Episode 9 of The Last of Us just wrapped up one hell of a season. I don’t know what most people expected from the season finale, but I believe showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann went above and beyond with two big moments that the games never gave us.
This all followed an emotional reunion between Ellie (Bella Ramsey) and Joel (Pedro Pascal) at the end of episode 8, where Ellie stabbed David (Scott Shepard) to death after he assaulted and threatened her with rape. Reunited, our heroes are here to close the first season of one of the best HBO Max shows ever.
Below is a detailed recap of The Last of Us Episode 9, so there are spoilers.
Ellie’s origin story is revealed in Episode 9 of The Last of Us
Anna (Ashley Johnson) runs writhing as we hear the screams of the infected chasing her. Ashley Johnson, in case you haven’t heard, voiced Ellie in The Last of Us games. So what has to happen is very appropriate. Anna comes to the house where she expected to find people, but there is no one there. She discovers that her water has broken when she goes upstairs and enters the room, which she locks with a chair.
Druckmann and Mazin gave us an explanation for Ellie’s immunity. She was injected with a small amount of infection (something like a vaccine) and then her body developed resistance.
Anna then pulls out the knife just in time for the infected to knock on the door. She drops the knife, but picks it up when the infected bursts in, and grabs her claws as she stabs him. And after she kills him, the cries of a newborn are heard and Anna realizes that she has been bitten by the infected, which prompts Anna to cut the umbilical cord with a penknife. The baby and Anna share a tender moment of love, followed by crying, and Anna says, “Yes, you tell them. You tell them Ellie. You are so cool. I got you, it’s okay.
(Image credit: Lian Hencher/HBO)
Marlene (Merle Dandridge) and the other Fireflies arrive at the abandoned house with great caution, only to find Anna with a knife to her own throat. Anna tells Marlene that Ellie is hungry because she doesn’t want to feed her. Anna claims that she became infected after giving birth. And in these scenes, I realized that Druckmann and Mazin gave us an explanation for Ellie’s immunity. She was injected with a small amount of infection (something like a vaccine) and then her body developed resistance.
Anna tells Marlene to take Ellie to Boston and give her the penknife. Marlene says she can’t, but Anna reminds her that they’ve known each other all their lives. So it’s her duty to take Ellie and kill Anna before she converts. Marlene leaves after saying he can’t kill her, passes Ellie to Firefly and tells the guy to plug her ears (he doesn’t). Marlene shoots Anna and we return to our days.
Back on the road, Ellie is lost in thought and doesn’t hear Joel excitedly announce that he’s found another Chef Boiardie. Bifaroni, indeed! Joe explains that he thinks he’s found the hospital they’re looking for, and Ellie barely reacts, except to stand up. Joel also found Boggle. which she had never heard of.
Ellie Bella Ramsey comes out of her daze
Then they are on their way again. Joel mentions that he found the guitar and offers to teach Ellie how to play, but again she doesn’t respond. It is clear that she is still experiencing the evil of David and his followers. Ramsey captures those softer moments, and it even pierces her cockiness when she gives out exactly what Joel is about to tell her about his plans. Her numbness pervades these scenes, especially when she looks at the floor plans.
Throughout, Pascal takes notes of Joel, finally trying to accept this newfound fatherhood. He even asks about her being “very quiet” before she aids the plot by having Joel take her to the next floor where she can get a ladder for him. Or at least she does. Instead, she just throws the ladder towards him, as she was distracted by something amazing. Joel follows up the stairs until he sees what she saw: a giraffe. A majestic animal that somehow survived this hellish landscape.
(Image credit: Lian Hencher/HBO)
Joel takes plants for Ellie to feed the giraffe, and this animal is just what she needs to make her smile again. She even swears, saying it’s “fucking cool”. Ellie, whom we love, is back and the two of them continue upstairs until they see a majestic view of zoo-worthy animals among the greenery.
They then return to the last beautiful view they shared, back in episode 2, when Ellie looked beyond QZ in awe when Joel asked if this was all she hoped for. Ellie replies that you can’t deny the view.
Joel, assuming something bad might come of their plan, asks if Ellie is supportive of the plan.
(Image credit: HBO via YouTube)
And here we hear Ellie’s monologue from the awards video saying, “After everything we’ve been through” and everything she’s done, “it can’t be in vain.” She knows that Joel wants to protect her and says that they can do whatever they want – together – once it’s all done. They could go to Tommy, the sheep ranch, and even to the moon. She will follow him wherever he goes, but there is no half way. And this monologue prepares for the big grand finale.
But first, outside, Joel and Ellie roam the lifeguard camp. Joel even drops his guard about the scars on his forehead that Ellie asked about. So when Joel says something to Ellie that he never said in the video game, he is responsible for the scar. He fired and missed in an attempt to commit suicide. Perhaps the day after Sarah’s death. Joel says he no longer saw the point and was not afraid. He was ready. But he flinched when he pulled the trigger, and he still doesn’t know why.
(Image credit: HBO via YouTube)
Ellie thinks she knows why Joel is explaining this. She offers the moral of Joel’s story that time heals all wounds. Joel, with the most emotional expression on his face in years, says that it’s not time yet. He would say it’s Ellie, but he’s still Joel. Ellie says she’s glad it didn’t work out, to which Joel agrees.
The two leave and Joel asks for “shitty puns”. Ellie whips out No Pun Intended: Volume Too and cracks an apocalypse joke followed by a meteor pun. And while the two are arguing about how to appreciate the purple grape joke breathlessly, a soldier appears in the background and throws a tactical grenade. Ellie was taken away and Joel passed out while yelling at her.
The Last of Us season finale ends where many expected
Waking up to the Fireflies logo on a plastic mug, Joel fell asleep as Marlene greeted him. She claims that the patrol officers did not know who he was. According to Marlene, Ellie is safe and Joel keeps asking about Ellie. Marlene doesn’t say where she is, but thanks Joel for bringing her here. He says that she owes him, everyone does it.
And Ellie is being prepared for surgery. Their doctor confirms what I suggested above, that Cordyceps grew in her from birth, and this created immunity. Joel asks again where she is. Marlene is silent as Joel mentions that Cordyceps grows inside the brain and starts demanding that they use someone else. And it will make many nod their heads knowing that HBO’s The Last of Us will deliver the original game’s iconic ending.
You can root for Joel, but Mazin and Druckmann clearly demonstrate how he loses his humanity by shooting people with his hands up and weapons down in anger. When one of the two people he cares about is no longer taken from him, Joel is left with no other choice.
Firefly knocks Joel down with the butt of a gun, and Marlene claims to understand the loss. That she promised Anna that she would save her child. She has no other choice. Although Joel says he has another choice, Marlene tells the Fireflies to escort Joel – with Anna and Ellie’s pocketknife – outside. And shoot him if he does something. It’s a big mistake to let the boars take care of Joel.
Leaving with the two soldiers, Joel stops to check which floor they are currently on before stepping out into the stairwell. Within seconds, Joel kills both fireflies, one of which refuses to tell him where Ellie is. And then we see Joe keep killing, trying to track down Ellie. You can root for Joel, but Mazin and Druckmann clearly demonstrate how he loses his humanity by shooting people with his hands up and weapons down in anger. When one of the two people he cares about is no longer taken from him, Joel is left with no other choice.
Joel makes his choice
Passing through the pediatric wing of the hospital, Joel enters the room where the surgeons remove the mask that Ellie was wearing under. The doctor (which will be important, trust me) raises the scalpel and says he won’t let Joel take her. Joel puts a bullet in his head. The nurses follow Joel’s orders, covering her hand and unhooking it. He leaves with Ellie in his arms as the doctor bleeds to death on the floor.
Joel takes the elevator down, where he finds a van to give Ellie a lift. Marlene is here to try and talk Joel out of it, says that Joel shouldn’t decide. She thinks Ellie would have done the right thing. And she thinks Joel knows it. She begs Joel that it’s not too late. Joel looks at Ellie, a sad look on his face, and we switch to the car ride. Ellie is in the middle lane of the car and Joel is lying about what happened. He claims that there are many more like her, and that the doctors could not do any of this.
(Image credit: Lian Hencher/HBO)
And then we see Joel shoot Marlene before he claims they’ve stopped looking for a cure. Ellie asks about her clothes in a tone that may indicate that she doesn’t trust Joel. He claims that the raiders attacked, and he barely pulled her out of there. She asks if people have been hurt and if Marlene is okay. Joel says nothing about Marlene other than that he is taking them home. We know he’s a raider and he apologizes to Ellie.
Back at the garage, Joel returns to Marlene, who begs to be let go. He says “You would just come after her” and kill her.
Right before they get to Jackson, she tells Joel about Riley, who “died first” as Ally almost admits she killed Riley.
Ellie and Joel are still on the road, but time has passed and Ellie has taken off her hospital gown and got dressed. Their van broke down and now they have to walk. Five hour hike. Ellie is still a little different, but she smiles as she agrees to the hike. But confusion appears on Ramsey’s face as they climb to the top. After discussing that Ellie is not girly, he talks about how Sarah and Ellie could be friends.
Right before they get to Jackson, she tells Joel about Riley, who “died first” as Ally almost admits she killed Riley. And as Joel chats, Ellie’s incredulous look takes the form of a sentence: “Swear to me that everything you said about fireflies was true.”
Joel replies, “I swear.” And Ellie, with a completely unsure expression on her face, says: “Okay.” Cut to black.
The Last of Us Episode 9 Perspective: Yes, that’s how the game did it
Well, after that heartbreak, it’s time to show you how closely Mazin and Druckmann mirrored the ending of The Last of Us Part 1.
The good news, I think, is that HBO has confirmed that there will be a second season of The Last of Us. And we can go play The Last of Us Part I and The Last of Us Part II. And that everyone from Pedro Pascal to Bella Ramsey to Nick Offerman and Murray Bartlett feel like they’re contenders for awards.
And what will happen next in the near future? We’re only two weeks away from the fourth season of Legacies, the final season of another top HBO series.