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The Last of Us Episode 7 Turned the Perfect Mall Date Into a Tragic Nightmare

Add arcades to the list of things we can't think about without crying because of this show

Megan Vick

[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Episode 7 of The Last of Us, "Left Behind." Read at your own risk!]

Add arcades to the list of things we can't think about anymore without crying because of The Last of Us, alongside watches, strawberries, and magic slate paper toys. It is the dream of maybe all millennials to get to spend an unsupervised night at the mall, and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) got to live out that dream in Episode 7, until everything, per usual, went horrifically wrong. 

In the present day, Ellie managed to get Joel (Pedro Pascal) to an abandoned house in the suburbs. He told her to leave him behind, but as she debated what to do, she had flashbacks to the fateful night she was bitten for the first time. The details of that night have been teased throughout the season, but only video game players knew what tragedy truly went down. Episode 7 is based off an ancillary adventure from the game in which Ellie and her best friend Riley (played in the show by Storm Reid) run amok in a shopping mall until a stalker shows up and ruins everything. 

At the top of the flashbacks, we learn that Riley bailed on FEDRA school to join the Fireflies. She returns to the school to have one last adventure with her bestie before the Fireflies ship her out to a new location. Together they roast Victoria's Secret, ride the carousel, and play some epic rounds of Mortal Kombat. (Remember when Ellie asked about that game in Episode 3? Yeah, that hurts now too!!) It was going fine until Riley revealed that this would be the last time they'd see each other before she shipped out. Ellie almost bailed in anger, but turned back and the two not only made up but also shared the sweetest mall-date-kiss you have ever seen. 

Bella Ramsey and Storm Reid, The Last of Us

Bella Ramsey and Storm Reid, The Last of Us


Naturally, because a moment of pure happiness occurred on this show, it was time for a mushroom head to show up. He was subdued by Ellie shivving him in the neck, but not before he bit her and Riley. We knew it was coming. We knew this was the night that everything changed for Ellie, but that didn't stop it from being devastating to see her reach such a personal milestone and for it all to be ripped away in an instant. The show went back to the Ellie and Joel storyline before we saw exactly what happened to Riley, but we can guess how that all went down since Ellie is on this adventure without her. 

We've known since the pilot why Joel is so guarded, but this was the largest insight we've been given into Ellie's past. Just as she said in Episode 6, Joel isn't the only one who knows about loss and we understand the burden she's been carrying since before Joel found her at the Firefly station in Boston. The flashbacks also revealed why Ellie could never desert Joel – she couldn't bring herself to lose another person without even trying to save him. At the end of the episode, she was able to find a needle and thread to stitch up Joel's wound, but it wasn't sanitized before. Joel might not be bleeding out anymore, but that is absolutely getting infected and then what are they going to do? 

Nothing about the preview for next week's episode made us excited to find out.

The Last of Us continues Sundays at 9/8c on HBO and streams simultaneously on HBO Max.