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Saturday, March 11, 2023

[The Last of SQUAWKS: E8] When We Are In Need |The Last of Us

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…He Shall Provide, because #EllieWilliams managed to take down Teacher-turned-Preacher-turned-Kindling, David, all on her own. `Nuff said, right? Well, you know us…
Considering these recordings were livestreamed, there's no unedited episode recordings available; however, consider following either our Patreon or Ko-fi accounts so you don't miss out on future recordings: recordings are FREE to attend, but schedules aren't posted on Social Media. If you'd like to support this stream, tip us at Ko-fi.com/SQUAWKINGDEAD (and have your message appear on this video FOREVER) or join a membership tier on either Ko-fi or Patreon for as little as $1!

David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:

  • Generally speaking, we sometimes go off on tangents - subconsciously holding back from talking about an episode that's particularly rough or triggery. We joke around, interact with the audience, etc: Classic avoidance.
  • The episode begins with David reciting a passage from Revelations 21, which describes the reward of heaven on earth during the second-coming, for those who remain faithful. Is this David's heaven, where he can finally be who he was meant to be (sort of in the manner in which we describe, generally speaking, characters in The Walking Dead)?
  • Kudos to the make-up department for managing to make everyone look gaunt and ragged, accenting the depths of everyone's suffering and desperation: especially Troy Baker who plays James in this episode. Troy originally voiced and acted the part of Joel Miller in the video games.
  • Speaking of Bible verses, perdition, and salvation: there were some religious themes throughout this episode, starting with the names of the Silver Lake Resort dwellers: David, James, Marco (Mark), Timothy, Hannah, and Josiah.
  • Bridget explains that the video game doesn't hit you over the head as much with the religious themes or names, but it differs most in the way it holds back David's true nature (whereas, on the show, they show you, right away): initially, David seems like one of the few decent and sane people you come across, especially after proving himself to be a tremendous ally.
  • Dave reiterates something he's said across many episodes, more clearly in the last few: not only does the overall arc seem to be careening towards the end, but almost every episode feels like it's own, self-contained anthology-style episode, where it wraps up neatly at the end.
  • Although Bridget feels like they could've played things out similarly to the video games - burying the lede of David's true nature - she wasn't disappointed with the way they decided to reveal this story. Dave prefers it because it gives the gamers the opportunity to observe this episode from a different perspective, showing everyone in advance what Ellie Williams will have to face on her own, while honing in on the overall theme of desperation and what brings people to the point where they would, knowingly or not, follow a monster to survive.
  • Whether they intended it or not (the Inside the Episode at the end of the episode on HBO Max suggests that they wanted you to think Joel was going to save her), we never doubted that Ellie wasn't going to have to be the one to save herself - which we liked, given how well they fleshed out her character for 8 episodes.

  • This episode is similar to the video games in that you play as Ellie for the first time after Joel is impaled on rebar, similar to Rick Grimes on TWD 9x05 (though, as we mentioned in our blog for Kin, TWD might've borrowed it from The Last of Us video game, not the other way around). Sherrandy also adds that the video game does a great job of not completely telling you whether Joel is even alive or not, after the cut scene where he is impaled: considering that you start playing as Ellie right from the jump, it leaves the player wondering whether he's died and you are playing the rest of the game as her.

  • David mentions fleeing Pittsburgh QZ amidst its fall in 2017. After describing their survival, then having to deal with Raiders, what's interesting about that is that it's a direct parallel to the events of video game, only it's Ellie & Joel's journey. The show had already told us that story by way of placing it in Kansas City, during Please Hold On To My Hand and Endure and Survive, but didn't want to waste an opportunity to miss out on a video game callback.
  • Thomas juxtaposes FEDRA Academy's Captain Kwong (from the last episode) & David to illustrate the way these figureheads see another leader in Ellie. Though FEDRA often seems like it's evil, Kwong shows us that there are good people among them who just want to right humanity's ship; though David seems like a good person, ostensibly, it's revealed that he is depraved and predatory. Kwong & David telling Ellie both who she is and what she could become, especially with David telling her that she has a violent heart, really informs Ellie.
  • Sherrandy asks a really good question: Did David ever have a good side or was he always a psychopath? Rachael remarks that the Cordyceps fungus showed him a natural truth about who he always was, which made him stop pretending to be something he never was: devouring human flesh was merely something on his bucket list. Remember to get yourself some tattoos to ward off cannibals.

  • Dave takes a moment to explain how weird it was watching Troy Baker having to hold down Ellie on the wooden mortician slab/butcher block, after playing Joel in the video games, and thinking how bizarre it must've been for him to play someone who is out to harm and kill her (after playing her protector). It really takes one out of the scene (but obviously not everyone).
  • TikTok user, Maddie, made a really great video illustrating her take on the scene where James shoots Ellie off her horse and how he and the rest of the Silver Lake Resort dwellers wanted to execute her as a form of mercy (from being abused by David), rather than what one might initially perceive as an act of vengeance.
    @mentheleine

    in the game dialogue when Joel is torturing the 2 men for information, one of them refers to Ellie as "David's newest pet" implying that at least some of these men had recognized his predatory behavior, and I didn't really think too hard about this scene until the realization hit me like a truck. I don't think they just wanted to kill her in cold blood, I think maybe it was a combination of vengeance and mercy. Like he clearly ordered them to leave her alive, so why would they go against that?

    ♬ original sound - Maddie
  • We also talk about how they might've wanted to see what a younger adult must taste like, over eating horse meat (like our survivors had to, in desperation, during The Walking Dead's 11th season).
  • Watching the episode all the way through also contextualizes how unimpressed everyone is when David & James bring back the deer Ellie shot, as they prepare to dig into Alec. Sherrandy also adds to this by way of the conversation David & James have about what little Rabbit & Elk they have left in their stores as they leave the bible study, so they must've been eating Alec. Rachael is so conditioned by TWD that she automatically knew the "venison" the cooks were placing in the stew was Alec meat.
  • Sherrandy takes a moment to appreciate an example of small things that make a great difference in a scene: Ellie's minute sigh of "Oh..." while David finally reveals his true intentions with her whilst placing his hand on the railing of her cage is an acknowledgement of how sick David really is. Dave also brings up a similar moment when David's voice cracks trying to explain to Ellie the pressures of keeping everyone's spirits up while keeping everyone alive. The latter could've easily been Scott Shepherd (who played David) trying to remember his lines, which made for a happy accident.

  • This retreads the question of whether David was always crazy, considering there's some feeling behind David's words to Ellie, but Dave attributes this to the depths to which a giant sociopath like David has to sink, buying into their own giant lies they have to put up in order to fit into society.
  • Taking this one step further: Ellie frees herself by cleaving the side of James' neck and flees into the dining hall. Ellie throws a burnt log at the dining hall's curtains, setting the room ablaze. When David chooses to pursue his prey over fleeing to safety, it completely reveals that he was always a wolf in shepherds clothing.
  • Bridget takes a moment to tie in both Revelations 21 and David as the wolf by explaining the story of The Good Shepherd, in John 10 (John also wrote Revelations). Whoever comes over the side of the[Shepherd's] fence instead of through the gate is a thief and will bring calamity and ruin to the sheep. This triggers a biblical line in The Devil's Advocate, Behold, I send you out as sheep amongst the wolves.
  • Dave takes a step back to remark on how impressive it was that they didn't waste time making you wonder on how scummy David was, based on a remark Walking Dead Eternal made on how much he hated him slapping Alec's daughter. It made him wonder whether she was one of David's victims and/or whether she was falling out of favor with him (considering he preys on violent-hearted people like himself).
  • Bridget to takes back something she had been thinking to herself on first watch: initially, she looked down upon the Silver Lake Resort community as weak people who didn't deserve to survive. Thinking about this more, it's hard to blame them considering how vulnerable and desperate they are on top of just being utterly terrified of David and what he might do to them. It's also worth noting that we don't actually know whether David's community loved him enough to actually choose him as their leader: it's hard to trust David to be a reliable narrator (to Ellie) after discovering how well he manages to manipulate his community throughout this episode.
  • Going back to The Good Shepherd parable, this is exactly Jesus' warning: reject false prophets who smuggle in their dark/selfish intentions by using his words. It makes what David does that much more heinous because these people are putting their faith on the line so that he can shepherd them through difficult times; meanwhile, he is using the lord's name to satisfy the darkest of desires. It's a frustrating reminder of the many horrible acts people have done in the name of religion, which is really upsetting to Bridget, as a person of faith.
  • This gives Dave the opportunity to take more of a 20,000 ft. view of the broken world depicted in this universe and how it's seemingly impossible for any of the leaders of these systems/communities to not abuse their power. It goes back to the question of whether humanity is worthy of receiving Ellie's cure (talk about messianic).
  • At this point, Sherrandy loses her internet and is too frustrated to head back into the studio. We also took a moment to thank everyone who jumped on the second livestream we had to initiate after Dave's internet cut out.
  • Thomas says something interesting, though facetious, about how Ellie should've just married David and ruled the world. Even though we absolutely knew that wasn't going to happen, given that Left Behind showed us how Ellie would never give up on the people that she loves, we just love how no plot point is wasted and appreciated the attention to detail as Ellie tries her absolute best to escape from captivity.
  • We take a hot sec to remark on the upcoming episode which seems to takes place in Nevada, specifically around the Reno area. We also catch a glimpse of a pregnant character played by Ashley Johnson - who voiced Ellie in the video games - being chased by an infected. πŸ‘€πŸ€”
  • We take a break from our regularly scheduled podcast to bring you a special mash-up Dave made of Linda Ronstadt's Long Long Time & Harry Chapin's Any Old Kind of Day, which you can download for FREE in our Ko-fi Shop. We welcome your feedback!
  • David insisting on getting Ellie's name throughout this episode is a means of exploiting our inherent susceptibility to suggestion. Jonathan Swift sort of touches upon our inherent trust in the written word in his satire A Modest Proposal. Ellie withholds her name to deny him any control. Thomas brings up How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie: Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language. Rachael, and most people, are incredibly distrustful when they hear their name being spoken by an outsider, but the way David attempts to wear her down is by making her tell him her name, first, so it's more familiar to her when he says it out loud, next. Paired with showing him his open hands and being completely open and attentive, it's been a winning strategy for him, thus far.
  • Maddie, who made the excellent point about James wanting to mercy to Ellie, earlier, actually joins us in the chat!
  • We take a minute to go through some of the commentary from Craig Mazin & Neil Druckmann from the Inside the Episode regarding Ellie having to save herself, this time, but with tremendous violence. Though Joel ultimately saves her, emotionally, it's left to be seen how deep her proverbial scars go. Like every episode before it, no plot point is wasted, so we wonder how this traumatic experience will influence the events of the overall story, moving forward.
  • But the hijinx in the livestream chat continue as they make fun of The Outsiders line Bridget attempted to quote and how Ellie is only slightly shorter than Dave, who is only slightly shorter than Rachael, who will take that half an inch.
  • The part of SQUAWKING DEAD showrunner is now played by Maddie, who is an even worse tyrant than Dave. Seriously, though, we take a moment to tell Maddie how much we loved her earlier insight, since she missed us talking about it, despite the massive amount of pushback she received on TikTok. Maddie is our people and is an example of why we do what we do: to hear people out and, whether we agree with them or not, how we try not to destroy both the shows we love or anyone's valuable insights.
  • Sherrandy, now in the chat, brings up something Troy Baker had said on The Last of Us Official Podcast: James' desire to take out Ellie is born out of not wanting Ellie to take his place as second-in-command. We don't really see this played out in the episode and attribute this to a scene or dialogue that may have been left on the cutting room floor because they didn't want it to distract from the overall desire to express the theme of desperation present across all characters.
  • We would be remiss if we didn't include the fact that this week's initial ratings broke all previous initial post-watch ratings by roping in 8.1 million viewers.
  • After Rachael's & Bridget's lower than expected series ratings, two episodes ago, we revisit their thoughts. Rachael was impressed with this episode despite Joel's absence (or despite Joel not being with Ellie). Bridget can't help but make note of the lack of infected and preferred the way the game depicted this episode, mirroring similar statements people were making in latter seasons of The Walking Dead (about there being less walkers or that they weren't as dangerous). Dave really loves these episodes and isn't really concerned about the presence of infected or even other horror elements (the specter of it reflected in the drama is enough for him).
  • Maddie really liked this episode, even if there were some really rough and uncomfortable moments. She also comments on how the penicillin did work! ...which threatens to open up a big can of worms, requiring us to suspend our suspension of disbelief (something that we're not prepared to do). It also prompts Sherrandy to comment on Joel's capacity to subdue 3 men at such diminished physical capacity.
  • Oh oh oh! And Joel telling Ellie, It's OK, baby girl. I got you, like he did Sarah Miller 20 years ago, is everything.

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Saturday, March 4, 2023

[The Last of SQUAWKS: E7] Left Behind |The Last of Us

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NEVER GIVE UP; NEVER SURRENDER: we flashback just before the present-day events of the first episode to contextualize Ellie's headspace as she moves heaven and earth to save Joel. Having rededicated herself to FEDRA academy, Riley shows up to whisk Ellie away to experience "the 4 wonders of the mall", making it both the best and worst day of her life.
Considering this recording was livestreamed, there's no unedited episode recording available; however, consider following either our Patreon or Ko-fi accounts so you don't miss out on future recordings: recordings are FREE to attend, but schedules aren't posted on Social Media. If you'd like to support this stream, tip us at Ko-fi.com/SQUAWKINGDEAD (and have your message appear on this video FOREVER) or join a membership tier on either Ko-fi or Patreon for as little as $1!

David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:

  • As you may or may not know, we've gone live after almost every episode of The Last of Us airs on Sunday night to react to this episode with you. If you're interested in joining the short but sweet conversation, Subscribe to our YouTube Channel and be sure to enable all notifications!
  • Speaking of watching the episode live, if you've signed up for HBO Max through a cable/streaming provider (like YouTube TV or Amazon Prime) users have the ability to watch the actual HBO channel, live; you don't have to wait for the episode to show up in the list of on-demand episodes on the HBO Max app or desktop browser and you aren't left behind if/when the episode doesn't post exactly at 9:00PM, Eastern/US (or experience throttling issues as the world attempts to stream the episode, simultaneously).
  • But why miss the episode at all? If you're a 🀫WHISPERERS or πŸŽ–️SURVIVORS tier member on either Ko-fi or Patreon, you could watch with us! Either way, follow us on either site (for free) to receive further details!
  • And the puns begin... What do you call an alligator in a vest? And other unsolved jokes.
  • Continuing Sherrandy's observation of the presence of the color purple (and how blue and red combine to make it) in the reaction livestream, so too are FEDRA and The Fireflies both attempting to maintain what was, but in their own way. It's less about good and evil than it is about different ways of going about the same thing.
  • …and how do these two schools of thought go about restoring what once was? Employing children to their cause who have never known what once was. Smart, yet horrible: When you are born into a world surrounded by death, you adapt to it quicker than someone who knew what it was like before. Simultaneously, because these kids can't grasp the concept of what both factions are fighting for, you have to find another reason for them to join: such as making them feel important or that they belong.
  • Right after we notice how Riley Abel wears predominantly blue clothing and Ellie Williams red clothing (along with the green hued walls and Riley's headband), Thomas mentions (again) how much he disliked this episode and why others might not, as well: it appears as though it doesn't move the story forward. Oh, and Dave reads out a birthday card that Mitchell sent him!
  • But going back to Red & Blue, Sherrandy compares it to themes we often talk about on The Walking Dead and how nobody is as black and white as they seem. Dave agrees but also likes how The Last of Us doesn't pretend that warring ideologies and tribalism don't persist even after the fungal apocalypse. The question, really, is what does that have to do with these kids who live in the ruins of the old world and know really nothing of what it was like to compare?
  • Sherrandy reminds us of how, during our discussions surrounding The Commonwealth (on TWD), when things are good humans fallback or tilt towards the old ways (Meritocracy, Capitalism, etc) rather than trying something new. It's definitely what's happening here, but it only serves as the backdrop to decisions our characters ultimately make.
  • Case in point, when Ellie tells Riley not to go to her Firefly post in Atlanta QZ, Riley immediately responds, "OK," because she feels that's where (to whom) she really belongs (a new tribe/a 3rd option).
  • Bridget and Sherrandy wax on how Riley has been dropping hints to Ellie all night, though Dave reminds them that it's Ellie that ultimately makes the first move, especially in light of the fact that she is angry that Riley jcan't seem to tell her how she really feels about her, after several prime opportunities. Bridget and Sherrandy clean-up what Dave says by contextualizing it: Ellie, in her own implied way, is telling Riley that she is violating rules after trying hard to dedicate herself to FEDRA and wants something to show for it for going way out of bounds for Riley's escapade. Ellie obviously feels something for her and just wants to leave because Riley isn't reciprocating. Basically: I'm going, unless you give me a reason to stay.

  • Also, they're kids and they don't know anything (some of us still don't know anything). Both Riley & Ellie just want the other to say how they feel without they, themselves, having to spill their guts. Dave asks the question: why did Ellie come back after storming off? Bridget & Sherrandy say it's not wanting to say goodbye on a bad note, under the guise of retrieving the No Pun Intended: Volume Too book by Will Livingston. Without a hint of shame, Bridget & Sherrandy both proclaim they, too, act pretty passive aggressively with their own spouses. Yikes.
  • Moving on from that awkward moment, we segue into Easter Eggs, one of them being Captain Kwong's Naughty Dog keychain, when explaining the choices Ellie has (the road to officer or grunt). Naughty Dog is the production company behind both The Last of Us video game and television show.
  • Speaking of Naughty Dog, the Macho Nacho establishment in the mall where Riley has been holing up all this time is from their Uncharted series of video games. It's worth mentioning that some theorize that both games take place in the same universe. Sherrandy also mentions that Raja's Arcade might also be a reference to an establishment in a port town in Uncharted.

  • Complete side note: the world begged for Nathan Fillion to play the role of Nathan Drake in a live action adaptation of Uncharted, rather than Tom Holland. But did you know that someone already made that happen? Check out this short film:
  • Thomas said Fear The Walking Dead did their carousel scene better, in Season 5, which leads to a conversation about why the horses on the merry-go-round didn't go up and down in this episode. Dave says that maybe they didn't choose the ones that did, but also that filmmakers will purposefully shoot from angles and perspectives to show the present power dynamic and it appears as though they wanted to maintain that Riley was still in control over the situation.
  • We mention this more in the post-watch livestream, The carousel was playing a version of The Cure's Just Like Heaven by Rockabye Baby!. We go on to mention that A Ha's Take On Me plays during their jaunt through the mall and Etta James' I Got You Babe are both played via the cassettes Riley swipes from Ellie's room, seen earlier on in the episode.
  • …which actually brings us back to Bill & Frank's codes based on the era the music comes from: Ellie & Riley's I Got You Babe signals that their love is Nothing New (the song was published in the 1960s), which gave us a chuckle, especially when Dave thought it might've been from the 1970s, which means All Clear.
  • Speaking of nothing new, Thomas expresses his displeasure with this episode again. Sherrandy sort of agrees: though she actually liked this episode, it wasn't one of her favorites because the episode didn't include enough of the drama between Ellie & Joel Miller.
    Editor's note: Whether folks have played the games or not, that seems to be the predominant criticism people generally have about both this episode and Long Long Time (the 3rd episode with Bill & Frank). When the fandom and even producers, themselves, largely couched these criticisms under the smoke of some people not liking the homosexual relationships, they (intentionally or not) obfuscated these and other very valid criticisms. I'm not claiming that there weren't people who whined about their dislike of gay romance, but it wasn't the predominant critique by a long shot (even though it became one, because of the outrage against homophobia).
  • Rachael also takes note of the fact that, of course, this episode fails to move the story along this late in the season. Bridget interjects that much of this episode was fan service for those who played the video games: it's about as faithful a recreation of the Last of Us DLC (downloadable content) Left Behind as one can get (almost shot-for-shot), which was the last thing those who played the video games received for several years until Naughty Dog finally dropped The Last of Us: Part II.
  • Though much of the episode was literally like the DLC, the difference was mostly in the arcade, where none of the arcade cabinets actually worked (they also couldn't license materials from Mortal Kombat and replaced it with the fictitious arcade game title, The Turning). The photobooth in the video game also didn't work, but they still pretended to pose anyway.
  • But going back to Left Behind, does that mean that we are through depicting the events of the first installment of The Last of Us video game? Either way, Bridget says that even though this was a flashback bottle episode, it still gave her the requisite tension she's been craving more of from the series.
  • Dave feels this episode, in its own way, moves the overall story along by way of world-building, which illustrated a lot more nuanced (rather than extreme) positions of FEDRA & The Fireflies. It also contextualizes Ellie's decisions in the present day, even though we're no further into the overall, present-day storyline than Ellie stitching up Joel after just having been shivved at the end of the last episode.
  • Going back to the arcade for a moment, we go over the characters both Ellie and Riley choose and why they're important. Ellie chooses a predominantly good character, Raiden, a lightning god who protects Earthrealm (essentially, our universe), which is fitting since she has the power to save the world. Riley chooses Mileena, who is predominantly a chaotic antagonist, but wearing the color purple which, at least in our estimation, means a blend of ideas or compromise. It makes sense because Riley was a goof-off at FEDRA Academy and encouraged Ellie to goof-off, as well, until she finally left when she felt she didn't belong.

  • This also brings us back to FEDRA & The Fireflies being two sides of the same coin - fighting to restore the world we lost - but more to ask what either of them would do if they had actually had a cure. More to the point, are people even worth saving after what we saw in both Please Hold On To My Hand and Endure and Survive?
  • Sherrandy thinks The Fireflies seem to be the only one concerned with a cure, which might be the thing that wrestles away FEDRA's monopoly on humanity's survival. Bridget interjects to say that what the series is supposed to show us is that both sides are incorrect. FEDRA might go the way of The Commonwealth and prioritize treatment according to status. Though we don't have too much to go on when it comes to The Fireflies, it's not as though we haven't seen morsels of the evils they are capable of (child soldiers, indiscriminate bombings, etc). Just like Ellie says to Riley about how she can't control whether The Fireflies bomb people like her in FEDRA Academy, so too can't Ellie control what either faction does with the cure.
  • The people who revolted against FEDRA in Kansas City's QZ (KC QZ) illustrate just how much people, on the whole, suck. Using our own pandemic as an additional indicator - both by way of individuals or government - many showed us their true colors. Sherrandy, in an attempt to cover for KC, states that had Kathleen's brother, Michael, survived, they at least wouldn't have fallen as fast as they did. Sherrandy also compares humanity's survival to an emerging business: if you have the funds and opportunities (FEDRA), you can get away with all sorts of bad business practices, but if you are just starting out and show poor leadership (The Fireflies), you will eventually fail.
  • We rattle off some of Thomas' punny jokes, one of which involves Will Smith, which turns into a tangent on our favorite Fresh Prince songs.
  • Another thing we had mentioned in the post-watch livestream is how this episode mirrored Long Long Time, in the way that it flashed back to show us a developing love story between two characters who happen to (and, for some, exploring what it means to) be gay. What was also mirrored was Joel's drama with his brother, Tommy Miller: both Riley and Tommy had disappeared for exactly 3 weeks. The longer [they] stayed away, the harder it was to come back.

  • The way that this episode also moves the story forward is by showing what Ellie has lost, too, after the series has focused predominantly on Joel's life after losing Sarah Miller. It's a microjourney of Ellie alongside a person - other than Joel - who feeds the desire to belong to another family after losing her own.

  • Speaking of Ellie never knowing the loss of her own family, do you think it's possible that Marlene already knew that baby Ellie had the cure and dropped her off at FEDRA Academy in order to keep her safe all these years? We explore this possibility from many angles, attempting to disprove or support this theory. Also, how similar is this thought to the premise to Harry Potter and Althea Scewczyk-Przygocki's SWATTY (Ellie would be as safe as "a tank, inside a tank, inside a bank vault")? Either way, this thought is prompted by Riley reminding Ellie, twice, that she doesn't know everything, while also informing her that Marlene was the one who said that she and Ellie couldn't head to Atlanta QZ together. What's more is that Marlene is the one who ultimately scoops her up after Ellie eventually has to put down an infected Riley.
  • Narratively speaking, though, Sherrandy explains that Ellie not knowing everything might just be the concept of loss, itself. Bridget chimes in to say that it just might be Riley's feelings towards her: not knowing might be best (to avoid pain).
  • Just like beating a video game doesn't yield a tangible reward, after seeing all the money on the floor of Raja's Arcade, Sherrandy wonders whether Casinos would still be considered fun if money has no actual value in the fungal apocalypse. Bridget says casinos might still be fun, especially after playing so much Katamari Damacy. This leads us to wondering whether FEDRA might use The Arcade as yet another mechanism to cow the populace into compliance. This eventually devolves into hysterical chaos after Dave reveals that, as a child of the 80s, the arcade was a place to squash beef by challenging others to games rather than resorting to violence.

  • Before that, though, Sherrandy rattles of a list of product placements, both real and imagined, that were in the mall: Footlocker (which, fun fact, was an offshoot of Woolworth's), Bath & Body Shop (a play on Bath & Body Works), Victoria's Secret, Best Buy, The Gap, Gamestop, Hallmark (with the 'H' dropped off), Esprit, the Target logo, Panda Express, TCBY, Subway, A&W, and CVS. Additionally, the movie promoted in front of the movie theater, Dawn of the Wolf 2, was brought over from the video games, but is obviously a fictional take on the Twilight saga.
  • Dave goes back to the arcade to squash some beef regarding Mortal Kombat II, once more: he forgot to mention that Ellie actually switches characters from Raiden to Baraka, who is often shipped with Mileena since their characters are both similar in both appearance and behavior. This really plays well with the developing love story between both Ellie and Riley.
  • With all the talk of streaming services, malls, and movies being another means to cow the populace, it made us think of the movie Mallrats, who also had a kid that was enamored with the escalator, much to the frustration of Jason Lee's character, Brodie. Fun fact, Mallrats also featured Michael Rooker, a decade and a half before he went on to play Merle Dixon on The Walking Dead.
  • Somehow, reminiscing about Dave being a nerd and getting his cousin's hand-me-downs as a kid devolves into a torrent of taunts and punny short-jokes. Bullying can sometimes be funny, guys, as evidenced by Rachael almost soaking her computer and Sherrandy's internet connection cutting out.
  • Continuing the theme of Dave being a nerd, he struggles to describe (resisting his funny tormentors) the meaning of the upcoming title of the Savage Starlight comic being promoted on the back of the issue Ellie is reading back in her room. Negentropy, commonly called Syntropy, is the rate at which systems, having gone through the process of entropy, return to their prior/normal state. This also might describe the rate at which humanity is restored should Ellie's immunity be developed into a cure. It also stacks against the inability of both FEDRA & The Fireflies to return the world to a state prior to the fungal apocalypse.
  • On the note of two diametrically opposed ideas, it's fascinating that Ellie manages to show both her love of dinosaurs and astronomy - with all her books on paleontology and posters illustrating both dinosaurs, the solar system, and phases of the moon - along with the desire to some day become an astronaut, should the world return to a normal state where dreams like that might be a possibility, again.
  • This somehow devolves into Dave dance-battling it out in an 80's roller rink to Randy Newman's Short People
  • Bridget, in an attempt to roll it back, asks whether the infected man savaging Ellie & Riley was, initially, laying dormant in an American Girl doll shop. It's funny that this was the case because an infected person seems to resemble a human doll being puppeteered by the cordyceps fungus. This also begs the question of what he was doing in the American Girl shop to begin with.
  • This leads into a bigger conversation about what happens when an infected leaves a fungal patch (what happens to the stringy bits?); more specifically, whether the patch is a node in a mycelial cluster. It's very possible that some infected are preserved for as long as they are because the hosts' nutrients are being distributed across the various clusters in the mycelial network via the gourdecyps patch.
  • We nearly close the show with more punny short jokes by Thomas, but also Eric defending Dave by way of saying Marvel vs Capcom squashed many a beef, growing up.
  • Dave, adding one last thing, says that what helps to move the story forward is showing the way in which Ellie has also experienced loss, sandwiched between both Riley's and Joel's illustrations of loss. It's the very means by which she seeks out that 3rd option, outside the binary, by forming her own tribe with Joel and deciding to stay and do everything in her power to keep him alive until he's saved or nothing else can be done.
  • Also, take better care of your horse because there may be infected in the neighborhood, by the sound of things.

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