The Last of Us EP9: Bill Die the Violence Guy

By Shamus
on Oct 18, 2014
Filed under:
Spoiler Warning


Link (YouTube)

I do wonder about the zombie mortality rate in this town. How many zombies do we kill during this 15 minute visit? Why would Bill live here if they’re THAT dense? And if there are only a few left, then why are ANY left? The point where there are just “enough to swarm you at a moment’s notice but not enough to overwhelm you” seems like a pretty narrow range. Since zombies can only reproduce by killing people, this ratio seems really unstable.

And while we’re asking questions we’re not supposed to ask, it’s about time to annoy everyone with this one:

What does Bill EAT?

Screw the traps. His main foe isn’t zombies, it’s his belly. How does he fill that thing? (He even eats enough to be overweight. Amazing!) It takes four acres (a little over three football fields) to feed a typical frontier family, including space for the livestock. Bill might not need that much space because he’s all alone, but I’m having a hard time picturing him maintaining just ONE football field of crops.

Bill doesn’t have a car? Pfft. If a car was available, and gas was availableAnd if gasoline didn’t degrade into uselessness in just a few years. then Bill would have one ready right now, and he’d be using it to help plow his field during planting season. Tilling the land for planting is enormously labor-intensive, even if you’ve got the right tools, the right animals, and you know how to use both. And if you don’t have animals? Then you are not going to be fat, end of story. If you are very clever and lucky you might master farming quickly enough to avoid starving, but when you’re done you’re not gonna look anything like burly Bill.

He’s pissed at Joel for setting off his traps? He should be mad that Joel is burning up his precious supply of daylight hours when he should be working on the farm: Tending crops, chasing off wildlife and pests, mending tools, feeding and caring for livestock, gathering fuel for the fireAlthough the town’s furniture would be a handy, if unwieldy supply of wood. and preparing food for the dayPreparing food from raw ingredients takes a long time, particularly when you don’t have stuff like gas stoves, microwaves, blenders, refrigerators..

Shamus, this is a zombie story! You’re not supposed to ask these kinds of questions.

This season is going to be very hard for you.

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Footnotes:

[1] And if gasoline didn’t degrade into uselessness in just a few years.

[2] Although the town’s furniture would be a handy, if unwieldy supply of wood.

[3] Preparing food from raw ingredients takes a long time, particularly when you don’t have stuff like gas stoves, microwaves, blenders, refrigerators.



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  1. The reason Joel didn’t give Ellie the bow: He played Fallout 1 as a kid and the lesson of giving an SMG to Ian is never far from his thoughts.

    • Isy says:

      Maybe he played Prince of Persia: Sands of Time and got shot and killed by his companion one too many times.

    • Tizzy says:

      To be fair, no one in their right mind would hand over a weapon to a kid, without at least making sure that the kid is properly trained in safety. Joel may also like Ellie weaponless because he may figure that she will be more cautious this way.

      I imagine that, at the beginning of the outbreak, Joel must have witnessed a lot of spectacular fails by people overestimating their fighting abilities and understanding of weapons.

  2. Brandon says:

    I kind of assumed that Bill’s food and supplies came from scavenging things that he could scavenge, and as payment for whatever stuff he was helping to smuggle into the city.

    • guy says:

      Maybe he hunts wild game? It’s just one guy.

    • Thomas says:

      I’m interested to know just how much tinned food (that could actually last) exists in the world at any moment. It seems reasonable that maybe there’s exactly one days worth at any moment in time? Everyone shops every week, they don’t buy exclusively for one week but lots of people shop for 7 days. If you don’t buy cans then that’s because cans exist right now in your home. Then again cans don’t come from thin air, somewhere in the US their are can warehouses full of can dreams. So I think it’s reasonable to assume 2-3 days worth of tins for every person in the US at any one time.

      That’s roughly 960 million days worth of tinned food.

      If the human race had been cut down to what it feels like in this game, so 1% ish, that’d be 960 million days worth for 3.2 million people or roughly one years worth of food.

      Yeah I guess scavenging wouldn’t be good enough then. And in game only 60%+ of people get affected by the fungus apparently.

      The population would eventually fall to a point where you don’t need to farm to survive, I mean that’s what we did before we invented farming (which was fairly recently). Bill is probably fine just by hunting and picking berries, we’ve got a leg up on other animals because cooked food is way more efficient than uncooked food.

      But in general the population doesn’t seem to have fallen low enough for that yet

    • Dt3r says:

      Eating 20 year old deviled eggs would explain his figure.

  3. It’s probably an unwise assumption in zombie-world to think you’d only need to set traps for zombies… which could also be where Bill gets any food, weapons, etc.

  4. Yeah, logistics of monster populations are always an issue …

  5. Zephyr1990 says:

    Also Notice that in his haste he didn’t check Ellie for bites… who wants to bet that comes up later.

    • guy says:

      Yeah, probably.

      Come to think of it, maybe Ellie should get a sign or something that tells people she’s highly resistant to zombie, because I foresee having to explain the bite pretty damn often, and it would probably be best to do so prior to people pointing guns at her.

      • Eruanno says:

        Spoilers: They don’t meet all that many friendlies along the way and I think she only shows it to the one guy later on. She doesn’t have any symptoms on account of being immune, so why would she needlessly freak everyone out and have to explain herself?

        • MrGuy says:

          Because the drill after a fight is to check for bites. You don’t want to wait for people to show symptoms to check if they’re bitten, because usually the first symptom is “tries to kill me.” People in this world see bite and reflexively think “Over for you. Shooting you now.” And multiple times in the game people check for bites after fights where it’s possible someone was bitten.

          Also, there’s apparently some kind of medical test that tricorder device the soldiers in Boston had.

          • Thomas says:

            Yeah I was expecting this bite thing to cause trouble with Bill. Luckily Joel likes to go it alone most of the time, but that could really blow up in her face

        • guy says:

          It looks like a recent bite, before she’d be expected to show general symptoms. And she tests positive on the scanners. I’d much rather have her explain she’s immune up front to everyone before they see the bite rather than have to convince anyone who does see the bite. It’d be an easier sell to people who aren’t panicked.

          Also, I would give the immune spiel prior to having her roll up her sleeves. That’s just good sense.

          • Ciennas says:

            I imagine that they would simply not believe her and kill her anyway.

            Also, you’d think people would kill just to get ahold of her immunity and reverse engineer it.

            • guy says:

              I think they’re much more likely to believe her if they hear the explanation prior to seeing the bite.

              Also, you’d think people would kill just to get ahold of her immunity and reverse engineer it.

              Uh, no, that would be stupid. If you’re trying to reverse-engineer her immunity, you want to see it in action. Also, it’s a reasonably good bet her immunity at least involves antibodies, which she will be making more of while she’s alive.

              Now, lots of people will want to take her to whatever passes for a medical research facility in the apocalypse, but that group includes Ellie and Joel, so it’s not actually a problem.

              • Ciennas says:

                you misread: they’d kill to get her to reverse engineer that immunity.

                The minute it gets out she becomes defacto person of interest number zero- she becomes salvation to all people, whether she wants to be or not.

                This would make it become an interesting study in the needs of the many versus the needs of the few.

                It would also mean that she could become a queen of the wastelands if she so desired, assuming the group that killed enough to lay claim to her wouldn’t shush her away to anonymity in the middle of a secured room.

          • Dirigible says:

            It doesn’t, though – the teeth marks are visible, and there’s some… bubbling on the skin surrounding the bite, but it’s fairly clearly healed over by now.

  6. Gunther says:

    Bill is the only person we see living in a reasonably sized town that was evacuated shortly after the outbreak.

    There’d be enough canned food (which, if stored correctly, lasts decades) and flour (which can be baked into hardtack, which lasts even longer – there’s hardtack from the Civil War which is edible) to keep him nice and fat. Plus of course; without hunters checking the deer population, there’d be a population explosion. A bowhunter could keep himself fed just on venison.

    I’m with you on the zombie population, though.

    • Mormegil says:

      Assuming the zombies aren’t hunting the local game themselves in which case there probably aren’t a lot of deer left.

      • I don’t know. The zombies aren’t exactly jaguar-level sprinters, here. I’d say most deer would be just fine unless they were injured or got themselves surrounded. Even then, how many hooves/antlers to the head would it take to down a zombie or two, further reducing their numbers?

        • Isy says:

          The earliest humans were theorized to hunt via wearing their prey down over long distances – in other words, we’re not as fast, but we have superior endurance. Being a zombie in theory can only improve your endurance, though I have no idea how this theory works in forested areas vs. open plains.

          • Taellosse says:

            That kind of hunting requires excellent tracking skills – you have to know which way the prey went when it is no longer within the range of direct observation. Given that Last of Us zombies are blind (or at least suffer from impaired eyesight, depending how far along in the infection they are), and as far as I know have no better sense of smell, that’s going to be pretty difficult, even leaving aside the fact that I suspect they lack the intelligence for long-term tracking like that, even if they had the senses for it. Echolocation may work great for knowing what’s in the immediate vicinity, but it’s useless for anything more than a few dozen yards, tops.

            • MrGuy says:

              No. That kind of hunting requires superior tracking skills IF the one who first encounters the animals is ALSO the person who finally catches them. But teamwork is as effective (maybe more effective) than a single high-endurance excellent tracker for using this method.

              Imagine a scattered population of zombies, and a deer that wanders into them. Zombie A smells deer, tries to eat deer. Deer runs away from Zombie A for a while, gets a little tired. Zombie B now smells deer, tries to eat deer. Deer runs away from B for awhile, gets a little tired. Zombie C smells deer…

              Even if they’re inept hunters who can’t cover much ground, if the zombies are distributed fairly evenly, eventually the deer will become sufficiently tired from running from zombie to zombie that eventually one of the zombies will be able to catch it.

              Sure, most of the zombies don’t get anything out of this, but they’re jus’ doin’ what zombies do.

              • Thomas says:

                I don’t think the zombies are very evenly distributed though. The Cordycep fungus (in real life) tries to get their hosts into particular areas. I think in the game they tend to congregate in populated areas or in dark underground places

              • Isy says:

                I’m not sure the zombies really “eat” anything they kill anyway. If they have, I’ve missed it, it seems like the logical rationale is they’re biting other humans to spread the fungi infection.

      • Tizzy says:

        The zombies don’t eat animals. gey actually don’t “eat” people either.

        Which, of course, raises a whole other problem of where do they get their energy from. Fungal photosynthesis?

        • Tom says:

          I think that must have got lost between design rewrites.

          It would make perfect sense energy-wise if all stages of infection passed in a matter of days, using only the residual energy in the body at the time of zombification, but then the spores stick around for decades. That would explain the difficulty in rebuilding the world and why zombies are still around, but not why there are so many of them.

          Giving the zombies longevity lets you explain away their numbers decades after everyone learns not to wander into spore clouds en masse, but breaks energy conservation.

          Making the zombies attack and eat living things solves energy conservation while letting you keep them numerous long after the outbreak, except they don’t seem to eat anything and just bite as a means of infecting others (taking us back to it making sense if the disease progression only lasts days before death and spore release), and the art department made the later phases unable to use their mouths at all anyway. D’oh!

        • Grudgeal says:

          Fungi aren’t photosynthetic.

    • ? says:

      Deer is a majestic wonder of nature and all, but why not trap for small game? Think how population of raccoons, possums, foxes and rats would explode once pest control is gone. Add to that whatever pets went feral after humans abandoned them. Overgrown city sprawl seems like perfect environment for them. And Bill already is setting up elaborate traps. Couple of snares and deadfall traps would not be a problem.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    A bow that is weaker than firearms?In a video game?Inconceivable!

    Also,that ducked moonwalk,so cool.

  8. Isy says:

    The weirdest thing about zombie movies is less the logistics and more how no one ever adapts. Shamus already pointed out how hugely bizarre it is that no one is wearing body armor – you could probably make something out of duct tape that’s impervious to zombie bites – and likewise, these things almost never seem able to climb unless they have a staircase or ramp. You’d think that would lead to survivors living on rooftops and in trees. A rope bridge seems like it would be impossible for a zombie to cross. Heck, if clickers only see by sound, why not put out “traps” that screw up their echolocation and leave them blind? But no one ever tries it.

    • guy says:

      These zombies seem pretty spry. However, it should be pointed out that the people whose actual job description is fighting zombies do wear riot gear.

    • Tizzy says:

      Wow, I didn’t even think of messing up with their echolocation. Sounds interesting, though possibly tricky.

    • Scourge says:

      Biker gear would also be an alternative. If you got a boke shop anywhere near you and the zombie apocalypse hits. Get yourself some biker gear.

      That stuff is designed to prevent you from getting any sort of burn or wound while sledding at 120+ km/h down a highway on an accident. It sure can withstand some measly zombie bites.

      • Isy says:

        Exactly, or raiding a sporting goods store for some hockey padding. You don’t need to be SWAT to be protected in event of zombies. That’s why it’s so weird when Shamus pointed out no one does it.

        • Scourge says:

          I know. It’s kind of silly.

          Though it’s the same silly as to ‘Hey! Why are you wearing long sleeved shirts? ARE YOU A SMUGGLER?!”
          “It’s winter man. It’s cold here! Just let me grab my leather jacket a-”
          “SMUUUUUGLEEEEEERRRRRRRR!”

          Granted, I don’t know how the local temperatures are from where they are playing. But where I live people wear jackets and long sleeved shirts about 80% of the year. Unless its summer.

    • Decius says:

      Forget body armor; Why do the smugglers not have as standard equipment bolt cutters? There’s no reason a chain-link fence should be any kind of barrier to determined people.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Ok,points to this game for not having a thick rope cut instantly by a small knife.But those points are lost as soon as someone cuts through the neck of a zombie with a single swing of a machete.Seriously,why do they always forget that necks care thick and contain bones in them?

  10. Spammy says:

    Bill’s fat because he keeps chowing down on the Cram and Sugar Bombs he finds inside the drawers and fridges in town.

    In watching the meeting of Bill again I’m a little confused at how fast my opinion of Bill must have changed from “This guy is nuts and a jerk” at the start to, “That guy was pretty cool” when we’re driving out of town.

    Also I’m sad that they made all their Huntsman Sniper jokes in the Tom Braider season because I just kept on with them when I was playing The Last of Us at my friend’s place. Snipin’s a good job, mate.

  11. Daemian Lucifer says:

    “Tending crops, chasing off wildlife and pests, ”

    I think you have that reversed.One man is much better off hunting wildlife than tending crops.A single deer is enough to last one man for about 5 days.Even more probably.The only thing Id agree with you is that the game doesnt show any wildlife,which it should(maybe it does so later?).Showing us a single deer,or a wild boar,heck even a couple of rabbits,would be enough to show us how bill survives.

    • Traiden says:

      Two episodes before it showed wild cranes near the town itself. Also so other wildlife signs around too. I could see Bill live off hunting alone for meats supplementing it with wild greens from foraging.

    • Shamus says:

      I was assuming that the woods would be inexplicably brimming with ninja zombies, ready to leap out of the bushes and bite you.

      But yeah, if hunting doesn’t cause tons of zombies to descend on you, then a short-range hunter-gatherer would be a pretty viable lifestyle. But then, if you’re going out into the wild to hunt, why would you come back into the trap-filled zombie town at the end of the day?

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        Because you would want to sleep in a safe place.And you dont have time to hunt,scout the area and set up a bunch of traps in one day.

        • Shamus says:

          But now we’re talking in circles:

          Oh, the zombies are in the town, not the wilderness. So let’s go hunt in the wilderness. But then come back to the town so we can be safe from the zombies in the wilderness.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Never said that there arent zombies in the wilderness,but thats where game would be.A skilled hunter can still get his game and avoid predators on his trip from home to hunting grounds and back.Thats how our ancestors did it.Its not enough to support a big population,but a single family can do it,and especially a single guy.

            The zombies swarming this town with population of precisely one,yeah thats a bit of a bullshit.

          • And safe from any humans. The traps aren’t necessarily just for zombies.

            • syal says:

              Indeed, that rope trap looks designed to make raiders fight the zombies.

            • This is actually specifically spelled out in the game with one of Bill’s notes.

              That aside, the game makes it very clear Bill’s a solitary kinda guy (especially now for reasons that become clear in either the next episode or the one after) and also one of ‘those’ people for which an apocalypse is right in his wheelhouse. He knows how to handle himself and the idea that any one man is going to remove an entire population of even the smallest town is kind of silly. I lived most my life in a place that didn’t have more than the highway going through it and a couple of unpaved roads, and it still managed to include triple digits worth of people and this place is a lot bigger than Wallace, CA.

              • Ranneko says:

                Thing is actually it isn’t that inconceivable. It has been 20 years right? Lets say the town has 1000 people and all of them become zombies, if you take out 5 of them a week with traps, weapons, etc. Then all of them are gone within 4 years.
                How many does Joel fight and kill on the way in?

                • Daemian Lucifer says:

                  And thats not even talking about the fact that they would probably migrate to somewhere with more people.

                  • Tizzy says:

                    That’s the thing that bothers me the most. If the sole purpose of the zombies is indeed to spread the plague, then surely they have a biological imperative to wander until they find populated areas. One guy just won’t do it.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Yeah.What makes the least sense to me is the life cycle of these zombies.Ok,they are fungi,thats cool.They have three(?)stages,first is rage,second is fungi overrunning the host,third is the spore emission,thats also cool.But the period between the second and third stage being decades?Thats just pure bullshit.

                    • Tizzy says:

                      Daemian: Nitpcks aside, they do get props for coming up with an interesting zombie concept and making it work for both story and gameplay purposes.

                      If this game had run-of-the-mill undead or rabid zombies, I feel that something hard would be lost, though I have trouble pinpointing what exactly.

                    • syal says:

                      Well, isn’t Bill basically living at a pit stop between towns? Maybe the zombies are just passing through the same way Joel is.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Oh definitely,props for that.Better than run of the mill zombies,but not by much.

                • That’s making a looot of assumptions about how this guy goes about his daily life, let alone when he actually settled down there. I also don’t get how people think killing zombies is like his job or what he does with his time. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to go out and take them on if you don’t have to, especially since the game already established that ammo is scarce round them parts.

                • Thomas says:

                  1,000 is a tiny amount for a town. I lived in a small town and my _secondary school_ had 1,200 people in it. I’m pretty sure the village next to my town has more than 2,000 people living in it.

                  In the UK towns frequently break 20,000 and go all the way up to 100,000+. The US is far bigger and has more rural areas as a result, but this place looks like it would be easily break 10,000

                  At a minimum of 10,000, 5 a week is 38 years worth of work.

                  • syal says:

                    We lived near a town with 150 people in it. The town’s graduating class was 4 people. And that town is bigger than one down the road. It wasn’t on the east coast, but towns can be tiny.

                    Granted, our town didn’t have a music store.

                    • Thomas says:

                      Why is that not a village? =D Do they actually have villages in the USA? Because 150 is practically a hamlet never mind a village.

                      Anyway this place has a high street and a functioning secondary school so it’s definitely a town town

                    • We have towns or townships. Generally speaking, I think a lot of towns were incorporated as the land was settled, and unless everyone leaves the area or they become part of an expanding city, they remain towns forever.

                      We have towns with very low populations, even down to a single person in some cases. There are also ghost towns, places where all that remains are a few buildings or foundations, maybe a cemetery, where whatever made the town exist in the first place is gone (i.e. mining, industry, major travel arteries, etc.). There are even towns that exist pretty much in name only in old records, their actual location having been lost.

                    • Abnaxis says:

                      I think we’re having an East coast/West coast debate here.

                      My understanding is that there are numerous ghost towns and really, really tiny towns out West, because the land there is inhospitable so if the mines run out and there isn’t some other resource available, there’s no point in sticking around.

                      In my experience, living in the east, southeast, and the midwest you never run into that situation. I don’t think I have ever seen an area of land that isn’t actively being used for something, be it farming, parks/nature preserves, or city-dwelling. While there are plenty of places with populations less than 10,000, places smaller than 1,000 are exceptionally rare, and are a great, great deal smaller than the area Bill is in. There were more multi-story brick buildings in that town than in my 20,000 population home town.

                      Ghost towns are non-existent unless you count historical sites.

          • ? says:

            Being safe from zombies is one thing, being safe from elements another. Whatever shelter zombie survivalist can set up for the night is not going to keep the rain and wind out like a brick building. Also squatting in a pre-apocalypse house saves you from carrying all the stuff needed to build that shelter. Even if a hunting trip stretches a little bit too long, it’s a different proposition to sleep for a night on some pine branches and go back to base camp next day than sleep under a tarp for the rest of your life.

      • MrGuy says:

        But yeah, if hunting doesn’t cause tons of zombies to descend on you, then a short-range hunter-gatherer would be a pretty viable lifestyle.

        I point out he’s the only person we’ve encountered to date with a bow…

    • Tom says:

      One healthy, young person hunting is better than farming. If you want to survive old age, illness, injury or sheer bad luck in a subsistence environment with no state, let alone state aid, you need to settle down and raise a family, and that means farming – or at least staying in one spot, in which case, why not farm? Your kids are your only retirement plan; your partner is your only health insurance. Really, the most incongruous thing in this situation is single adults wandering about with no attachments. You don’t get many of them except in highly affluent, industrialised societies.

  12. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Hey look,another character we meet that wears a heavy jacket with long sleeves and gloves.Plus a face mask at all times when he is out of the house.So is the game saying that joel and tess are the only idiots in this world?

    Seriously,why didnt they put better clothes on those two,when its obvious they did think of the issue enough to put it on other people.

    • SmileyFace says:

      Maybe reasonable, zombie proof clothing is a valuable item, and city-dwelling Tess and Joel trade them when they find them, or they thought it’d be conspicuous. After this point, Joel does start wearing jackets, although I think that’s probably due more to winter than prudence.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        They are loosely city based.Because they are smugglers they pass through a lot of infested areas.

        • MrGuy says:

          Actually, this is the best argument I’ve heard for why they DON’T typically wear zombie-resistant clothing.

          Joel and Tess live in the city. In the city, the government keeps people “safe,” and traveling outside the city is forbidden. Smuggling is more than a bit frowned upon.

          So, in the city, someone who goes around wearing a heavy leather jacket in the summer immediately stands out as a “possible smuggler.” It’s only really necessary if you’re planning to go outside the walls, and you’re not supposed to do that. I could imagine wearing protective gear would be like wearing a sign that says “Ask me about my smuggling!” You wouldn’t wear it “just around.”

          That said, given they apparently have a typical “route” to get outside the walls and a supply cache, keeping the survivalist gear there would be a good move.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            “That said, given they apparently have a typical “route” to get outside the walls and a supply cache, keeping the survivalist gear there would be a good move.”

            That,or in a backpack.

            • Tizzy says:

              Backpacks would be searched.

              • Daemian Lucifer says:

                Never saw that in the game.Not even when the patrol caught them.They started scanning them immediately,no searching of backpacks was done or planned.

                • ? says:

                  Seems like a reasonable order of activities. First scan for infected, search if smugglers after that. What was planned is hard to tell since fight started after they detected an infected.

                  • Thomas says:

                    Yeah there was nothing about that scene that was a good time to search through a backpack. They found people actively on the run, they checked to see if any were potential zombies, they found one was and decided to shoot.

                    And given that we’ve seen they’ve actually got an actively manned checkpoint which you have to go through to get in and out of the city, it would be kind of ridiculous if they never searched through the gear people are taking in and out of the city.

                    • Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Oh yeah,those checkpoints.Those were also shown to scan people for infection,but not to check their stuff.And its not like they have no reason to,I mean just look how many times fireflies have bombed something.

                • Tizzy says:

                  I agree that we didn’t see it happen, but when I see a universe like this, it’s a shorthand for “expect to be searched by heavily armed guards at any moment.” I’ve seen people systematically searched by soldiers in much less tense situations.

          • Peter H. Coffin says:

            That said, given they apparently have a typical “route” to get outside the walls and a supply cache, keeping the survivalist gear there would be a good move.

            I note here for the record that “leave gear cached on the route out of the city” is EXACTLY what Joel and Tess apparently did, based on the “Let’s grab our gear” comment back in the second episode, about 4:30-5:00.

    • Ruts already answered this in an earlier episode already and I personally find it sensible enough.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        No he didnt,he proposed AN explanation,not the real answer.

        Also,I dont buy that one because it seems this guy is going to be tess for this section of the game,and he has sensible clothes.Plus,we really didnt see much of tess,so there was no reason at ll for her to not have some better clothing.Maybe because she was destined to be bitten,but if that was the reason for her to wear thin short sleeved shirt,that would make it a pretty contrived and stupid reason.

  13. guy says:

    Joel and not wearing his gas mask is bugging me. I mean, I know the spores seem to need to be pretty thick before they can infect people, but according to one of the diaries in the infected building Tess and Joel enter early on it’s entirely possible to miss them until it’s too late. Particularly when they went into that building, which looked like prime spore territory.

    Also, it would probably be wise to get Ellie one. While she obviously hasn’t turned yet, there was what looked like a bit of fungal growth around the bite. Best not to introduce any extra spores.

    • SmileyFace says:

      I excuse a lot of things this game does, but the spores just bug the hell out of me. I mean, even putting aside him not putting the mask on until he’s knee deep in spores, that’s a gameplay issue, but these are SPORES. They clearly remain active for long periods of time, as spores do, and the air is extremely clouded with them. Anyone going through these areas, gas mask or no, is going to get them everywhere, on their clothes, in their clothes, in contact with any open wounds, etc. The simple act of pulling off his backpack to put away his mask after leaving should dislodge so many spores right at his face that he should be immediately infected. That would explain a whole lot about how people just keep getting infected in this world, but they can’t go too much into that, because Joel completely ignores that stuff.

      • guy says:

        Well, open wounds are indeed an issue. The other stuff isn’t so big of a problem if you go with the theory that you need to inhale high concentrations. Ingested ones might not be able to survive stomach acid, and the stuff that clings to backpacks wouldn’t produce the near-opaque clouds in the danger zones.

    • Eruanno says:

      While I agree with the first bit, the second part is pretty useless since Ellie is, for all intents and purposes, completely immune to zombiefication. She can snort spores like nobody’s business, so why waste a gas mask and air filters on her? She doesn’t need them. It’s better to keep a spare for those that do.

      • syal says:

        Because you don’t know if she’s immune or just resistant.

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          If she was only resistant,then that bite wouldve progressed somewhat,only slower than usual.It wouldnt be like a regular wound.

          • guy says:

            Well, we don’t get a very good look at it, but it seemed to me like there was a tiny amount of fungal growth. It’s quite possible it’s just colonized her skin and can’t make progress anywhere her immune system can get to, but that could still mean she’d turn if her immune system got stressed enough, say by inhaling five kilograms of spores. Since it’s vitally important she get to the Firefly medical research center or whatever alive and preferably unturned, that is a possibility best avoided.

          • syal says:

            I was thinking in terms of superviruses and such; they’re immune to regular doses of medicine, but up the dosage high enough and they’ll still die. Ellie can handle a bite, but that doesn’t mean she can necessarily handle a bite and constant spore inhalation at the same time.

        • Tizzy says:

          Also, there’s bound to be more than one strain by now. Why take chances?

          Also, breathing in spores is never all that great for you anyway.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            “Also, there’s bound to be more than one strain by now.”

            For a fungus?Doubtful.Bacteria are the one that mutates a brazillion times in 20 years,not fungi.

            “Also, breathing in spores is never all that great for you anyway.”

            That is true.Ellie nose should be running like a waterfall after that tunnel.

  14. Corpital says:

    Never really noticed before, but shouldn’t these guys hugging Joel look a bit worse than very dirty humans after being infected with this rapidly spreading fungi?

    On a similar note: is it ever explained, if these clickers are special zombies that just grow that way or are they what happens to every zombie after a while?

    • guy says:

      The fungus mostly colonizes the central nervous system in the early stages of infection. Clickers are a later stage, although apparently under some environmental condition or if the body is too badly damaged an early-stage infected can turn into a spore generator instead.

    • Tizzy says:

      I never played the game myself, but As I recall (from watching another playthrough), this is explained decently well in the first part of the game, when they navigate that collapsed tower. Of course, it’s hard to pick up on all of this during Spoiler Warning…

  15. Ithilanor says:

    I have a feeling that nitpicking the logistics of the environment is going to be the repetitive criticism that could drag this season down. It might be best to find other stuff to comment on; hopefully there’s enough story-related things and thematic ideas to talk about.

  16. IFS says:

    I must say I really like how one of the supplies that Josh grabbed was the pipe that Ellie used to hit Bill in the cutscene, its just a neat little touch imo.

    Also if I remember right the bow does a lot of extra damage if the enemy hasn’t noticed you, making even body shots decently effective from stealth, though it has been a while so I could easily be mistaken. It does have the advantage of its ammo being occasionally recoverable at least.

    • SyrusRayne says:

      The bow is very useful when you’re stealthing, as long as you can hit things with it. This is traditionally Josh’s downfall, though. Talking and aiming aren’t super compatible.

      I tend to use the bow as an opener; I don’t usually have the patience to ghost through an area, but I find it a lot of fun to use hit-and-run tactics. Take as many down unnoticed as I can, pull back and relocate. Repeat. It works with rifles and louder weapons as well, but you only really get a shot or two before you need to go.

  17. Dev Null says:

    I imagine he just eats zombies. I mean, there’s a lot of them about, and they’re kinda easy to kill…

  18. The Rocketeer says:

    Wow that hanging scene goes on WAY too long. That’s about three times too long and four times as many zombies as it needed. And they had to give you infinite ammo just to support it!

    I can’t begin to understand that decision.

  19. John the Savage says:

    Shamus, I’ve seen you talk about agriculture a lot when you talk about zombies. It’s true that our most common form of agriculture is very reliant on technology, and if you remove the tech, it gets extremely labor intensive. But it’s not the only way to grow plants. There are other pre-tech agricultural systems besides the Amish style. I think for smaller populations like we see in these settings, till-less systems like slash-and-burn agriculture might be more viable.

    I’m no expert, so I only know what’s been explained to me by friends who are, but as I understand it, you can just grow crops, harvest the food, burn the leftover plants still in the ground (corn stalks, vines, roots, whatever part of the plant you don’t harvest) and the ashes will seep into the soil and fertilize the next crop. This seems MUCH less labor intensive than dragging a plow across an entire field. Now, as I understand it, the downside is that it’s less sustainable, especially with larger societies, but I know there were cultures that lasted hundreds if not thousands of years by growing crops like this. Just some food for thought.

    • Tuck says:

      Add crop rotation for extra benefits. Plus, you don’t need a football-sized field to support one person. If you have a few different vegetables, you can easily grow enough in a backyard to support you year-round (assuming there are enough scavengable jars around the place to pickle/preserve food for winter). Not the most exciting diet, but supplement it with some snared/hunted meat every now and then and you’ll be fine.

    • Tom says:

      Of course, all this is assuming we’re in the West. Asian agriculture is very different – unlike Western hard grain crops, rice cultivation is another game entirely. It’s very time consuming, but requires far less physical exertion, because you don’t need to plough the ground, and it also requires far less processing before you can actually eat it.

      • Tizzy says:

        You could also reconsider the focus on grains, which must some from teh ease of storage and conservation in pre-technological times. It’s funny to think how something as old-fashioned as pickling requires way more technology than simple gagriculture to do correctly.

        And in general, you would want to use fermented foods a lot.

      • Scourge says:

        Now I am thinking but I can’t think that zombies sloshing through water rice fields can be healthy.

  20. Andrew says:

    Yeah, I don’t actually think “what does Bill eat” is that difficult a question, and I’d go with the “scavenging remnants of civilisation” option, too. Neither hunting nor farming seem like good answers, because in either case, as has already been pointed out, why would he live in an abandoned town where bare earth and game are scarcer (and where there seem to be quite a lot of zombies) if he were trying to hunt or farm?

    In addition to tinned food, I wonder how long an abandoned allotment or vegetable garden would continue to produce human-eatable food without care.

    Where I live blackberries grow really well and tend to take over gardens as well as any patch of wilderness if not cut back; granted they only provide food for about 2 months of the year, but it wouldn’t be hard to feed yourself on blackberries for those two months. Difficult to store, though, for the rest of the time; you’d want root vegetables for that.

  21. thebob288 says:

    An exact quote from josh speaking to a zombie “Get your head over here” potentially the worst thing you could possibly say to a thing thats main attack is biting you. :)

  22. Tom says:

    Funny thing, now that I think of it, but I’m pretty sure every car and stationary engine/generator that I can remember in every game and movie ever seems to have run on petrol. Petrol does indeed “go off” in a couple of years, but I’m sure diesel or other heavy oil lasts a whole lot longer – are there no diesel cars left over after the apocalypse? Grow enough oilseed and you can run most diesel engines with very little modification, although you’re looking at way more than three football fields to till in that case.

    Hey, come to think of it, you know who might be very well equipped to survive the apocalypse long-term without starving? Clandestine pot growers. They know how to grow crops in a very confined space, they know how to camouflage and hide their operation from raiders and, not being tied to the land like a farm, they can up stakes and relocate if they get found. Just switch all that covert, high-density growing equipment to a food crop up on an abandoned flat roof somewhere, out of sight of the ground, so you no longer need energy for lighting, and all you need then is a compost heap for nutrients and enough energy to run a couple of small pumps, which could be hand cranked in the worst case.

    • Octapode says:

      Petrol engines would be fairly easy to convert to biomass gasification, which I think would be easier to fuel than getting vegetable oil for diesel. I’m not certain, but I think a petrol engine’s ignition would be easier to maintain than a diesel injection system, too.

      I think you’re totally on to something on the pot farmers, and in addition to that I’m sure their traditional product would be pretty popular as a trade good after the end. Lack of fertiliser would probably reduce the productivity a fair bit, but I think being able to spread out over a few rooftops would compensate for that (plus, it puts your food next to your prime zombie-proof real estate).

      • guy says:

        The land use numbers on biomass fuel aren’t especially good, although some techniques let you use stalks and such from your food crops.

        • Tom says:

          Sorry, I wrote my original post badly – I was originally bringing up diesel engines because presumably, after the population gets decimated virtually overnight, living on leftover reserves of diesel for a couple of decades would be more realistic than living on stale petrol. My main issue was simply that people tend to talk about petrol as if it’s the only fuel ever to exist or matter in games and films like these. The biofuel was more of an afterthought for when even the diesel reserves ran out; I know the numbers aren’t good.

          However, petrol engines can be easily modded to run on biogas, which you can make out of sewage in relatively compact anaerobic tanks, and there’s no shortage of sewage wherever you find humans, so that solves the post-apocalyptic sanitation problem at a stroke too… Somewhat impractical for vehicles, though, because biogas is usually produced at very low density and needs huge storage volumes. Perhaps the most realistic prospect for transport would be wood gasifiers; those have actually been used to make regular petrol vehicles run on wood chips with considerable success at numerous points in the 20th century – and, as has been mentioned, gotta be a lot of wooden stuff in those ruins.

          • Richard says:

            Quite a few books set in various apocalypses have gone into this in some detail.

            One option that seems pretty common in books is running petrol engines on wood alcohol. Don’t know how good an idea that really is, but it seems plausible.

            Diesels will run on almost any heavy oil and need very little maintenance, petrol engines are a bit fussier, both about what they’ll burn and keeping one going without spare parts (spark plugs!), but still support a wide range of possibilities.

            However, I rather think lubrication is actually a bigger issue than the fuel itself. No engine runs for long without suitable lubrication, and internal combustion engines need high-temperature oils – you can’t use animal fats for this!

            • Octapode says:

              Is there not an issue for diesel engines with the high pressure injection system dying?

              As for methanol, I believe it was used as a racing car fuel, though I’m not sure that distilling to alcohol would be more efficient than gasifying the wood. Pretty sure some buses in WWII were adapted to run on woodgas (to save fuel for the war) so I think it is definitely viable for transport.

            • Tom says:

              Oh, lordy, yes, the lube oil! I hadn’t even thought of that, and I’m a bloody engineer!

              • Octapode says:

                Any idea what steam engines used for lubrication before the petrochemical industry kicked off? I can’t think of anything straight away that would be a good, easily obtained replacement for engine oil. Maybe you’d end up just stripping it down and rubbing tallow on everything once a week?

                • Tom says:

                  The short answer is “any oil they could get!”

                  I think it was mostly whale oil in the age of steam and coal, but any oil, even vegetable, will have some lubricating properties, though usually quite inferior to mineral or synthetic without additional chemical processing – I’d guess that they probably just had much bigger bearings with larger working surface areas and lower temperature limits to deal with the lower lubricity of the natural oils they could get. A quick google indicates that castor oil was one of the better vegetable lube oils; it can cope with higher temperatures without breaking down. There was also apparently the mistaken belief, which I’m told held out for a remarkably long time against the evidence, that ball bearings didn’t actually need lubrication.

                  I also know bacon fat and lard oil were definitely popular as a cutting compound for machining parts. They’re actually very effective; apparently some hobbyists and a handful of small machine shops still use them, not least because they’re cheap, biodegradable and completely non-toxic.

                  Old-timey machinist tricks and techniques like that are often popular with hobbyists and model engineers, because what was cutting-edge technology in the 19th century is now really easy to do cheaply with bits of junk, low-grade materials like scrap metal and today’s cheapest but only semi-precise consumer-grade tools, very well documented and usually the patents are long expired too. It would not be unreasonable to expect to see new technology being produced at about a mid 19th century level after a total apocalypse (alongside whatever scavenged stuff still worked), assuming there were enough high grade fuel left to do it (can’t smelt iron with wood; you can barely do it with charcoal, and charcoal takes forever and tons of wood to make. It was the availability of coal that made iron “the plastic of the 19th century,” followed by gas and oil). Technology might regress as far back as to wind up exclusively using bolts and rivets for metal construction; welding requires either acetylene and chemical fluxes or a hefty electrical supply and noble gases or flux coated rods – impossible to produce without well established industry.

                  • Octapode says:

                    I wonder if it would be too much effort to refine tarmac as fuel. It’s plentiful, and presumably pretty high-carbon too, which is most of what you want from a fuel.

                    As for iron sourcing, I think we would have so much steel available that it would be a long time before we need to set up smelting in an after the end scenario. I think sourcing enough charcoal for blacksmithing work would be fairly easy, especially compared to the amounts needed for smelting.

                    You can hack together a stick welder from 3 car batteries, so I think if you had the rods you could manage something from solar or human power for a welding rig (with a low duty cycle). Obviously when you run out of rods you’re screwed though.

                    Another thing I can see creating sourcing problems in the longer run after the end is cutting tools. Anything more complex than a blade is likely going to be a real pain to sharpen once we wear out all the leftover sandpaper.

              • Decius says:

                Worth noting is that lube oil does not “wear out”. It becomes contaminated, and can be purified back into a usable state for way more than 20 years.

                Case in point: Battleships and submarines do not need oil changes.

                • Octapode says:

                  As I understand it, consumer-grade oils do get chemically degraded in use, in addition to filtering out the metal fragments and other physical contamination.

                  For applications where it can be afforded, such as battleships, submarines or jet engines, higher-end lubricants are available that will last the full service time, but of course those cost a lot more.

  23. Torsten says:

    That first cutscene with Bill was interesting because of the way the dialog played out. There was a lot of rapid talk, tonal changes and people talking over each other. That has been very rare in video game cutscenes, usually discussions go so that one person talks at a time. So that seems fairly new thing, but something that appears to be common in zombie survival games, The Walking Dead had a lot of those and we’ve had a few in TLoU already.

    I wonder how much scenes like that happen in other genres, personally I have not noticed them before.

    • el_b says:

      every scene in the game is motion captured And performed as if it was in a movie. they are actually all in the same room as each other acting was seen out as you see it on the screen. There are videos of it online, it’s pretty Cool to see behind the scenes like that. it would Sound a lot more flat if they were just recording it in a box separately.

  24. Octapode says:

    Unrelatedly to the episode, has there been much zombie survival involving coastal fishing towns? You’ve got the safety of being able to put to sea if the land gets too dangerous, fish stocks should be going nuts with the reduced pressure from major fisheries, and if your town gets too bad you can always move down the coast to the next one. I think a fleet of migratory fishers occasionally coming in to land for resupply/scavenging would make for a pretty interesting take on the general setting.

    • Tom says:

      Somebody make that idea into a game or movie immediately; I love it. (I happen to be a sailor, by the way)

      Though I guess it could turn interesting if it turns out zombies don’t need air, and one might risk accidentally snagging one wandering about on the seabed with a fishing net and hauling it aboard…

  25. James says:

    Would like to note that against humans its a 1 hit kill if your stealthed, the problem is getting you arrows back. If you good or lucky you can get 2-3 people before they find exactly were you are.

    • Thomas says:

      Yeah I think Clickers have the most health of normal enemies? And Josh wasn’t showing off the best aim in that particular little segment :P

      I never really used it though. You can stealth hand to hand through most of the game

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        “And Josh wasn’t showing off the best aim in that particular little segment :P”

        Well the game does require you to use the plebeian method of control,instead of the superior mouse.

  26. silver Harloe says:

    dialog nitpick:
    “what was that?”
    “one of bill’s traps”
    “whoa. bit paranoid maybe?”
    “well, the trap did just now kill a clicker, so I’m going with no?”

    in fact, if your traps are actively killing enemies that you might have to otherwise fight yourself, I’d call them signs of sanity more than insanity?

    as for resources. if you turn 90% of humanity into an enemy that must be fought tomorrow, I’m much less worried about us running out of tinned food than about us running out of bullets and good explosives for traps – *especially* if you’re from a small MA town and not, say, an army base.

    (and, yes, I know bullets can be remade if you can melt metals, have a mold, police your brass, and have a source of gunpowder… except: (a) I’m not sure about manufacturing primers, and (b) homemade gunpowder isn’t as good as modern gunpowder, and (c) I don’t know if this is a thing for sure, but I suspect the brass weakens and would eventually be un-reusable. Metro2033 was pretty spot on about pre-apocalypse bullets being way better (also, pigs were a good choice for getting some of the gunpowder ingredients))

    I’d love to find some post-apoc fiction that didn’t include the following standard post-apoc tropes:

    1) batteries are eternal unless used
    2) petrol is eternal unless used
    3) medicine is eternal unless used
    4) humans can eat any old thing and still expect a 20th Century western-industrial lifespan (thus if you can farm, or fish, or hunt, you’ve solved your food problems forever)

    and following zombie-apocalypse tropes:

    5) there is an infinite supply of unnamed humans, so killing zombies never adds up to anything
    6) zombies, no matter how otherwise scientifically explained, have an infinite supply of ambulatory energy, regardless of age or consumption

    • silver Harloe says:

      corollary 1a) and rechargeable batteries are thus really eternal
      1b) batteries are the only functional component of a flashlight – which is an otherwise eternal device

      corollary 3a) if you knock over a clinic, you know *what* every pill is useful for, and *all* of them are useful for battlefield traumas – there aren’t a billion pills for athlete’s foot, ulcers, high blood pressure, psychological conditions, etc and thus aren’t helpful for infections, which are now your new third most dangerous enemy (behind the zombies and other humans). You are never overwhelmed by a sea of useless remedies (all of which expired several years ago, anyway)

      as Shamus explained in depth in the OP
      corollary 4a) farming is just as labor intensive as it was at the height of 20th Century industry – all the farm equipment used by modern farmers is decoration and not *really* needed to provide the same level of output

      not really related to item 4, but goes in the first list instead of the second list, so it gets to be numbered 4.1:
      4.1) there is no place humans live *today* that is impossible to live in post-apocalypse when all the plumbing and transportation and electricity stops. no city requires supplies of fresh water or supplies or necessary climate control (including keeping out flood waters and similar things) to be habitable.

  27. Ivan says:

    You guys are all out there wondering what Bill eats, but I’m sitting here wondering what the ZOMBIES eat! Seriously, these ones aren’t supernatural, they’re a brain altering parasite, all the rules about the human body still apply. In fact, I have yet to see a single dismembered but functioning zombie in this game. If these things really have the needs of a human body then all you need to do is spend a week indoors and they’ll dehydrate by the thousands. Maybe we can say that zombies don’t louse all human instincts, so they seek out water and drink, but then what do they EAT, each other?!? Zombie cannibalism is the only possible explanation for how a zombie population could last more than a month after the infection rate starts to plummet. I mean, humans are pretty ill equip hunters. The best tool we have is our brain, and that is exactly what is most impaired in almost every zombie plot out there. Zombies are rarely depicted as anything close to intelligent and yet these zombies are finding food in completely artificial environments (towns and cities). Hell, this is 20 years after the fact and the zombie menace hasn’t just survived, but it’s numbers are still high enough that hordes are a serious threat. Even zombie cannibals should have eaten themselves out by now.

    Oh yeah, I just want to add onto the end of this, Carrying Capacity. The ability of a town or city to sustain the levels of Human population that it does is completely artificial. Transportation and food preservation techniques have allowed humans to populate areas much more densely than the surrounding land could naturally support. Even if zombies could figure out how to eat a bag of potato chips, or even hunt the local wildlife, they could not possibly find enough food to sustain themselves for any long term ordeal unless they left the city.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      A zombie was shown eating a corpse at one point.So it stands to reason that they can eat anything humans can.Big bonus to this is that without higher functions of the brain,theyd require less nutrients than your average human.

      And if wild game is plentiful,thered be no problem to feed all the zombies that live outside the city for quite a long time,since they dont require shelter like humans.They also dont seem to sleep,so they can hunt forever.

  28. Tizzy says:

    It occurs to me that Bill could have been a survivalist before the outbreak began. They do exist, after all.

    In which case, he would have had the opportunity to stock up on long-lasting (freeze-dried) food, weapons and ammo, useful survival skills, and plenty of paranoia. It would also explain his reluctance to move (a big stash that couldn’t be safely transported), his desire for seclusion, and his ability to make it mostly on his own.

    Still doesn’t explain why so many damn zombies moved into town, though…

    • Richard says:

      In most of these types of setting the “zombies” will cluster around any habited area, following the sounds or smells of humans. They don’t know how many people live there, just that somebody does.

      Eg In Day of the Triffids, the triffids will travel for miles towards any artificial sounds, such as generators or running vehicles.
      So anywhere inhabited ends up surrounded by hundreds of triffids – eventually breaking fences by sheer weight of numbers.

      • Tizzy says:

        Day of the Triffids??? Wow, that takes me back!…

        I still think these guys should be able to tell the difference between one lone human and a settlement, however small.

  29. There is at least one Russian Orthodox church and monastery in MA. It’s somewhere vaguely near Amherst, I think. My Russian Lit class went to it, but I was sick that day. Gorgeous place, from what I was told.

  30. Adam Phant says:

    “I do wonder about the zombie mortality rate in this town. How many zombies do we kill during this 15 minute visit? Why would Bill live here if they’re THAT dense? And if there are only a few left, then why are ANY left?”

    Ellie asks about this later. Joel says Bill uses the infected as defense.

    At around 6:30, Josh looks down an alley. There’s a locked door on the left side. Inside is a clicker. A clicker is in that building because Bill has locked it inside. He knows there’s a clicker in that building. He knows to avoid it.

    Someone coming through town looking for supplies to scavenge won’t know about the clicker. If they manage to react quickly enough, then they’re wasting ammo on the infected, which means they have less ammo to use against Bill.

    I’m guessing the wandering infected (like the one that set off the mine) were shmucks who got caught. Thus, those mines likely exist to clean up those infected. Probably to take out anyone who’s not watching where they’re going, too. Joel only knows to keep an eye out because he knows Bill.

    • Tizzy says:

      That seems like a pretty dangerous gamble, especially given how little-understood the whole life-cycle is. Then again, Bill is just about nuts enough for that…

      • Thomas says:

        I agree that the man living in a town by himself and using zombies as an elaborate defence mechanism is probably not the most stable guy you’ll ever meet :p

  31. RTBones says:

    I have always presumed Bill to be a rough analog of Brill Lyle from Enemy of the State. A paranoid survivalist who survives because he is a loner. As we will soon learn, there are reasons Bill is a loner.

    Given the above, we also know that he has helped Joel smuggle. I don’t think its too terribly far-fetched for him to trade skills and services for food. Add to that, there is/was likely to be some sort of a Super Wal-Mart/Target/Sams Club/Giant/Costco/Kroger/Tesco/Sainsburys/Asda nearby. Knowing that the town had advance warning of impending zombiness, it isn’t hard to imagine that he would have had access to canned/salted/preserved foods.

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