Did Ellie Shoot Riley In ‘The Last of Us’? Why Didn’t Ellie Abandon Joel At The End Of Episode 7?

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The 7th episode of the HBO series, “The Last of Us,” picks up from where it left off previously, and we see a severely injured Joel gasping for breath. Joel was shot, and Ellie had no clue what to do with him. For a moment, Ellie blanked out because she was not able to think clearly, and seeing Joel bleed profusely made her feel even more scared. Joel advised her to travel north alone because he was certain he wouldn’t make it. Ellie was not ready to give up on him, but she felt helpless, and she couldn’t think of any way in which she could save Joel. It felt as if Ellie had almost surrendered to the situation when she covered Joel with his jacket and went upstairs not knowing whether she would abandon him or stay with him. Ellie experienced a Deja-Vu moment, and it felt like it had all happened before, in a life that she had forgotten once existed.

Spoilers Ahead


Why Had Riley Joined FEDRA? Did Ellie Shoot Riley In ‘The Last of Us’?

The smell of blood, the helplessness, the plight of watching one’s own body writhes in pain, and that gut-wrenching feeling took Ellie back to a time when she was a student at the Federal Disaster Response Agency’s (FEDRA) training institute. Ellie had faced a lot of disciplinary issues, as she felt that it was necessary to fight back against her bullies. She was not somebody who would go into her shell and allow a person to traumatize her; instead, she knew how to take a stand for herself, even if it had dire consequences.

That night, Riley, Ellie’s best friend, came to surprise her and take her on a mini-escapade that eventually turned into a nightmare for them. Riley had been missing for three weeks, and Ellie had accepted the possibility that she might not be alive, though her heart believed otherwise. Ellie told her upfront that the way she had ghosted her was not fair. She told Riley that even if she had planned to run away, she should have informed her about it. Riley told Ellie that she was now a part of the rebel organization, the Fireflies, and Ellie couldn’t believe her ears when she heard that. Riley and Ellie were getting their training at the institute, where all they were taught was how bad the Fireflies were and how they only aimed at breaking down the structure being held together by FEDRA.

Riley took Ellie inside an abandoned mall, where she had been posted by Fireflies to look after their explosives and weaponry. Ellie felt betrayed when she saw the explosives as people like her were often the victims of the attacks carried out by the Fireflies. Fireflies resorted to violence more than often, and a lot of innocent people got caught in the crossfire. Ellie felt that it was imperative to question the motives of the Fireflies because they couldn’t always walk away from taking responsibility for the deaths by saying that they were fighting for a cause. Ellie felt that no matter how noble the end goal might be, taking the lives of innocent people and calling it collateral damage was not right.

When Ellie got to know that it was Riley’s last night in Boston and she was being stationed at Atlanta, QZ, Ellie felt a sudden pang in her heart. Ellie didn’t know why Riley was doing that, as she felt that it was an impulsive decision on Riley’s part to join a cause that she didn’t even properly understand. Ellie felt that her best friend was being brainwashed, when in reality, it was not her fight. Towards the end of the 7th episode of the series, “The Last Of Us,” Riley sat down and said that she knew how it felt to experience a sense of belonging. She said that before the outbreak, she had a normal life, and though it might have only been for a short period of time, she still craved that warmth.

After the outbreak, just like many others, Riley lost her family and her home. She felt abandoned, as before she had turned into this tough and resilient soldier, she was a scared girl who didn’t know how to survive and deal with life all on her own. Riley told Ellie that there were a lot of things that were beyond Ellie’s comprehension, so blaming her for the acts she had done without knowing where she came from or what her intentions were was not justified.

When Riley met Marlene, probably for the first time since the outbreak, she felt that she had a purpose and a group of people whom she could call her own. We believe that Riley was not sure whether she actually disliked FEDRA or not, but she knew that she had to stand with the people who had made her feel like she belonged somewhere. If you ask a man who has never had a home what he craves the most, he will tell you that no other riches can compare to the love and warmth you feel when you are in the company of people you can call your own. Riley might not have felt strongly for the cause, but she was still ready to fight the war because she felt that she mattered to Marlene and other members of the Fireflies. Ellie might never have had a family in her life, but she knew what her friend was talking about. She got the same feeling of belongingness when she was around Riley, and she could give away everything that she had just to make her stay.

Their moment of reconciliation, where Riley and Ellie were seen getting on the same page, was interrupted when an infected attacked them. Both girls believed they had averted the threat by stabbing and killing the infected, but the damage had already been done. Both of them had been bitten, and they knew that it was just a matter of time before they converted and lost consciousness. Riley told Ellie that either they killed themselves right then or they chose to fight and tried spending their last moments in each other’s company. Though the seventh episode of the series, “The Last of Us,” does not show us exactly what happened after they got infected, we think that it might be a possibility that Ellie shot Riley. Ellie had once told Joel, after killing a man in the fourth episode of the series, “The Last of Us,” that he was not the first person she had shot. It is possible that Ellie and Riley witnessed Riley’s condition worsening while Ellie’s didn’t. We think they wouldn’t have known that Ellie was immune to the infection, but seeing her being fine, they would have wanted to give it some more time. Maybe Riley herself had asked Ellie to shoot her and end her misery because she knew what would have happened had she been left alive.


Why Did Ellie Not Abandon Joel At The End Of Episode 7? 

Things happened momentarily and Ellie had just lost Riley when she discovered that she was immune to the fungus infection. It was probably at the moment that Marlene made her realize how important her gift was for the entire humanity. Ellie was given little time to make a decision on what she wanted to do with her life. She could have succumbed to the loss of a loved one like Joel and become a bitter and toxic person but instead, she became a ray of hope. He took the leap of faith because it was in her nature to look for the stars even in the darkest times. At this point, Ellie might have realized that she was the only one who could save humanity from the curse, and it was the reason she had been trying to save people throughout her journey with Joel. The fact that she fails each time pushes her further to fight back harder. She wants to save Joel like she wants to save the generations to come. For Joel, he just wants to preserve what’s left. 

Towards the end of the 7th episode of “The Last of Us, Ellie realized that she could not afford to lose another close friend. She understood what Riley had meant when she said that she craved that sense of belongingness. Joel was Ellie’s family, and she decided that no matter what happened, she would never let him go so easily. Ellie started looking for any medical tool that she might get her hands on in the house. Luckily enough, she found a needle and thread stashed in one of the drawers. She came back, running to the ground floor, and Joel looked her in the eye. He knew at that moment that the little girl was going to fight to save him at all costs. Ellie sutured his wounds and saved his life. How their two personalities collide and what will eventually come out of that collision is probably the most beautiful thing that we are going to witness at the end of “The Last of us.” We would have to wait for upcoming episodes to see if what we theorized about Riley and Ellie is correct or not and if this near-death experience changes the dynamic shared by Ellie and Joel.


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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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