One of the thrilling propositions about this primary season of HBO’s The Final of Us was that, sooner or later, it was going to include a second piece of Final of Us lore: the 2014 add-on to the sport referred to as The Final of Us: Left Behind. Launched a yr after the unique recreation, the downloadable content material clued gamers into extra of Ellie’s previous and sexuality, and revealed precisely how she received the chew that modified every little thing.
Nicely, with greater than half the season over, it lastly occurred. Episode seven of the The Final of Us is titled “Left Behind,” and in it we see Ellie’s remoted life earlier than she was bitten, earlier than she realized she was immune, and earlier than she met Joel. It was one other unbelievable, standout episode because of star Bella Ramsey and visitor star Storm Reid.
Issues kick off quickly after final week’s cliffhanger of Joel being stabbed within the abdomen and Ellie worrying he’s going to die. Ellie has someway moved Joel and their horse into an deserted home and Joel isn’t wanting good. In actual fact, he’s able to die and tells Ellie she ought to depart him and return to Tommy. Ellie isn’t fairly positive what she needs to take action she covers him up, goes up the steps and stops. She has a call to make: attempt to save Joel or attempt to save herself.
It’s with that on her thoughts that issues return in time, however not too far. Ellie nonetheless appears to be like the identical, save for the sweatshirt she’s carrying that claims “FEDRA Coaching.” She’s at FEDRA college, doing laps in a health club and listening to some tunes on an outdated Walkman. That’s when a a lot larger woman named Bethany grabs the headphones off her head. It’s apparent there’s unhealthy blood right here, one thing to do with a pal of Ellie’s who left, and so after exchanging phrases, Ellie punches her within the face.
Like most colleges, when you get in a combat you get despatched to the principal’s workplace. And at FEDRA college, which means Captain Kwong (Terry Chen). Ellie has been right here earlier than and Kwong is fed up together with her consistently stepping into bother. He tells her she has two paths she will take. One is to maintain up the perspective, break the principles, and reside her life as a grunt answering to the Bethanys of the world. Or she will straighten up and use her smarts to change into an officer. He believes there’s a pacesetter in her and he or she might help FEDRA in its mission to carry the world collectively. She decides to decide on the second path and he lets her go.
Instantly we see that Ellie is each bit as jumpy and hot-headed as we’ve seen within the present. This isn’t some new factor for her. Neither is her obsession with the world earlier than. In her dorm there are film posters from area and sci-fi films like Purple Planet and Innerspace, and a poster of the moon; she’s studying the comedian e book she and Sam learn collectively two episodes in the past, and even has a Mortal Kombat II poster, which she noticed in that Cumberland Farms in episode three. There’s additionally an empty mattress within the room. The mattress of, we assume, the woman Bethany was speaking about.
Ellie falls asleep and somebody sneaks in by her window. The individual places their hand over her mouth which makes Ellie react violently, seize her knife, and nearly stab the individual. She stops when she sees it’s Riley (Reid), her roommate who we study has been lacking for 3 weeks. Riley, it seems, has joined FEDRA’s major enemy, the Fireflies, which Ellie can’t consider. There’s a historical past and belief between these two so, regardless of the surprising flip of occasions, Riley ultimately coaxes Ellie to sneak out together with her for a couple of hours promising one of the best night time of her life.
The 2 make their means throughout town, going out and in of home windows, up staircases, and alongside the way in which even discover a bottle of booze a useless man purchased to kill himself with. (Final week Ellie stated she’d tasted alcohol earlier than, proper? Now we get it.) They debate the deserves of their opposing factors of view as a FEDRA trainee and new Firefly; each assume their way of life is the fitting means, therefore the fixed struggle between them. The argument appears to be getting out of hand when Riley tells Ellie they’ve made it to their vacation spot: an deserted shopping center.
Ellie is of the idea that this mall is full of contaminated, however Riley appears to know in any other case. Riley additionally mentions that a couple of outdated energy grids have been turned on within the space to deal with some new individuals within the Quarantine Zone. Which looks like an odd piece of data, till it isn’t. Inside, Riley tells Ellie to make a couple of turns and wait. She does simply that and that’s when issues get actually, actually good.
The ability to the mall was restored with out FEDRA understanding and Riley lights the entire thing up, retailer by retailer. Ellie watches with a glance of pleasure that’s almost indescribable. She’s by no means seen something prefer it however Riley says that’s not the half of it. She’s deliberate a complete night for them to discover the wonders of the mall.
In 2023, most youngsters in all probability solely have a imprecise reminiscence of spending time in procuring malls so there would possibly nonetheless be some marvel and kitsch to them. However for anybody born earlier than this century, there’s nothing extra widespread or relatable than a shopping center. It’s pure nostalgia. So to see Ellie’s amazement on the mere turning on of the lights—in addition to every little thing that adopted—was The Final of Us at its best possible, giving its viewers a really particular instance of one thing that’s mundane and forgettable to us, however to not a toddler on this world. It’s the message of appreciation for the little issues and that there’s magnificence within the easiest of locations, particularly for those who’ve by no means skilled it earlier than.
Living proof, the escalator. Ellie freaks out concerning the “shifting stairs” to such an extent Riley has to alter her tour from the 4 wonders of the mall to the 5, with this being the primary. The chums stroll by the mall and Ellie marvels at what the people who looted this place went after and what they didn’t. A jab at our fashionable way of life as a result of, in fact, individuals cleaned out the sneaker retailer however didn’t contact the cleaning soap retailer. In Ellie’s world, cleaning soap is far more essential than the most recent pair of sneakers.
One retailer that additionally wasn’t looted is Victoria’s Secret and the 2 ladies converse about what the lingerie was used for and the way it should really feel. Riley jokes about what Ellie would possibly seem like in it and after she leaves, you’ll be able to see that Ellie is interested by it. It’s an intimate facet of her persona that the present hasn’t actually touched on but, however is about to get blown extensive open.
After the bras and panties, Riley calls Ellie over to marvel primary: the carousel. They trip round on the horses with some beautiful muzak enjoying and for the primary time, one of the best buddies really feel like, perhaps, a little bit extra. There are large date vibes occurring and within the susceptible second, Riley tells Ellie the actual cause she joined the Fireflies. She was assigned her everlasting FEDRA place and it was, sadly, on the trail Ellie advised the captain earlier that day she didn’t need. Riley was assigned to sewage element and felt so disrespected she needed to depart. In actual fact, the one factor she missed concerning the place was Ellie.
Surprise two is a photograph sales space which, someway, kind of works 20 years later and the women take some cute photos. Then it’s time for marvel 4. Riley asks Ellie to hear and, once more, kids of the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s know the sound instantly. It’s the mall’s arcade and when Riley exhibits it to Ellie, she calls it probably the most stunning factor she’s ever seen. They stroll round, wanting on the video games, and if the present has executed its job proper, you need to have this odd little twinge behind your head. All season we’ve gotten these little hints that Ellie is obsessive about Mortal Kombat II. In order she traverses the arcade we’re left secretly hoping for that recreation to be there. Then it’s. And the reveal is dealt with with such magnificence by everybody concerned that there will not be as comfortable a second on this sequence thus far (or, shifting ahead for that matter). The enjoyment of Ellie lastly getting to place some quarters and play this recreation she’s obsessive about was palpable and by no means has Mortal Kombat been so beautiful. Riley even realized the fatalities so the 2 may see some actual gore. (A sure-fire signal that despite the fact that it doesn’t make logical sense, episode author Neil Druckmann was a giant MK fan.)
This, nevertheless, is The Final of Us. And simply as Ellie reaches her peak second of bliss, the digicam slowly leaves her and Riley. It goes out of the arcade, throughout the mall, and into one other retailer the place the arcade noises get up a clicker. Fuck.
Earlier than they go to the ultimate marvel, Ellie tells Riley she has to return to highschool. There’s nonetheless time earlier than she’d truly get in bother however that is our trace that she’s actually taking that speak with the captain from this morning critically. She’s able to go all in on a FEDRA life. However Riley tells Ellie she has a gift, and so they head to a restaurant.
Like a child on Christmas morning, Ellie retains guessing what the current may be. She even randomly guesses a dinosaur, which, Final of Us Half II followers know is unquestionably not random, identical to her love of the moon. The present isn’t a dinosaur although. It’s the second quantity of the pun e book Ellie loves a lot. This, once more, makes her so freaking excited, even when the women don’t perceive the pun about computer systems getting drunk by taking “screenshots.” (They have been born after computer systems would have been a factor, don’t neglect.)
The e book was behind a restaurant that Ellie realizes Riley had been staying in. There, Ellie sees why her pal was actually within the mall. Riley has been making bombs. Bombs to in all probability use on FEDRA troopers. Ellie is pissed and is about to go away when Riley hits her with an emotional bomb: Riley is leaving Boston. The Fireflies need her to go to Atlanta and despite the fact that she requested the chief Marlene (nice nameagain to the primary episode and trace at what’s to come back) if Ellie may go, she stated no. Which means Riley’s leaving and he or she needed this night time so she may say goodbye.
Scorching-headed as ever, Ellie pushes that actuality apart and storms out. She will get nearly all the way in which out earlier than she thinks higher and turns round. She then hears a scream. Working, prepared for something, she busts into one other retailer to seek out… Halloween decorations. Surprise 5 is the shop Riley although Ellie would love greatest, a Halloween retailer. She does adore it and sits right down to hash every little thing out. The most important distinction between Riley and Ellie, we study, is that Riley at one level had a household. She knew that sense of belonging. Ellie hasn’t (but) and doesn’t fairly get that whereas the Fireflies aren’t excellent, they’re giving Riley that dwelling that she wants.
That is a suitable excuse for Ellie who forgives her, thanks her, and tells her she misses her. After sitting within the mushy second for a beat, Riley jumps proper again into the night time’s deliberate actions. She grabs one among Ellie’s tapes, places it on within the retailer, and fingers Ellie a giant big werewolf masks. She herself places on a clown masks and the 2 begin to dance. In a world like this, with so many individuals gone and terror round each nook, you nearly received the sense this was the primary time they ever simply received to be youngsters. To reside carefree and simply dance like idiots in Halloween masks.
Caught up within the second, Ellie takes off her masks and asks Riley to not go. She then musters up some energy and kisses her. Riley isn’t shocked although. She’s comfortable about it and agrees to remain in Boston. It’s one other comfortable second, perhaps the happiest second, as a result of in one another, they discover what they want. Love. Household. Future. So in fact, that’s precisely when every little thing ends.
That clicker from earlier than bursts into the shop and a combat ensues. It’s manic and violent however, ultimately, Ellie is ready to stab it in its head, killing it. She’s excited concerning the victory till Riley factors at her. Ellie has been bit, and so has Riley. Their lives are over. At which level, for the primary time in like 40 minutes, the episode cuts again to the current. Ellie continues to be on the prime of these stairs determining what to do. For the second time in her life, she’s at a crossroads with somebody she loves who’s at risk of dying.
Again on the mall, Riley and Ellie focus on their choices. Do they commit suicide or simply go mad collectively? In the event that they decide the latter, at the least they haven’t given up on one another. And whereas we don’t see what occurs subsequent, the present brings us again to present-day Ellie. She makes the choice to not hand over on Joel, even when he prompt it, and tears the home aside. She finds a needle with thread and frantically tries to stitch him up. Which is the second the episode ends.
“Left Behind” was simply phenomenal. Actually magical. Utilizing Ellie’s previous as a solution to contextualize the terrible second she’s in at current, and to clarify her wrestle with it, was a stroke of genius. And in these flashbacks, we get to see Ellie for who she is. A powerful, sensible, queer younger girl who was in love and misplaced that individual. As a result of it doesn’t matter what occurs in that retailer, we all know that Ellie survives and Riley doesn’t. Bella Ramsey is totally unbelievable within the episode, Storm Reid bounces off her fantastically, and in the long run we’re left with an added appreciation of the small issues we’ve in our lives and the information that, at any second, cleaning soap might change into extra beneficial than sneakers.
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