‘The Final of Us’ Episode 7 Recap: What Occurred to Riley?

Spoilers forward for episode 7 of The Final of Us.

There is a level at which, within the 2014 PlayStation sport enlargement The Final of Us: Left Behind, 14-year-old Ellie Williams takes a fall. She’s sprinting to flee the contaminated runners on her heels, however the scaffolding she’s climbed is not secure sufficient to assist her weight; the construction leans, then tumbles. She drops with it, hitting the bottom arduous sufficient to knock the air from her lungs. The zombies are on her immediately, and he or she screams for her finest pal, Riley.

In case you’ve watched tonight’s episode of HBO’s The Final of Us, you already understand how this story ends. Ellie and Riley each wind up with conflict wounds from their zombie battle, which—within the cordyceps-infected world they inhabit—means sure loss of life for his or her minds and, ultimately, their our bodies. I watched this PlayStation scene once more lately and was struck by a YouTube remark left by one other viewer: “Think about if Ellie by no means fell off that railing within the final half. She would have by no means gotten to ask, so she would not have met Joel … Woah, this one small second set the complete story ahead.”

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Episode 7 is grounded, in nearly each scene, by comparable acts of creativeness. When Riley (Storm Reid) drops into her bed room unannounced, Ellie (Bella Ramsey) is livid sufficient at her former roommate’s disappearance that she spends lots of the remaining scenes questioning Riley’s devotion to a dream. At 16 years previous, Riley has lately taken up with the Fireflies, a bunch of revolutionaries intent on overthrowing the fascist authorities that deploys FEDRA, the Federal Catastrophe Response Company, which in flip controls the key quarantine zones throughout the nation. Ellie thinks Riley’s concept of ​​a greater world—one run by these protestors—is a fantasy, and a harmful one. As Riley coaxes Ellie into the night time, the 2 sips from a whiskey bottle, debate politics, and commerce “bullshit propaganda”: ​​Riley is intent on visualizing radical change, it doesn’t matter what it requires; Ellie digs her heels in, positive that one of the best path ahead is to climb the FEDRA ladder and alter the corrupt system from inside.

Within the deserted shopping center the place Riley brings Ellie by the use of late-night journey and going-away celebration, the 2 get to visualise another childhood, one the place their teenage years came about earlier than the outbreak. They journey escalators and carousels; they sneak pulls of dangerous booze; they stare, puzzled, at lingerie; they play previous arcade video games; they giggle at Ellie’s notorious ebook of puns; they commerce secret, lengthy glances. They argue, Ellie hurts that Riley is leaving her to battle for a trigger “I do not even assume you perceive,” and Riley annoyed that Ellie can not seem to perceive it.

Ellie then discovers the home made bombs in Riley’s food-court-turned-camp, and her disappointment is visceral sufficient to immediate Riley to disclose the reality: The Fireflies are asking her to depart city. This night time is the roommates’ final collectively.

Beneath the flickering neon indicators, Ellie confronts her pal: “Why did you carry me right here?”

“As a result of I wished to see you,” Riley says.

“And?” Ellie provides, her eyes scanning Riley’s face with a form of wild, determined hope. After watching the best way she interacts with Riley—the bashful smiles, the handholding, the extended appears—we all know what she’s wanting to listen to. However how can she permit herself to confess it? Even at this level within the story, weeks earlier than she meets Joel, Tess, or Sam, Ellie has endured a lot loss, a lot disappointment. Who can blame her for protecting her desires small?

“And I wished to say goodbye,” Riley finishes. That is all of the affirmation Ellie wants. She whirls round and storms off, solely returning to Riley’s facet when she fears the Firefly recruit is below assault from contaminated. Truly, the screams are coming from low-cost Halloween decor in pursuit of jump-scare. Ellie’s blood stress spikes as soon as once more, however this time the look on Riley’s face convinces her it is time to hear.

“You do not know what it was prefer to have a household to belong,” Riley explains to her. “I belonged to them. And I need that once more. Possibly the Fireflies aren’t what I believe they’re, however they selected me. I matter to you.” The road is intentional foreshadowing of Ellie’s personal eventual encounter with Joel. He, too, maybe is not who Ellie thinks he’s. However he needs to deal with her. In his method, he selected her. That is one thing she’s by no means allowed herself to think about for herself earlier than. Besides, in fact, when it got here to Riley.

storm reid in the last of us season 1 episode 7

HBO

Outfitted in what I believe have to be disgusting-smelling monster masks, they twirl on the glass counter tops of Spirit Halloween, swinging their arms to the rhythm of “I Obtained You Babe” by Etta James. However the verve solely lasts lengthy sufficient for Ellie to slowly take away her werewolf face and stare at her pal, her hair wild, eyes huge and looking. “Do not go,” she pleads.

Riley, lastly, is satisfied. “Okay,” she says, and Ellie lurches ahead for a kiss. It lasts solely a second, nevertheless it’s convincing sufficient to ship the 2 into matches of nervous laughter, as they notice—with a surge of pleasure—that the sentiments between them are shared. There is a future right here, an actual one. They will image it. They will face it collectively. However as with so many moments in The Final of Us, the happiness is ripped from its supply with a rush of brutality. A stalker, revealed to us earlier within the episode hibernating within the American Lady Doll retailer, leaps from below a stack of merchandise, and the buddies are all of the sudden locked in a loss of life match.

After a short however heart-pounding wrestle, Ellie secures her first kill, one she’s adrenaline-addled sufficient to virtually have a good time when it crumples, hissing, to the ground. However the victory is short-lived, as each viewers member will already acknowledge. Staring uncomprehendingly on the tooth marks on her arm, she claws on the stream of blood as if she may erase it.

When Riley reveals an identical chomp on her hand, Ellie’s rage is doubled. She shrieks, already incandescent with grief, slamming a bat via the Spirit Halloween show circumstances and spraying glass upon Riley’s toes. Resolute via her tears, Riley presents her finest pal with two choices: 1) They shoot themselves earlier than the an infection can take root of their brains. 2) They wait collectively, clinging to each remaining second of the longer term that, solely moments prior, they thought could possibly be actual.

And that is the final word act of creativeness: Riley believing that what stays of their humanity is value preventing for. It is this alternative that saves Ellie, who in any other case might need died earlier than she may uncover her personal immunity.

The scene ends with the 2 wrapped tight in one another’s arms, weeping however united. We do not get to witness what occurs to Riley, although we will take an informed guess. The most probably situation is Riley become an contaminated, forcing Ellie—one way or the other, impossibly, nonetheless human—to flee from her pal or kill her. Showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann purposefully go away that query unaddressed and unanswered, pinpointing the theme of the complete episode arc. We needn’t know; we will think about.

And if we will envision the horror of what Ellie endured, we will equally perceive the mission that drives her within the current timeline. Riley’s trigger has turn into Ellie’s personal. She, too, seeks the Fireflies, although to not overthrow FEDRA however to get rid of the necessity for it altogether. She is pushed by the idea—nevertheless unlikely, nevertheless idealistic—that she will really save the individuals she loves. That imaginative and prescient in her thoughts solely crystallizes additional as she endures the extra losses of Tess, Sam, and Henry.

So once we watch Ellie with a now-injured Joel, we will perceive why she’s determined sufficient to belief her personal shaking fingers. She grits her tooth as she threads a needle, pushing it via the puckered flesh of Joel’s stab wound. She has to consider she will save his life. She has to consider all this loss will quantity to one thing worthwhile. She has to think about she’s the remedy, that the world Riley wished can exist, that Joel may also help her make it a actuality. And perhaps, on the finish of all of it, he could be beside her when that hope turns into one thing tangible. There, collectively, they could really belong.

Headshot of Lauren Puckett-Pope

Tradition Author

Lauren Puckett-Pope is a employees tradition author at ELLE, the place she primarily covers movie, tv and books. She was beforehand an affiliate editor at ELLE.

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