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The Last of Us' Anna Torv Explains Tess' Heartbreaking Decision in Explosive Episode 2

Torv also shares about one scene that ended up different from what she imagined

Kat Moon

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Episode 2 of The Last of Us. Read at your own risk!]

The Last of Us Episode 2 was horrific in every way, in no small part thanks to the introduction of the Clickers. As Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Tess (Anna Torv) travel across Boston to deliver Ellie (Bella Ramsey) to the Fireflies, they come across later-stage infected beings whose heads have been replaced by extreme fungal growth — and who produce a chilling clicking sound. They are far more terrifying than the infected we saw in the the first episode who, for the most part, still resembled humans. 

But Episode 2 of The Last of Us, HBO's post-apocalyptic drama from Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann, was not just shocking because of the Clickers. The episode's highlight is easily the ending, in which Tess decides to sacrifice herself after realizing that she has, tragically, been infected. Joel and Tess discover that the Fireflies were not at their meeting point. And after seeing that dozens of the infected have been woken up and are coming their way, Tess instructs Joel to leave with Ellie immediately. She will try to hold back the infected by burning herself up with them. 

"As far as what she does, I believe that that's probably a conversation that Tess and Joel had many, many, many, times," Torv told TV Guide, Metacritic, and GameSpot about the scene. "Like if one of us gets bit, I'm sure they would have had it — like, please don't let me turn out like them."

In the show, Joel reluctantly escapes with Ellie as Tess lights up the building and perishes with dozens of the infected. "I think that by the end, it's like God, everybody wants hope," Torv said. "I think that's kind of the thing that Joel and Tess have lost." This hope ultimately drives Tess to sacrifice herself. And though they didn't spend much time together, she and Ellie formed a bond. "Tess definitely softens a little bit more towards Ellie," Torv shared.

And reality dawns on Tess once she's been infected. "She gets bit and Ellie does too, and she looks and she goes, oh my God, this is real," Torv said. "This is what people keep talking about, the Fireflies — surely there has to be a cure, surely there has to be an antidote." And in that moment, it seems like the only chance to discover that cure or that antidote is the immune 14-year-old. 

"[Tess] says this is real, Joel, this is potentially your chance to have the world forgive us for all the sh-tty things that we've done," Torv continued. Tess and Joel both know they've taken drastic measures to survive.

Torv also discussed the utterly disturbing scene that takes place moments before Tess' death. As she is struggling to start a flame on her lighter, an infected approaches her and initiates a fungal kiss — yes, tendrils enter Tess' mouth as she locks lips with the creature. "It's just revolting," Torv said. "That scene when I read it, I thought it was going to be a very different thing." 

The actor shared that most of what the viewers see is computer-generated. "All of that is effects, except the guy — as far as the infected goes, a lot of it was makeup," Torv explained. "But all of the tendrils and the rest of it is in special effects." She said she did not know what the end product was going to be: "It's just bleugh, gross." 

The first two episodes of The Last of Us are available to stream. 

Additional reporting by Chris E. Hayner.