The Last of Us episode 7 catches up with Ellie (Bella Ramsey) as she tries to take care of a dangerously injured Joel (Pedro Pascal). When the episode, titled Left Behindbegins, Ellie and Joel have hunkered down in the basement of an abandoned house. Joel isn’t nearly as concerned for himself as he is for Ellie, though. He orders her to leave him behind and travel back to the Wyoming compound his brother, Tommy (Gabriel Luna), now calls home.
Moments later, Left Behind cuts back to months earlier, when Ellie was still a FEDRA trainee in Boston. The flashback episode then follows Ellie and her best friend, Riley (Storm Reid), as they share an unforgettable night in an abandoned Boston mall. In the episode’s closing moments, viewers witness the infected attack that not only brought Ellie and Riley’s night to a tragic end, but also resulted in Ellie discovering her immunity to The Last of Us’ fictional Cordyceps virus.
The episode, in other words, tells a largely standalone story, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still have some questions about both The Last of Us episode 7 and the remaining two installments of the series’ first season.
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In one of The Last of Us episode 7’s best moments, Ellie and Riley pose for a handful of pictures together in an abandoned mall photo booth. The photos don’t turn out particularly well, but Riley tells Ellie that she can keep them nonetheless. The photos, notably, aren’t referenced again in Left Behind.
Given how protective she is of both her pun books and switchblade, it seems fair to assume that Ellie has likely held onto her and Riley’s photo roll. However, The Last of Us has yet to confirm if that’s the case. That means viewers may have to wait for a future episode of the HBO series to find out whether or not Ellie really does still have one of the most precious souvenirs from her and Riley’s last night together.
In The Last of Us episode 7, it’s revealed that Riley was recruited offscreen by none other than Marlene (Merle Dandridge) to join the Fireflies. Riley tells Ellie that Marlene was the one who had her start hiding out in the mall and that the Firefly leader also tasked her with making a new batch of pipe bombs. However, viewers aren’t actually shown what happened to Ellie after she and Riley were bitten by one of the show’s infected.
The series’ premiere picks up with Ellie when she’s already being held by the Fireflies, so we know she eventually traveled from the mall to the rebel group’s Boston headquarters. But how did that actually happen? Did the Fireflies come looking for Riley and stumble upon Ellie, or did she go looking for them herself after she didn’t turn? Odds are, this is one question that won’t ever be answered, but it is an interesting mystery to think about nonetheless.
After Ellie discovers Riley’s pipe bombs, her friend assures her that the Fireflies don’t intend to use them in any way that could harm the innocent civilians of Boston’s QZ. However, in The Last of Us episode 1, Tess (Anna Torv) gets caught in an explosive attack from the Fireflies. The attack in question begins with an explosion that totally destroys one of the walls near Tess.
Is it possible that said attack was carried out using some of the very bombs that Riley built before she was bitten? If so, that would only add raise even more questions about the Fireflies’ methods, as well as the legitimacy of their supposed moral superiority. Frankly, for all the noise that’s been made about how the Fireflies bring hope to the people of The Last of Us’ postapocalyptic world, the series itself hasn’t actually offered much proof that the group is actually a positive force.
In The Last of Us episode 4, Ellie tells Joel that she’d already killed one person before she even met him. When Joel later asks her if she wants to talk about it, she declines. Based solely on the fact that she didn’t turn into a mindless member of the infected when Riley presumably did, it seems more likely than not that she either had to leave Riley behind or kill her best friend (and potential girlfriend) herself.
If that’s really what happened, it would explain why Ellie seemed so reluctant to talk about her history with violence when Joel asked about it. Riley being the first person she ever killed would also add a lot more weight to Ellie’s remarks about the losses she’s experienced throughout her life during her argument with Joel in The Last of Us episode 6.
Joel’s fate is still uncertain at the end of The Last of Us episode 7. The flashback-centric episode essentially ends with Ellie deciding to help Joel fight for his future just like she did with Riley. Left Behind subsequently cuts to black on a close-up of Bella Ramsey’s face as Ellie stitches together Joel’s stab wound with a needle and thread she found in the house they’ve taken up residence in.
Those who have played the original Last of Us game will already know the answer to this particular question, but it’s difficult to understate just how dangerous of a position Joel is still in at the end of Left Behind. His wound may be on the verge of being sewn shut, but there’s still no telling whether or not that’ll be enough to actually save his life.
Unfortunately, viewers will just have to tune in to next Sunday’s episode of The Last of Us to find out what kind of future awaits Joel and Ellie.
The Last of Us episode 8 premieres Sunday, March 5 on HBO.