This week continues directly where the previous episode left off. Joel is injured leaving Ellie in a tough spot.
Now the episode decides to take this moment to shift the focus solely on Ellie. We've seen and learned what motivates Joel through his interactions with his brother and glimpses of his past.
Here the focus shifts to why and how Ellie has come to be the person that she is.
Those familiar with the game might recognize the story of this episode as it is titled exactly like the DLC, Left Behind.
After a brief opening sequence, the episode transitions to a flashback of Ellie when she was training under F.E.D.R.A. to become an officer. Here we meet her best friend Riley, played by Storm Reid (Euphoria, A Wrinkle in Time), who was also training with F.E.D.R.A. but who left and joined the Fireflies.
In this moment, we follow these two as they have a night out at an abandoned and rundown mall.
A brief aside, the sets and production for this show remain at the highest quality as so much detail is given to the mall. You have rundown boutiques, debris littering floors, stores left a mess from looters at the beginning of the outbreak and so much more.
Now as they have their night out you watch them interacting and the two actresses help sell the chemistry between the two. They really sell the fact that they have been friends for a while despite you only getting to see this one night of them interacting. As well as the subtle undertones that there are more feelings within their relationship than just best friends.
However, what this episode really captures is the desire and need the two have for one another. At the end of the day they are both just teenagers thrown into a chaotic world.
They live in a quarantine zone where you are one of three things. You are either a normal person who lives to work and works to live. A hated F.E.D.R.A. agent that rules over its people with a strict hand. Or a Firefly, a hopeful militia that is aiming for a better tomorrow even if it means dirtying your hands.
Ultimately, there is very little hope and not a lot of options. They are kids who are thrown into the middle of all of this chaos. They want and need a place where they can feel like they can belong. Neither have families and in this desolate world loneliness can feel like death.
Instead what they do have is each other.
With this, the show takes these moments to show how Riley has impacted Ellie. She is something that keeps Ellie hopeful and happy. Which in turn adds another layer to how Ellie sees and interacts with Joel.
The need for family and loved ones isn’t just a dream, it is a necessity in the world they are thrown into. Both Joel and Ellie understand that and with it comes the desperation that they want to do everything they can in order to keep that necessity.
This show continues to deliver on building up its characters and showing the growth between them. At this rate it feels all but assured that it will stick its landing with the last two episodes in the season.