their food products from the shelves.”

Do the game creators agree with the changes?

Some will also wonder if these changes (or other even more striking ones, such as the idea of the infected now having a hive mind) are accepted by the creators of the original game. The answer is that everything seems to indicate yes. What’s more,one of the co-showrunners is Neil Druckmann, the creative director of Naughty Dog, precisely the studio that developed it. Druckmann himself was in charge of directing the chapter that changed Latin America for Jakarta. Will the other person responsible for them, Bruce Straley, also agree, or is that why HBO has deleted him from the credits?