Left Behind: The Last of Us, Episode Seven

Left Behind: The Last of Us, Episode Seven

Hello! We’re back with another episode review! This one, judging by the title, is based entirely on what was a DLC to the original game that explored Ellie’s backstory. I’m excited about this one… in a very masochistic way (honestly, the DLC left me sobbing). C’est parti!

I may have mentioned before, but I will again, how much I love the guitar introduction. I remember the game introduction being the same thing, though that might be my memory mixing things up (I do know it was guitar, and I’m reasonably certain it’s the same exact tune, but I’m open to being wrong.)

Winter proper. In the game, we open to a rabbit getting skewered by Ellie’s arrow. It’s probably for the best we don’t see that in the show.

I had to include this absolute gem of a clip, as it marks one of the best, most
meme-able reactions to Joel’s injury and the beginning of the Winter chapter
(do click the link to go through to YouTube, but be warned, there is bunny death).

There also isn’t the scene with Joel telling Ellie to leave. He’s not conscious when we see him following the attack at the university. And Ellie doesn’t seem to contemplate leaving him at all as she appears to do in the show.

A special shoutout out to Pedro Pascal’s single tear. It really does sell the moment.

The show expounds a bit more on Ellie’s time in the Fedra school, which we don’t really get in the game, even in the DLC. As I recall, the game opens with Riley sneaking into Ellie’s room. It’s nice to see a bit more of Ellie and her uncertain place in the world.

I like that it shows the complexities of life post-apocalypse. Captain Kwong, for example, seems lovely… for a fascist. But his patience with Ellie, and gentle guidance make for an interesting foil to what it is his government is doing in Qzs, the country over. He even admits to the preferential treatment Fedra Officers receive versus the regulars, who, no doubt, have it better than the civilians.

Riley sneaking in to Ellie’s room is accurate to the game, though the nature of the surprise is a little different (Riley pretends to bite Ellie in the game), and Riley enters through the door (it seems from the shadows, rather than the window).

The banter has the same feel, though quite unlike much else in the series, it’s not often an exact replica. I do rather enjoy that Ellie’s curiosity with guns is alluded to here in the show. It’s a nice through line that keeps the character consistent.

The night unfolds in much the same manner in the game, though there are some differences. Ellie having fun with the escalator, for example, while honestly is the most adorable, relatable thing (I feel like I’d be the same way if I saw something like that having only ever heard about it). I’m not sure it makes an appearance in the game. At least, I don’t recall that it does.

Many other elements do, however. The carousel:

The photo booth adorableness:

Other things in game made it into the show, but in altered way. As I recall the games in the arcade weren’t working, so Riley talked Ellie through what a PvP fighting game would be like. It was a beautiful example of what the imagination can do

. It also was not Mortal Kombat II they played in the game. I imagine that IP was a little difficult to get for in-game content. They also mentioned water pistols. In the game there was a water pistol fight, so I’m glad that though it was dropped from the show, it wasn’t entirely forgotten.

Making an appearance, too, were the hallowe’en masks. Granted, they appeared earlier and were part of just general giggly shenanigans in the game, rather than just the dancing as in the show, they weren’t entirely forgotten.

I also don’t recall Riley and Ellie having a fight in the game. It might have happened, but I don’t remember it. I feel like it was an invention in the show to have some emotional conflict that wasn’t present in the game. The tension in the game always came from two kids being loud in a place that might be filled with infected.

They made the feelings between Ellie and Riley far more obvious in the show; but it still as beautifully done — long shots of held hands, looks filled with barely suppressed yearning, the vague sadness, the awkward touches that last too long and the weirdness that follows… It was really very well done.

The scene where they danced is pulled straight from the game; Ellie’s request for Riley to stay, Riley agreeing to, the kiss, the apology… it was all there, and it was just as touching as when I played it.

Like the game, though, it is the music  played loudly while the two dance that brings the infected, though in the game it was a horde of them. It makes more sense for two young girls to be confronted with one stalker than a horde of clickers, stalkers and runners.

The fate is the same either way. Ellie is bitten on the arm, Riley on her hand. Like the dancing scene, this follows the game quite closely. Right down to Riley’s speech.

We return to Joel to have Ellie sew up his wound. It’s very sweet, though my logical side of my brain was screaming about how there was no way in any level of Hell that Joel would survive the resulting infection. Honestly, she should have at least boiled the needle and thread and cleaned the wound. A small gripe that I also had with the game. Obviously, we now know that Joel is, in fact, superhuman; both in the game and in the show.

I rather liked the intercutting of Ellie’s memories of her last night with Riley, with what is happening in the present with Joel. It makes plain her motives for staying; Riley’s words about whether having two minutes or two days left with the person you love, you don’t give that up having clearly stayed with her.

Needless to say, I loved this episode; not just because I enjoy having my heart ripped out, and not just because it’s an excellent, much-needed piece of representation, but because it tells us so very much about Ellie and why she is the way she is, and why, despite how terrible the odds are, she doesn’t just leave Joel when instructed.

A beautiful episode.

RIP, Riley. You were loved.

Articles in this series:

When You’re Lost in the Darkness: The Last of Us, Episode One
Infected: The Last of Us, Episode Two
Long, Long Time: The Last of Us, Episode Three
Please Hold My Hand: The Last of Us, Episode Four
Endure and Survive: The Last of Us, Episode Five
Kin: The Last of Us, Episode Six
Left Behind: The Last of Us, Episode Seven

When S.M. Carrière isn’t brutally killing your favourite characters, she spends her time teaching martial arts, live streaming video games, occasionally teaching at the University of Ottawa, and cuddling her cat. In other words, she spends her time teaching others to kill, streaming her digital kills, teaching about historical death, and cuddling a furry murderer. Her latest novels are SkylarkDaughters of Britain, and Human.

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Eugene R.

Yes, lovely grounding for Ellie in this episode, and uber-relatable, as I, too, would have run *up* an escalator if I had the chance (aside from taking a few steps in reverse). And full agreement that a horde of clickers and others would be (a-hem!) over-kill, where just one stalker is sufficiently terrifying, especially in its horror-movie “we see it, they don’t” early moments. I am a bit surprised that the amount of power needed for a mall would both be available and not missed when it was being drawn, but, hey, hard to have a carousel fantasy without the bright lights and music, no?

S.M. Carrière

Oh lawd! I didn’t even think about the power. I was too invested!

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