In The Last of Us, the Clicker kissed Tess as a way to welcome her into the network of cordyceps fungus and to show that they are not always violent.
The Last of Us has already been lauded as one of the best video-game-to-series adaptations ever, even though only two episodes have aired.
During the second episode of the show, Tess was “kissed” by one of the Clickers after she had been infected as a way to show her that the Clickers are invasive, but not always violent.
Is The Last of Us any good?
What has set The Last of Us apart from other shows that have attempted to capture the essence of a video game franchise on film is the fact that this show blends the elements of horror with a truly compelling plot to create one of the best shows of the year.
While only two episodes of the show have been released so far, the entire cast of the show has received widespread critical acclaim for their performances, and the show, as a whole, has been praised by critics and fans alike.
The Last of Us: Why did the Clicker kiss Tess?
The second episode of The Last of Us finally made its debut on 22 January 2023 under the title “Infected”.
One of the reasons why fans loved the first episode of the show so much was because it stayed relatively faithful to the original Naughty Dog and to the original timeline and plot of the characters.
However, with this second episode, the creators of the show, Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann not only managed to restructure the original story, but they did it in such a way that it seemed even more disturbing than the original.
This episode of the show focused closely on introducing and explaining how the Clickers, a hoard of people who have been infected by cordyceps to the point that the fungus had grown over their eyes, would function in this version of the story.
One noticeable difference between the game and the show becomes clear near the end of the episode at the point where Tess decides to sacrifice herself and give Ellie and Joel more time to escape.
Once the Clickers discover that she is already infected, one of them makes the strange decision to insert its tendrils straight into her mouth and then seemingly kisses her just before she sets off her bomb.
Even though this differs from the violence that fans of the show and the game have come to expect from the Clickers, this “kiss” is so invasive that it is uncomfortable to watch.
As it turns out, this is exactly why the creators chose to show it. They want to emphasize the idea that the Clickers are welcoming Tess into their network and that the Clickers only get violent when people resist, but when they join willingly, the hoard grows through love.
How does Tess’s death in the show differ from the game?
Although the way that Tess dies varies in the show from how it happened in the game, it is not completely different. Just like in the show, Tess dies fairly early on in the game, after she is infected by cordyceps fungus.
However, in the game, she lets herself be gunned down by incoming FEDRA soldiers instead of experiencing the horrible sensation of having a Clicker insert its tendrils into her like in the show.
What was the inspiration behind this disturbing scene?
When Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann were doing early research for the show on how fungus appears and spreads, they came across a photo of someone who had been covered in fugus and had mushrooms growing from their mouth.
This is what ultimately inspired the kiss between Tess and the Clicker and the idea that she would slowly be subsumed by the cordyceps fungus.
What has the overall reaction been to this “kiss”?
The second episode of The Last of Us was also Craig Mazin’s first episode as solo director for the series, and even more people tuned in to watch the second episode than the premiere.
However, these 5 million plus viewers certainly did not expect the deeply unsettling scene where Tess “kissed” the Clicker, and this has elicited quite a response from fans on social media.
While it is evident from the uproar that most people who watched the episode still have many unanswered questions about what lies ahead for Tess and the Clickers, one phrase seems to be repeated time and time again: “Nightmare fuel”.
Fortunately, this is exactly the feeling that director, Craig Mazin, and co-creator, Neil Druckmann, seemingly wanted to elicit from their audience.