HBO’s newest hit drama The Last of Us leaves a lot to the imagination as viewers dip their toes into the rich waters of the popular video game adaption. Only two episodes have aired so far, but TikTok sleuths were already quick to crack a crucial code. Namely, where the fungal virus that’s overtaken the fictional world first spread.
The densely-packed premiere episode, which aired on Jan. 15, not only painted a haunting picture of the state of the world pre- and post-outbreak, but according to series co-creator Craig Mazin, there were more than a few breadcrumbs sprinkled throughout the episode. Note: he used the word breadcrumbs, not Easter eggs. That’s intentional.
On TikTok, viewers are returning to Mazin’s quote to point to various instances in which the characters Sarah Miller (Nico Parker) and Joel Miller (Pedro Pascal) repeatedly wiggle their way out of consuming wheat flour, which, depending on the kind of flour used, contains yeast. Yeast is a fungus.
When Joel refused Mr. Adler’s biscuits, saying he was on an Atkins diet (a diet that prohibits the consumption of flour) we all thought it was just a funny joke. When Sarah can’t make Joel pancakes for breakfast because he forgot to buy the flour mix at the grocery store, we thought it was just a forgetful character trait. When Sarah turns down Mrs. Adler’s raisin cookies, we thought it was just a teenager’s aversion to anything healthy. When Joel forget to bring home a cake to celebrate his birthday, we once again just attributed it to his character flaw. But now we’re learning all these minor details weren’t minor at all.
The realization that flour contributed to the worldwide outbreak of “The infected” (aka zombies), any joy one might get out of enjoying something as delectable as a cookie was all but eradicated.
Even though The Last of Us hasn’t directly confirmed this flour-based theory, it was indirectly confirmed in its second episode. When the Jakartan mycologist Dr. Ibu Ratna (Christine Hakim) asked at the beginning of the episode where the outbreak occurred and was told by the officer that it happened at a flour factory on the west side of the city, our assumptions were all but proven correct.
Co-creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann even followed up with an official confirmation in an interview with Variety. Mazin called the flour-based breadcrumbs they’d dropped “pretty explicit” and Druckmann said, “yeah, we pretty much said yes.”
Leave it to dedicated fans and TikTok sleuths to read between the lines, spot the clues, and put the puzzle pieces together. There will no doubt be more breadcrumbs to pick up when The Last of Us premieres all-new episodes on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT on HBO.