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Review of 'The Last of Us' 1.7-1.8

Riley, Ellie, and the Resort

By Paul LevinsonPublished 12 days ago Updated 6 days ago 3 min read

[Spoilers ahead ... ]

Well, first of all, I was glad to see that Joel was alive at the beginning and conclusion of The Last of Us 1.7, fulfilling what I said in my review of 1.6 a few weeks back, that if you don't see a character's head cut off or blown to bits, there's always a chance that she or he survived.

Now all of that took maybe a minute to show, and The Last of Us devotes the whole rest of this episode to another nearly standalone story, this time of Ellie and her best-friend Riley, whom she also has a crush on, back in Boston, after the fungus apocalypse, before she ever met Joel. This story within a story was woven in so well, I didn't even quite realize that Ellie was back in time and in Boston until Riley said something about needing to leave Boston the next day. And then everything, including Ellie's mention a little earlier of a time machine (a nice meta-touch), fell into place.

So, does this now mean that Joel and Ellie are permanent characters on this series, or at least for this first season of this series? Perhaps not, but I think there's a chance that they will indeed endure. And I think that's a good thing. You can't make everyone expendable in a story. Or maybe you can, but I think stories are always enhanced by having some permanence, some continuity, of characters.

This season will end after two more episodes. And HBO has already called for a second season. I'm hoping we will see Joel in all of that, and more. In the meantime, it was good to see Ellie's first love tonight, and in what circumstances she first got bitten by the infected. Riley presumably didn't survive. But her very wise advice that the two shouldn't take their lives, and instead live every moment they had left to the fullest, not only made everything we've seen of Ellie in this first season possible, but is very good advice for all of us on the other side of the screen.


And the next-to-last episode -- 1.8 -- of The Last of Us was everything it should be.

Ellie was at her absolute best so far in this series. She progresses from killing a deer to the demonic leader of a town (or actually a "resort," he says), whose people under his guidance are practicing cannibalism. And along with that, she manages to get penicillin -- enough to get Joel back in action, after one shot of the antibiotic at night and another the next morning. Now I have no idea if penicillin can work that quickly, but it probably does, and even if not, it makes for a good story.

The key development in all of this is Ellie manages to triumph without Joel's help. She would have survived even without Joel. We've seen her contend with the elements, and people, and the infected before, but this is her best moment. She uses everything she has -- including distracting her attackers by saying and showing she's infected (though the leader sees through that) -- and taking every opportunity to get on top of things, which she indeed does.

Does this mean she no longer needs Joel? No, not at all. The world in which they live is universally dangerous, and each of them, Ellie and Joel, need all the help they can get. And as we've seen all season, the two of them are the best sources of that help for each other.

I'm looking forward to seeing what further lessons we learn in the season finale next week. What clues will it leave us for the second season, and who knows how many seasons to come? It's at times like this that I wish all of its seasons were up online, so I could see every one of them.

I talk about The Last of Us, beginning at 40mins 40secs

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About the Creator

Paul Levinson

Novels include The Silk Code & The Plot To Save Socrates; LPs Twice Upon A Rhyme & Welcome Up; nonfiction includes The Soft Edge & Digital McLuhan, translated into 15 languages. Details here. My Twitter. Prof, Fordham Univ.

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