‘The Last of Us’ Episode 9 – Look for the Light

The first season of HBO’s The Last of Us has come to an end following the jaw dropping finale and ninth episode, “Look for the Light”. Here is a breakdown of what was seen in the episode and how it will impact the series going forward. Please be advised that this will contain spoilers for both The Last of Us series and video game.

The episode opens with the return of the cold open as an unknown woman is seen running through the woods as the horrible screams of an infected are heard. It is also clear that this woman is heavily pregnant and in pain as she is trying to find some refuge to give birth or find aid in peace. As this woman, who we learn is named Anna (portrayed by Ashley Johnson, who played Ellie in the original game series), manages to break into an abandoned farmhouse adorned with a Firefly emblem, Anna barricades herself in a room and waits for the infected to arrive but she is able to overpower the Runner and kill it but in doing so, she not only sees that she has given birth to a little girl but that she has become infected. She manages to cut the cord and embrace her little girl and we find out that this little baby is Ellie. This scene is a creation from the game’s creator Neil Druckmann as Anna is only mentioned in a note during the first game. Druckmann has stated that he wanted to find a way to include this scene in the game and even tried to create a short-animated film depicting this sequence but it seemed like a natural point to include in the final episode of this first season.

Some time has passed on but Marlene arrives at the farmhouse with a squad of soldiers and find Anna who has wrapped Ellie up in her coat and has left her switchblade to be given to the little baby when the time is right but Anna knows her time is at an end and asks Marlene, her oldest and best friend, to find a home for Ellie and end her life. Marlene is initially hesitant to do this but relents when she realizes that it is what her friend wants and grants one last kindness to Anna. The episode then moves forward to the present day as Joel and Ellie find themselves outside of Salt Lake City but Ellie is emotionally distant and is not paying attention to what Joel is saying to her. He continues to talk to her by offering to give her guitar lessons and dishing out some sarcasm about how they will navigate the bombed-out city but Ellie is still in her own world. As they attempt to move through a building, Ellie sees something out of the corner of her eye and runs away without care to see that a giraffe has started feeding on a tree growing out of the building. Joel hands her some leaves to feed to the animal and they engage in what was the sweetest moment of the season and in the game. This moment was a welcome distraction from the absolute misery that was the majority of the first entry in the series. Following this moment, Joel offers to take her back to Jackson and just live their lives together and while she does not rebuff this idea, Ellie wants their journey to have meaning and does not want to turn back at this point. 

The two move on to find an abandoned medical triage center and Ellie once again wants to know more about the early days of the outbreak and Joel reveals that he once spent time in one of these centers. In the third episode, Joel revealed that he was shot by somebody but did not reveal the circumstances but he opens to her and tells her that he had tried to kill himself shortly after Sarah was killed. Ellie is overcome with sympathy towards him and remarks that she thought time eventually healed his wounds but he lovingly tells her that “it wasn’t time”. Ellie immediately recognizes that he is talking about her and it is a testament to just how much Joel has grown to love her and view her as his own. This scene quickly moves to him requesting her to pull out her pun book and as she begins to recite bad puns, a flashbang grenade lands behind them and they are separated by unknown soldiers. Joel awakes in a hospital bed with Marlene at his side and after a brief conversation where she praises his accomplishment at protecting her, they talk about why Ellie is immune to the cordyceps infection, how it has mutated in her brain, that she is being prepped for surgery and she holds the key to developing a cure for this devastating infection. Joel realizes that this means Ellie dying to save humanity and begs Marlene to find someone else to do this for everyone but there is literally no one else in the world who can help them develop a cure. This decision has to weigh heavy on Marlene who has known Ellie since she was born and promised her mother to protect her but she wants to save the world and if it means sacrificing someone to ensure that survival, then she is willing to make that decision but recognizes that Joel will not be comfortable with these events so she orders her soldiers to march him out of the hospital. 

Joel is not willing to let Ellie go just yet so he embarks on a vicious killing spree with the entire breadth of his violent skills on display as he massacres an entire garrison of Firefly soldiers. This scene manages to recreate the brutal climax of the game as he systematically makes his way to the operating room to find Ellie on a table and the doctors preparing to extract her brain. After briefly telling them to unhook her from the anesthetic and machines, the doctor initially refuses and Joel decides to swiftly put a bullet through his head and takes her out of the hospital himself. As he is taking her away to escape, he encounters Marlene in the parking garage and they have another tense conversation as Marlene is not optimistic about Ellie’s chances of survival out in the world but Joel cares about her too much to let her go and coldly executes Marlene to ensure their escape back to Jackson. The episode’s final moments recreate this sobering drive from the drive as Ellie asks why she is in the car with Joel and about what happened in the hospital and it is here that he feeds her one of the monstrous lies imaginable; that there are others like her and that the Fireflies have stopped looking for a cure following several failed attempts. The first season ends exactly the way the first game ended with Ellie asking Joel to promise her that what he said was the truth and as he responds affirmatively, Ellie accepts his lies and they move on to begin their life together.

The first season of The Last of Us was a marvel for television and represents a new era for video game adaptations. A full review from yours truly will be arriving soon as well as what to expect from future seasons of the show as there is still a whole other game that will be adapted for television.

Featured Image Credit: HBO via New York Times

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