What Was That Giant Infected in the Last of Us Episode 5?

Fans of HBO's The Last of Us who have just watched episode five may be left wondering what the show's big deal with a huge infected was all about. In The Last of Us games, this particular type of adversary encounter is known as a “bloater,” a term used by characters like Joel and Ellie. You wouldn't get that impression from the show's current depiction, though. So, let's discuss the significance of these major antagonists in video games.

What Was That Giant Infected in the Last of Us Episode 5?

The Giant was infected with the Bloaters. In The Last of Us, a bloater is a terminal stage of infection caused by the cordyceps fungus. The fungus that spreads from an infected person's head is only partially contained in someone who has progressed to the bloater stage, as opposed to the more common clickers.

Giant Infected in the Last of Us Episode 5

This occurs when the sufferer has been infected for a long time but has “survived.” Most afflicted only live for a month or so, as mentioned by Joel in episode two, but clickers and bloaters have been infected for so long that the fungus has desecrated their eyes, forcing them to rely on echolocation.

Although clickers are more common, a bloater poses a far greater threat because of its larger size and explosive pus sacks (yep, bloaters have pus sacks that they use to attack Joel and Ellie).

How Do Bloaters Work in the Last of Us Games?

There are several instances in both The Last of Us and its sequel where Bloaters serve as minibosses. The bloater was supposed to make its first appearance in Bill's fortified village, but the show's third episode took a drastically different approach to the tale, so it didn't appear until the Kansas City episodes.

A bloater is a very dangerous foe that can kill you with a single grip. The death animation of a bloater grabbing Joel or Ellie and ripping their heads off is a direct inspiration for Perry's death, in which the bloater rips the head off of his body.

The games fade abruptly to black before revealing the full amount of the destruction, but they reveal just enough to foreshadow the horrific end that awaits. HBO gets props for keeping us at a safe distance from Perry's grisly demise by filming the sequence from afar.

You can't just sneak up on bloaters and kill them with a shiv or Ellie's switchblade as you can with clickers; you'll need to resort to more conventional methods, including gunshots and Molotov cocktails.

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Fortunately, in both games, there are a few bloaters that may be sneaked through without having to engage them in combat. If you are unable to do so, you will waste a lot of resources extracting them.

Are Bloaters the Final Manifestation of the Infected?

Theoretically, a typical afflicted will either survive long enough to become a bloater or will die and the cordyceps fungus will continue to spread from their bodies into the environment. In the quarantine zone of Boston, Tess & Joel discover a dead infected that has grown into the wall in the first episode.

Giant Infected in the Last of Us Episode 5

The majority of The Last of Us Part II takes place in Seattle, where Ellie encounters shamblers, a variant of a late-stage virus. Similar to bloaters, Shamblers are covered from head to toe in cordyceps fungus, but instead of hurling fungal explosives at the player, they spray acid from their bodies and detonate upon death.

The player can locate notes throughout Seattle that theorize this discrepancy in infection is related to the city's rain and humidity, though this is never proven. This appears plausible, however, shamblers also occur in the late-game Santa Barbara areas of Part II.

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The most sophisticated type of infection seen in The Last of Us occurred during the iconic Rat King boss fights in Part II. In the bottom levels of a Seattle hospital, which served as the epicenter of the city's infection, this was the result of numerous infected merging together to form one enormous, deadly beast.

This occurrence has only been observed once so far in the series, and it occurred under such unusual conditions that it appears to be exceedingly rare in the world of The Last of Us.

Even though bloaters are uncommon in The Last of Us universe, once they arrive in the games it is a moment of great significance. The first sight of the bloater on HBO's show was quite significant, but we'll have to wait and see whether someone truly explains why in a future episode.