The Last of Us Episode 7 Recap: Left Behind

This recent episode of The Last of Us gave the audience a better idea of who and why Ellie is the way she is. In the present, Ellie has dragged Joel to an abandoned house, and Joel is struggling to hold on to his life. He tells her to head back north to Tommy and get to safety because he’s aware he wouldn’t survive. When she hesitates, the audience is taken back in time to Ellie running in gym class, and a girl called Bethany steals her headphones off her head. She wants Ellie to run faster so that the group isn’t punished with double the running, and Ellie does the right thing and refuses to fight about it. Unfortunately, the bully antagonizes Ellie about her friend Riley, so then she punches her in the face.

Principal Kwong points out that Ellie has been even worse in the last few weeks than before and that any punishment she has ever had has no effect on her. He also points out that she is so smart that she’s stupid and explains her two potential futures. First, she can behave like a grunt and can live the life of a grunt where she performs crappy jobs, takes crappy orders, and has a rough life. The second is for her to swallow pride and become an officer so she can have a more comfortable life that allows her her to eat well, sleep late in the mornings instead of patrolling, and tell people like Bethany off. He genuinely believes in the cause, that FEDRA saves the people in the QZ from anarchy.

The next time we see Ellie she is reading a comic book and is alone in her room. Her best friend and roommate Riley ran away a few weeks ago, but she surprises Ellie by sneaking through the window. She covers Ellie’s mouth like she is breaking in as a joke, and Ellie nearly stabs her after fighting her off. When Ellie questions where she went, Riley admits she joined the Fireflies. She convinces Ellie to come with her for the best night of her life. They climb up and down buildings, hide from FEDRA, and walk in dank, disgusting hallways. They find a dead man in the abandoned house with an expensive bottle of pre-apocalypse alcohol and pills. They guess that his mixing of drugs was intentional. Suddenly the weight of the three of them causes him to fall through the floor. They escape falling and steal his alcohol. They are ready for a wild night.

Ellie asks Riley if that was the first dead body she ever saw, but she had seen her parents die before this. Throughout the episode, they often argue about who is worse, FEDRA or the Fireflies, always coming to a stalemate. It is interesting to watch two kids arguing about the morality of the political compass. Once they finally enter the mall, there is a gorgeous shot of the lights turning on and Ellie surrounded by neon colors. Riley is taking Ellie on a tour of the four wonders of the mall, although Ellie makes it five as she becomes obsessed with the escalator. She leads Ellie with her eyes closed to the second wonder: the carousel. The camera lingers on the two of them holding hands multiple times. It is a beautiful moment out of time, full of happiness and possibility. This moment continues until Riley admits to Ellie that part of the reason she ran away is Captain Kwong giving her sewage detail for her job when she turns 17. She would be one of the grunts, not a leader.

The next wonder of the mall is the photo booth where they take cute pictures together, and Riley gifts Ellie the photos. Then they head over to the fourth wonder of the mall: the arcade. This store is where they played Mortal Kombat II for so long. Ellie had an MK poster on the wall in her room, and she likes comic books, so she must have read those to become familiar with the property. During the sweet moment they are playing the game, the camera moves to a different store where an Infected wakes up. When Ellie admits she needs to leave because she does not want to get in trouble, Riley coaxes her back by surprising her with the pun book as a gift. They start arguing when Ellie finds bombs where Riley sleeps, bringing back their argument about good vs. evil.

Ellie storms off because she thinks Riley is only trying to con her into joining the Fireflies. She was actually attempting to give Ellie one last night together in Boston before being moved to the Atlanta QZ. Ellie walks away angrily before returning quickly. Even though she is upset, she realizes that she should not leave Riley on a negative note. Ellie finds Riley at a Halloween store. Riley admits that the Fireflies may not be perfect, and she might not know everything, but they are her found family. She misses the family that she had and craves one now. Ellie says that Riley was her family first and her best friend. Ellie is slightly younger, so she must not remember her own family as Riley does, which allows her to be more independent.

After their heart-to-heart, they dance in masks to Ellie’s cassette tape. The song playing is “I Got You Babe,” by Etta James. After a minute or two, Ellie stops dancing, begs Riley not to go, and kisses her. It is a perfect moment until the Infected man attacks them. They kill him, but both of the girls receive bites. This moment is when we flash forward to the current timeline, and Ellie is searching for supplies to save Joel, not leave him as he asked. The show keeps flashing back and forth. In the past, Ellie is angry and is destroying the store while Riley sits there silently. They contemplate the two options they have ahead of them. The first is to end their lives together, and the second is to keep going. Riley admits that everyone dies, but quitting on life should not be an option. They have to enjoy their lives right now. While we know Ellie is immune, Riley must not survive her bite. In the present, Ellie starts sewing up Joel’s injury with whatever she could find in the house. The music matches the scene perfectly, with the score sounding like an emotional rock ballad. We are, once again, left on a cliffhanger that leaves us ready for more!

Storm Reid is a brilliant scene partner for Bella Ramsey. The characters are similar, though they have different views on FEDRA and the Fireflies. They are both sassy and strong-willed. Reid did a great job in the role, especially when she had to act nonchalant and hide her true feelings about Ellie until Ellie made the first move. This self-contained episode is so heartfelt and character-driven, and now the stakes are even higher as we head into the penultimate episode of the series.


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