Warning: This post contains spoilers for episode 7 of The Last of Us and for the video game
Something The Last of Us—both the HBO show and the video game on which it is based—does well is humanize its characters, adding emotional depth in a world where they face punishing circumstances. We are offered backstories about the protagonist Joel, including that he lost his daughter early in the Cordyceps outbreak, to help us better understand his motivations. Now, viewers finally get to know more about Ellie and how she found out that she was immune to bites from the infected. Those who have played the video game will remember that a pivotal piece of downloadable content (DLC) called “Left Behind” reveals that Ellie is queer—and might have wondered how the show would incorporate this into the story. That moment arrives in episode seven of The Last Of Us, which dives into Ellie’s origin story.
In episode six, Ellie and Joel finally find his brother, Tommy, in Jackson, Wyoming. His brother tells him that the Fireflies are based at the University of Eastern Colorado, but when Joel and Ellie get there, it’s deserted. While figuring out their next move, the two hear a group of raiders walking around the campus. They try to sneak away, but one of the raiders catches up to them. Though Joel manages to fight him off, he doesn’t realize until he knocks the guy out that he has been stabbed and is quickly losing blood. Joel and Ellie get on their horse and manage to get away. The episode ends with the two of them riding through the snow, Joel falling off the horse, and Ellie pleading for him to make it.
The TV adaptation departs slightly from the game. In the game, Joel is trying to climb up a ledge, but one of the raiders comes out of nowhere and pushes him off. He gets impaled by a steel rod sticking out of the ground. Ellie has to fight off the rest of the raiders to take Joel to safety. The game picks up a few days later, from a point where Ellie has to go and find food for Joel after taking care of him. Players do not find out right away what Ellie did immediately after Joel’s injury to care for him and find supplies—until the game is over and they play the DLC.
What happens in The Last of Us episode seven?
The seventh episode is a very close adaptation of the events that take place in the DLC. Ellie manages to get Joel to the basement of an abandoned house, where she searches for supplies. As she’s going up the stairs, she has flashbacks to her time in the FEDRA care system. We are introduced to Ellie’s best friend, Riley (played by Storm Reid), who, one night, convinces Ellie to sneak out for a surprise she has planned, and they explore an abandoned mall, ending up at an arcade, where they start playing Street Fighter together. There is a moment of romantic tension between the two of them when Ellie loses and turns to Riley. They dismiss it and continue to yell, laugh, and scream as they play the game while the scene cuts to an infected that hears them, unbeknownst to the pair.
Riley tells Ellie she’s being transferred to a QZ in Atlanta; they fight. Ellie storms off before going back to Riley, and they talk it out a bit more before Riley convinces Ellie to hop on a glass display case and start dancing. Ellie makes the first move and kisses Riley. “Don’t go,” she says to Riley, to which she responds, “Okay.” The tender moment is ruined all too quickly when an infected barrels in. They fight it off, and as the dust settles, Riley notices that Ellie got bit on her arm, and then shows Ellie that she was also bit on her hand—meaning they are both infected.
In the sixth episode of The Last of Us, there’s a moment where Ellie says, “Everyone I’ve ever loved has either died or left me,” a line she also says in the game. Ellie is not quick to open up to people, and that’s evident in the way she acted in Jackson, and we are getting to see why that is. She and Riley have another moment together where they go through the options of what to do next. In both the game and the show, Riley says they could die by suicide, it’s quick and painless, or they could wait it out, “be poetic and shit, and lose our minds together.”
Ellie throws a fit because not only is she going to die, but the person she loves and shared her first kiss with is going to die as well. They hold on to each other before the episode goes back to Ellie searching the house for a needle and thread to sew up Joel’s wound, adamant to save the last person that truly cares about her.
How different is episode seven from the video game?
Most of Ellie’s backstory in episode seven is similar to what happens in the game, but there are a few key differences. For one, the DLC doesn’t show her interacting with her FEDRA schoolmates or the conversation between her and the captain. The interactions between Ellie and Riley are mostly the same, but there is another storyline intertwined in the DLC that is not seen in the show.
In the game, there are flashbacks with Ellie and Riley, detailing their friendship and showing how Ellie got her infamous “No Pun Intended Vol. 2” joke book that she loves to use to bother Joel. The two have a playful day in the mall, with a brick-throwing contest and a water gun fight that got excluded from the show. During the climactic moment in the DLC when the two characters kiss, there’s actually a group of infected that they have to run away from, and not just one. They try to escape up a scaffolding before it falls, and that’s when one of the infected bites them both.
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Unlike in the show, which has Ellie help Joel in an abandoned house, the DLC brings Ellie back to an abandoned mall. In the game, the DLC reveals, she has to explore the mall alone and in search of a first aid kit, which she is able to find in a medical helicopter that crashed into the mall. When she finds it, the cold and the snow wash over her, and she falls asleep in the crashed helicopter. Ellie wakes up to find raiders, whom she has to fight to get out of the mall and back to Joel. She makes it back to him and manages to stitch him up, which is where the main story picks up, and Ellie goes out on her own to find food and medicine for Joel.
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