Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Last of Us. Read at your own risk.
One of the things that surprised everyone in The Last of Us Episode 2, Infected, is near the end of the run where Tess makes her last stand and pushes Joel to go on with the job in hopes of having the last chance of humanity. Is she really dead? How are the events different in the game?
Is Tess Dead in The Last of Us?
Unfortunately, just as everyone is starting to love her character, Tess dies in The Last of Us Episode 2. Her words remain haunting, but hopeful, and it is one of the most important scenes that sets up Joel and Ellie's further adventures together.
In the episode, Tess, for once, believes that humanity might stand a chance against the infected. Throughout, she pushes through with the mission to take Ellie to the Fireflies and get the supplies they need especially the battery for the truck.
In the unfortunate turn of events, while at the Boston Museum where some of the infected are in, Tess gets bit on the neck. This is when she realizes that Ellie is actually the real deal and she tries to prove her point to Joel who seemed to have given up on humanity a long time ago.
Ellie's wound isn't festering while hers already is. Tess orders Joel to take Ellie to Bill and Frank and to convince them to take Ellie in. Tess asks Joel to push through with the mission because she knows her time may be up soon. She wants Joel to set everything right.
The infected is about to swarm the place and Tess knows what she has to do: sacrifice. Tess opens the cans of gas and some hand grenades on the floor, and she pushes Joel to go away and let her go by saying, "Save who you can save," five chilling words that would mean a lot in the future episodes.
Tess accepts her fate a kiss of death with an infected and just like that, she opens her lighter and drops it on the ground where she scattered gasoline and a ton of hand grenades. An explosion follows as Joel and Ellie watches from a distance.
Her death scene steals the show with the gruesome kiss of death from an infected and similar to the game, her demise plays a huge part in Joel and Ellie's journey to the west. That confirms it, Tess is really dead in The Last of Us.
How is Tess' Death Different in the Game and in The Last of Us TV Series?
The Last of Us TV series has been faithful to its material but that doesn't mean they couldn't change some things. The death scene of Tess has a similar location and gist of the dialogue but what happened in the game is different; instead of the kiss of death, it was FEDRA who killed her there.
Craig Mazin explains why they changed the death of Tess in the series in HBO's The Last of Us podcast, he said, “Why would FEDRA even be here? What are they doing? There’s nothing there for them to police, really. It didn’t make much sense to me to have FEDRA all the way out there.”
Mazin added, “We wanted a chance to show a different result of being infected, which was not one of mere violence or horror, but rather a sick kind of community. Now, at the end, we had an opportunity to show how connected they were.”
That being said, Tess' death is inevitable and has always been part of the narrative. Everyone just didn't expect it to be this soon and that gruesome. Her sacrifice means a lot to Joel, the fuel for him to continue with the mission bestowed on them. Tess' dying words, "Save who you can save."
The Last of Us Episode 2 is now streaming on HBO Max.