The Last of Us: How Did Ellie Know Tess Was Infected?

tess bite

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Back in episode 2 of The Last of Us, we saw how both Joel and Ellie got their hearts broken when Tess sacrificed herself so that the duo could escape the Capitol Building without Runners on their tails. Of course, the reason why Tess needed to sacrifice herself was the fact that she was infected by a Clicker. But she didn’t reveal that fact until Ellie noticed that Tess was infected. So, how did Ellie know that Tess was infected?

Ellie knew that Tess was infected because Tess said that she was staying because their luck had to run out sooner or later. That was when Ellie read between the lines and realized that Tess was infected as she noticed that Tess wasn’t acting like her usual self the entire time they were in the Capitol Building.

We know that both Joel and Ellie have experienced their own fair share of losses due to the Cordyceps Brain Infection (CBI). But the thing about Ellie is that she has gotten infected in the past without her even knowing that she was immune. This means that she knows how a person reacts whenever they are infected, as she must have seen the way Tess was acting when she knew that her time was up already.

Can Ellie Detect Who Is Infected?

Back in the first episode of The Last of Us, one of the things that we found out was the fact that Ellie was so important to Marlene and the Fireflies due to the fact that she was infected by the CBI but was somehow immune to the effects of the infection. Of course, this was a fact that surprised both Joel and Tess because they didn’t know that they were smuggling a person that was immune to the infection.

Meanwhile, during the early part of episode 2, Tess wanted to know why Ellie was so important to the Fireflies, and that was when Ellie told them that there was a Firefly base out in the west where they were researching a cure or a vaccine to the CBI. And it was possible that Ellie’s immunity to the infection was the key to this cure or vaccine, as it was important for her to get to the Fireflies so that she could help them end the outbreak.

Of course, on the way to the Boston Capitol Building, the trio ended up getting into trouble when they stumbled into two Clickers that were waiting in the museum. Joel and Tess killed the Clickers, and Ellie ended up getting bitten by one of them. But that didn’t matter because she was immune to the effects of the fungal infection.

clicker 2

Nevertheless, when they got to the Capitol Building, they were all surprised to see that no one was there to greet them. They found out that all of the Fireflies there were dead, as one of them must have gotten infected. That was when Tess started to act frantically as she searched the place for clues regarding the possible location of the next Firefly base. She wanted to give Ellie to the Fireflies, only for Joel to try to stop her from trying to complete the mission so that they could go home.


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That was when Tess said that she was staying there because their luck had run out. Ellie was the first to come to the conclusion that Tess was infected. Of course, she was right. So, does that mean that Ellie can detect people who are infected?

As far as we know, Ellie doesn’t have any special abilities or powers that were granted to her when she was infected, and subsequently found out that she was immune to the CBI. The only thing that makes her special is the fact that she is immune to fungal infection. Other than that, she doesn’t have any way of knowing whether or not someone is infected. In that regard, Ellie did not use any special powers or abilities to come up with the conclusion that Tess was infected. 

How Did Ellie Know Tess Was Infected?

If Ellie doesn’t have any special powers or abilities to detect someone who is infected, then how did she even know that Tess was infected? Well, we can say that she actually made a lucky yet educated guess.

Of course, Ellie didn’t simply guess that Tess was infected. In fact, she pieced together clues and details that allowed her to come up with the conclusion that Tess was infected and that she knew that her time was up.

First of all, when they learned that the Fireflies were dead, Tess acted in a manner that was unlike her. She frantically tried to search for the Fireflies and even lashed out at Joel despite the fact that all that she and Joel were going to get from the Fireflies in exchange for Ellie was a battery. But before that, Tess was almost always the one who was calm and collected as she was the brains of the smuggling operation.

tess ellie

Ellie must have realized that Tess was acting strangely because she was infected and that it was only a matter of time before the infection took over her mind and sanity. And unlike the other people that have been infected in the past, Ellie understood what it was like to be infected.

Both Joel and Ellie have experienced their fair share of losses to the CBI, but Ellie is the only one who actually knows the feeling of what it’s like to get infected. Take note that Ellie didn’t know that she was immune to the infection prior to getting infected. That means that she understood what goes through the mind of someone who is infected.


How Realistic Is The Last of Us Scenario?

But the one that takes the cake here is the fact that Tess said that she was staying because she knew that her luck had run out. That was when Ellie realized that Tess was infected, as she had to point that out. Meanwhile, Joel probably had an idea that Tess was infected but was blinded by his attachment to her. That was why Joel only believed that Tess was infected when she revealed her bite wound.

The fact that Tess was infected explains her frantic behavior. She must have been searching for the Fireflies so that Joel could take Ellie there because she understood that she was going to lose herself anytime soon and that Ellie could be the key to curing the infection.

Of course, Tess already understood during the final minutes of her life that she needed to do what was right regardless of whether or not the Fireflies could come up with a cure for the infection. That was the reason why she was more than willing to give her life up for Joel and Ellie, as she thought that this was probably the only reason she could atone for all of the things that she and Joel did to survive.

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