The seventh episode in HBO’s The Last of Us is a direct homage to the game's expansion, focusing purely on the DLC, Left Behind, that featured Ellie (Bella Ramsey) and Riley (Storm Reid). It has been weeks since Ellie had heard from her best friend while at the FEDRA school, and for one night, Riley breaks in and offers Ellie the best night of her life as the two break curfew and go exploring an abandoned mall. The two spend their night exploring the wonders of a mall that was lost during the outbreak days, discussing their future and what they want out of this world.
Episode seven, written by Neil Druckmann, is probably one of the most faithful episodes to the game; unfortunately, it doesn’t quite fit the running order of the television series. Fans of the game will know exactly what happens, and that the DLC was released after the main game, which isn’t uncommon. Much like episode three, this episode is not set in the present day but unfortunately does not move the plot forward. What it does do is bring more insight into Ellie and what her aspirations were for her own future, something that wasn’t really touched upon in the game.
Both Ellie and Riley are on different sides, with Riley being an official Firefly and Ellie taking the side of FEDRA, knowing one day she could be an officer who helps maintain some stability in this unpredictable world. It is interesting to see the two different sides, especially when we have seen FEDRA from the eyes of Joel Miller (Pedro Pascal), and to some extent, Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey) but not through the eyes of someone who, for the most part, FEDRA was one of the few stable things in their life.
Once again, Ramsey hits it out of the park with her portrayal of Ellie. We see her a little more carefree, enjoying this new experience of the mall and all it has to offer with this almost childlike wonder, but then things take a turn for the worse, and one single bite alters Ellie’s life completely. Having Ellie actively discuss what her life would be like after school and then being handed, what should have been a death sentence, just shows the cruelty of the repercussions that one choice can make.
This episode does give a little more insight into Riley, a character that did not have much of a background in the games. We hear of her reasons for joining the fireflies, and for bringing Ellie to the mall, which brilliantly gives more depth to the character. Storm Reid delivers a lot with this plotline, and both Reid and Ramsey have this natural ease with each other; you won’t doubt that they have been best friends for years.
While the episode mirrors its game counterpart perfectly, it, unfortunately, doesn’t fit the flow of the TV series. As a game fan, it is understood why they have placed this as the seventh episode, but no game fans may be confused at its placement. Had the series been the original ten episodes, I think it would have fitted much better earlier on in the series, as it provides an insight to Ellie that viewers were missing, but did not move the plot or timeline along, like episode three had done. Possibly having two flashback episodes in the series wasn’t the wisest of choices, but it was still highly anticipated. What might have worked better is if the episode jumped from the past to the present day, giving casual and game viewers the opportunity to be introduced to a highly anticipated character. Given that there are only two episodes left of the series, game fans will know there are still some big moments to fill, that perhaps could have been utilized in this episode, rather than an episode mostly focused on the past so late on in the series.
Final Score- [6/10]
Reviewed by - Leigh Doyle
Publisher at Midgard Times
Premiere Date: February 26, 2023, on HBO
Get all latest content delivered to your email a few times a month.
Bringing Pop Culture News from Every Realm, Get All the Latest Movie, TV News, Reviews & Trailers
Got Any questions? Drop an email to [email protected]