The opening of HBO’s “The Last of Us” differs greatly from the source material. Instead of starting with Sarah on outbreak day, the series opts to begin with a very eerie exposition dump explaining the virus that is about to hit the world. Taking place in 1968, a talk show host (played by “Silicon Valley” star Josh Brener) speaks with epidemiologists about, you guessed it, possible epidemics. One of the scientists warns the audience of a possible future where fungi can infect humans due to a warmer climate. The caveat is that fungi often seek to control their hosts, not destroy them. As hinted by the epidemiologist, the Cordyceps brain infection (CBI) would be the main culprit.
Not only does the new opening warn against a different kind of virus, but it positions climate change as a vital factor in the post-apocalyptic world of “The Last of Us.” The quick burst of exposition may seem unnecessary in the grand scheme of things, but the scene reinforces how the story has always been about the humans, not the infected. The signs were always there; a future unforeseen by many was predicted long before the undead were among them. Speaking of which, the prologue leads us straight into the day of the outbreak, 35 years later.