‘The Last of Us’ Season 1, Episode 7 Recap: Secret Origins

This week, an extended flashback fills in significant aspects of Ellie’s life in the Boston Quarantine Zone in The Last Of Us.

A night at the mall: Bella Ramsey, left, and Storm Reid in “The Last of Us.”Credit...Liane Hentscher/HBO
A night at the mall: Bella Ramsey, left, and Storm Reid in “The Last of Us.”Credit…Liane Hentscher/HBO

Although Ellie talks almost nonstop, during her long trip across the country with Joel (The Last Of Us)  she has said very little about herself.

Going by the few details she has let slip — and what he have seen ourselves — we know she grew up in the Boston Quarantine Zone with no parents. She does not have a boyfriend. She did have a friend who knew how to perform an infamous finishing move in the video game “Mortal Kombat II.” She loves the comic book series “Savage Starlight.” She thinks whiskey is “gross.” She is wild about Will Livingston’s “No Pun Intended” joke books. She experienced shooting and violence firsthand back in Boston. And she got her nonfatal cordyceps infection while exploring a sealed-off shopping mall.

About 95 percent of this week’s episode consists of an extended flashback to Ellie’s life in the QZ, while in the present day she scrambles to keep the wounded Joel alive. Most of what we see in the flashback confirms what we already knew. But some details are a bit different — and those details matter.

For example: Ellie wasn’t just being educated by FEDRA; she was being indoctrinated. Singled out from her class as a future leader, she was being trained physically and mentally to protect the QZ and hunt Fireflies. Her stubbornness though was causing trouble. She was bucking authority, sneaking out at night, and fighting with the other girls — spurred on in part by her rebellious roommate Riley (Storm Reid).

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When the flashback starts, Riley has been AWOL for three weeks; but while Ellie is asleep in their barracks after lights-out, Riley sneaks back in and explains her where she has been. She joined the Fireflies, after meeting Marlene and commiserating about how much they both hate FEDRA fascism. Ellie is skeptical, but still agrees to join her best friend for a wild after-hours excursion — which turns out to be a trip to the mall. For those of us watching at home, the alarm bells are already ringing.

It takes a while before any trouble starts; and in the hour or two before then, these two girls have the greatest night of their lives. The building has working electricity, so Riley lights the whole place up, and as the young ladies head down what Ellie calls the “electric stairs,” Riley announces her intention to show her “the four wonders of the mall.” Hearing this, Ellie beams and says, “You planned stuff?”

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