The Last of Us Just Answered a Big Question About Cordyceps
Written by on January 23, 2023
In the case of The Last of Us, however, the cordyceps’ jump to human bodies first being observed in Jakarta is hugely significant to the plot. You see, Jakarta just happens to be home to the largest flour mill in the world and Indonesia is a leading global exporter of flour and wheat. The Last of Us episode 2 acknowledges this fact when the military reveals to Ibu Ratna that the first infected individuals were discovered at a “flour and grain factory on the west side of the city.” Unfortunately, the government has no idea who first bit their specimen and 14 total workers have gone missing from that same factory.
Just as was the case in The Last of Us video game continuity, it is clear that on the TV series the cordyceps fungus made its way into the global food supply before anyone could even notice what was happening. This isn’t like a slow-moving zombie virus where one infected monster infects another, setting off a chain reaction across the globe. This was a mass event of near simultaneous infection.
Of course, not every single person in the world was infected because not every single person consumed flour product in late September 2003. That leads us into one of The Last of Us‘s most clever bit of background storytelling yet. As first noticed and reported by Tik Tok-er Hidden TV Details, Joel and Sarah don’t join the ranks of the cordyceps-infected on Sept. 26 simply because they don’t eat any bread.
Episode 1’s script comes up with several fascinating little contrivances to keep Joel and Sarah away from tainted grain. For starters, Joel is following the low-carb Atkins diet (which was popular in the early 2000s and was the “keto” of its day) and therefore rejects their neighbors’ offer of a biscuit. Joel and Sarah note that they don’t have any pancake mix to make for breakfast. Sarah politely turns down an oatmeal raisin cookie. And later on, Joel’s forgetting of a birthday cake actually saves both their lives (at least until the dickhead feds kill Sarah). That very same episode also features a news report in the background that warns of concerning developments in Jakarta just to set up this second episode reveal.