And then there were two: a spunky teen and a curmudgeon with a traumatic past who absolutely will not, will NOT invest emotionally in her well-being.
I’d seen the promotional pictures, I knew the show’s focus was Joel and Ellie. I knew somewhere along the line, we’d lose Tess. I just figured we’d get a few more episodes with her, and then she’d be offered a gig on a cruise ship as the Adventure Captain or something. I did not think she would blow herself up while getting french kissed by some fungus.
Farewell, brave Tess, I will miss your billowing button-ups.
How are you guys doing? Have you checked on your emotions? Are they broken? What about your pants? Did you shit them? This episode was So Scary. I am not someone who delights in fright, I was straight-up UPSET. But this show is worth it, dammit, how dare it be so good and so scary at the same time, this is an outrage!
You know what? I will overlook it this ONCE (until the next time, when the show does this again).
Oh, heads up, from now on ‘the Infected” will simply be called Gus, YOU KNOW WHY. It shall be Gus both in singular and plural. (It’s… I mean you get it, but it’s because of funGUS, I know you get it) Let’s dive in!
First, the episode took us back to a simpler time, a time when a genius scientist professor lady could enjoy a meal at a diner and have every patron stare as she’s escorted out by police. A time when she could wear a fun full-body bubble suit, likely inspired by the 2001 Jake Gyllenhaal classic Bubble Boy. A time when she could reach into a cadaver’s mouth and pull out some wiggly, mischievous fungus. *wistful sigh* Don’t you just yearn for the good ol’ days?
Oh maaaaaaaan, this was brutal. Imagine asking a genius for help and their answer is “let’s just end it all.” Girl knew the impossibility of containing something like that, and my goodness the futility of this scene was a brilliantly played total bummer.
Joel was very keen to put Ellie in a basket with a note saying “she’s your problem now” and drop her off on a random doorstep, but Tess was starting to buy into the Chosen One storyline.
Tess got Ellie to open up about her Chosen Oneness (by simultaneously being both intimidating and the ‘good cop’, Anna Torv is an actual treasure). Tess then convinced Joel to just finish the job, because who caaaaaares if she’s the Chosen One or not, no biiiiiiiiiiiig, it’s all about the batteries!
So off they went to take in the sights: toppled buildings, bomb craters, perhaps catch a matinee. During this walk n’ talk, Ellie revealed that she was originally bitten in a mall, where she went completely alone (uh huh) out of simple curiosity (uh huuuuuhhh).
They had to wade through a swamp hotel and Ellie became an absolute delight, goofing around with the luggage trolly and unearthing a skelton, regular fun teen stuff. For his part, Joel is Very Grumpy, and does NOT care about this teen, which is why he helped her up and made sure she wasn’t scared and knitted her a onesie.
The hallway was blocked, so Tess had to do some parkour to find them a way through, leaving Joel and Ellie to reluctantly bond. They asked each other questions, snarked at each other, and just generally had a grump-off, but… in a fun way? I’m into it. Tess returned and they journeyed on, only to find a giant puddle of Gus. This forced them to go “the short way”, which meant patronizing a museum (you guys, I LOVE museums!). They didn’t get to dress up as pioneers or churn butter, but they DID give a fun lecture about the moisture-levels of fungus and how it’s all connected like an old timey telephone switchboard.
This freshly shredded corpse kindly informed our ragtag team that there was something amiss, and Joel was like, “No more three-part harmonizing N’Sync songs,” and Ellie was like, “Not even Bye Bye Bye?” and Joel was like, “Especially not Bye Bye Bye,” and Tess was like, “Don’t even get him started on Bye Bye Bye,” and Ellie was like, “Well now I *have* to know why you hate Bye Bye Bye, just hit me with the truth,” and Joel was like, “quit it, I’ve had enough,” and Ellie was like, “You don’t want to make it tough?” and then Joel looked to the heavens for strength.
I exaggerate a lot for comedy, but I need you to believe me when I tell you in all honesty that I jumped and screamed, “ALIEN CAULIFLOWER!” I was not okay, you guys, this was Very Scary! And I know they’re not aliens, and I know it’s fungus, not cauliflower, but that’s where my startled brain went, it cannot be helped.
Where were we? Oh right, these walking cruciferous veggies can’t see (what with the nutritious snack growing out of their faces), so they rely on echolocation, hence the HORRIFYING CLICKING SOUND with which I simply cannot. There was a very tense sneaky-sneak around the civil war exhibit, but eventually it had to come to a head (I had to), and there was a kerfuffle.
Joel and Tess fought them off with brute strength, guns, and an axe straight to the cauliflower. Luckily the only one bit was Ellie! And then the episode ended and everything was fine.
So, how were YOUR weekends, anything juicy you want to share?
Turns out the Firefly clubhouse came down with a nasty case of fungi-flu, and everyone killed each other. So, not exactly the welcome our team was expecting, but Tess was not in a giving-up mood.
The angry cauliflower had taken a bite out of her shoulder, and it was not looking great. But our girl was not going to go out without hope. She was firmly Team Chosen One, believing Ellie could finally bring about a cure and then maybe the world could go back to ordering things online and eating peanut butter. Tess wouldn’t be around to see it, but she damn well wanted to be a part of bringing it back.
Fortunately, a chance came up quite quickly for her to hero her way to an honourable death. One of the Gus was feeling twitchy, and it activated the fungus phone tree, alerting all other Gus to their whereabouts.
Tess begged Joel to get Ellie to safety, to see through the mission, to bring back peanut butter. And not some bullshit natural peanut butter, either, but the real stuff that’s 98% powdered sugar. And so he did. Without so much as a Tearin’ Up My Heart three-part harmony, he grabbed Ellie’s hand and got her out of there.
Yes, that is correct, Tess. Blowing up a clubhouse is the appropriate response to some dude fungus-frenching you without your consent. What by the power of Greyskull was HAPPENING there?? Is that a Gus secret handshake? Is it the way they welcome each other to the team? Or was this guy, like all other people on this greenish Earth, just utterly powerless against the allure of Anna Torv?
The episode ended on Ellie looking bummed, and Joel stomping off in a march of emotional repression.
I’m sad. Like I said, I thought we’d have the glory of Anna Torv for longer, but I can be grateful she was on my screen at all. Oh, and I guess I’m also sad for Joel’s loss or whatever.
What did you guys think? I’m enjoying the pace of this show (given there will be only 9 episodes, it makes sense things would happen fast). Our team is down to a duo who didn’t want to be together in the first place. Their glue is gone, and they have to find common ground amidst grief and danger. What a romp!
- The lil’ frog on the piano!
- I do NOT handle scary well, and all these jump scares and cauliflower monsters had me distressed. I had to watch YouTube videos of Pingu before I could go to bed
- I love the touch that Joel’s hand was sorta broken from killing (?) that guy.
- Ellie pretended to turn into a monster and the joke was such an epic, awkward failure that my heart grew three sizes.
- It’s narratively very handy to have a teen who has never been outside. “Oh, you’re curious about the fungi phone tree? Let me tell you all about the rules and lore of this world we inhabit.”
- I really wanted to work in the phrase “Tess was testy”, but it didn’t fit, and I think that’s a tragedy, so I just needed you guys to know that I tried.
- “Will you shut the fuck up because I don’t have time.” Put Anna Torv in more things. ALL THE THINGS.
- You guys, cauliflower comes in HEADS. Heads of cauliflower. I can’t be alone on this!
- Speaking of, I feel it prudent to inform you that Joel’s stance on vegetables do not reflect the views of the author of this recap. I quite enjoy cauliflower! The fact that it has no taste is an advantage! T’is simply a crunchy vehicle for dip.
- I loved Ellie’s face when she stepped on a hand during their morbid game of hopscotch through the museum.
Yes, that was a Steve Urkel reference, love me for me.
OKAY THANKS FOR POPPING IN THIS WAS HORRIFYING LOVE YOU BYE!