The Last of Us showrunner Craig Mazin has been discussing the fungus threat at the center of the show, stating that it’s “real,” and based on the documentaries he’s seen, “quite terrifying.”
Episode 1 of Season 1 of The Last of Us begins with a prologue that’s set in 1963, and features John Hannah as an epidemiologist warning of a future fungal threat.
“If the world were to get slightly warmer,” he explains. “Then there is reason to evolve. Candida, Ergot, Cordyceps, Aspergillosis — any one of them could be capable of burrowing into our brains and taking control of not millions of us, but billions. Billions of puppets with poison minds… and there are no treatments for this, no preventatives. They don’t exist, it’s not even possible to make them.”
The show then cuts to some 40 years later, when that threat becomes a reality, triggering what’s potentially an extinction-level event.
Last of Us showrunner says fungus threat is real
“It’s real,” Craig Mazin tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s real to the extent that everything he says that fungus do, they do.
“They currently do it and have been doing it forever. There are some remarkable documentaries that you can watch that are quite terrifying. Now his warning — what if they evolve and get into us? — from a purely scientific point of view, would they do exactly to us what they do to ants? I don’t think so. I doubt it.
“On the other hand, he’s right — LSD and psilocybin do come from fungus. What I told John was, ‘What we’re doing in this scene is telling people this has always been here.'”
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How The Last of Us is similar to Chernobyl
Craig Mazin’s last big TV hit was Chernobyl, and he draws a parallel with that disaster, and the outbreak in The Last of Us.
“What was so chilling to me was that [the Chernobyl nuclear plant] blew up that night, but it could have blown up a week before or it could have blown up a month before,” Mazin tells THR. “Which means that right now, there’s something that’s just waiting to blow up — you just don’t know about it. It was so upsetting to say to people, ‘We knew about this, it’s been there, now we’re gonna show you the night it finally happens.’ Not suddenly, but finally.”
In that same interview, Mazin explains why he used ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ by Depeche Mode in the show, while you can read our review of Episode 1 of The Last of Us here.
For more TLOU content, check out some of our below guides:
Joel & Tess explained | Sarah spoilers | Fungus threat is terrifying | The dog’s fate | Who is Marlene? | Why is Ellie so important? | Soundtrack choice | FEDRA & the Fireflies explained