The Last of Us episode five spoilers below
Up until now you probably thought you could survive The Last of Us' apocalyptic hellscape.
Maybe you'd even worked out a little game plan. Play it smart and pad yourself in the protective bosom of a survivors' community? Perhaps you'd turn to the Fireflies or FEDRA? Maybe you fancied your chances on the outskirts, like the Joels of the remaining world or the Bills and Franks.
That relatively idyllic notion has no doubt been chewed up by the latest infected monstrosity to have crashed its way into episode five, more horrifying than the Clickers, Stalkers and Runners that have come before, because, as it turns out, each of the Cordyceps subspecies have names.
This horrifying, grizzly human fungus who burst from the open ground is unlike anything we've seen before in the show.
Ellie (Bella Ramsey) and co. had their hands full evading Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey) from the left and Clickers from the right, so there wasn't time for them to discuss the new arrival, but that does leave fans a little out of the loop as to who this nasty is.
Thanks to the series being heavily rooted in gaming lore, however, we know exactly what this beastly variant is, what it's capable of and what could be cropping up in the franchise later on down the line.
Who is the infected Cordyceps in episode 5 of The Last of Us?
That unfortunate soul is known as a Bloater. We meet the abomination during a stand-off between Kathleen (flagged by her fellow revolutionaries) and Ellie's company, which at the time included Henry (Lamar Johnson), Sam (Keivonn Woodard) and Joel (Pedro Pascal) but he was on sniper duty.
It growled and grunted its way into the action after the ground caved in, creating a sinkhole. Out of the destruction came the Clickers.
They spread panic and chaos first when they poured out in droves, shrieking and gnashing at everything in sight, paving the way for the Bloater. Its hideous, fungal overgrowth is owing to the severity of the Cordyceps infection.
When they reach Bloater stage, the infected become as dangerous as they are capable of being after having been infected. Judging by what unfolds in the episode, there will be few disagreements there.
Compared to its Cordyceps counterparts, Bloaters are incredibly strong and the thick, fungal coating spreading from their diseased brain to the surface of the body acts as armour plating.
This makes them all but impervious to weapons – shotguns and machetes alike – which goes a long way to explaining why the hailstorm of bullets practically ricocheted off the Bloater in the episode.
Thankfully for Ellie and friends, Bloaters are slow, uncoordinated and blinded by the fungi deforming their face, so they managed to escape.
Not so fortunate was Kathleen's right-hand man Perry (Jeffrey Pierce). His sacrificial attempt to save Kathleen's life saw him get his head ripped in two – a fruitless act considering she was mauled by a Clicker moments later but at least he wasn't around to witness that.
That lovely face-tearing party trick happens to be a feature straight from the game, in which the extremely aggressive Bloater is known for ripping jaws apart and smashing heads.
In fact the Bloater is so vicious, it's game over for any player if one gets their hands on you.
This, however, isn't the game and there have been a few characteristics of the Bloater that have yet to materialise thus far.
One being glow-in-the-dark skin patches that produce a poisonous substance known as mycotoxin in the form of pouches. Bloaters weaponise these sacs by throwing them and spraying the survivor with the toxin.
Great! We can only hope that this feature comes into play as the series continues.
What other infected can we expect to see in The Last of Us?
We've seen Runners, Stalkers and Clickers (basically newly infected and ascending in severity in that order).
The introduction of the Bloater also makes it more likely that a Shambler will arrive at some point. Like the Bloater, the Shambler is the fourth stage in the infection, however they are characteristically and physiologically different, having been exposed to high amounts of water.
Think, a body clustered with pustules… You're welcome.
Shamblers lack the strength of a Bloater and can't bite because of the way in which the fungus has formed around their mouth, but they can shoot acid, so there's that.
However the type of infected fans are likely anxious to see making an appearance is the Rat King.
Unlike the others, the Rat King is not a stage of the infection, rather a mighty-morphin-megazord Cordyceps, if you will.
It is an amalgamation of multiple Stalkers, Clickers, and a Bloater that have been joined in the most unholiest of matrimony by the Cordyceps fungus.
Naturally it is the strongest of all, which probably means if it does make it to the television series, it won't be for a while.
They can't give us all the scary oogly-booglies at once. What would we have to look forward to?