Episode 2 of ‘The Last of Us’: The Clickers are here

Episode 2 of ‘The Last of Us’: The Clickers are here

Wait, was it a click? Oh shit.

The last of us Episode 2 has landed and with it thousands of memories for those who played in pure terror and awe at a horrific sound.(Opens in a new window). Click… click… click… aaaarrwk…

The second installment of HBO’s adaptation of the Naughty Dog series takes Joel (Pedro Pascal), Ellie (Bella Ramsey) and Tess (Anna Torv) to post-apocalyptic Massachusetts, beyond the walls of the Boston quarantine zone and the messy cornucopia of threats that await. Among these, one of the scariest and most challenging enemies in the game, the kind of Infected who’s lived with the Cordyceps fungus long enough for it to take over his face, and subsequently, look: yeah, we’re talking about Clickers.

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Joel, Ellie and Tess encounter this particularly ruthless form of Infected as they fight their way through an abandoned museum, on their way to the old Government House. Taking the risk of climbing onto the rooftops through the dark and dank building overrun by Cordyceps, the trio find themselves in a space filled with display cases. And with a “click” sound, they’re in real trouble.

Naughty Dog’s game incorporated a gameplay mechanic to heighten this sense of dread with the Clickers, allowing Joel and Ellie to enter “listening mode” to locate nearby enemies. The museum sequence in Episode 2 is immediately, horribly reminiscent of the listening mode: it feels like the air has been sucked out of the room, with everything audible except the dreaded clicker sound.

It’s also one of the reasons I almost stopped playing. Honestly, my weak little heart couldn’t take it. Clickers are one of the toughest enemies in the game – one little sound and you’re done for. They’re only really beatable with two perfect headshots, which the HBO show perfectly demonstrates through Joel. You can’t run, you can’t fight them. If they find you, it’s over. It’s this level of difficulty that would normally make someone just frustrated, but Naughty Dog added the deliciously traumatic element of having you watch your beloved character die horribly at the hands of a Clicker. Everybody. Hour. I’m not much of a gamer so I can’t tell you how many times I watched Joel and Ellie clicker their necks open, a scene made even more horrific by Naughty Dog’s sound design rising higher and higher. . .

In the series, the Clickers are superbly executed, from the sound design to the visual prosthetics, their unmistakable jerking motion, and the terrified performances of the actors. Pascal’s delivery earlier in the museum scene expertly communicates this threat with such graceful dread that I held my breath even knowing what was to come: “Okay, from now on, we are silenthe says at a whisper ASMR level. Later, all Joel has to do is put a finger to his eyes and ears and we’re in that. Every creaking staircase, every rustle of clothing, every hesitant step could signal his doom. And once Ellie, Tess, and Joel get trapped in the museum’s Independence Hall, one of the scariest sequences you’ll ever experience begins with a horrifying “aaarrwk.”

“To introduce the Clickers onscreen, I felt like we had to make 5,000 exactly right decisions,” said director Craig Mazin in the HBO behind-the-scenes video. The team brought in Barrie Gower, who worked on prosthetics at Chernobylto work with Mazin and The last of us creator Neil Druckmann to make Clickers, and he employed actors who were fans of The last of us game and knew perfectly well that hideous Clicker move.

“Even though we were creating new and updated versions of the same brief, we kept going back to the original designs that Neil and his team had created for the games,” Gower said.

“The first time I saw the full dentures, tears came to my eyes,” said Druckmann. “He looked so good, so creepy and beautiful at the same time. He captured a lot of the things we were trying to do with the game, but there he was in real life.”

I for one would prefer the Clickers to stay out of real life, but luckily, in all their terrifying echolocation-fueled glory, they’re the highlight (and lowlight) of Episode 2.

The last of us premieres January 15 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and hbomax,(opens in a new tab) with new episodes airing weekly.

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