One of the crucial thrilling propositions about this first season of HBO’s The Last of Us was that, in some unspecified time in the future, it was going to include a second piece of Final of Us lore: the 2014 add-on to the sport known as The Last of Us: Left Behind. Launched a 12 months after the unique sport, the downloadable content material clued gamers into extra of Ellie’s previous and sexuality, and revealed precisely how she received the chunk that modified all the things.
Effectively, with more than half the season over, it lastly occurred. Episode seven of the The Final of Us is titled “Left Behind,” and in it we see Ellie’s remoted life earlier than she was bitten, earlier than she realized she was immune, and earlier than she met Joel. It was one other unimaginable, standout episode because of star Bella Ramsey and visitor star Storm Reid.
Issues kick off quickly after final week’s cliffhanger of Joel being stabbed within the abdomen and Ellie worrying he’s going to die. Ellie has in some way moved Joel and their horse into an deserted home and Joel will not be wanting good. Actually, he’s able to die and tells Ellie she ought to depart him and return to Tommy. Ellie isn’t fairly certain what she desires to take action she covers him up, goes up the steps and stops. She has a choice to make: attempt to save Joel or attempt to save herself.
It’s with that on her thoughts that issues return in time, however not too far. Ellie nonetheless appears to be like the identical, save for the sweatshirt she’s carrying that claims “FEDRA Coaching.” She’s at FEDRA faculty, doing laps in a gymnasium and listening to some tunes on an outdated Walkman. That’s when a a lot greater lady named Bethany grabs the headphones off her head. It’s apparent there’s dangerous blood right here, one thing to do with a buddy of Ellie’s who left, and so after exchanging phrases, Ellie punches her within the face.
Like most faculties, when you get in a battle you get despatched to the principal’s workplace. And at FEDRA faculty, which means Captain Kwong (Terry Chen). Ellie has been right here earlier than and Kwong is fed up together with her continuously entering into hassle. He tells her she has two paths she will be able to take. One is to maintain up the perspective, break the foundations, and reside her life as a grunt answering to the Bethanys of the world. Or she will be able to straighten up and use her smarts to develop into an officer. He believes there’s a pacesetter in her and she or he can assist FEDRA in its mission to carry the world collectively. She decides to decide on the second path and he lets her go.
Instantly we see that Ellie is each bit as jumpy and hot-headed as we’ve seen within the present. This isn’t some new factor for her. Neither is her obsession with the world earlier than. In her dorm there are film posters from area and sci-fi motion pictures like Pink Planet and Innerspace, and a poster of the moon; she’s studying the comic book she and Sam read together two episodes in the past, and even has a Mortal Kombat II poster, which she saw in that Cumberland Farms in episode three. There’s additionally an empty mattress within the room. The mattress of, we assume, the lady Bethany was speaking about.
Ellie falls asleep and somebody sneaks in by way of her window. The particular person places their hand over her mouth which makes Ellie react violently, seize her knife, and virtually stab the particular person. She stops when she sees it’s Riley (Reid), her roommate who we study has been lacking for 3 weeks. Riley, it seems, has joined FEDRA’s predominant enemy, the Fireflies, which Ellie can’t consider. There’s a historical past and belief between these two so, regardless of the surprising flip of occasions, Riley finally coaxes Ellie to sneak out together with her for just a few hours promising the very best night time of her life.
The 2 make their method throughout town, going out and in of home windows, up staircases, and alongside the way in which even discover a bottle of booze a lifeless man purchased to kill himself with. (Final week Ellie said she’d tasted alcohol before, right? Now we get it.) They debate the deserves of their opposing factors of view as a FEDRA trainee and new Firefly; each assume their way of life is the proper method, therefore the fixed conflict between them. The argument appears to be getting out of hand when Riley tells Ellie they’ve made it to their vacation spot: an deserted shopping center.
Ellie is of the assumption that this mall is stuffed with contaminated, however Riley appears to know in any other case. Riley additionally mentions that just a few outdated energy grids have been turned on within the space to deal with some new individuals within the Quarantine Zone. Which looks as if an odd piece of data, till it isn’t. Inside, Riley tells Ellie to make just a few turns and wait. She does simply that and that’s when issues get actually, actually good.
The ability to the mall was restored with out FEDRA figuring out and Riley lights the entire thing up, retailer by retailer. Ellie watches with a glance of pleasure that’s practically indescribable. She’s by no means seen something prefer it however Riley says that’s not the half of it. She’s deliberate an entire night for them to discover the wonders of the mall.
In 2023, most youngsters most likely solely have a obscure reminiscence of spending time in procuring malls so there would possibly nonetheless be some surprise and kitsch to them. However for anybody born earlier than this century, there’s nothing extra frequent or relatable than a shopping center. It’s pure nostalgia. So to see Ellie’s amazement on the mere turning on of the lights—in addition to all the things that adopted—was The Final of Us at its perfect, giving its viewers a really particular instance of one thing that’s mundane and forgettable to us, however to not a baby on this world. It’s the message of appreciation for the little issues and that there’s magnificence within the easiest of locations, particularly should you’ve by no means skilled it earlier than.
Working example, the escalator. Ellie freaks out concerning the “transferring stairs” to such an extent Riley has to alter her tour from the 4 wonders of the mall to the 5, with this being the primary. The chums stroll by way of the mall and Ellie marvels at what the people who looted this place went after and what they didn’t. A jab at our fashionable way of life as a result of, after all, individuals cleaned out the sneaker retailer however didn’t contact the cleaning soap retailer. In Ellie’s world, cleaning soap is way more necessary than the newest pair of sneakers.
One retailer that additionally wasn’t looted is Victoria’s Secret and the 2 women converse about what the lingerie was used for and the way it should really feel. Riley jokes about what Ellie would possibly seem like in it and after she leaves, you may see that Ellie is inquisitive about it. It’s an intimate aspect of her persona that the present hasn’t actually touched on but, however is about to get blown extensive open.
After the bras and panties, Riley calls Ellie over to surprise primary: the carousel. They trip round on the horses with some pretty muzak taking part in and for the primary time, the very best mates really feel like, perhaps, somewhat extra. There are massive date vibes taking place and within the susceptible second, Riley tells Ellie the true cause she joined the Fireflies. She was assigned her everlasting FEDRA place and it was, sadly, on the trail Ellie informed the captain earlier that day she didn’t need. Riley was assigned to sewage element and felt so disrespected she needed to depart. Actually, the one factor she missed concerning the place was Ellie.
Surprise two is a photograph sales space which, in some way, kind of works 20 years later and the women take some cute photos. Then it’s time for surprise 4. Riley asks Ellie to pay attention and, once more, youngsters of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s know the sound instantly. It’s the mall’s arcade and when Riley exhibits it to Ellie, she calls it probably the most lovely factor she’s ever seen. They stroll round, wanting on the video games, and if the present has achieved its job proper, you need to have this odd little twinge at the back of your head. All season we’ve gotten these little hints that Ellie is obsessive about Mortal Kombat II. In order she traverses the arcade we’re left secretly hoping for that sport to be there. Then it’s. And the reveal is dealt with with such magnificence by everybody concerned that there might not be as completely happy a second on this sequence thus far (or, transferring ahead for that matter). The enjoyment of Ellie lastly getting to place some quarters and play this sport she’s obsessive about was palpable and by no means has Mortal Kombat been so pretty. Riley even discovered the fatalities so the 2 might see some actual gore. (A sure-fire signal that though it doesn’t make logical sense, episode author Neil Druckmann was a giant MK fan.)
This, nevertheless, is The Final of Us. And simply as Ellie reaches her peak second of bliss, the digicam slowly leaves her and Riley. It goes out of the arcade, throughout the mall, and into one other retailer the place the arcade noises get up a clicker. Fuck.
Earlier than they go to the ultimate surprise, Ellie tells Riley she has to return to highschool. There’s nonetheless time earlier than she’d truly get in hassle however that is our trace that she’s actually taking that speak with the captain from this morning critically. She’s able to go all in on a FEDRA life. However Riley tells Ellie she has a gift, and so they head to a restaurant.
Like a child on Christmas morning, Ellie retains guessing what the current could be. She even randomly guesses a dinosaur, which, Last of Us Part II fans know is unquestionably not random, identical to her love of the moon. The present will not be a dinosaur although. It’s the second quantity of the pun e-book Ellie loves a lot. This, once more, makes her so freaking excited, even when the women don’t perceive the pun about computer systems getting drunk by taking “screenshots.” (They have been born after computer systems would have been a factor, don’t overlook.)
The e-book was at the back of a restaurant that Ellie realizes Riley had been staying in. There, Ellie sees why her buddy was actually within the mall. Riley has been making bombs. Bombs to most likely use on FEDRA troopers. Ellie is pissed and is about to depart when Riley hits her with an emotional bomb: Riley is leaving Boston. The Fireflies need her to go to Atlanta and though she requested the chief Marlene (nice nameagain to the primary episode and trace at what’s to come back) if Ellie might go, she mentioned no. Meaning Riley’s leaving and she or he wished this night time so she might say goodbye.
Scorching-headed as ever, Ellie pushes that actuality apart and storms out. She will get virtually all the way in which out earlier than she thinks higher and turns round. She then hears a scream. Operating, prepared for something, she busts into one other retailer to search out… Halloween decorations. Surprise 5 is the shop Riley although Ellie would love finest, a Halloween retailer. She does adore it and sits all the way down to hash all the things out. The largest distinction between Riley and Ellie, we study, is that Riley at one level had a household. She knew that sense of belonging. Ellie hasn’t (but) and doesn’t fairly get that whereas the Fireflies aren’t good, they’re giving Riley that dwelling that she wants.
That is a suitable excuse for Ellie who forgives her, thanks her, and tells her she misses her. After sitting within the mushy second for a beat, Riley jumps proper again into the night time’s deliberate actions. She grabs certainly one of Ellie’s tapes, places it on within the retailer, and arms Ellie a giant large werewolf masks. She herself places on a clown masks and the 2 begin to dance. In a world like this, with so many individuals gone and terror round each nook, you virtually received the sense this was the primary time they ever simply received to be children. To reside carefree and simply dance like idiots in Halloween masks.
Caught up within the second, Ellie takes off her masks and asks Riley to not go. She then musters up some power and kisses her. Riley isn’t shocked although. She’s completely happy about it and agrees to remain in Boston. It’s one other completely happy second, perhaps the happiest second, as a result of in one another, they discover what they want. Love. Household. Future. So after all, that’s precisely when all the things ends.
That clicker from earlier than bursts into the shop and a battle ensues. It’s manic and violent however, finally, Ellie is ready to stab it in its head, killing it. She’s excited concerning the victory till Riley factors at her. Ellie has been bit, and so has Riley. Their lives are over. At which level, for the primary time in like 40 minutes, the episode cuts again to the current. Ellie continues to be on the prime of these stairs determining what to do. For the second time in her life, she’s at a crossroads with somebody she loves who’s in peril of dying.
Again on the mall, Riley and Ellie focus on their choices. Do they commit suicide or simply go mad collectively? In the event that they choose the latter, not less than they haven’t given up on one another. And whereas we don’t see what occurs subsequent, the present brings us again to present-day Ellie. She makes the choice to not surrender on Joel, even when he steered it, and tears the home aside. She finds a needle with thread and frantically tries to stitch him up. Which is the second the episode ends.
“Left Behind” was simply phenomenal. Really magical. Utilizing Ellie’s previous as a solution to contextualize the terrible second she’s in at current, and to clarify her wrestle with it, was a stroke of genius. And in these flashbacks, we get to see Ellie for who she is. A powerful, good, queer younger lady who was in love and misplaced that particular person. As a result of it doesn’t matter what occurs in that retailer, we all know that Ellie survives and Riley doesn’t. Bella Ramsey is completely unimaginable within the episode, Storm Reid bounces off her fantastically, and in the long run we’re left with an added appreciation of the small issues we have now in our lives and the information that, at any second, cleaning soap might develop into extra invaluable than sneakers.
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