WARNING: Spoilers for The Last of Us Episode 7
As Ellie struggles to keep Joel from bleeding out, Joel begs her to leave him behind. But Ellie is wiser and stronger than that, responding with a responding “shut the fuck up!” in an extremely emotional performance from Bella Ramsey. In the thick of it, she can’t help but be reminded of her past with Riley (played by Storm Reid) before she left the FEDRA QZ. This storyline is an homage to the DLC from the game.
The flashbacks start with Ellie remembering her fist fight with mean girl Bethany, and how it almost sent her down a path of FEDRA servitude. The words to Pearl Jam’s “All or None” were so fitting to Ellie’s “hopeless situation” in this scene, but also the hopeless situation that is her life. Luckily, Riley comes back to keep Ellie on her toes.
Riley takes Ellie on a crazy (and definitely forbidden) adventure after sharing that she joined the Fireflies while she was “missing”. We learn that Ellie isn’t exactly anti-FEDRA at this point in her life, and doesn’t understand why Riley would even join the Fireflies. From the start of their scenes together, the chemistry was radiating. Both actors did an excellent job of expressing their awkward emotions through body language and facial expressions. It really did feel like I was watching myself as a teenager awkwardly trying to express my feelings while not fully understanding feelings or how to express them.
On their adventure, the girls come across the body of a man who purposefully overdosed on pills and whiskey. But his loss is their gain; adding his bottle of booze to the fun of the adventure. Both actors do a great job of suggesting subtly that their characters are feeling the booze without overselling it as they periodically sip from the bottle throughout the night.
Riley takes Ellie to the mall where she has a whole night planned for them. As they experience the “5 wonders of the mall”, the chemistry builds. Both Ellie and Riley radiated an unspoken sentiment for each other that neither wanted to admit for risk of their friendship falling apart.
As the lights in the mall turn on like a flickering Christmas tree, Ellie’s face lights up too. I love her amusement with the small things, like moving stairs. As her and Riley start to explore, an 80’s song “Take On Me” by A-Ha starts playing, symbolizing danger ahead; like Frank’s radio codes. They really went for it with the music in this episode. Each song was carefully placed.
I love a good soundtrack!
Ellie closes her eyes and holds Riley’s hand as she takes her to the second wonder of the mall: a carousel. While a lullaby instrumental version of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” plays over the spinning carousel and the bright lights gleam on Riley, Ellie’s feelings visibly get deeper. (I assume the many shots they’ve taken by now have added to the emotions both of them are feeling as well.) Then Riley takes her to the best place anyone could possibly go, an arcade with no one in it... and unlimited coins. If I were Ellie, I would have never made it to the next wonder.
They play Mortal Kombat together, adding to the depth of the excitement Ellie got back in Episode 3 when she came across the Mortal Kombat game with Joel. As badass as an arcade is, it is loud. Unfortunately the nearby infected isn’t as accepting of the fun they are having.
We learned that Riley gifted Ellie her copy of “No Pun Intended” right before she tells her she is leaving to join a Firefly outpost in Atlanta. A short-lived fight leads to the two making up and having a masked dance party to “I Got You Babe” by Etta James in the Halloween shop; aka the final wonder of the mall. When Ellie asks Riley to stay, she agrees, leading into a much-anticipated kiss.
Right after they finally get the thing they've both been wanting, they are attacked by the infected that heard them earlier. Riley misses lots of shots and Ellie battles the infected with her knife. And although he wins, both girls are left with bite marks. This would be a beautiful end to their love story if we didn’t already know Ellie survives.
Needless to say, Craig Mazin has boosted the Kleenex stock by about 4000% over the last few weeks of The Last of Us.
Flash back to the present and Ellie pulls herself together. She grabs a needle and thread and sews Joel's wounds. Although he doesn't have much screen time in this episode, Pedro gives us yet another great performance as Joel. It would seem Ellie saved the day, but it’s not 100% clear how well Joel is doing after the surgery. Or where they’ll go with the next episode. Will there be another time jump? We will have to find out next week!
I thought it was another great episode that took me on an expected emotional rollercoaster. Once again, The Last of Us crew manages to leave me depressed and stressed, yet simultaneously extremely impressed. Storm Reid had an excellent performance alongside Bella Ramsey in a love story that might even be more sad than Bill and Frank’s. With two more episodes left and a butt-load of story to cover, I only have two questions:
How the hell are they going to wrap this up in two episodes?
And what the hell am I supposed to do with my life when it’s over?