Henry and Sam met their devastating demises last week and Ellie and Joel are back on the road on the way to the Fireflies.
Three Months Later
It’s winter and Joel and Ellie have stumbled across two people living in a cabin. Joel got lost wandering through the woods as he searches for Tommy and wants to right their path. They’re in South Dakota and warned to just go back east, anything past the river west is nothing but death. They see the bodies left behind, some infected, some not. If Tommy is out there, he’s already gone.
When they camp for the night, Ellie asks what Joel wants to do once the journey is done, and he says he wants an old farmhouse and some land to raise sheep. Ellie tells him she wants to go to space. She begins to doubt if a vaccine will work after her failure to help Sam, but Joel reassures her Marlene is no fool.
The River of Death
When they take off the next day, they cross the supposed river of death with no issues. We also get a quick flash of a hydroelectric dam that later we learn supplies Jackson with electricity. When they come upon a second river, Ellie asks if maybe this is the river of death moments before they’re swarmed by people on horseback.
A dog smell tests them, Ellie somehow passing its test. A woman approaches and asks for Joel’s name when he tells them he’s just looking for his brother, and clearly that was enough.
While game players had to wait until the second game to get a glimpse into Jackson, they’re bringing Joel and Ellie into its guarded gates. Joel immediately finds Tommy and we learn the woman on horseback is Tommy’s wife, Maria, the leader of the Jackson settlement. It’s a self-sustaining settlement with a school and food sources, a democratically elected council, and being in the middle of nowhere helps them keep it all safe.
Ellie meets a horse calf named Shimmer (if you know, you know) before Maria brings her over to the empty house Joel and Ellie can use while they’re there, giving Joel and Tommy a moment alone. They go to the Tipsy Bison for a drink where Tommy tells Joel he can find some Fireflies in Eastern Colorado at a university, about a week’s ride south.
Joel tries to convince Tommy to ride along but Tommy can’t go, he can’t do that to Maria. He also confirms Tommy stopped responding on the radio because of her. And then he drops the bomb that Maria is pregnant. Joel is less than supportive, promising to be out of Tommy’s hair by morning.
Ellie heads over to Maria’s where she tells Ellie about Sarah and shares her dislike of Joel because of the things he’s done, Elllie (rightfully) defending Joel’s integrity and intentions. She takes Ellie to the movies where she spots Tommy and Maria deep in conversation in the back and Joel nowhere to be found.
Tommy heads out and gives Joel a new pair of boots, which he desperately needed, and Joel tells him that Ellie is immune (notably much earlier than in the game universe.) While Joel retells how this all came to be, Ellie wanders the streets of Jackson alone. Joel tells Tommy he doesn’t think he can make the journey, and he asks Tommy if he will in his place. Tommy agrees.
Ellie is well aware Joel is ditching her and she doesn’t care about the reasons Joel has for the choice. She makes the mistake of bringing up Sarah and Ellie tells him she’d be more scared with someone else. But come dawn, they’re going their separate ways.
The Ride to Colorado
Tommy comes to get Ellie for the ride to Colorado, and when they get to the stables Joel is already there. He had planned to take a horse and go but found himself lingering, and he gives Ellie the choice of him or Tommy to press forward with. She immediately opts for Joel. Tommy tells Joel there’s a place for them in Jackson, should he want it.
When they reach Colorado, Joel finally confesses his true childhood dream: he wanted to be a singer. There’s a Firefly insignia on a sign and they follow, noting there are still no guards around. Upon inspection, the Fireflies are gone. They’ve gone to Salt Lake City. Another issue, raiders have arrived.
They try to escape but get caught, Joel killing the man. But not before he’s stabbed in the stomach. They narrowly escape, but Joel’s injury is too severe for them to get far. He falls from the horse unconscious, Ellie begging him to wake up, she can’t do this alone.
Episode 7 of The Last of Us premieres Sunday, February 26 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max.