The Last of Us game has never pulled its punches and it appears the HBO show is taking a leaf out of its predecessor’s book.
In the show’s second episode, which aired on Sunday, the drama featured a major casualty, Tess (Anna Torv).
Though it wasn’t unexpected for those who have played the games, the moment has some differences from its original source.
Warning: This article contains spoilers for ‘The Last of Us’ Episode 2
Why Tess’s Death Is Vital to ‘The Last of Us’ Storyline
Tess is Joel Miller’s (Pedro Pascal) partner, both romantically and in terms of their smuggling connections, and they were tasked with taking Ellie Williams (Bella Ramsey) and bringing her to one of the labs of the rebel group the Fireflies.
Ellie, it’s later revealed, could be the key to saving humanity because she’s immune to the Cordyceps brain infection, and so she could help in the research for a cure to the virus that has destroyed the planet.
But to get her to the aforementioned lab, Joel and Tess need to take Ellie across terrain crawling with Infected, putting them at a huge risk.
Their luck had clearly run out, because Tess got bitten by a Clicker, which led to her sacrificing herself in order to give Joel and Ellie a chance of escaping.
In the game, Tess’s fate is much the same, but the way in which she goes out in a blaze of glory is slightly different because in the original she faces humans, whereas in the HBO show Tess takes out a horde of Infected.
While viewers are likely to be sad to see Tess go so soon, her demise won’t be too much of a surprise to fans of the game, who will understand why her sacrifice is so important to the story.
The Last of Us, at its core, is a story about hope in the face of astounding adversity, and Tess is a character who embodies that as she remains hopeful that Joel can get Ellie to the Fireflies to save the rest of humanity.
Her actions in Episode 2 show her putting her faith in Joel’s hands, forcing him to realize that there is something important that’s worth fighting for. In a more literal sense, Tess sacrificing herself also allows Joel and Ellie to escape the Infected unharmed and gives them the chance they need to continue their journey.
Also, without sacrifice it would be hard for viewers to understand how high the stakes are for the characters, but also it brings the story to its natural focus: Joel and Ellie.
The pair are the main protagonists of the game and show, which means viewers need to spend a lot of time with the two of them to see their burgeoning bond come to life, which is something that Tess’s loss paves the way for, even if it was sad to witness.
The Last of Us airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max.