[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for The Last of Us, Season 1 Episode 7, “Left Behind.”]
One under-explored ingredient of The Final of Us this season has been the existence of FEDRA, the remnant of the U.S. authorities that has survived the collapse of civilization. 20 years after the outbreak, FEDRA is mostly described by characters as a “fascist” establishment, with a zero-tolerance coverage in the direction of the contaminated. It’s one thing we see within the very first episode, when a baby is effectively executed by docs after testing optimistic for Cordyceps, and in addition typically come to grasp as characters reference the group’s harsh rule over quarantine zones.
But in Episode 7, “Left Behind,” the collection provided up a brand new perspective on what passes for regulation and order within the apocalypse. The episode takes its title from The Final of Us: Left Behind, a bonus journey for the primary online game which (just like the episode) flashes again to Ellie and her greatest buddy Riley exploring a mall collectively, whereas within the current Ellie tends to an injured Joel. What the present provides is an insightful glimpse into Ellie (Bella Ramsey)’s life previous to her getting contaminated (with out dying) — particularly, we get to see her as a less-than-dutiful scholar at “FEDRA college.”
It’s a improvement that is smart, given co-creator Craig Mazin‘s curiosity in exploring components of the Final of Us universe that his collaborator Neil Druckmann (author/director of the unique video video games) hadn’t coated. As Mazin informed Consequence previous to the beginning of the season, he “would ask a number of pesky questions of Neil to attempt to change into as a lot of an professional on that world as he was, questions of issues that weren’t within the sport. Like, ‘Okay, what occurred between the outbreak and the time we meet up with FEDRA and the QZ? How did FEDRA change into FEDRA? Why FEDRA? How are they run now? Ellie is in FEDRA college, what’s that like?”
Episode 7 solutions that query to a point, because the flashbacks first reveal Ellie exercising along with her fellow college students whereas listening to her treasured Walkman, earlier than getting right into a combat with one other scholar. The small print right here stand out, particularly after weeks of watching Joel and Ellie journey throughout the nation: The fluorescent lights of the health club, the “uniforms” worn by the scholars — mismatched gray sweatpants and sweatshirts, the closest FEDRA can get to regimentation in instances like these.
Extra essential, although, is the dialog Ellie has with Captain Kwong (Terry Chen) after the combat, during which he provides her one thing surprising: reward, and hope. Kwong basically explains why somebody would need to join life as a FEDRA officer — you could be part of a brutal machine, however the creature comforts can’t be beat: heat in winter, cool in summer time, good meals, and giving orders as an alternative of taking orders.
Kwong tells Ellie all this as a result of he sees management potential in her if she chooses to decide to FEDRA, and he or she tells him that that’s the trail she needs to decide on. Later that night time, although, we get one other perspective on FEDRA life, as Riley (performed within the collection by Storm Reid) lures Ellie out to the deserted shopping center as a result of, we quickly uncover, she’s chosen to affix the Fireflies (you say “freedom fighters,” FEDRA says “terrorists”). Riley’s choice to affix the Fireflies follows her receiving her official FEDRA task, per her pending commencement: sewage element, the grunt life that Kwong was warning Ellie about.
So Riley’s throwing in her lot with the Fireflies, and leaving city the following day for her new publish in Atlanta. It’s information that disappoints Ellie, particularly after “this superb fucking night time” that Riley organizes for her; after the pair boogie to Etta James’ cowl of “I Obtained You,” Ellie asks Riley to not go, and when Riley says sure, Ellie kisses her. Their emotions for one another now out within the open, Ellie asks “What now?” and Riley tells her, “We’ll determine it out” — an announcement which will get inevitably adopted up by the sounds of Contaminated coming nearer.
The tip of Riley and Ellie’s night time collectively, each bitten and contaminated, awaiting a certain demise that solely finally ends up coming for one in every of them, means Ellie isn’t actually pressured to select between a free life and a FEDRA life. That alternative, as an alternative, is left to linger within the background for the viewer to not simply contemplate on Ellie’s behalf, however on our personal. In a world the place meals, shelter, and security are prized commodities, would being a FEDRA officer be the worst alternative? May you study to reside with it, if it meant staying alive?
It’s not a simple query to reply — which is why it’s nice tv.
The Final of Us airs Sundays on HBO and HBO Max.