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Sunday, March 26, 2023

[The Last of SQUAWKS: E9] Look For The Light |SEASON FINALE| The Last of Us

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Our FULL BREAKDOWN of The Last of Us' inaugural SEASON FINALE: Maybe it isn't as much about whether the world is worth saving but how far one is willing to go to preserve a beautiful soul that deserves a chance at living... even if it means lying.
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David Cameo:
Rachael Burt:
Sherrandy Swift:
Bridget Mason-Gray:

  • Should we change our episode intros to Most times we make you laugh?
  • Bella Ramsey will continue to portray Ellie Williams in Season 2.

  • Ashley Johnson, who played the role of Ellie in the video games, portrayed Anna Williams, Ellie's mother, this episode. Sherrandy points out that she was in the TV Series Rosanne and the movie Nine Months.
  • Because Sherrandy took a moment to rewatch a handful of prior episodes before taking notes, she noticed how Anna emerging from the woods to reach The Fireflies safehouse mirrors the pilot, just after the last time jump to the present, with the little boy emerging from the woods and wasteland to reach Boston QZ.

  • The episode, itself, starts with a lie and ends with a lie: Anna lies to Marlene when she said she cut Ellie's umbilical cord before she got bit and Joel Miller lies to Ellie about The Fireflies not needing her for the cure.
  • Dave mentions that Marlene is a lot like Joel in that she delivers Ellie to FEDRA Academy to keep her safe, with Joel delivering Ellie back to Marlene under the same premise. The tragedy in doing so is that Marlene has to bear the immense burden of undoing her promise to Anna (keeping Ellie safe) in order get the cure.
  • Bridget & Sherrandy both take a moment to relay that it was too painful for Marlene to raise Ellie, which is why she delivers her to FEDRA, somewhat in response to Dave's theory that she delivered Ellie to FEDRA in order to keep the cure safe (maybe even collaborating with them all this time).
  • Continuing on the topic of how painful life was for Marlene, out of anyone on the series, she's endured the most loses and Merle Dandridge did an excellent job of visually expressing these emotions throughout this episode. This is not too dissimilar to Ellie's survivors guilt, losing so many along the way, only to be told that it was for nothing.
  • Had she not befriended Riley Abel, Ellie would've never encountered Marlene (again, technically), who had assumed she fulfilled her promise to Anna (keeping baby Ellie in the safest place imaginable). When Marlene is reintroduced to Ellie, not only is she found with one of her operatives, she finds out she was bit. Even though she is immune - maybe especially so - she is forced, again, to keep her safe. Instead of doing it herself, she pawns her off to someone else, yet again (Joel).

  • Sherrandy points out the irony of pawning Ellie off initially to FEDRA: either Marlene is stupid and never considered the possibility of Ellie getting hurt in The Fireflies attempt to overthrow FEDRA or she was too short-sighted to the possibility that Ellie might rise in the ranks (which she was actually on track for) and would have to eventually fight her.

  • Of course, this leads us to the criticism of how ineffective The Fireflies must've always been if they could've been taken out by the one-man-army that is Joel Miller. Dave runs a little cover for that by mentioning that The Fireflies have also had to deal with infected, Raiders, and people in general (who, we've discovered, aren't that great).
  • Rachael mentions the possibility that Marlene and the others might've still believed in FEDRA at the time and happily handed baby Ellie over to FEDRA Academy, since it was only 6 years after the fall. Dave disagrees because FEDRA has no bones about population control (which we see in episode 3, Long Long Time) and it seems like they might've left Boston QZ in order for Anna to give birth to her baby without impunity.

  • Marlene affirms to Anna that they've know each other their whole lives, but Bridget says that doesn't mean that they were friends: the fungal apocalypse might've accelerated and strengthened the nature of their relationship, just like Michonne initially trusting Jocelyn on The Walking Dead (9x14, Scars). All of this to say how, at the end of the day, we don't really know why they were out there to begin with and we also don't know the true extent of their friendship.
  • Did you have a criticism over why The Fireflies had to place the operating room so far away in the Pediatric wing of the hospital? We all enjoyed the sequence of Joel mowing down all The Fireflies though, with the sound subdued under the roar of the score.
    Editors note: Upon second watch, the monkeys in the zoo animal painting on the walls leading to pediatric surgery were not in the style of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
  • Never watch any episodes with Dave or Rachael: they will talk through them like furries... I mean furbys. We also drill down on Dave's disdain for pets (or preference to humans over animals): it's not as much the animals he dislikes rather than over-coddling of their human masters (and semi-mistreatment of them in an urban environment). There's also a difference between flesh-children and fur-babies... and computer copies of yourself.
  • ICYMI, As Marlene is walking into the room, Anna is singing The Sun Always Shines on TV by A-Ha. A-Ha's Take on Me played in the last episode and is an 80's song, which means trouble (according to Frank & Bill's status codes). It's also a technical/spiritual sequel to Take on Me (the end credits of Take on Me appear at the beginning of The Sun Always Shines on TV's music video). More importantly, the song is a warning about delusional expectations we have in our own lives that are garnered from fiction(al television shows). Not everything turns out the way it's "supposed" to.
  • The gang are stuck on Dave saying The Cure. 3 guesses as to why.
  • Do you think Ellie's sullen mood at the beginning (when we return to present day) is due to the knowledge that she might die trying to provide the cure to the cordyceps infection? Initially, viewers couldn't be faulted for thinking that her demeanor was attributed to the traumatic events of the last episode, but there's been time enough between then and now for seasons to change and Joel to heal from his injuries: she's bound to have bounced back since then. Rachael posits that people rarely (if ever) end up having to die in order to create vaccines, but given her age and possible lack of education on the subject, it wouldn't be strange that Ellie thought she would have to die in order to engineer a vaccine.
  • Dave disagrees: it's pretty safe for anyone to assume that she wouldn't have had to die to produce a vaccine and this is further qualified when she says that she'd follow him wherever he goes, afterwards (Sherrandy waves this off: Ellie meant this figuratively). He also attributes her disposition to both nerves, having never visited a doctor beyond a routine physical, but also what happens to her after this is all over: the aftermath of having fulfilled her purpose and, irrational or not, whether Joel feels the same way about her as she feels for him.

  • Compromise: it could be that Ellie, too, lies to Joel about following him wherever he goes, knowing they will have to kill her in order to manufacture a resistance to the Cordyceps Fungus.
  • Even though Marlene pleads to Joel, near the end of the episode, that producing the cure is what Ellie wants, during the scene in the hospital as Joel is recovering from being knocked out, she also tells Joel that Ellie is being spared the knowledge that she would have to die to retrieve it: something that might not have been super clear on first watch (at least to Dave). This, too, mirrors what FEDRA did to the little boy in the pilot: lying to him about bringing him food and toys, but ultimately killing him because he was infected.

  • Would you want an entirely separate podcast containing only the parts that are edited out?
  • Sherrandy backtracks to the last episode where she missed another common mall establishment: Things Remembered. Along with Dave regaling everyone why that was important to him and why it was hilariously ironic that he completely forgot, we have a laugh about a mirror universe establishment called Things Forgotten.
  • The chat riffs on Flesh Children and how wrong Dave is but, also, Takeerah mentions how most times when a cure is needed on a zombie apocalypse story, someone has to die to get it. Sherrandy also creates a quick photoshop of a big-headed Thomas playing the role of Elliott in E.T. biking Dave (playing the role of E.T.) in the sky in the front basket.
  • Ultimately, what got Ellie to perk up was seeing the Giraffes in the baseball field, which signals to Ellie (sub/consciously) that there are so many more wonderful things in life to see. It also signals to Joel that everything's going to be OK (at least, at the moment). There's also a nearly word-for-word, overt callback from Joel - as they both overlook the field of giraffes - from the 2nd episode, when they are overlooking the capitol building in the distance at sunset, "Can't deny that view."
  • Additionally, the baseball diamond, Bethany Clare Field, was named after the wife of developer, Peter Field, who designed it in the video games.
  • Speaking of the games, we'd be remiss if we didn't reiterate that the remastered version of the game is available on both Steam and Sony PlayStation 5 gaming console.
  • Though it diverges in minor ways, like Joel divulging to Ellie the story behind his scar and some small edits in dialog, this episode is largely a shot-for-shot remake from the video game.
  • Speaking of Joel's scar, we attempt to link the significance of him recanting his suicide attempt and Ellie finally revealing the person she had to kill (namely, Riley). We sidetrack a little on pubescent romance and how we all feel so strongly about them when we're much younger - then imagining having to kill that same someone you feel so strongly towards. It could be as simple as Ellie & Joel connecting with one another completely, but it could also mean - more deeply - that they both healed a wound inside of them that they never even thought would close (regardless of what comes after).

  • Dave takes this slightly further by way of The Sun Always Shines on TV by A-Ha and something Craig Mazin said in the Inside the Episode: it's not as much that time heals all wounds as much as time makes the pain of loss and trauma fade over time. Just like the song attempts to convey, there's no formulaic television script to the way we experience, react, and (subsequently) handle loss and trauma, either: life is messy. Situations rarely work out the way they do on TV and people are usually left with more questions than ever receive answers.
  • Adding to Marlene's never-ending stack of losses, as Joel wakes up from being knocked unconscious, she realizes that Joel has feelings for Ellie and has to, yet again, take away Ellie from a parent(-figure). To appease her own guilt, she grants Joel a shred of mercy by giving her Anna's/Ellie's switchblade as she orders her men to escort him off the premises.

  • What's more interesting (or maybe even confusing): even after Joel horrifically murders all her compatriots, Marlene continues to grant Joel mercy by giving him a chance to hand over Ellie one last time, which is something that runs completely contrary to the way people have behaved throughout this series (the inability to trust anyone). Though this almost reads like a suicide attempt, we attribute this to her ideology: much in the way the Cordyceps are designed to spread at all costs, so too does ideology, even at the expense of the individual (host).
  • Giraffic Park and Dave doesn't know everything about giraffes, but Ze Frank does.
  • Examining Ellie's silence near the end of the episode: it's very easy to assume that she suspects Joel is lying about the events that transpired while she was anesthetized. Dave posits a deeper insight: let's assume Joel's story was true. It would be devastating for anyone to hear how unspecial they really are (dozens), let alone accept the possibility that all the pain, trauma, and losses Ellie experienced in the pursuit of her sole purpose was for nothing (giving up on the cure). It would be beyond anyone's comprehension.
  • On the note of that scene, Bridget illustrates the difference in Pedro Pascal's delivery versus Troy Baker's and how they are both great/valid in their own way. Dave really identifies with a babbling, unhinged Joel when his co-hosts aren't responding to his insights.
  • Side track: Boggle remind us of the scene in Ghostbusters 2 when Louis Tully & Janine Melnitz babysit Dana Barrett's baby, which prompts Thomas to create the following photo edit(s):
  • But going back to Ellie's loss of purpose, Sherrandy feels the need to set Ellie straight by telling her to just move on and do something good in Jackson Commune. She might even pass on her immunity to her children. Marrying both Dave and Sherrandy's ideas: it's almost beyond comprehension that all of this was for nothing, so Joel must be lying. Bridget adds one more brick to the heap by explaining all the other purposes that were taken away from Ellie: moving up the ranks of FEDRA and deciding to run away with Riley.
  • Bridget's insight takes us directly to the lie itself: we all agree that Joel saving Ellie was the right thing to do - despite the horror of it (though cool to watch) and barring some moral questions - but where we differ widely is the lie Joel constructs to Ellie to explain what happened. Though we all agree that the truth will eventually emerge, some of us thought Joel's lie was a way to actually give Ellie all the choices (because dead men get no choices) without having to look back and others thought it actually suppressed her agency, once again.
  • Is Joel selfish for refusing to tell her what happened? Are all the decisions we make, to varying degrees, selfish?
  • Sherrandy draws a comparison: Joel killing all The Fireflies is a lot like Morgan Jones wiping out the Wolves (save for one). This brings up a bigger theme (blue & red make purple) on the show of how The Fireflies and FEDRA have been at each others throats for 20 years, yet their very yin-yang nature has allowed them (and humanity) to persist. Sherrandy draws a separate comparison to the concept of Game of Thrones, where one family is on top and, by nature of the wheel, crushes other families beneath it: until the wheel turns once more and another family emerges to crush the last family. Both ideologies are like the cordyceps, feeding off the host that is humanity, and holding back just before the brink of death so that they can persist and spread.
  • Along with series like The Glory, Ted Lasso, Lucky Hank, and Yellowjackets, we'll also be receiving a 31 minute behind-the-scenes The Last of Us special. It won't tide you over for the two years it will take until Season 2 finally arrives, but it is a nice little bonus.
  • A final thank you for tuning in to our coverage of The Last of Us' first season, especially considering our numbers have dipped due to straying from The Walking Dead Universe in the interim. This series, thus far, has exceeded our expectations and we can't wait for its return!

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