We, humans, are plagued with memories. It is a curse that we are born with being the most intelligent species on the planet. Memories, both good and bad, drive us and have a life force of their own. Good memories often turn into nostalgia, and we love going back to them time and again. However, there are memories we shove into the deepest corners, and the moment they peep out, we lose control. It is a known fact that history repeats itself, but most of the time, we are scared to see the past become the future.
In this episode of “The Last of Us,” we go back to Ellie’s memory, which is both her fond memory and a memory that has scarred her and made her what she is today. The questions about Ellie’s life that we wondered about before were answered. The most intriguing aspect of watching Ellie’s past is learning how that memory affects Ellie’s present. Behind Ellie’s hard outer shell lies an innocent young lady who has faced the “fear of separation” before. Thus, her reaction to Joel’s plan to leave her seems justified. Along with it, we try to understand why Ellie would not leave behind the severely wounded Joel.
A Born Leader
We go back to the FEDRA School, where we see Ellie with a bunch of other kids on their daily run. Ellie has her Walkman on, and a bully approaches her and says something about her friend, who has gone missing. We see Ellie punching the bully. Cut to see Ellie in Officer Kwong’s (the officer in charge’s) office. We learn that Ellie was not necessarily a misbehaved kid, but over the span of the last few weeks, she had been suspended on disciplinary grounds. Ellie tries to say that Bethany, the bully, was responsible for the fight. But the officer gives Ellie a golden piece of advice: he says that Ellie is smart enough to be a leader, and so she has two options. The primary way is to behave like she doesn’t care and does not follow the rules, which gives her just the chance to be a patrol officer, where she will have to fight with everything and for everything. The other path is to swallow her pride and follow the rules, which will help her become a ranking officer where she can tell people exactly what needs to be done and how to do it.
Here we learn something about FEDRA as well. Not everyone in FEDRA actually cares about military rule. However, these people, who basically have lost their purpose in life, enlist in FEDRA and then patrol around the city, hunting or being hunted. On the other hand, there are ranking officers who are cool in summer and warm in winter, have proper meals, and do not go patrolling, yet believe they are the ones holding everyone together. This concept sounds familiar to us, right? We are aware of how leaders have distinguished themselves from those who do the hard work, yet we think they are the ones holding things up and preventing downfall.
A Leader And/Or A Rebel
When we met Riley, Ellie’s FEDRA friend who went missing and learned she had joined the fireflies, a part of us wondered how Ellie would react. Like a true leader and more like a loving friend, Ellie joins Riley to enjoy the nightlife, sneaking out from the FEDRA Quarters. This nightlife adventure is both a bane and a boon for Ellie, which we shall discuss eventually. However, we learn how FEDRA schooling has affected Ellie’s senses. She thinks that FEDRA is keeping the society from falling apart. She keeps on mocking Riley for being a Firefly now. But she carefully listens to what Riley has to say. She learns how the FEDRA had put Riley up for the sewage department, which was too much for Riley. So, no matter how motivated Ellie was after listening to the words of wisdom from Kwong, she hadn’t completely lost her judgment of good and bad. Probably that is why she decided to sneak out at the first opportunity she got. Observing the conversation between the two, it is clear that Ellie has a much more mature heart, but she is mostly driven by emotion. And memories feed on emotions; thus, in the episode, we see Ellie driven by her memories.
A Boon And A Bane
Being forever stuck inside the four walls and tall pillars of FEDRA Quarters, Ellie had not seen how beautiful the world was. In previous episodes, too, we find her awe-struck by the most common things. Thus, while the duo was in the mall drinking from the bottle and enjoying the fun zones, Ellie knew life would never be this beautiful. This midnight adventure was the most beautiful thing she had ever had in her life. Thus, she took the chance to kiss Riley to tell her how she actually feels about her. The beautifully intimate moments that the two shared that night at the mall, which were sealed, are so far what we believe to be Ellie’s happiest moments.
But one thing that “The Last of Us” has taught us is never to be too sure that happiness lasts longer. So, the reason why FEDRA closed the mall came back to life. It was a stalker that attacked them. Although the duo fought gallantly and put it down, both were bitten by the cordyceps-affected zombie. It is where Riley tells Ellie that there are two options that they can follow: one is by shooting themselves right then, which is a two-minute thing, and another is by going on with life and slowly succumbing to the fungus, which might take longer (two years, according to Riley). The very emotional scene ends with Riley and Ellie embracing each other at the thought of the obvious.
Two Minutes Or Two Years?
Although the episode does not give us a clear idea as to what happened to Riley, we are taken to the present, where we see Joel asking Ellie to leave. Ellie searched every corner of the old apartment where she had managed to carry Joel from the railroad track to make sure he survived. The haunting memory of the past made Ellie desperate to save Joel’s life. Ellie had gambled with death before for someone she loved, and she was not ready to do it again. The bond she shares with Joel has given her the strength to endure and survive this journey they are on. Finally, Ellie finds a needle and thread, and she decides to sew Joel’s wound. The episode ends when Ellie sews up Joel’s wound with everything she has as Joel tries to endure the pain and survive for Ellie.
The seventh episode of “The Last of Us” is haunting and emotional, for so far, we have known the story of a grown man and his sufferings. Now, we saw the pain that a young girl had suffered and managed to survive which forced her to maintain her rough outer shell while, on the inside, she was as broken as Joel. This episode points out that Joel and Ellie have a lot in common and probably function best when they are together. But Joel’s survival is a question that needs to be answered. Also, the audience doesn’t want to assume any longer what happened to Riley and how the Fireflies found Ellie. As we are approaching the end of the first season, we are flooded with questions as we unlock new fears.