Warning: There are spoilers ahead for season one, episode three of "The Last of Us."
Joel says the cordyceps outbreak likely started by mutating and tainting foods with flour or sugar.
Joel, Sarah, and Tommy likely weren't infected on episode one because they avoided eating pancakes, biscuits, and cake.
Sunday's episode of "The Last of Us" revealed how the cordyceps fungal infection likely spread so rapidly around the world. It turns out Joel may have narrowly avoided being infected simply because of his food choices on the series' pilot.
Early on season one, episode three, Ellie asks Joel how the infection began.
"If you have to get bit to be infected than who bit the first person?" Ellie asks.
Joel tells her that while "no one knows for sure," people have a solid theory of what happened.
"Best guess… cordyceps mutated and some of it got into the food supply - probably a basic ingredient like flour or sugar," Joel says. "There were certain brands of food that were sold everywhere. All across the country, across the world. Bread, cereal, pancake mix. You eat enough of it, it'll get you infected."
The words "pancake mix" should've stood out.
On the series' pilot, Joel's daughter, Sarah, planned to make her dad pancakes for his birthday. When Sarah discovered they were out of pancake mix, she opted to cook them eggs instead.
If they had eaten pancakes, they may have wound up infected by the episode's end.
If you revisit episode one, it turns out Joel and Sarah may have dodged getting infected with the cordyceps fungus a few times.
When they left the house for the day, their neighbor offered them some biscuits. Later in the episode, the older woman who was fed a biscuit became infected. After school, Sarah was less enthused about baking cookies with her neighbor after learning they were making raisin cookies instead of chocolate chip.
When Joel returned home from work, Sarah was disappointed to learn that her father forgot to pick up a cake for them to celebrate his birthday.
However, he probably saved both of their lives if any of the ingredients for the cake were tainted.
If you're listen closely to the news report as Sarah's waiting up for her dad, a TV report says the Austin police don't have any comment on a "rash of violent incidents across the city," but a "new street drug" is cited as the possible blame. At this point, people are already becoming infected.
In Naughty Dog's hit video game of the same name, we never directly learn how the cordyceps infection spread so quickly across the planet.
However, a newspaper you can find at Joel's house at the game's start mentions contaminated crops across the country, hinting there may have been a connection.
The top story is about a "mysterious infection." The story underneath, which, at the time seemed irrelevant, reports the Food and Drug Administration was investigating crops "potentially tainted with mold."
The story goes on to mention a warning against imported crops from South America, Central America, and Mexico.
It appears the show expanded upon and linked the two together, but changed the location of contamination to Indonesia, as we saw in last week's episode.
You can read more of our "TLOU" coverage here.
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