When I saw Ellie's wound in the final scene of The Last of Us, I thought it looked worse than in the beginning of the game, as if the cordyceps was getting worse in Ellie and she might eventually turn after a really long time. Well, is that true? It's been a major source of confusion/debate in several TLoU threads I've visited.
I couldn't find any other comparison photos of Ellie's bite-mark over time, so I went and did some elementary screenshot-ing. Turns out there are only four times in the game that the wound is shown. (The omitted scene is during the surgery section; there you can see the mark because of Ellie's short-sleeve gown, but it's not definitive enough to bother including in this comparison.)
The lighting in these scenes was different, so I tried my best to adjust everything so the skin tone stayed constant.
-Image 1: when the militant's scanner reads positive for the infection in Ellie. (To match the others, I simply brightened this up a touch.)
-Image 2: when Ellie is on David's human butcher-block.
-Image 3: when Ellie is looking at her scar before arriving back at Tommy's establishment. (To match the others, I messed with the the contrast a bit and made the temperature more blue/pale instead of red/yellow. There are still unwanted reflections though.)
IMO, people think the bite-mark looks worse in the last scene because of the lighting difference. The first two times the wound is shown, the lighting is pale and cool, but in that final scene, there's sunlight pouring over everything, which 1) adds accents of light that could be construed as pus, and 2) makes the reds seem redder. That's why I made a point to try to make the lighting match. Unfortunately, it's still not an accurate comparison--look at those blue/green reflections all over the arm in the third!
But, if those were taken away, I think the wound wouldn't look worse.
Keep in mind: Image 1 is from summer, and Image 2 is from winter, and you definitely can't say the bite-mark in 2 looks worse than in 1. Now, Image 3 is from the spring. If the wound didn't get any worse after two seasons, from summer to winter, doesn't it seem unlikely that the wound would start getting worse in just one season, from winter to spring?
To justify the theory that the wound IS getting worse, I'd say: "Soon afterwards, Ellie brings up to Joel how she's still waiting for her turn to turn. She was checking the wound because she realizes it's getting worse and she can't stand the idea of turning like other bitten people she's known, so she opens up to Joel about those feelings--although she doesn't tell him that it's actually getting worse because she's ashamed/scared. The cordyceps in Ellie could simply be developing at a much slower pace than usual."
To justify the theory that the wound ISN'T getting worse, I say this: Yes, Ellie is checking on the wound because she's thinking about the people she's known that've turned. But, Naughty Dog didn't include the scene to foreshadow her turning. Naughty Dog included the scene to imply that Ellie has had loads on her mind during the ride away from the Fireflies--she's been thinking about when she was bit with her best friend back in Boston. She tells that to Joel because it's been hitting her hard. She's been thinking about it because now, she knows that she won't be making any vaccine to help people like her late best friend. Besides, thematically, what would be the point of making Ellie die of cordyceps? A huge point of the ending is that Ellie and Joel can finally live together somewhat peacefully, which is likely what both Ellie and Joel really wanted ever since the two began getting close. Also, the two-season/one-season fact that I mentioned before.
What do you think? Did this help you make sense of the bite-mark confusion?
Man, what an amazing game. It's been on my mind for at least a month straight, and I'm still trying to make sense of it.