In HBO’s The Last of Us episode 2, viewers got an insight into the inner workings of the Cordyceps virus as the series briefly explored mycelium and mycology but what are these meanings?

Now that fans have had a taste of two episodes from HBO’s The Last of Us, noticeable differences are becoming more apparent as we make our way through the series. Even though the TV show has stayed incredibly faithful to the original 2013 Naughty Dog game of the same name, a few adjustments have already been spotted.

One of the main differences is that spores have taken a back seat and in their place, a Cordyceps fungus network has crept in offering the virus a much deeper meaning and understanding than previously discussed in the game. Mycelium and mycology were briefly spoken of by the Mycologist Ibu Ratna in episode 2 so let’s explore their meaning.

Why is Mycelium important in HBO’s The Last of Us?

Mycelium, plural mycelia, is a mass of fungi threads that infect and take over the host’s body by branching long hyphae networks which eventually take over from the inside out, killing the brain’s cells as it travels as well as replacing its tissue.

As we have seen in HBO’s The Last of Us, these disgusting white threads emerge from the mouth, looking for its next host as all it knows how to do is survive, and to do that, it needs as many hosts as possible. As the Mycelium takes hold, it then erases memories and drives its host insane, modifying its instincts to seek no goal other than spreading the spores to others. Eventually, the fungus kills its host, and will then grow out of the host’s body to then network its way to finding another suitable warm home. Without Mycelium, The Last of Us’ narrative wouldn’t exist as it currently stands.

The meaning of Mycology

Mycology is the study of fungi in which the student or professor spends their time learning about living organisms such as molds, yeast, and mushrooms.

The Mycologist Ibu Ratna, who we saw taken from a restaurant by the military and brought in to inspect the Infected woman, was visibly shocked at the prospect that the Cordyceps fungus had made its way to humans. After pulling out mycelium, fungi threads, from the dead victim’s mouth, Ratna stated that there was no cure for the infection and the only way to minimize the Cordyceps spread was to bomb the city.

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