“The Last of Us” Episode 107 Recap: Let’s Go To The Mall

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.

THE FIGHT

Ellie scowls in the captain's office with a black eye.

We’ve got a tough little cookie on our hands.

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.

RILEY

Riley and Ellie are on the roof passing a bottle of booze back and forth and having a chat.

“And what do we say when we feel like this?” “Next time it’ll be 20 stitches!!” “Ellie. No.”

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 QZ” were 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.” And then Ellie does that thing you do when you’re not sure how your crush feels about you; she “jokingly” asks 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 old” lady 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? 

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Valerie Anne

Just a TV-loving, Twitter-addicted nerd who loves reading, watching, and writing about stories. One part Kara Danvers, two parts Waverly Earp, a dash of Cosima and an extra helping of my own brand of weirdo.

Valerie has written 559 articles for us.

Nic

Nic is a Senior Product Manager at a major Publisher and lives in Astoria, NY. She is way too attached to queer fictional characters and maintains that buying books and reading books are two very different hobbies. When she's not consuming every form of fiction, you can find her dropping it low on the dance floor. You can find Nic on twitter and instagram.

Nic has written 78 articles for us.

13 Comments

  1. Excellent recap as always. I really appreciate how even in the middle of an apocalypse, we’re still seeing universal baby lesbian experiences like 1) falling in love with your best friend, 2) having some real weird feelings about Victoria’s Secret and 3) immediately apologizing after your first kiss. Even vaguely knowing what’s coming was hard, and the acting between Bella and Storm was fantastic and made it even more gut wrenching.

    • Also! I don’t know if anyone else was an American Girl kid, but I’m 99% sure that in the alcove marked “Julie” the store actually had a Josefina doll. Agreed that the real stores added some nice, creepy ambiance!

  2. The night that changed everything for Ellie. Great to just be a kid for a hot second, despite the cruel ending.

    *Spoiler*
    A kid who finally gets to kiss the girl she wanted to kiss (gal pals, yep). Riley going out of her way to make this an unforgettable night for Ellie, because she cares so much for her. Oof… To know that Ellie survives, and Riley doesn’t makes all of this even more bittersweet.

    No wonder, present day Ellie refuses to walk away from Joel, and does everything in her power to keep him alive. Because they belong… to the light, they belong to the thunder.

    Which 80s song will haunt us next week, I wonder.

  3. Great recap as always! A little addition to your otherwise perfect commentary: the song they play on the merry-go-round is actually “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure… The Cure.. you know.. no pun intended

    • Omg you’re right. I knew it was familiar but since we just heard Take On Me that’s all my brain would tell me. Also I just looked up the lyrics to make sure it was the song I thought it was AND NOW I’M SAD AGAIN

      I’ll run away with you
      Spinning on that dizzy edge
      Kissed her face and kissed her head
      Dreamed of all the different ways
      I had to make her glow
      Why are you so far away, she said
      Why won’t you ever know that I’m in love with you

      • “Emotional Warfare” STILL CORRECT, though!! I played through Left Behind literally the day before the episode in preparation, like “oh I know what’s coming, this can’t hurt me” but once I recognized Just Like Heaven, it was OVER.

  4. I’ve been enjoying this show (and these recaps!), though as a non-gamer unfamiliar with the source material, some of the more action-centric episodes have fallen a little flat for me. *However*! This episode was one of the most incredible hours of television I’ve seen in recent memory. Really great writing and pacing and wow the tension. And Bella and Storm were truly amazing. The emotions that Bella conveyed with just their face and eyes!! The baby-gay cuteness and scared/hopeful teen-in-love energy both actors captured so perfectly! I need to watch it again knowing when the scary bits happen so I can enjoy their performances more (I spent most of the episode burrowed into my girlfriend’s armpit in fear of the zombie popping out of a dark corner).

  5. This is literally one of my fav moments of TLOU game (the dlc). Bella and Storm embodied Ellie and Riley. The subtle looks. The smiles. The VS store. The Photo Booth. The Halloween store. Every moment of their first date, both of them wondering, “Does she like me like I like her,” culminating in their first kiss. It was beautiful and faithful. 10/10 no question.

  6. every week I’m surprised by how much I like this show! honestly there’s remarkably little zombie content, I’m very much enjoying that.

    another song note- in the Halloween store they dance to an Etta James cover of ‘I Got You Babe.’ I only note this bc I think it is a superior rendition!

    also, re: Marlene and Ellie’s backstory- I have a vague memory of their early convo, and for some reason I thought Marlene suggested something that indicated she had a hunch that Ellie was immune, and *that’s* why she put her in FEDRA. which would explain why she doesn’t let Ellie join the Fireflies. am I the only one who got that impression?

  7. The mall they filmed in is the one closest to my childhood home! So wild to see baby gay Ellie wandering around a space I’m so familiar with, in her comfort red hoodie, with her best friend, not sure what to do with her big gay feelings. Very emotional!! She’s just like me fr.

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