The Last of Us (Season 1 Finale), Episode 9: The final episode of the first season, ‘Look For The Light,’ is named after the second half of the motto of the Fireflies, the first half has been the pilot’s name (When You’re Lost in the Darkness). This manner of bookending the season is a clever device to inform the audience about the limited role of the Fireflies in this world, which ends with this season. Following Troy Baker’s role in the previous episode, we get Ashley Johnson in this one, the actress who played Ellie in the games as Anna.

It’s again an episode that is extremely loyal to the game, tenderly capturing the madness that takes over Joel when he realizes that Ellie is to be made into a guinea pig. For a season finale of a show this big, it’s a pretty quiet and somber episode and the shortest one of the season. Yet, no less powerful than directed by Ali Abbasi again, this reiterates the faith Druckmann and Mazin have in their characters’ relationships, which, after all, is the centerpiece of this story.

The Last of Us (Season 1 Finale), Episode 9 Recap:

A pregnant Anna, Ellie’s mother, runs through a forest to get away from an Infected chasing after her. She makes her way into an empty house where her water breaks. She waits with her pocket knife to defend herself. The Infected find her and attack her. Anna struggles to keep it away but manages to kill it. In the course of the struggle, she gives birth to a baby girl. At that moment, she also realizes that during the struggle, she was bitten. She quickly severed the umbilical cord to keep the Cordyceps strain from spreading to her daughter. She names her daughter Ellie.

Later that night, Marlene and a couple of Fireflies arrive at the house. They find Anna, following which Marlene is distraught at finding out that the former is now infected. Anna tells her that she hasn’t nursed Ellie and leaves her her pocket knife. She asks Marlene to kill her, then take Ellie back to Boston with them. She lies about having cut the umbilical cord before she was bitten. Marlene, who has known Anna all her life, refuses to kill her and takes Ellie away. Then, with Ellie outside the room, she goes back and unwillingly shoots Anna down.

In the present timeline, some time has passed since Ellie killed David. Joel has completely recovered, and it’s not winter anymore. The two have reached Salt Lake City, where they are searching for the hospital where the Fireflies are. Joel tells Ellie that after their task is done and dusted with, he’ll teach her how to play the guitar. The prospect of separating from Joel soon, possibly permanently, looming over them has made Ellie quiet and distant. But while making their way through a building, she notices some giraffes peeking through a large hole in the wall. Getting to feed and pet them elevates her mood, and she’s back to her normal self.

Joel tells Ellie that she need not go through with submitting herself for the cure experiment. The two can just go back to Jackson, where Tommy will give them a home, and they can live happily with everyone there. Ellie feels that after everything the two have been through, she has to go through with her duty lest their struggles are rendered meaningless.

After she’s done with her job, the two can go anywhere and do anything Joel wants. While passing through a ravaged emergency medical camp from the early days of the outbreak, Joel admits to having been in one after he failed to kill himself. Sarah’s death made everything pointless for him, and he wanted to die but flinched at the last moment as he was shooting himself. Joel implies in the conversation that it was not time for Ellie who gives Joel a purpose in his life again, healing his wounds and restoring his ability to love and care for someone.

A stun grenade, followed by an ambush, catches them off-guard as Ellie is taken away while Joel is knocked unconscious. On waking up, he finds himself in a hospital with Marlene in the room. He realizes they’re in the Fireflies’ hospital, and Marlene states that their patrol didn’t know their identities. She admits to her admiration for Joel successfully getting across the country and states that she’s indebted to him. She further states that Ellie is safe and being prepped for surgery.

This disturbs Joel as there was no talk of surgery earlier. Marlene explains that their doctor has found out that Cordyceps has been growing inside of Ellie since her birth (her mother getting bitten in the last moments of her pregnancy passed a strain to her). This is what makes her immune as there are chemical messengers in her body that make Cordyceps enter her body and think of her as Cordyceps, too, thereby not intruding into her system.

The doctor thinks that if these chemical messengers can be extracted, replicated, and multiplied, a cure is possible. Joel knows that Cordyceps grows in the brain, and when he tells Marlene that, it is implied that she knows that the surgery will definitely kill Ellie.

Joel wants this to stop, but Marlene makes her men take Joel away violently. On the way out of the hospital, Joel attacks the two Fireflies, takes their weapons, and fights them through the hospital in search of the operating theater that Ellie is in. He kills every Firefly in his way, including those peacefully surrendering.

Having found the operating theater, he enters it, kills the doctor just as he’s finished anesthetizing her, and makes the nurses discharge her. He carries the unconscious Ellie out of the hospital but is confronted by Marlene in the parking lot. She asks him to stop. Marlene begs him that despite what he’s done, there’s still a possibility of developing a cure. Without any hesitation, Joel kills Marlene, knowing she’ll only come after Ellie if left alive.

The Last of Us (Season 1 Finale), Episode 9 Ending, Explained:

Ellie wakes up in the pickup truck that Joel stole from the hospital. She’s a little taken aback at being in her hospital robes. Joel lies about how there are multiple others who are immune like her, but the doctors have failed to develop a cure from their systems. The tests they performed on Ellie did not show anything unique about her immunity. Hence, they’ve stopped looking for a cure. She’s in her robes because Raiders attacked the hospital, and Joel had to escape with her without any time to gather their things. It is understood that Marlene was killed in this encounter. They’re now headed back to Jackson and have already entered Wyoming.

After the pickup truck breaks down, the two start on a short hike that’ll take them to their destination. Joel talks about Sarah, and her similarities and differences from Ellie, surmising that she and Ellie would’ve made good friends as Ellie would’ve made her laugh.

With Jackson in sight, Ellie tells Joel about Riley and how she had to kill her as she started losing her mind. Ellie feels guilty about all the people who have had to die because of her, like Riley, Tess, and Sam, but Joel assures her that none of it is her fault. Ellie finally asks Joel to swear that everything he told her about what transpired at the hospital is true. Joel swears that it is, and a somewhat doubtful Ellie reluctantly believes him.

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