Here’s a survivalist’s overview on the newest apocalyptic-what-would-you-do at the end of world depictions, The Last of Us.
[Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for episode 3 of The Last of Us.]
The Last of Us encapsulates a story about a global pandemic of infectious zombies. Somewhere along the supply chain, a murderous strain lurks. Hitting the shelves across the world simultaneously due to monopolized logistics chains, death awaits in a baked biscuit. In three days, almost everyone dies. Incubation occurs. Death happens. Finally, rebirth in a seemingly plant-based zombie wrecks havoc on society.
But one girl proves to be immune. And she needs to be protected.
This is a story about what happens afterward and how survivors survived.
Why Be Prepared?
One of the interesting themes throughout this episode is the separation of types of people into two categories:
- Those who need to be protected
- Those who protect: the hardiest survivor who stood the test of time.
In the story of The Last of Us, Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian, Wonder Woman 1984) plays Joel, a veteran survivor in the timeline presented in episode 3 of The Last of Us.
Ellie, a 14-year-old girl, may be the only immune human. Played by Bella Ramsey (HBO’s His Dark Materials and Game of Thrones), Ellie is accompanied by Joel on their way to Bill’s homestead.
Murray Bartlett (The White Lotus) and Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) as Frank and Bill, are two post-pandemic survivalists living alone in their own isolated town.
As shots of people being taken away by the government ensue, Bill emerges from his basement citizens have been led to their slaughter. Armed to the teeth and gas-masked out, a wild smile cracks on Bill’s face as he realizes he’s alone to set up his perimeter.
The key traits of an experienced survivor exist as key takeaways for us preppers, survivalists, and anyone wishing to be prepared for an entirely plausible situation: a global pandemic wiping out most systemic infrastructural support…and 90% of the population/workforce.
Bill’s Key Survivor Behavior
The first of Bill’s key survivalist traits is shown in his preparations before and immediately after the grid’s gone down. Bill exits his bunker and sets up his perimeter and initial defenses. Then, Bill heads to Home Depot and various initial supply runs. Upon scavenging and prep, all goes black. Bill, knowing the grid will have gone down post an apocalypse of the Cordyceps’ nature, heads to the municipal gas station to turn on gas for his neighborhood. “That was fast.”
Bill gets his generator up and electrifies his fence which, later will degrade due to wear and tear over time. Afterward, it’s setting up his vegetation in his greenhouse and planting areas, as well as chicken coops. The day (or months) seemingly ends in hanging game to dry and enjoying a dimly lit, independent dinner of hard-earned sustenance.
With a full array of security cams, the episode continues on with Bill enjoying a meal, reporting “it never gets old” as a plant-based zombie gets tangled into wires, and sizzles to second death.
A keen survivalist here notices that an alarm system during peak times of probable invasion is good.
After Bill’s homestead, defense, and overall traps have been set up, the story continues on.
The best questions to ask initially when meeting a stranger post-catastrophe:
Are you infected?
Are you armed?
Are you hurt (if you’re a compassionate individual, or if you’re a protector)?
As Bill slides down his aluminum ladder for Frank to climb up, I personally thought about the next ladder for our homestead.
The next trait of a survivalist who stands the test of time is Bill’s protocol. In the scene where Bill’s confronted by starving Frank, the last of 10 original novice survivors in a looming pandemic, Bill understands that by helping any wandering person who may be in need of help, every bum in the 100-mile radius is going to know of Bill’s stock and advantageous kindness.
Rule #1 of Prepping Is Don’t Talk about Prepping.
Further on in the episode, a survivalist is reminded of essential needs such as a hot shower, outlining the preparations needed for an off-the-grid power system in the event of a disaster. Later, after a hot shower and a meal, the two survivors share music on the piano. I’m reminded here of a story about the Real Lord of the Flies story. In it, six survivors on a remote island report that a handmade guitar lifted their spirits when nothing else could. Make sure to pack music or anything that makes it well into your survival inventory. A musical instrument is always one of the last treasured items to be let go.
After a decade or so, resource management becomes essential. Simple resources such as paint and gasoline for lawnmowing must be rationed. Radio continues to be the only mode of communication in this scenario without any references to an IIAB (Internet-in-a-Box).
In meetings with strangers-to-become allies (Joel and Tess), Bill keeps his finger on the trigger of his gun at the outdoor dining table, pointed at his “guests”. Upon reluctantly asked to holster the pistol, Bill holsters it intentionally, fully well knowing that if he shoots from that position, Joel still gets shot.
The necessity of bartering becomes a main topic and the weakness in Bill’s fences is pointed out. It’s only through high-tensile aluminum wiring that Bill and Frank’s electrified perimeter fence could last another 40 years. Under the fear of night-time raiders, Joel “sells” Bill on mutual survivor collaboration.
Please note here that while aluminum doesn’t rust, it still does corrode if you’re in a sea climate area with salt in the air or dirt. Steel’s always a great, cheaper option, but remember it’s definitely heavier and lasts a shorter duration.
Bill’s setup in The Last of Us is finally missing some strawberry seeds. In a scene where you know they haven’t tasted fresh strawberries in a very, very long time, the necessity of having fruit seeds in your long-term storage is clearly observed.
In the last analysis into a fictional character’s potential survivalist traits to emulate, under attack, we learn that the element of surprise is your best advantage. The electrified fence in conjunction with flame thrower booby traps works excellently for clueless raiders.
And once shot, apply pressure.
Joel’s Key Survivor Behavior
The Hidden Stash in the Floor of the Convenience Store
While stocking up on-person supplies from a pre-stored cache at a convenience store, Joel notices alls just too quiet. To those learning the survivalist ways, this is a good time to note the survival tactic here: When all’s too quiet, it’s time to engage your senses into overload and become aware of possible danger.
Joel Left the Semi-Automatic Weapon Behind
Due to its weight and the limited access to specific ammunition (7.92×33mm, 7.62×39mm, or 5.56×45mm), Joel leaves the weapon in the stash as an emergency weapon in case of a future attack/gunfight.
Joel Remembers Bill’s Gate Code and Booby Trap Layout
After Bill and Frank’s depiction of a lifetime of rugged survivalism, Joel and Ellie are redirected back to their needs of the day. Bill, a cackling writer of one last suicide note, bequeaths them with his armory and full prepper-motherload of a stockpile. Bill foresees that it would indeed only be Joel who would have been able to bypass the mass of booby traps and access the security gate console to input a code only known to a trusted few.
Ellie’s Key Survivor Behavior
On their journey, Joel teaches Ellie about the government’s execution of innocents during the early days of the outbreak. When they’re restocking in the convenience store, Ellie discovers a hidden crawlspace and drops in a stone to check for depth. Then, upon shining her flashlight she’s attached to her jacket to be hands-free, she decides to enter.
When she drops in, she carefully checks the visible surrounding area first. Then, before even venturing forward, she creates a prop for herself in case she needs to get out of the crawlspace quickly.
Why Be a Protector?
The story of The Last of Us is a relatable one. The environment in which loneliness is bred from surviving when others die…pushes us to find meaning for why we prepare. From the pit Bill found Frank to his last words in his suicide note, the prevailing theme remains clear.
There seem to be two types of people in this world:
The survivor who does exactly what they need to do at the right moment because of experience and preparation to prevent untimely death & those who are worth protecting.
When it comes to your preparations, this writer remembers that all the preparations are more for just one’s survival, but the all-encompassing reasons inherent to survival:
The survival of what’s good and what deserves to be protected.
In a series of years, a story is told about the best average day, composed of good and bad days. In which all of them, life can be celebrated because people continue to live and breathe.
Makeshift Car Batteries
The last of Bill’s ingenious preparations is the “re-make-able” car/truck battery. Stored within a trusty old refrigerator, are sulfuric acid and car battery parts required for a car to run. We learn to:
- Keep our electronics cool
- It’s in fact possible to remake a car battery
- Old refrigerators would work well over time
As Joel and Ellie pack up for their journey to the lab to explore her immunity to the virus, they stock on daily essentials such as toilet paper. The watcher is reminded of simple items such as all-purpose chargers and deodorant in a world where you just can’t buy them in a store anymore.
Time to recheck my inventory.
Hope for the best and prep for the worst,
“Always Be Ready” Max
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