The place a child generally is a child: Recapping episode 7 of HBO’s The Final of Us

Even the apocalypse can't stop the standard teen wall full of posters...

Enlarge / Even the apocalypse cannot cease the usual teen wall filled with posters…

New episodes of The Final of Us are premiering on HBO each Sunday evening, and Ars’ Kyle Orland (who’s performed the video games) and Andrew Cunningham (who hasn’t) will probably be speaking about them right here each Monday morning. Whereas these recaps do not delve into each single plot level of the episode, there are clearly heavy spoilers contained inside, so go watch the episode first if you wish to go in recent.

Andrew: We’re again once more! FLASH-back, that’s!

This one is not as massive a departure from the motion because the Invoice episode was a couple of weeks again, but it surely does imply that final week’s cliffhanger goes largely unresolved. Ellie does take a crack at patching Joel up, although it appears to me that sticking a decades-old unsanitized needle into an open wound is simply as prone to kill him as save him…

Kyle: If the flashback right here appears a bit misplaced it is in all probability as a result of this storyline was initially a part of the sport’s “Left Behind” DLC, which was written and launched nicely after the primary recreation got here out. I am not completely in opposition to placing it right here within the present’s narrative—it is essential background that ought to go someplace—but it surely does step on one of many extra dramatic moments within the recreation (although possibly that is nonetheless coming sooner or later?)

Given how we first met Ellie as a prisoner within the present, I positively admire giving just a little extra time to exhibiting what she was like attempting to develop up as a standard child underneath FEDRA’s model of society.

Bored teens look the same, even under FEDRA control.

Bored teenagers look the identical, even underneath FEDRA management. (credit score: HBO)

Andrew: Yeah, I haven’t got an issue with the episode, and other people watching this sooner or later when the entire season is obtainable to binge straight by way of in all probability will not be as bothered by the delayed cliffhanger.

This does flirt with a factor that I can discover irritating in fiction, although—this impulse to point out/clarify each single little factor a couple of character as a substitute of letting issues be implied or just a little mysterious. I am not overly bothered by it right here, but when TLoU stretches right into a second or third season I may see them leaning on flashback-as-filler in a method that may very well be much less attention-grabbing.

Did you ever marvel, viewers, about how Ellie acquired her knife? How Invoice acquired his truck?! Tune in subsequent week!

Kyle: So long as they do not go full 50-years-of-Star-Wars-filler on it, I believe it will be OK…
Andrew: Anyway, these issues apart, this episode lets us spend an enormous chunk of time with Ellie sans Joel for the primary time, which I admire. It is a flashback to a couple days? Weeks? Months? Earlier than the beginning of the collection, when Ellie is a only a Teen With A Dangerous Angle in FEDRA highschool as a substitute of a Doable Savior of Humankind.

Kyle: Within the recreation I consider it is set a couple of weeks earlier than Ellie meets Joel, so let’s go along with that.

I used to be glad to see a well-acted model of Riley right here, performing as a foil to push and pull Ellie in attention-grabbing instructions. Even when I did not know what was going to occur, although, I believe it would be fairly exhausting to get too hooked up to her. The sample of “meet a brand new character; See them join with the characters we love; Oops they’re useless inside an episode or two” is already getting a bit performed out. It is doable to go to that nicely too typically…

Don't get too attached, Ellie...

Do not get too hooked up, Ellie… (credit score: HBO)

Andrew: Two’s firm, three’s a crowd in The Final of Us universe, and should you spend any time with Ellie and Joel you’d higher have an exit technique discovered. I admire the dedication to conserving the main focus slim however what if extra characters, like Tommy, have been merely allowed to depart and preserve having their very own lives as a substitute of dying horribly? I suppose we’ll by no means know.
Kyle: I suppose it feels just a little totally different within the recreation as a result of these characters are likely to linger with you just a little longer—even when that point is commonly artificially lengthened by shootouts and whatnot. So the sample remains to be there within the recreation, but it surely does not appear so predictably timed to end-of-episode breaks.

Andrew: Let’s give some props to the set designers, although, who appear thrilled to work on one thing that is not one other run-down residential space. The design of the dilapidated, deserted mall—the episode’s massive setpiece—has tons of enjoyable particulars. I did not go frame-by-frame to examine and guarantee that all the actual shops talked about/depicted have been portrayed precisely as they’d have been in September 2003, however the presence of an deserted mall with all of its anchor shops intact could be very true to the early ’00s.

Different “society crumbled in September 2003!” issues I preferred: in fact there could be a pop-up Halloween retailer on this mall, and Ellie is listening to a minimize from 2002’s Riot Act, the ultimate in-universe Pearl Jam album. (Except Eddie Vedder survived the apocalypse; of all the choice rock stalwarts, he is the one I would wager on, actually.)

Kyle: I additionally preferred all of the little Ellie character callbacks that have been paid off from earlier within the season: the pun ebook, Mortal Kombat II, even her curiosity in getting Joel’s pistol could be traced to right here considerably.

I used to be form of shocked that nobody looted the lingerie retailer, although. You are telling me there’s not a single sex-positive one that was nervous about having sufficient scorching nighttime put on to get by way of the apocalypse?

How did no one loot this store?

How did nobody loot this retailer?

Andrew: Simply not a really sexy time, I suppose. Although our pandemic proved that speculators will go for absolutely anything in the event that they assume they’ll make a buck from it, together with however not restricted to cleaning soap.

Kyle: Looter: “Do you may have any concept what that lingerie is price?” / Nick Offerman: “Presently, nothing…”

I’m wondering what you considered Ellie and Riley’s resolution to “robust it out” on the finish of the episode, slightly than going out the painless, simple method. On the one hand, it’s a fairly obligatory factor for Ellie’s narrative to proceed. Alternatively, it is possibly a bit overly sentimental for these younger, scared characters?

Keep in mind how scared Sam was of turning only a few episodes in the past? Or how Tess was prepared to exit in a blaze of glory slightly than face the identical destiny?

Andrew: That was the little bit of the episode that felt the weirdest, to me. Such as you stated, not tremendous in keeping with how most characters we have seen strategy the potential of an infection. However the “painless, simple method”… there’s just one gun. Perhaps the considered being the particular person to go second was too horrifying for these teen ladies (hardened, cynical teen ladies, however teen ladies nonetheless) to ponder.

The scene would possibly virtually have labored higher for me if the episode left off with that terrified look they share once they understand they’ve each been bitten. Ellie’s nonetheless right here, Riley is not, let the viewers think about how that occurred. Given the best way the present makes use of flashback, I fear that we will must return to this and watch Ellie gun down her greatest good friend/putative girlfriend proper at a degree the place the present must twist the emotional knife for another cause.

Whose flashlight is better?

Whose flashlight is best? (credit score: HBO)

Kyle:Surprisingly sufficient, this sort of tangentially jogged my memory of a holocaust survivor that spoke to my Hebrew Faculty class once I was a teen. She stated she was typically requested, of her horrible years in a focus camp, whether or not she ever thought-about simply ending all of it herself? What she stated to us was merely: “I did not wish to save them the bullet.” And 50 years later she was nonetheless round to inform us that.

Not precisely the identical state of affairs, but it surely got here to thoughts…

Andrew: It does make you consider what motivates folks to persevere in occasions of horror and hardship; it could be so simple as “the place there’s life, there’s hope.”

It may be that Ellie and Riley are being just a little egocentric right here. The opposite characters you talked about, Tess and Sam, had different uninfected family members they clearly did not wish to infect. Ellie and Riley primarily have one another. What do you care should you infect some stranger, or some FEDRA goon? It’s kind of of self-centered nihilism that, once more, feels particular and true to teenhood.

You talked about this was tailored from DLC, which like a episode of TV additionally must steadiness being its personal standalone unit of story/gameplay and increasing the principle marketing campaign. Appears to me like it might be particularly simple to adapt immediately with out altering a lot, something massive that they’ve added or subtracted in adapting it for TV?

Kyle: The most important minimize was a watergun combat that form of served as a lighthearted tackle the way more lethal capturing elsewhere within the video games.
Andrew: Gotta have some fight in there! The episode ought to have had a piece the place Ellie wanted to push some massive containers round to get the electrical energy working or some shit.

Kyle: There was additionally an enormous distinction within the arcade. Within the recreation, the arcade cupboard Ellie needs to play (a copyright-safe parody of Mortal Kombat) is busted. So Riley makes Ellie seize the controls and shut her eyes whereas Riley describes what could be taking place in an precise match. It’s a must to reply to some fast time occasions whereas watching a glance of pleasure and focus on Ellie’s face and listening to imagined sound results.

In all probability exhausting to adapt that to a TV present in the identical method, however I nonetheless take into consideration that second within the recreation. Form of a “take pleasure in your video games now, as a result of these Apocalypse Youngsters cannot even play them!” second.

We'll always have puns...

We’ll all the time have puns… (credit score: HBO)

Andrew: One does sometimes must droop one’s disbelief on the present, like when Ellie and Riley stumble right into a largely practical arcade that has been sitting for 20 years, or the place Joel can nonetheless siphon usable gasoline out of vehicles.
Kyle: I dunno, these solid-state electronics have been constructed to final, particularly if nobody has touched them for all this time. Battery corrosion could be the principle fear?
Andrew: The pinball machines could be in fairly unhappy form, although. You’d even be nervous about capacitors drying up I believe.
Kyle: I am positive the commenters will inform us far more than we needed to know on the realism of post-apocalyptic arcade cupboard longevity…

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