Crawling from the heaving sinkhole of doom, flanked by battalions of Infected, and armed with enough strength to rip a man’s head clean off, The Last of Us’ festering tank of a villain officially entered the chat in episode 5.
Bloaters, one of the hardest enemies to defeat in the Naughty Dog game, finally made an appearance in the HBO series on Friday, after generating buzz from an episode 5 trailer cameo. As dreaded as the “awrk” of a Clicker, the slow-moving but impenetrable keg that is a Bloater featured in the battle sequence begun by Kathleen’s (Melanie Lynskey’s) Kansas City militia. You could say it proved quite the headache for Perry (Jeffrey Pierce), Kathleen’s right-hand lieutenant.
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Bloaters are one of the rarest and toughest forms of Infected purely because they’ve been marinating in their own Cordyceps juices for decades. Featured in The Last of Us(Opens in a new tab) and The Last of Us Part II(Opens in a new tab), Bloaters are almost impossible to take down because the mushroomy stuff has created a form of armour around them, meaning unfortunate folks like Perry can shoot all they like and still not make a dent.
The Bloater, first glimpsed in “The Last of Us” episode 5’s trailer.
In the game, Bloaters are pretty slow and lumbering when they’re not charging at you, enjoy casually throwing toxic spore clouds at you, and like Clickers, use echolocation to find you as their faces have been taken over by Cordyceps. If you get grabbed by a Bloater in the game, you’ll be punched out at best, ever so ungraciously ripped apart at worst.
In the series, creators Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin pay the utmost respect to this suppurating foe, having the creature rise out of the Infected sinkhole with a guttural roar, like a pissed off Balrog ready to turn Gandalf from grey to white. Deploying some solid WWE moves and using echolocation to identify its most pressing assailant, Perry firing his gun uselessly, the Bloater initiates its game tactic of separating poor ol’ Perry’s head from his body.
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We learn earlier in the episode from Henry (Lamar Johnson) that FEDRA pushed the Infected underground in Kansas City 15 years earlier, thinking the problem sorted. But as we saw at the close of episode 4, Kathleen and Perry neglected to tell the resistance — now having overthrown FEDRA and taken over the quarantine zone — that there was something in the basement. Episode 5 showed us exactly what that something was, and it wasn’t pretty.
One thing, however, we know from the game? Despite that fiery introduction, Bloaters are vulnerable to fire. Just something to keep in mind, Joel and Ellie.
The Last of Us is now streaming on HBO Max.(opens in a new tab) New episodes air every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.