By nature, we human beings are social creatures, and no matter how much the postmodern digital age has turned existence into something individualistic and fragmented, we always seek closure and stick close to each other in times of distress. Therefore, understandably, so far in the post-apocalyptic world of HBO’s “The Last of Us,” the major survival strategy put into action seemed to be the formation of communities. The four chief factions we have met are the FEDRA-controlled quarantine zones, the Hunters in command of Kansas City, the idyllic settlement of Jackson, and David’s group of survivors. They are distinctive in the way they operate, thanks to the modus operandi of the people in charge. We will compare the groups to explore how they are differentiated and also try to locate the connection at their heart.
FEDRA- Governed Quarantine Zones
The Federal Disaster Response Agency, or FEDRA, emerged as the existing United States government’s primary reaction to the devastating Cordyceps outbreak, and they are the prime authority across the country. Utilizing military units as enforcers, FEDRA gathers survivors in secure quarantine zones and operates under an autocratic dictatorship. Glimpses of the FEDRA regime’s brutality were seen since the early days of the outbreak when they slaughtered residents of small towns or villages because of inadequate resources to sustain them and also to keep them from turning into infected ones. FEDRA’s approach to tackling the outbreak is very static and conservative, and there is no positive outlook for the future either, as instead of trying to find a cure, they use their might to subjugate and persecute the people residing in the quarantine zone. In the quarantine zone, children get enrolled in military schools, where they are conditioned by FEDRA propaganda from a young age, and in exchange for unwavering compliance to the FEDRA cause, they get assurance of a secure, comparatively better lifestyle. Their brutal ways of governance and abuse of power gave birth to the revolutionary group of Fireflies. In some extreme situations, FEDRA oppression stooped to scary depths and gave birth to an altogether different sort of menace—like what happened in Kansas City. FEDRA’s position in the world of “The Last of Us” is against nature; hence it is bound to perish.
Kansas City Hunters, Led By Kathleen
FEDRA’s prolonged inhumane treatment of the denizens of Kansas City QZ ends with a violent uprising of the reactionary group called Hunters, led by Kathleen, with the authoritative force being subjected to even worse atrocities. The anti-authoritarian movement might have had a noble goal or approach when Kathleen’s brother Michael was in charge. But after his death at the hands of FEDRA, Kathleen’s vengeful tactics run their course even after toppling the governing body, bringing utter lawlessness. Kathleen gets preoccupied with hunting down a collaborator named Henry, who was directly responsible for Michael’s death as he ratted him out to FEDRA. Kathleen manipulates and falsifies her people in order to carry on the manhunt for Michael and his brother Sam without having the remotest concern about the people dependent on her forces. Despite having ample manpower and time to create an exemplary new government in their free state, Kathleen’s destructive pursuit jeopardizes her entire troop, and they are killed by hordes of Infected by the end.
Jackson Settlement Community
The opportunity to build a progressive, self-sustaining community that Kathleen missed is promptly utilized by the secluded Jackson Settlement inhabitants. Interestingly, no single person is in charge of the settlement, and the communal harmony maintained in the settlement almost makes it seem like a utopia. As opposed to the single-person-led groups of “The Last of Us,” which are destined to be doomed, a democratically elected council operates in the settlement, providing equal opportunity to people. From generating electricity to creating measures for continual sustenance, most of the survival necessities were taken care of in the Jackson settlement, which even allowed the residents time and resources for engaging in recreational activities, celebrating holidays, etc. The community excels even by pre-pandemic standards at maintaining a healthy social system of interdependence. In the world of “The Last of Us,” the Jackson community can be regarded as the best of what humanity has to offer, as their approach to striking harmony with nature ensures their survival in the long run.
David And His Followers
In times of peril, a significant number of people turn to faith and tend to misplace their trust, and people like David take full advantage of that. David and his group connect with the previous two factions in an interesting way. Like the Jackson settlement, their community, too, has moved beyond the power struggle between the authoritative FEDRA and revolutionaries and is now trying to survive by forming a community. The problem is their sustenance has run out, and like Kathleen in Kansas City, they, too, have chosen a diabolical human being, David, as their leader. At least with Kathleen, there is some semblance of reasoning that she is pursuing vengeance for her brother’s death; the lecherous predator David’s deliberate misguiding of his followers is beyond any reasoning. Faced with a food shortage, David, his right-hand man James, and a few others feed on human meat and, unbeknownst to the rest of the group, make them do the same. David is an example of how humanity can degrade if given a proper chance. Once again, like Kathleen, he devotes his group’s might to inconsequential things like searching for Joel, and despite his followers’ decision to end Ellie’s life, he keeps her alive for his sick, perverted plans—decisions that doom the future of the group. The situation with James and previously seen Kathleen’s right-hand man Perry seems kind of similar, too, as both of them probably know what their leader is doing is wrong and detrimental to their people. But they choose to turn a blind eye, either out of fear or out of respect. In many ways, David highlights some of the worst traits of humanity, which makes his demise against nature inevitable.