The Last Of Us episode 7: No tears left behind

The Last Of Us episode 7: No tears left behind
Images via HBO

Written by 

Daniel Hollis

Published 

27th Feb 2023 15:17

Please be aware of spoilers in this The Last of Us Episode 7 review. 

The Last of Us is a show about loss. While many will undoubtedly be turning up every week hoping to see Pedro Pascal take down hordes of infected raiders, that’s not what the show is about. 

While we’ve had a glimpse into Joel’s past and seen the events that have shaped him into the man he is today, Ellie’s story has remained a mystery up until this point. Left Behind is a beautiful retelling of the original game’s expansion, acting as a stark reminder for everyone who has played through it before, and another emotional gut-punch for newcomers to the story.

Friends and foes

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Following on from the events of last week’s episode of The Last of Us, Joel has been left severely injured with a distraught Ellie doing everything she can to save him. Much like the episode’s title, Ellie has a choice to continue with their mission and leave Joel behind, or rise to the occasion in an effort to save his life.

Bookended by two beautiful scenes - that again, work wondrously to build the relationship between Joel and Ellie - the majority of the episode’s runtime takes a trip down memory lane, as Ellie remembers a past relationship and how she initially became infected.

Viewers are treated to a glimpse into how the world looked for Ellie before meeting Joel, which primarily consisted of living under intense FEDRA working life. After a clichéd bully encounter and a motivational speech from her commanding officer, Ellie’s long-term friend Riley (played incredibly by Storm Reid) returns with some shocking news - she’s left FEDRA and joined the Fireflies.

The episode not only explores the relationship between Ellie and Riley, but also the dynamic between FEDRA and the Fireflies. Both characters have opposing views on what the other stands for, and not only does it add more context to the world, but it also builds a parallel to their own relationship.

Mall you need is love

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Throughout the majority of Left Behind, the pair spend their time in an abandoned shopping mall. As Riley aims to show Ellie the various “wonders” that reside within, each situation beautifully showcases their love for each other in numerous ways. They laugh, cry, argue, and embrace the intense bond between them in several heart-warming moments.

For fans of the game, very little has changed in Left Behind to differentiate itself too much, however, it’s worth praising the production design of the mall itself. Despite only taking up one episode of runtime, the team behind the camera has expertly created an environment that not only once felt lived in, but manages to capture the sense of awe that Ellie experiences.

While Ellie’s motivation to save Joel perhaps works better here, the tight runtime allows little room to breathe. We get a loving insight into the relationship the pair shared, but outside of a few clichéd moments before Riley is introduced, very little to further flesh out Ellie’s take on the world. To see her defend FEDRA when very little has been presented as to why they should be trusted makes her actions a tough sell.

A greek tragedy

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Of course, as we very well know, Riley is not along for the ride in The Last of Us. As the episode plays out, we’re left waiting to see how tragedy befalls the pair. While the outcome may be less exhilarating than it was in the game, it manages to feel even more heart-wrenching due to the spectacular performances.

Left Behind relies on Bella Ramsay and Storm Reid’s chemistry, which manages to establish itself within the first few dialogue exchanges between them both. This makes the outcome of the situation an inevitable moment of sadness, which is illustrated beautifully by the pair as they’re forced to make a tough decision. 

It would have been very easy to make this pivotal moment melodramatic, with a heavy waft of Shakespearean tragedy enveloping the scene. Instead, it’s subdued, and melancholic, and leaves its conclusion open to interpretation by the viewer - for the most part - leaning more akin to a Greek tragedy.

With this added context for Ellie weaved into the main narrative, it adds some much-needed backstory for next week’s episode. While fans of the game will know what’s in store for the duo, newcomers are perhaps in for a bigger treat than they realize, thanks to the characterization embedded into Left Behind.

Score: 4/5

Daniel Hollis
About the author
Daniel Hollis
Daniel is a former Guides Writer for GGRecon. Having originally focused on film journalism, he eventually made the jump to writing about games in 2020, writing for sites such as NME. Eurogamer, GamesRadar, Tech Radar, and more. After a short stint in PR, he is back in the world of games media writing about his favourite games, including Bioshock, Fable, or everything Fortnite and Xbox Game Pass related.
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