Let’s discuss The Last of Us episode seven


Episode seven of The Last of Us is known as Left Behind, and covers the events of the first game’s similarly-named DLC, as well as some additional elements from the American Dreams comic series.

Essentially an extended flashback, this episode provides viewers with crucial background information about Ellie, revealing what motivates her and what shaped her to become the Ellie we know today.

As always, episode seven leaves us with plenty to discuss, so let’s get into it.


A little preview for episode seven.

Episode seven is bookended by Joel and Ellie in the present day.

Joel, while alive, is not in a good way following his altercation with the marauders at the end of episode six. Ellie has managed to find shelter in an abandoned house, and is desperately trying to stop Joel’s bleeding, but she is not having much luck. In response to Ellie’s desperation, Joel uses what little strength he has to push Ellie away and tells her to return to Tommy.

As Ellie turns to go, we are then transported back to weeks before Joel and Ellie first met. The scene cuts to Ellie at the FEDRA school in the Boston QZ, where she is running laps in the gym hall while listening to her Walkman. Another student (Bethany) bumps into Ellie and pinches her Walkman before going through her about her missing friend.

Ellie reacts to Bethany’s taunts by lashing out at her, resulting in Ellie being sent to the school’s principal equivalent – something that happens in the American Dreams comic series – and Bethany to the hospital wing in need of stitches (the theme of stitches runs throughout this episode).

Here, Ellie is told by Phaedra soldier Captain Kwong that she is “so smart [she is] stupid” and that she has the potential to be a leader. He then tells Ellie she has two paths to choose from. The first is where she keeps “acting like a grunt” and will live the life of a grunt. The second is where She swallows her pride, follows the rules and becomes a Phaedra officer.

“There’s a leader in you, and one day it could be your turn. Or not. So which way?” Kwong asks Ellie. In response, Ellie begrudgingly says she will comply with Phaedra and returns to her room.

Ellie gets a black eye during the (offscreen) fight. Image HBO.
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Captain Kwong. Image HBO.

The rest of this episode stays largely faithful to its DLC source material. Late at night when Ellie is back in her room, her missing friend Riley sneaks in through the window and wakes her up. This is much like she does in the game, although she doesn’t pretend to bite Ellie in the show.

After a brief moment of being angry at Riley for leaving her, with Ellie revealing she thought Riley had died, Ellie agrees to listen to what her friend has to say for herself. It turns out, Riley has joined the Fireflies and won’t be returning to the FEDRA school. Riley then promises Ellie “the best night of [her] life”, and the girls leave the school’s boarding room and head out into the Boston QZ.

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Ellie is angry that Riley ran away. Image HBO.
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Riley wakes Ellie by ‘biting’ her in the DLC. Image Naughty Dog.

The two eventually make it to the city’s mall via the rooftops and a bottle of whiskey (alas, in the show there is no mention of Winston, the QZ soldier that taught Ellie to ride a horse in the game and comic series. In the Left Behind DLC, Riley and Ellie raid Winston’s stash after he dies and get alcohol there).

Ellie cautions Riley from entering the mall, stating it has been boarded up because it is swarming with infected. Riley scoffs at this and takes Ellie inside the building. Those who have been following the series closely will recall Ellie told Tess she was bitten after she snuck into the mall in Boston all the way back in episode two. However, at this time she told Tess that she was alone.

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In the game, Riley does not get the elcaltors to work like she does in the show. Image Naughty Dog.
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Ellie and Riley find hooch in Winston’s tent. Image Naughty Dog.

The moments that follow between Ellie and Riley in the mall are almost scene for scene from the DLC, albeit in a slightly different order.

Once Riley restores the power supply to the mall for a wide-eyed Ellie, the two make their way through the various shops and stalls. They ride on a merry-go-round, pull funny faces in a photobooth, try on masks from a costume store (a wolf and clown, of course) and dance on a display case. Riley gives Ellie No Pun Intended: Volume Too by Will Livingston.

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There were some charming moments of awkward flirtation in the episode. Image HBO.

It is all very reminiscent of those teenage days of skipping school and hanging out with your crush. Both Bella Ramsey and Storm Reid (who plays Riley) do a great job of portraying a hopeful innocence alongside a young couple’s sexual awakening.

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Ellie and Riley on the merry-go-round. Image HBO.
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The same moment in the Left Behind DLC. Image Naughty Dog.
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Photo booth fun. Image HBO.
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Say cheese! Image Naughty Dog.
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Clowning around. Image HBO.
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The same masks. Image Naughty Dog.

In addition to a great chemistry between the actors, this episode is chock full of Easter eggs for fans of the games. If I am honest I was expecting a few more, namely the water pistol fight and the Skeleseer, but I really enjoyed all the ones that were included.

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Did I exhaust these options? I feel it in my bones… Image Naughty Dog.
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Water way to go. Image Naughty Dog.

One of the biggest changes between the overall show and its source material, in my opinion, lies in the arcade.

In the game, Riley brings Ellie to an old arcade center with rows upon rows of machines. Unlike in the game, however, Riley and Ellie both actually play on a machine (in the show, as in episode three, it is a Mortal Kombat 2 cabinet rather than “The Turning”).

In isolation, this is certainly a nice moment for the two girls to have, however having played the Left Behind DLC, I have to say I prefer the way the game did this bit.

In the game, the machine itself does not work. So, to still give her friend de ella some kind of gameplay experience, Riley tells Ellie to shut her eyes and then describes the action of ella to her de ella. Ellie only ever plays on the arcade machine in her mind of her, and this moment (for me at least) further highlighted how characters who were born after the outbreak began could only wonder about what the world was like before cordyceps.

Either way though, it is still a joyous moment between Riley and Ellie before things go sideways for the twosome. After all, despite the fun and games, this is still The Last of Us.

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Riley describes the game to Ellie. Image Naughty Dog.
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Ellie imagines she is playing on the arcade machine. Image Naughty Dog.

After spending a really rather magical night (or early morning) together, Ellie asks Riley to not leave Boston with the Fireflies. As in the game, Riley agrees to stay and the two share their first kiss. It is a beautiful moment, again reminiscent of those first teenage loves.

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Riley and Ellie resolve to figure things out in both the show and the game. Image HBO.
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Riley says she will stay with Ellie in Boston. Image Naughty Dog.

Sadly, this beautiful moment is broken all too soon by the arrival of an infected.

The two girls try to fight off the infected with their limited combat experience, but the whole situation is messy, with the girls both falling through display stands as they try to defend themselves from their lone attacker (in the DLC, Riley and Ellie are overwhelmed by a swarm of infected).

However, despite eventually managing to kill the infected with the use of Riley’s gun, Ellie’s knife and other makeshift weapons found in the store, the two girls both receive a bite. As in the game, Ellie reacts by smashing up her surroundings as Riley sits in a state of calm shock.

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Ellie tries to escape from the infected. Image HBO.

Both in the game and in the show, Riley states the girls have two options – they could choose the easy way out and take their own lives with Riley’s gun, or they could be “all poetic” and lose their minds together. Of course, as we all know now, this does not happen to Ellie as she is immune.

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Ellie is in shock after being bitten. Image HBO.
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Ellie tries to wipe away her bite. Image Naughty Dog.
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Riley reveals she has been bitten as well. Image Naughty Dog.

Episode seven ends back in the present day, with Ellie raiding the house she is in for supplies to heal Joel. She comes across a needle and some thread, and after gripping her hand, she proceeds to sew up Joel’s injury. This is different from the DLC.

In the DLC, Ellie makes her way through an old shopping center in the present day while avoiding hunters and infected, eventually coming across an old military helicopter with a first aid kit. With the contents from this kit, she then stitches up Joel.

Both the show and the game left me with tears in my eyes.

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Ellie gets ready to stitch up Joel. Image Naughty Dog.

As always, a few honorable mentions from episode seven.

Firstly, while only seen briefly, you will notice that Captain Kwong’s keyring has Naughty Dog’s paw logo on it. I always enjoy spotting things like this in shows or films (there is also a sticker of the Naughty Dog logo inside Nate’s trunk in the recent Uncharted film adaptation), so this made me smile.

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A pawsome inclusion. Image HBO.

The second thing to mention is the dressing set. I loved that Ellie’s room in the PHAEDRA boarding house had posters of space and dinosaur stickers around it.

It also gave us a look at some of her cassettes, with the music in the episode helping paint the scene for viewers.

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Ellie’s room reflects her interests. Image HBO.

Lastly, I appreciated the way Ellie had to shake her torch to get it to work. It was just like having to shake your controller when playing the game, and a very nice touch from the showrunners.

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Shake it. Image HBO.

Despite enjoying this episode, I do have a slight concern that the rest of the series may feel a bit rushed now.

While I loved seeing Ellie’s story with Riley told in such detail, I am equally aware that we only have two episodes left of this season. I hope I am wrong and the pacing remains strong for the rest of the series. I guess time will tell. Chat again next week!

#Lets #discuss #episode
( With inputs from : pledgetimes.com )

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