'The Last of Us' finale: Love and lies between Joel and Ellie close out the season

The hit HBO show ends Season 1 with a Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey-focused episode that leaves you sad, touched and a little scared

Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey in HBO's The Last of Us (Liane Hentscher/HBO)
Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey in HBO's The Last of Us (Liane Hentscher/HBO)

We've reached that bittersweet moment of the season finale of HBO's The Last of Us (on Crave in Canada), with a Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey-focused episode that is really about the bond Joel and Ellie have developed.

It wouldn't The Last of Us if we weren't left sad, but touched by these characters, and a little scared for the future.

Despite absolutely disgusting trolling and review bombing, The Last of Us has proven to be an absolute success for HBO. In the U.S., it's consistently been the top title overall on HBO Max each week.

But all good things have to come to an end, as we wait to see what Season 2 of the show will bring.

Here's everything you need to know from Episode 9 of HBO's The Last of Us (spoilers ahead):

The season finale starts off with an interesting callback to the video game. Voice actor and motion capture performer Ashley Johnson, who originated the role of Ellie, starts off the episode as a pregnant woman, Anna, running through the woods, while we hear the sound of a Clicker.

She enters an abandoned home and suddenly her water breaks. She goes into a rooms and sits down on the ground holding a knife, when suddenly a Clicker barges in and attacks her. But Anna is able to stab it to death.

Looking down, she sees a bite mark on her thigh but also, her baby has been born, laying on the ground. Anna cuts the umbilical cord, picks up the crying baby and says, "yeah you tell them, you f-cking tell them Ellie."

Moving forward in Ellie's origin story, Marlene (Merle Dandridge) comes in with a small crew. The two women have known each other their whole lives.

Anna tells Marlene, who was delayed trying to get out of the QZ to meet Anna, that baby Ellie is hungry but she didn't want to nurse her after the bite. Anna stresses to Marlene that she was bitten after she cut Ellie's umbilical cord, which isn't true but she wants Marlene to take care of her baby.

Marlene is resistant to take Ellie and starts crying, as Anna also puts down the knife she wants Ellie to have she says, “You pick her up right now and then you kill me."

Initially, Marlene refuses to kill Anna but as she screams in protest, Marlene shoots Anna dead.

Ashley Johnson in HBO's The Last of Us (Liane Hentscher/HBO)
Ashley Johnson in HBO's The Last of Us (Liane Hentscher/HBO)

'We finish what we started'

After the trauma of being kidnapped and almost raped by David (Scott Shepherd), Ellie is kind of keeping to herself now, very distracted. Joel tries to get her in a better mind set, offering for them to play Boggle together, wanting to teach her how to play the guitar in the future.

Eventually Ellie shakes out of it when they go to a tall a building to get a better view of how to get to the hospital, where the Fireflies are stationed to asses Ellie for a cure.

On top of the building, Ellie finds a patch of lush green space with giraffes. As she starts feeding a giraffe and laughing, Joel just looks at her adoringly, in a particularly sweet moment.

Throughout the episodes of The Last of Us, we've seen Joel and Ellie become close, he's very much a father figure for her, and Joel starts to think that maybe meeting up with the Fireflies isn't such a great idea. He poses an alternate plan to just to back to Tommy's (Gabriel Luna) community.

“It can't all be for nothing," Ellie says in response. "There’s no halfway with this. We finish what we started.”

But Ellie also says that when they're done with the Fireflies, she'll follow Joel wherever he wants to go.

Earlier in the season, we learned that Joel told Ellie a story about someone who tried to shoot him, but had bad aim with a gun. But Joel decides to tell Ellie the truth. He was the person who had "bad aim."

“Sarah died and I couldn’t see the point anymore," Joel says. "I wasn’t scared. I was ready. I couldn’t have been more ready."

"Went to pull the trigger, I flinched. Still don’t know why.”

After finding this out Ellie says that time must heal all wounds, but Joel says, "it wasn't time that did," and looks deeply into her eyes.

Bella Ramsey in HBO's The Last of Us (Liane Hentscher/HBO)
Bella Ramsey in HBO's The Last of Us (Liane Hentscher/HBO)

A risky procedure for Ellie

The pair keep walking, Joel asks Ellie to get the pun book out, and suddenly an explosive device drops behind them. It goes off and they fall to the ground. Through the smoke you can see Ellie has being taken away and Joel is hit on the head by someone.

Joel wakes up in a hospital bed with Marlene looking over him. She says her patrol didn't know who they were.

The very first thing Joel asks is where Ellie is, and it's not what he wants to hear. The Fireflies want to perform brain surgery on Ellie.

"Our doctor, he thinks that the Cordyceps in Ellie has grown with her since birth," Marlene explains to Joel. "It produces a kind of chemical messenger."

"It makes normal Cordyceps think that she’s Cordyceps, that’s why she’s immune. He’s going to remove it from her, multiply the cells in a lab, produce those chemical messengers and then we can give it to anyone. He thinks it can be a cure, Joel.”

Because Cordyceps grow inside the brain, Joel thinks this procedure is far too risky, but Marlene shuts him down. She tells her patrol to take him to the highway with his pack, and to kill him if he tries to get away.

Joel is walked out but in the hospital stairwell, he's able to attack the Firefly officers, killing them because they won't reveal where Ellie is. He then goes on a full-blown attack, killing everyone in his path to get to Ellie, as he approaches the paediatric surgery ward of the hospital.

Ellie is being sedated, prepped for surgery. Joel kills the doctor and tells the others to unhook her, which they do.

It's worth noting that the score at this moment of the episode absolutely makes the entire sequence compelling, thrilling and unnerving. Proving why The Last of Us is such a dynamic, fully realized show.

Pedro Pascal in HBO's The Last of Us (Liane Hentscher/HBO)
Pedro Pascal in HBO's The Last of Us (Liane Hentscher/HBO)

'You can’t keep her safe forever'

Holding Ellie in his arms, who is wearing a hospital gown, Joel escapes and walks towards a car in the hospital's parking garage. But then Marlene appears.

"You can’t keep her safe forever,” Marlene says, adding that Ellie will grow up and leave him eventually, in a "broken world" that could have been saved.

Then we jump forward in time, Joel is driving the car he found at the hospital, and it's revealed that Ellie is in the backseat. She has no idea what just happened.

Joel tells her that it turned out there were dozens of people like her, bitten but don't turn into Clickers, and they were running test on all of them.

"The doctors, they couldn’t make any of it work, they’ve stopped looking for a cure,” Joel says.

Ellie asks where her clothes are and he says raiders invaded the hospital so he barely got her out of there. She then asks if people, particularly Marlene, were hurt, which Joel confirms that "people" were hurt.

We then go back in time for a moment to see that Joel, holding Ellie in his arms, shot Marlene to get away with her.

To close out the season finale, as they're still on the move together, Ellie asks if he swears that everything he said about the Fireflies is true. Joel says, "I swear."