What is it about strawberries in the post-apocalypse?

Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett) eat strawberries as the sun sets in The Last of Us

Image: HBO Max

Naughty Dog built The Last of Us on a bedrock of science fiction tropes, one showrunners Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin quickly reconstructed for their HBO adaptation. Many of the referrals are apparent: Joel and Ellie are followers to the familiar Lone Wolf and Cub protector/straggler dynamic, while the zombie of everything promotes itself. But The Last of Us episode 3, “Long, Long Time,” marks a brand-new blip on a trope timeline that feels far less apparent: the power of a sweet, sweet strawberry in the worst of times.

In “Long, Long Time,” end ofthe world prepper and Cordyceps survivor Bill (Nick Offerman) discovers his world rocked when Frank (Murray Bartlett) appears at his doorstep. What begins as a meal progresses into a caring, lasting relationship filled with the romantic highs, heated battles, and the sweet gestures of a normal-times marital relationship. While the episode’s been admired for deepening the game’s representation of Bill and Frank’s unspoken-in-the-games relationship and tearjerker ending, it’s the little minutes that actually let it stimulate. The one that protruded to me: To break the difficult shell of his liked one, Frank trades a weapon to Tess (Anna Torv) for a couple of strawberry seeds and surprises Bill with a well-tended garden. Bill sinks his teeth into among those post-apocalyptic strawberries and, damn, it’s juicy. Bill’s face states everything: That’s the things. Strawberries.

The scene is simple to check out: The strawberry, in all its magnificence — aromatically sweet, tart on the tongue, perhaps even a bit leafy — is the fruit of a previous world. From the decay of a fungal overgrowth appears brand-new life, the strawberry. And not just is the ground fertile adequate to permit renewal, in this case, the missing out on component was love. The bite of a strawberry in The Last of Us is a taste of hope. (And one quickly ruined by fungal infection.)

Druckmann and Mazin aren’t alone in discovering solace in the strawberry. In 2021, authors Lana Wachowski, David Mitchell, Aleksandar Hemon discovered humankind in the type of strawberries in The Matrix Resurrections. In that long-awaited follow up, Neo reunites with his old friend Niobe in the progressing underground society of IO. Since Neo was last unplugged from the Matrix, mankind has actually brought life back under the scorched skies by drawing out the code for familiar little bits of daily life and reassembling the digital bits into hereditary code. While absolutely nothing is genuine in the Matrix, this reverse-engineering procedure enables IO researchers to re-create a real high-end: the strawberry.

Keanu Reeves’ Neo says “A strawberry?” in the post-apocalyptic city of IO in The Matrix Resurrections

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Twenty years prior to The Last of Us or The Matrix Resurrections, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens remixed J.R.R. Tolkien’s own reflection on the happiness of Middle-earth to make the strawberry much more essential to 2 hobbits on a difficult objective, in a minute that a minimum of feels apocalyptic. In The Return of the King, at one of the most affordable minutes on the journey to damage the One Ring, Sam asks Frodo to restore his spirit through sense memory.

“Do you remember the Shire, Mr. Frodo?” he asks. “It’ll be spring soon. And the orchards will be in blossom. And the birds will be nesting in the hazel thicket. And they’ll be sowing the summer barley in the lower fields… and eating the first of the strawberries with cream. Do you remember the taste of strawberries?”

Samwise Gamgee cradles Frodo on the black rock of Mount Doom saying “Do you remember the taste of strawberries” in Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Image: Warner Bros. Pictures

Frodo confesses that he can’t. He can’t feel much of anything. To which Sam essentially responds, Screw that, let’s go. There’s no higher incentive on the hills of hell than the strawberry. (Funnily enough, in Tolkien’s manuscript for The Return of the King, Sam pokes Frodo to bear in mind the taste of bunny, and just in the chapter “The Grey Havens” does the author review the Shire’s delicious strawberries and cream — Jackson and his co-writers raised the special for usage in their variation of the scene.)

The strawberry-as-symbol fad has actually currently repeated beyond the fruit itself. In HBO’s Last of Us-like 2021 post-apocalyptic drama Station Eleven (based upon the 2014 book of the very same name by Emily St. John Mandel), Jeevan (Himesh Patel) phones his ER medical professional sibling Siya (Tiya Sircar) as a viral pandemic starts to take off throughout Chicago. Her caution is instant: It’s far too late to run — shelter right away and barricade the door. But amidst the stress and anxiety spiral, Siya likewise discovers time to think back with her bro about their youth years. This might be the last time they ever speak, so why not state the time Jeevan “barfed strawberry Yoo-hoo on Jenny Kemkin”?

Later in the episode, Jeevan scrambles for groceries in a desperate effort for survival, however sticks around when he’s captured in a memory vortex. StrawberryYoo-hoo

A grocery basket holding two bottles of chocolate Yoo-Hoo and one bottle of strawberry Yoo-hoo, held by a brown-skinned man in a tan coat in Station Eleven

Image: HBO Max

There is no lack of the strawberry as a sign of pureness throughout time, from the let’s-eat-strawberries-instead-of-people messaging of Soylent Green to multiple Shakespeare plays to the Bible, a minimum of based upon some interpretation. Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 drama Wild Strawberries, in which an ailing medical professional assesses his winding life as he gets ready for death, feels specifically apt to the cumulative understanding of the strawberry as a fruit of Good Times; in Swedish, the title Smultronstället is actually “the wild strawberry patch” however figuratively an idiomatic expression for a location or minute in time related to a sensation of fantastic joy.

But in a streak of post-apocalyptic fiction, the more traditional representation of the strawberry as a pure natural entity feels more like what Bergman was chasing after: a sign of what was, tasted once again, however just as a short lived morsel. The Last of Us, tropiness of everything, leans right in and takes a bite of the sensation.


Source: Polygon

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