Hello and welcome to this recap of The Last of Us, Season 1 Episode 7, “Left Behind” aka the one we’ve all been waiting for. Once again here to recap the gay events of this gay episode are gay friends Nic and I (Valerie Anne), who have both played the game (including the DLC this flashback was based on) and yet still continue to be devastated by the events of this show as if they’re brand new. Huzzah! To the episode! Nic, care to start us off?
Nic: Previously on The Last of Us, Joel and Ellie headed west to find Tommy and ended up finding a whole ass thriving community and a sister-in-law. The brothers had a tearful reunion where Joel begged Tommy to take Ellie because he can’t keep failing her, Ellie found out about Joel’s daughter Sarah, aaaaand Joel got impaled. Yikes.
Valerie: We open this episode with Joel fighting for his life on the floor of a garage in an abandoned house in an abandoned town. This wee teenager managed, with the help of the horse whose name they haven’t mentioned on the show but I believe is called Callus, to get Joel and all their stuff to this garage and is now swearing and pressing down on Joel’s wound and begging him to tell her what to do. He tells her what to do, but it’s not what she wants to hear: he tells her to leave. He wants her to leave him, to go north, back to Tommy. She puts his jacket over him, scowls, and then turns around, opening the door from the garage that should lead her to the house proper.
This door leads us instead, to a flashback. Before she left Boston, before she met Joel, Ellie was a student at FEDRA school, where she ran lazy laps with a Walkman while her fellow trainees sprint past. A grip rips Ellie’s headphones off as she passes, scolding her for going so slow, saying she doesn’t want to do doubles because of her. Ellie says she doesn’t want to fight, she just wants her headphones back, but then the girl taunts her about Ellie’s friend who isn’t here anymore and Ellie loses her cool, punching her.
We don’t see the rest of the fight but we do learn the results in Captain Kwong’s office. Ellie has a black eye, but Bethany is in the infirmary getting 15 stitches. (:Gavrosh voice: She may look easy pickings but she’s got some bite.)
Nic: 15 stitches is SO MANY! Damn, Ellie.
Valerie: Ellie knows how meetings like these usually go and asks to just skip the middle bit and go right to the part where she’s put in the hole, but Kwong points out that these past three weeks she’s been in the hole and the hole doesn’t work. He knows Ellie is smart, so he lays out two futures for her. One is that she keeps acting up and she ends up being Bethany’s bitch for all eternity, the other is where she gets smart, follows the rules, and becomes Bethany’s boss instead.
He tells Ellie that they, FEDRA, are the ones keeping the peace, holding everything together. She buys into this, and in her defense Kwong seems to earnestly believe this, retrieves her Walkman and heads back to her room, ready to choose a new path.
(This is random but I love an accent peep, and between it being an artifact Bella Ramsey probably has never encountered and also just being a word with two awkward American a sounds in it, I loved the way Ellie said “Walkman.”)
Ellie goes back to her room, which is covered in posters about space and dinosaurs, and gets into her bed that has a pun book on its side table. She tries to read some comics but she keeps getting distracted by the empty bed across the room, the void pulling at her attention like a black hole. Eventually she gives up and tosses and turns until she falls asleep.
Nic: Not long after Ellie falls asleep, the window to her room opens and we see someone sneak in and up on her. Ellie immediately shoves the person away and grabs her own knife in a way that is so swift, you just know she’s done this before. But then Ellie realizes it’s her best friend Riley, who’s been gone for three weeks, and immediately relaxes. Well, she at least relaxes enough to yell at Riley for leaving without telling her because she thought she was dead. When Riley sees that Ellie’s been fighting, she threatens to beat up whoever messed with Ellie, but it’s too late; Ellie handled her own shit. Ellie won’t be distracted though, and she demands to know where Riley’s been. Riley pauses before saying she joined the Fireflies, and Ellie’s first reaction is laughter because surely all of their talks of “liberating the QZwp_postswere just talks, right?
Riley shrugs off Ellie’s questions though, and invites her to have the best night of her life, knowing her best friend would say no before eventually relenting.
Valerie: I love the little hints at queerness that are already being dropped. The fact that Ellie always makes Riley turn around when they change. Of course she’s weird about it, both because she’s probably felt weird when other girls have changed in front of her, and because you don’t want to just change in front of someone you have a crush on when you’re 14. Especially not your 16 year old best friend.
Nic:As the two sneak out, Ellie fills in Riley on what she’s missed (mostly the fights) and instead of cheering Ellie on, Riley tells her that she doesn’t actually have to fight everyone; she can pick and choose her battles. And Ellie’s flabbergasted because that doesn’t sound like the friend she knew; it sounds like something a Firefly might say. Even when Ellie’s disagreeing with Riley though, she’s giving her shit in ways that only a best friend can. It’s VERY cute.
Valerie: I liked the off-hand mention of how Ellie got her eyebrow scar.
Nic:They bop through a window into an abandoned building and head up way more stairs than Ellie’s prepared for, before discovering a brand new body, dead by his own hand rather than from infected. (On my second watch, I realized that Ellie thought that this was her surprise which is both hilarious and bleak.) They steal his booze from the Before Times and head up to the roof, where all the best serious talks happen.
Up on the roof, they take shots and act like they don’t hurt like hell, and Ellie asks Riley if that was the first dead body she’s seen, forgetting the fact that her friend saw her parents die. Ellie knows that though; she’s just so nervous being around Riley again! When she asks to hold Riley’s gun, her friend pauses because it’s technically against the rules and yet again, Ellie makes fun of her for being “such a fucking Firefly.wp_postsAnd then Ellie does that thing you do when you’re not sure how your crush feels about you; she “jokinglywp_postsasks Riley if she joined the Fireflies because of some guy she met. Riley goes right along with the joke, before revealing that what actually happened was one night while Ellie was on lockdown, Riley snuck out and some “really oldwp_postslady saw her, was impressed, and invited her to join; so she did. All it took was a general besmirching of the fascist FEDRA dickwads, and she was in.
Valerie: The number of times Ellie says “friend” and also her asking about a boy are all such familiar gay teen moves to me. I felt them deeply.
Nic:The two then run from roof to roof like some kind of baby gay Aladdin and Jasmine, with their spryness and youthful knees (*wistful sigh*). They argue for a bit about whether FEDRA or the Fireflies have the most bullshit propaganda, but they’ve reached their destination: the mall that is supposed to be sealed off but 100% is not actually sealed off.
Next page: Ready to swoon and sob your eyeballs out?