How THE LAST OF US Episode 5 Staged a Subterranean Swarm of Infected in Calgary
Ruthless rebel leader Katherine and her forces hunt down escaping Joel, , Ellie, Henry and Sam and corner them in a suburban Kansas City cul-de-sac, built entirely from scratch in Calgary for The Last of Us episode 5 battle.
Then the biggest rebel truck smashes into one of the houses, catches fire and sinks into the ground, unleashing a subterranean swarm of the Infected. Surprise!
12 minutes of screen time:
The 12 minutes of screen time required months of preparation, four weeks of night shoots in Calgary’s tempestuous weather, and 16 VFX teams doing digital postproduction work to escalate the grotesquery of the episode’s infected villains — including the video-game favorite Bloater and the new-to-the-series child clicker. — Vulture.
9 weeks to build cul-de-sac:
It took nine weeks for The Last of Us crew to pave over gravel, put in driveways, build the shells of 13 houses including the Psycho-style sniper house and add broken-down cars and other signs of distress to create this abandoned Kansas City cul-de-sac located on an acre-sized back lot of the Calgary Film Centre.
Psycho-style sniper house:
4 weeks of night shoots. About 75 Infected. 70 digitally-added Infected:
The four weeks of night shoots included a week-and-a-half devoted to capturing the horde of Infected suddenly rising out of a sinkhole, which had been fitted with stairs for the sequence. Ten to 15 stunt actors in Clicker masks sprinted up to the cul-de-sac, running over cars and lunging at and biting Katherine’s rebels. 60 extras in full Infected makeup and 50 to 70 digitally-added Infected made the horde seem unending.
The horde of Infected with Stunt Coordinator Guy Bews and Assistant Stunt Coordinator Maggie Macdonald.
When you have a sinkhole, which is on fire in a cul-de-sac, and a whole bunch of revolutionaries who are keen to get Joel and Ellie, it’s time to release the Bloater — episode director Jeremy Webb, to Vulture.
The Bloater rips off the head of Katherine’s second-in-command Perry (Jeffrey Pierce), but it’s the child Clicker not the Bloater who gets Katherine (Melanie Lynskey) in the end — just as she’s about to shoot Henry (Lamar Johnson) and enact her revenge.
Bloater stunt actor Adam Basil.
The Last of Us takes place 20 years after modern civilization has been destroyed by a fungal pandemic. Joel (Pedro Pascal), a hardened survivor, is hired to smuggle 14-year-old Ellie (Bella Ramsey) out of an oppressive quarantine zone. What starts as a small job soon becomes a brutal, heartbreaking journey as they both must traverse across the U.S. and depend on each other for survival.
Showrunners: Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann (who created the Video Game).
Cast: Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey.
Episode 5 guest stars: Melanie Lynskey, Jeffrey Pierce, Lamar Johnson, Keivonn Woodard.
The Last of Us airs Sunday nights on HBO, HBO Max and Crave (in Canada).