This review contains spoilers for The Last of Us episode 7. (The Last of Us, which is already available to watch on HBO Max.
Two episodes before the season finale, the showrunners stepped aside from the main storyline. Viewers will find out what Ellie was like before she met Joel. Meanwhile, the main plot barely moved.
The episode follows a day and night in Ellie’s life a couple of weeks before meeting Joel. How did she live before? For example, in the morning, Ellie is forced to follow orders and do circles in the gym. The girl is not at all interested in this, and she runs with laziness, rather concentrating on the music from the Sony Walkman cassette player. Bethany’s neighbor doesn’t want to get scolded by the elder after that and asks her hard to speed up, and in return she gets severe beatings from a girl much smaller than herself.
Girls in FEDRA are clearly not spoiled. The conditions are the same as in the cadet corps: training, study, hanging up and getting up at the appointed time. Captain Kwong no longer knows how to influence Ellie: the wayward girl has already ended up in a local prison 3 times and clearly does not want to live by the rules of FEDRA. Yet Kwong sees potential and leadership qualities in her, so he offers a choice: live in shit or become an officer. Ellie’s mind does not allow her to choose the worst option.
Maybe she would have become an officer, but at night her best friend Riley woke her up. She disappeared for 3 weeks, Ellie already seriously considered her dead. Everything is much more complicated: Riley joined the Cicadas because she hates FEDRA and calls them “fascists”. At night, she wants to show Ellie something amazing and does not tolerate refusal.
There is nothing to do, you have to go. Ahead of the heroines is a found bottle of good alcohol, a Victoria’s Secret store and slot machines with Mortal Kombat II, which Ellie has always dreamed of playing.
Riley showed her friend a whole world from the past, just by opening access to the mall. Ellie is only 14 years old, she was born after the disaster and has never lived in a normal society. The girl did not go shopping, did not make faces in a photo booth, did not ride on carousels and did not try video games. Therefore, last night was very special for her! It seems that Ellie has never had so many discoveries and impressions.
The opening scene in the mall speaks volumes. The heroine was struck by the banal illumination of boutiques and shops, the way everything glows and blinks. From the escalator, Ellie came to a natural delight – what a miracle, a moving staircase, how convenient and cool! In Left Behind, we clearly see a child: Ellie’s torn childhood is now out in the open, and she finally gets a chance to get really high. Indeed, in ordinary life, Ellie has nothing but a friend and a couple of favorite books: a comic book and a collection of stupid jokes.
We already knew how the series would end – Ellie was telling Joel how she was bitten. Still, episode writer Neil Druckmann managed to make the ending even more touching than in the game. Brilliant performance by Storm Reed (“Euphoria”) and Bella Ramsay, don’t miss it!