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“We’re cruel to the characters we love”: The Last of Us Creators Explain Controversial ‘Kiss of Death’ Nightmare Fuel That Put Zack Snyder’s Zombie S-x Scene to Shame

The Last of Us Creators Explain Controversial ‘Kiss of Death’ Nightmare Fuel That Put Zack Snyder’s Zombie Sex Scene to Shame

This article contains spoilers for HBO’s The Last of Us

There are the lovers of disruption and chaos and then there are those like Zack Snyder and Craig Mazin who know how to channel that chaos into art. The latter’s latest HBO adaptation, The Last of Us, has just given the fans an excellent example of this thesis of disruption. After all, it’s not every day that something like the “kiss of death” is allowed to happen on television, let alone in an adaptation that has a source and an already established, headstrong, and protective fandom. In the aftermath of Episode 2, titled Infected, creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann have given us a base to root our theories and make sense of the disturbing scene.

Bella Ramsey as Ellie in The Last of Us
Bella Ramsey and Anna Torv as Ellie and Tess in The Last of Us

Also read: While Pedro Pascal Sets the Stage on Fire as Joel, The Last of Us Star Troy Baker Wanted “Someone Else” To Play the Role

The Last of Us Creators Talk About the Episode 2 Sacrifice

To understand a sacrifice is to understand what is at stake. Without the latter, the impact of the former is entirely lost and it becomes a meaningless tragedy if there ever was one. In The Last of Us, the first major and impactful sacrifice comes when Tess kills herself along with a horde of the walking undead – the infected – in order to give Joel and Ellie a shot at surviving. The fate of the world was at stake since Ellie’s immunity holds the key to a cure. But it couldn’t have been an easy out for the doomed character of Tess, as Mazin then reveals the philosophy that went into creating these encounters between the infected and those that still remained human:

“[The infected] are violent because we resist, but what if you don’t? What does it look like if you just stand perfectly still and let them do this to you? Then we landed on this nightmare fuel. It’s disturbing and it’s violative. I think it’s very primal in the way it invades your own body. To use an overused word, it’s triggering.”

The Last of Us sacrifices Tess in a brutally disturbing scene
The Last of Us sacrifices Tess in a brutally disturbing scene

Also read: Brutal Moments From The Last of Us That The Show May Include

Neil Druckmann then supports that argument and merges it with the scene executed by Anna Torv:

“Because we’re cruel to the characters we love so much, it felt like she knows she’s done for, and then the lighter doesn’t work, and we take her all the way to the edge of horror before we finally give her an out.”

Anna Torv had brilliantly performed the scene and the effect was one that managed to trump even that one horrifying and ultimately deleted scene from Zack Snyder’s (there’s that disruption again) Army of the Dead. As was originally planned and filmed by the director, the scene included a male stripper who “had a huge pen*s with a bite taken out of it.” He was right in assuming “that was too much.”

Why Was the “Kiss of Death” Scene So Disturbing?

The Last of Us introduces a different take on the infected
The Last of Us introduces a different take on the infected

Also read: 5 Heart-Breaking Moments from The Last Of Us That We Aren’t Ready To Relive

The infamous “kiss of death” has been on everybody’s mind because of the sheer unrefined intensity of it, the kind that sneaks up on the viewers leaving them paralyzed with the knowledge of what happened but unable to process or accept any of it. And consequently, it becomes the one thing that keeps one awake, becomes a “nightmare fuel”, and makes us look for a rationale behind the senselessness of the act.

But none of it actually matters because the fans are left helpless by this point. The creators have taken the game off the grid by digressing from the source and as such, all bets are off. Anything that happens after the trio arrives at the Capitol is meant to be a frame-by-frame unfolding of the events that eventually lead to Tess’s death. And yet, even in this rudderless and dispersed state, no mind is capable of comprehending the scene that was patiently lying in wait.

The “kiss of death” was disturbing exactly because it was so slow in its execution. The moment built up in an atmosphere of terror and the helplessness of one character in the face of it.

The Last of Us is now streaming at HBO Max.

Source: Variety

Written by Diya Majumdar

At 25, Diya Majumdar is inching closer to getting to the bottom of every film and television's history in existence. Having graduated with honors in literature from Miranda House, DU, her passion and profession both include dissecting the world of cinema, with more than 800 published articles on Fandomwire. She is a liberally opinionated person with an overbearing love for Monet, Edvard Munch, and Van Gogh and boasts of being an avid painter of all their troubled works.