The Last of Us premiered its second episode with hope and an emotional farewell (and memes, of course). Entitled “Infected”, the series addressed more about the possible origin of the fungus outbreak and closer relations between Ellie (Bella Ramsey) from their temporary protectors Tess (Anna Torv) and Joel (Pedro Pascal).
In addition to the dynamism of the trio, the series manages to expose a relationship that for many fans has always been a gray area between Joel and Tess: would they be just a pair of smugglers surviving the post-apocalyptic world or would they also have a love relationship? HBO’s adaptation responds somewhat obscurely.
[Aviso: Contém spoilers da série The Last of Us]
Many fans of the game have already speculated about the romantic relationship (or not) between Joel and Tess. Both are smuggling partners and survivors of the post-contagion world and, apparently, live together – which there are chances of them relating as a way to “supply” their instincts or treat each other as a couple. When we play, the main focus of the plot is the development between Joel and Ellie, who are the protagonists, while Tess is just a partner who drives Joel to follow the journey and take the young woman to the west.
In the game, there is no moment of affection between the two that show that they would be boyfriends or anything like that, only when Joel goes to take care of Tess’s injuries – which could fit from friendship to companionship in smuggling, after all, they are still human. .
Anyway, the game always wanted to play with this dubiousness and it seems that the series wanted to show more without losing this subjectivity.
The first episode shows Joel sleeping and then Tess appears and goes to him and hugs him, until Joel wakes up alone. Just from this scene, we could already understand that there is a carnal relationship between them, but moments before, the protagonist was under the effects of alcohol and drugs, which could be an illusion of the desire he feeds for his partner.
As soon as he wakes up, Tess is in the kitchen and says that she spent the whole day trapped in PHEDRA, leaving even more doubt about whether what happened was real or just in Joel’s thoughts.
When Joel realizes that Tess is injured, it is noticeable that there is concern and affection on his part when taking care of her injuries, despite the fact that there is a context of (survivors) in a hostile world, where displays of affection are quite restricted and delicate.
In the last chapter released, we see that this relationship is further explored. When the three are on the top floor of the hotel, there is a blocked path and Tess decides to go through the rubble to clear a passage for them – which gives Joel and Ellie a moment to be alone. Curious, the girl asks about what is going on between Joel and Tess, but he cuts her off curtly leaving Ellie (and the viewer) to see ships over the answer. But, in the end, this relationship seems to take on new shades.
When they arrive at Congress, Tess reveals that she has been infected and, convinced that Ellie may be the cure, pleads with Joel to take the teenager to Bill and Frank who can help them go west. At that moment, she says the following sentence that moves everyone: “I never asked you for anything, not even to feel the same as me”confirming that she had feelings for Joel and it was never possible to materialize.
When they realize that the runners are coming for them, Tess tells them to run away so she can blow up the place with the infected inside. And so, tragically, the second episode ends with the trio becoming the pair of survivors.
Despite the fact that we still know so little about the smuggler, it was remarkable how the series touched on this nebulous relationship between Tess and Joel. With flashback moments, we can hope that the series can provide a background on who Tess was, who made a sacrifice for her unrequited love and faith in humanity.