The Last of Us Episode 6: Monkeys at the university explained

Joel and Ellie on horseback in The Last of Us Episode 6HBO

In The Last of Us Episode 6, Joel and Ellie arrive at the university to find a troop of monkeys running around – so, why are they there?

In our review, we said “Pascal and Ramsey finally take the spotlight as Joel and Ellie in an emotionally charged, pivotal chapter of The Last of Us story. The cliffhanger will have you screaming at the TV, but we’ll say this: be careful what you wish for.”

The episode follows the pair as they stop off in Jackson, where Joel reunites with his brother Tommy and meets Maria, before setting off to the University of Eastern Colorado.

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When they arrive, it’s unsettlingly quiet and empty, with the exception of a few monkeys – let’s get into why they’re there in the first place.

Spoilers for The Last of Us to follow…

Why were there monkeys in The Last of Us?

The monkeys were involved in lab tests at the university early in the Cordyceps pandemic.

As Joel and Ellie ride in on their horse, Ellie is amazed by the sight of the monkeys – given she was raised in the Boston QZ, it’s not unsurprising that these are the first monkeys she’s ever seen. “Must be from the old labs,” Joel told her.

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In the game, the exact same thing happens: they arrive, they see the monkeys, and Joel and Ellie have a brief chat about them – but there’s more to be learned via collectibles.

While exploring the science building, Joel finds a lab recorder that reveals the monkeys were part of earlier tests involving the Cordyceps infection. Scientists had hoped to find a cure, but they were unsuccessful.

One of the monkeys bit a member of the Fireflies, after which he took his own life to prevent him from turning infected. Before he was bitten, he recorded a message, in which he said: “That’s four pallets of lab equipment all packed up and ready to go.

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“Now – the big question is what do we do with all you guys. They say the tainted batch needs to be put down. You know what I say? I say screw that. Who made a bigger sacrifice than you, right? If anyone deserves to run free out there it’s– Hey, easy. Agh… sh*t. Oh no. It bit me. Oh my god.”

It’s believed all of the monkeys are infected, but they don’t exhibit the same crazed behavioral traits as humans when Cordyceps takes hold. Still, as Joel says in the game, “glad we didn’t mess with those monkeys.”

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The Last of Us Episode 7 will be available to stream on February 26 in the US and February 27 in the UK. Check out the rest of our coverage here and the trailer for the weeks ahead here.