Warning! This article contains spoilers for both The Last of Us episode 2 and the original game.The last of us episode 2 opens in Jakarta, Indonesia, and sheds more light on the origin of the Cordyceps infection in a way that changes the game’s story. The opening of The last of us episode 2 is about Ibu Ratna who is disturbed from her lunch by an Indonesian military officer. Ratna works at the University of Indonesia as a professor of mycology, which is the study of fungi.


Ibu Ratna is taken to a secret facility to inspect a strain of Cordyceps that was taken from a human. After stating that Cordyceps cannot survive in humans, Ratna examines the dead body of a person infected by the fungi. It is then explained to her that the woman was infected with Cordyceps and bit several other workers who are not known, further explaining the origin of the virus in HBO’s The last of us after the global warming revelation of episode 1.

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How the Cordyceps Infection Started in the Last of Us Game

In the original The last of us, the Cordyceps infection started in the same way. A newspaper that can be found in Joel and Sarah’s house in the opening section of the game gives some details about this. According to the paper, the Cordyceps strain began infecting humans through infected crops. These crops then transferred the fungus to human hosts, who then began to feel its effects and spread it to other people through bites.

In the newspaper extract it is explained that these infected crops were recalled from shelves across the country. It also states that these infected products are expanding into Central America and Mexico as people began to become infected across the Americas. This saw the outbreak happen in September 2013, a timeline changed for HBOs last of us with enough people carrying the infection to spread it to the masses both in America and worldwide.

How the origin of the Jakarta infection changes The Last Of Us story

Last of Us Scientist Game Characters

The origin of the infection remains largely unchanged in HBO’s adaptation, with The last of us episode 2 reveals that the first infected Jakartans came from a flour and grain factory in the city. However, a big change comes in the use of Jakarta itself. The original Last of us the game states that the infected crops originate from South America, which became the epicenter of the infection’s origin. The change from South America to Asia provides further changes from the game’s infection story, following the global warming revelation of episode 1.

This change, while seemingly insignificant, actually makes a lot of sense. The reason for this comes from the origin of the real world Cordyceps mushrooms, which The last of us infection is based on. In real life, Cordyceps mushrooms are found largely in Asia, with the majority of the 600 described species originating from the continent. This makes the Cordyceps brain infection outbreak originating in Jakarta make a lot more sense than the game’s South American origins, as an Asian country like Indonesia is much more likely to see a mutated version of the fungi that are abundant on the continent.

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Last Of Us Episode 2 Confirms The Outbreak Timeline

Joel Texas Last of Us episode 1

Another thing that The last of us episode 2 sheds some light on the timeline of the Cordyceps outbreak in relation to Joel and Sarah’s experiences in The last of us episode 1’s opening. The last of us episode 2’s Jakarta section takes place on September 24, 2003, and details the already spiraling Cordyceps infection taking hold of the city through negligent workers. The opening of That Last of us episode 1, featuring Sarah’s death, takes place two days later on September 26, 2003.

This exemplifies how quickly the mutated Cordyceps spread across the globe through the flour and grain industry, likely developing wheat-based products for worldwide distribution. Since the Cordyceps infection is known to take hold 24-48 hours after infection, and the dead Jakartan woman was infected 30 hours before September 24, it makes sense that the world would see the effects of the virus just two days later. Since Indonesia is one of the world’s largest importers of wheat products, it makes sense that the infection would begin there and see the spread grow so quickly.

The Last of Us episode 2 foreshadows Joel’s final decision

Joel Last of Us End Scene

Warning! Major spoilers for the original The Last of Us game ahead.Outside The last of us episode 2, opening with further details on the origin of the infection, it also foreshadows Joel’s final decision that spawned Ellie’s immunity in The last of us. After Ibu Ratna inspects the infected person, she is asked to help make a vaccine or medicine. Ratna then darkly states that she has studied fungi all her life, meaning she is aware that no vaccine or medicine can be made against such an infection. When asked what they should do in light of this, Ratna says that the city should be bombed as that is the only way to stop the spread.

This dark revelation not only shows how serious the Cordyceps infection is The last of us but sets up Joel’s decision at the end of the story. In the game, Joel takes Ellie to the Fireflies, who say that synthesizing a vaccine would only work by killing Ellie, and even then it’s not guaranteed to work. Pedro Pascal’s Joel, still traumatized by Sarah’s death, goes on a Firefly killing spree in retaliation so he can spare Ellie, who he sees as his daughter after their journey together.

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This decision is prescribed effectively in The last of us episode 2, where this specific scene surrounding Ibu Ratna both condemns and justifies Joel’s choice at once. As for the latter, Ratna’s certainty that no vaccine is possible means that eventually Joel saving Ellie will be the right decision. If a vaccine cannot be created in a fully functioning society in 2003, the likelihood of one being made in 2023, after society has collapsed, is minimal to say the least. The decision to bomb innocents to stop the spread further supports Joel’s decision, with such a radical solution that means a vaccine really cannot be created.

While Joel kills the officer in Last of us episode 1 also set up Joel’s decision, Ibu Ratna gives evidence as to why it will be the wrong choice. While the certainty of saying no vaccine is possible justifies Joel’s choice, it also makes Ellie’s immunity that much more critical. That Ellie was immune to the disease, which no one fully understood in 2003, could prove to be the key to the fireflies creating a vaccine.

Through this, Joel’s choices become much worse. The last of us the ending involves Joel eliminating any chance of a vaccine that was previously thought impossible. However, Ellie’s immunity is something that has never been seen before in the world The last of usmeaning that the Fireflies’ quest to create a vaccine could now be achieved through this additional factor at some point in the franchise’s future.

New episodes of The last of us released every Sunday on HBO.

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