As discussed in the previous comparison outlines of episode 1 and episode 2, players of the game are given little info about the dynamics and events of the apocalyptic world outside of anything that affects Joel and Ellie directly. We were given a small amount of world-building this week that once again makes evident the bleakness of life post-Cordyceps.
Joel explained how immediately after Outbreak Day, the government forced people into quarantine zones (QZs) — but noted that there were essentially capacity limits enforced. If there was no more room in a given area, people were executed by the military. Their bodies were left to rot in open-air graves, one of which Ellie stumbles upon with Joel.
This new wrinkle makes the title of the series make that much more sense: the characters we see are lucky to be among the last of humanity. To not only escape infection, but to escape government-sanctioned murder. Fewer people means less opportunity to spread the infection. It’s certainly an unsettling plot point considering the reality of the U.S. government’s negligence with the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing the most vulnerable (immunocompromised, disabled, poor, marginalized) people to die by barely enforcing mask mandates and other safety measures. Taking this point further, if the government in the series could act as jury and executioner with the “leftovers” outside of QZs, who would FEDRA decide to kill first? Would they perhaps resemble the people most affected by COVID-19, as well?