There is no doubt that The Last of Us has allowed us to see the state of the world 20 years after the start of the Cordyceps Brain Infection (CBI) pandemic that started in 2003. Of course, while there are still quite a number of survivors left in the world, human society in the US has been overtaken by FEDRA, which imposed strict rules in the Quarantine Zones that housed human survivors. So, what is FEDRA in The Last of Us?
FEDRA stands for Federal Disaster Response Agency, which is the government arm that took control over the entire United States during the outbreak of the Cordyceps Brain Infection. It controls the Quarantine Zones and is responsible for imposing martial law throughout the entire country.
Despite the fact that FEDRA sees its actions as essential to the survival of the human race in the middle of the war against the CBI, it came to a point where the people have grown tired of the way FEDRA does things. That’s because FEDRA can be quite harsh in its application of the law. And the fact that FEDRA does things in an outdated way is proof that human society has already fallen in the events of The Last of Us.
What Is FEDRA In The Last Of Us?
The entire storyline of HBO’s version of The Last of Us begins in 2003, which is the prologue of the show. That was when the outbreak happened as the Cordyceps Brain Infection (CBI) began taking over humans and turning them into mindless creatures controlled by a fungus. As such, the world essentially fell apart during the events of the first episode, as we were taken 20 years into the future of the world, which was now a shell of its former self.
Of course, during the time when the outbreak was still in its early stages, the military was charged with the job of containing the infection due to the fact that the infected had become violent and because it was clear that conventional medical methods were not capable of solving the problem. As such, the military had to become strict in its approach. And we even saw how a soldier was ordered to kill Joel and his daughter, Sarah, on the spot despite the fact that they weren’t even infected.
While there were still quite a number of people that survived the CBI pandemic between 2003 and 2023, they had to live in an entirely different type of settlement compared to what they were used to in the past. Before the outbreak, people lived normal lives in normal houses. However, after the outbreak, they had to be forced into settlements called Quarantine Zones (QZs). And the people controlling the QZs were the ones that worked for FEDRA.
The Federal Disaster Response Agency (FEDRA) is one of the few remaining government agencies that exist in the world. In fact, FEDRA is basically the body that controls the entire nation due to how it was tasked with sole control over the QZs and the people that lived in these settlements. In the games, the only other government bodies that exist are the Department of Defense and the Center for Disease Control.
During the time of the outbreak, FEDRA basically fused with the military as the entities are one and the same. That is why FEDRA soldiers are heavily armed and have the best weapons that were still available at that time. But the problem with the way FEDRA does things is that it is so strict in implementing martial law throughout the entire country that the people working for this government body have little to no regard for basic human rights.
We saw in the middle of episode 1 that FEDRA was so medieval in its approach as it executed people that violated quarantine protocols and laws by exiting the QZs without permission. Their execution was carried out through hanging, as it was clear that the military used this outdated method to set an example to everyone in the QZ.
In a sense, FEDRA has little to no regard for basic human rights because the mandate of this government body is to make sure that the infection doesn’t get into the quarantine zones. The only thing that the people working for this body care about is containing the infection as much as possible, as this is the only way for them to ensure that the human species gets to live.
As such, FEDRA uses fear and authority to make sure that people don’t violate any of the laws imposed in the QZs. So, while these harsh tactics, in a way, are quite essential to the survival of the human race, the way that FEDRA does things shows that the people behind this government agency are close-minded in that they believe that force and fear are the only ways to control the infection and to make sure that the people in the QZs don’t get infected.
This is also where the beauty of The Last of Us can be seen as normal human society has already deteriorated to such an extent that the only thing that matters to people is survival. That is why Joel and Tess see the world as a dog-eat-dog world where only the strong survive. And this mentality could also be seen in the way that FEDRA does things because the survival of the human race is the only priority, as all of the other aspects of humanity, such as human rights and dignity, have all been set aside to focus on the preservation of the species.
How Did FEDRA Rise To Power?
As mentioned, FEDRA is arguably the most powerful entity in the United States or even the entire world in the years that followed after the outbreak of the CBI. During the main storyline of The Last of Us, FEDRA controls the QZs and imposes military authority over the survivors of the outbreak. So, how did FEDRA rise to power?
FEDRA rose to power during the start of the pandemic in 2003 as it was clear that conventional methods of controlling diseases were not going to work against the CBI due to the fact that this infection causes people to go violent. On top of that, the very nature of the CBI as a fungal infection basically implies that there is no medicine or vaccine that could help contain it. This is why the only way to contain the infection is through the use of force, and that’s why the US military was quite active during the early part of the infection.
The US eventually had to declare martial law, as all of the other government bodies fell to the effects of the infection. In that regard, what was left was FEDRA, which was the only government and military organization that could contain the spread of the infection. In a world where force was the only thing that could solve the problem involving the CBI, the most powerful group was FEDRA because conventional politics had no place in such a world where the military was the only entity that was capable of preserving the human race.
Nevertheless, due to how harsh the world had become, FEDRA needed to be just as harsh as its officials thought that this was the only way to ensure the survival of the human race. It needed to use force and violence to make sure that people were kept in line. To some extent, they were right in imposing such harsh rules because there were a lot of people (Joel and Tess included) that made a habit of smuggling things in and out of the QZs.
With all that said, FEDRA rose to power because it was a necessary entity in a world where violence was needed and where conventional politics and medicine were basically useless. FEDRA is the reflection of the kind of society that people lived in during the events of the CBI outbreak in The Last of Us. And that’s why the people that survived the outbreak tend to look at things as black and white, as only the strong are able to survive in a world that has little to no room for morality and basic human rights.