The Last of Us: Season 1 Episode 7 – Left Behind (Recap & Review)

Please note: there are FULL spoilers for the entire seventh episode of this first season, as well as all preceding episodes. Also worth noting is that I have never played the video game this is based on, and have no idea of any specific plot points, so any speculation of upcoming events is truly just that.

Following his injury at the University of Eastern Colorado, Joel is in very poor shape in the basement of a nearby house. Ellie is doing her best to stem his bleeding, but Joel implores that Ellie leave him, and return north to see Tommy in Jackson. Ellie covers up Joel with a jacket, and runs upstairs, but she doesn’t leave the house.

In a flashback to several years earlier, Ellie was a student at the FEDRA academy. In a confrontation with another girl named Bethany (Ruby Lybbert), Ellie is taunted that a recent friend is ‘not here anymore’, and Ellie snaps and assaults Bethany. In Captain Kwong’s (Terry Chen) office, Ellie expects punishment, but instead is offered some advice. Captain Kwong tells Ellie she has two paths ahead of her: she acts like a grunt and gets the job of a grunt, or she follows the rules and becomes an officer. Kwong extols the life of an officer over that of a grunt, and dismisses Ellie, who is returned her walkman.

In her bedroom, Ellie looks across at the empty, second bed in the corner, before falling asleep. As Ellie sleeps, someone climbs through her window and awakens Ellie with a start, but Ellie fights them off and holds them at knifepoint. It turns out to be a friend named Riley (Storm Reid), who had abandoned Ellie and FEDRA three weeks earlier. Riley claims she just had to get away, and notices Ellie’s black eye. When pressed, Riley reveals she has joined the Fireflies, much to Ellie’s shock. Riley promises to explain everything, but only if Ellie first agrees to come with Riley somewhere for the night, but the location is a secret. The pair leave through Ellie’s window.

Sneaking through the city, Ellie and Riley avoid a FEDRA patrol and climb to the seventh floor of an apartment block. There, they find a dead man, who has apparently only recently died of an overdose of pills and alcohol. After taking the alcohol, the corpse falls through the floor, and Ellie and Riley continue to the roof. Sharing the drink, Ellie asks to hold Riley’s gun, and she says it’s heavier than she expected. Ellie asks why Riley left. Riley says that one night when Ellie was in solitary confinement, Riley sneaked out and was approached by a woman Firefly, who said Riley had potential, and upon learning that Riley hated FEDRA, the woman offered Riley to join. Ellie is not so sure that FEDRA are all bad. The two continue across the rooftops.

Arriving at the roof across from the old shopping mall, Ellie notices that more lights have been turned on in apartment blocks, which Ellie believes is a good thing for FEDRA. Riley says the old mall is where they are heading, which Ellie believe is crazy, as FEDRA sealed it off fue to being filled with infected. Riley asks Ellie why, if it was sealed off, it is not sealed off anymore, and the two head inside. Riley tells Ellie that the mall electricity was connected when the apartment blocks were. Riley tells Ellie to head inside, and to let her know when she is throught he doors. Riley turns the power on, causing the shopping mall to light up. Riley swears the two are safe, and the lights are not visible from outside, and promises to show Ellie the ‘Four Wonders of the Mall’.

Heading down an escalator, Ellie is giddy with the idea of electric stairs, and asks if they are one of the wonders. Riley coyly says they are, and they are the first of the ‘Five Wonders’. Now affected by the alcohol, Ellie is drunk, and nearly falls down the escalator. Continuing through the mall, the two discuss why some stores are empty, and others aren’t, and Riley says it is from the looters. The two discuss a Victoria’s Secret, and how they can’t understand why people want that sort of stuff. Ellie straightens her hair in the mirror.

Riley tells Ellie to close her eyes, and leads her by the hand towards the first wonder: a working carousel. Flipping the switch, the carousel begins moving and playing music, which Ellie cannot believe is real. The two sit atop the horses, and continue to share the alcohol, as Ellie continues to glance longingly at Riley. Eventually, the carousel stops moving and the music stops. Ellie asks if Riley truly thinks the Fireflies will liberate the Quarantine Zone, and Riley says yes, as it has been done in other area. Ellie asks Riley to come back, but Riley won’t, as she was already given her assignment: sewage detail. Ellie says she should have said something. Riley says there are three wonders left.

Ellie and Riley head over to the Third Wonder, a photo booth, and take several photos together, but the photos come out faded. Ellie keeps them anyway, and the two head to the Fourth Wonder, a working arcade. Inside, Ellie is disappointed they cannot play the games as they don’t have coins, but Riley shows a change machine she broke into earlier. Riley leads Ellie towards an arcade machine of Mortal Kombat II, and the two play numerous fights against each other, laughing and joking as they do. In a shop nearby, an infected awakens due to the noise.

As Ellie wins the final game, she says she needs to head home. Riley says there is still one more wonder to show, but Ellie insists she should go, but the two can meet at the arcade tomorrow. When Riley says she got Ellie a gift, Ellie concedes, and they head on to where Riley has been staying, behind a fast food chain. There, Riley gives Ellie the second volume to her favourite joke book, and the two share some of the puns inside. However, Ellie notices some explosives Riley had hidden, and deduces that Riley was posted at this mall, and is not here by her own choice. Ellie storms off.

Following her, Riley reveals that she is leaving to the Atlanta Quarantine Zone, and asked a woman named Marlene if Ellie could join her. Marlene said no, and this is Riley’s last night in Boston. Ellie goes to leave, and returns to where the two came in, but turns around to see Riley again. Hearing screams, Ellie runs towards them, but finds a Halloween store with Riley inside. The store was intended to be the Fifth Wonder. Riley reveals that the Fireflies made it feel like she had a family again, and Ellie says she will miss Riley. Riley says the night is not over yet, and has one last thing for Ellie. The two don Halloween masks and dance around the store to music from Ellie’s walkman. Standing atop the display cases, Ellie and Riley remove their masks, and share a kiss, and laugh together again.

Suddenly, a noise from outside snaps the two back to reality, and the infected man comes running in, attacking both the girls. Riley is knocked to the ground, and Ellie only just manages to escape, before the infected man turns his attention towards Riley. Knocking him down, Ellie stabs the man in the head, killing him. Following Riley’s gaze, Ellie notices that she was bitten in the fight, and Riley reveals she was bitten, too. Ellie rages around the store, breaking the display cases, as Riley sits silently on the floor. The two discuss their options.

Back in the present, Ellie rummages through the drawers in the kitchen upstairs, and finds a sewing needle and thread. She begins to sew up Joel’s wounds.

+ I really enjoyed the single scene Terry Chen was in as Captain Kwong. I’ve lambasted some of the characterisations on this show in a post-apocalyptic world, but this one felt real
+ as soon as Riley said they were going somewhere, I assumed it was the shopping centre Ellie mentioned in episode two. A few seconds later, I realised that Riley probably wasn’t getting out in one piece
+ I enjoyed Bella Ramsay in this episode, because she was either drunk or just a jerk for most of it, and that obnoxious attitude felt intentional for once; I was meant to find her annoying, and I did
+ there were a lot of shots of Ellie and Riley from behind in this episode, which gave it a very video-gamey feel. It’s also why so many of my screenshots are that same pose
+ Ellie chose Raiden when she and Riley were playing Mortal Kombat II, and Riley chose Mileena. In episode three, Ellie told Joel all about Mileena’s Fatality, which was shown here
+ both Ellie and Riley’s reactions to being bitten were very sad, and further highlighted their personalities: Ellie’s first instinct was to fight it and scream and break stuff, while Riley just silently accepted it

– I couldn’t believe how loud Ellie and Riley were talking as they were “sneaking” through the city. I can only imagine noise travels fast in empty cities. Frankly, not being quiet has been a running theme of the show for me; creative liberties or not due to this being a TV adaption, everyone is too loud all the time
– why does Riley think she’s too good for sewer detail? If not her, then someone else, and that’s how the world works sometimes. From what I could gather, she wasn’t even the one doing the shovelling of shit, just supervising. That bothered me
– maybe I missed something important in a previous episode, but what ended up happening to Riley? When Ellie talked about this experience in episode two, (albeit, indirectly and full of lies) she said she was alone. I am presuming that when Ellie said she had had to hurt someone before, she meant a turned Riley. I can only assume I’ll find out this answer in yet another flashback in a further episode

Final thoughts: This was Bella Ramsay’s strongest episode to date, but the pacing of this show is doing my head in. After speedrunning through so much plot in the last episode, this was an entire episode of not moving the story forward at all. Yes, of course, Ellie’s history is important. But Joel and Ellie as a team are the main characters, and I’d be just as annoyed with an entire episode of Joel’s past at this point of the season.


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