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The Last of Us Episode 9 Recap breaks down everything you need to know about episode 9 of The Last of Us.

On this week’s episode of The Last of Us, we finally reach the end of the road for Joel and Ellie. For this week’s season-ending The Last of Us (TLOU) recap, let’s break down everything you need to know about episode 9 of TLOU.

Where to watch The Last of Us

The Last of Us airs Sundays on HBO and HBO Max at 9 p.m. EST/6 p.m. PDT. Read our HBO Max review to learn more about the streaming service.

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The Last of Us
“Look for the Light”

The Last of Us (HBO)

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Inside The Last of Us episode 9

This is the place

Merle Dandridge and Pedro Pascal in a hospital room from HBO's Last of Us
Image courtesy HBO.

So, how about that ending?

For TLOU game fans, the other shoe finally dropped in this week’s episode, which faithfully adapted the game’s conclusion. Joel and Ellie finally reach Salt Lake City, but when he learns about the Fireflies’ full plan for Ellie, he storms the hospital to stop the surgery and take her back to Jackson.

At this point, TLOU‘s willingness to stick to the text goes without saying. The past few episodes have liberally pulled dialogue, character beats, and—in some cases—camera shots straight from the game. (Via Collider, show co-creators Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin never considered changing the game’s ending for the show.)

But the episode’s cold open is a nice example of the show having its cake and eating it when it comes to departing from the game. We never see Anna in the TLOU games, as she’s only briefly mentioned in some side-story items. But Anna’s introduction and death at Marlene’s hand enrich the game and the show by further underlining Marlene’s relationship with Ellie.

Marlene’s promise to keep Ellie safe shows us how deeply Marlene cares for Ellie, and it gives additional emotional weight to her eventual reneging on this promise. If there’s anyone who can empathize with Joel, it’s the person who’s inadvertently killing her best friend’s daughter. There’s no clear-cut winner in Joel and Marlene’s parking garage encounter, which makes Joel’s ill-fated final decision hit that much harder.

The Last of Us episode 9 game easter eggs

Craig Mazin, Merle Dandridge and Pedro Pascal on HBO's the last of us set.
Image courtesy HBO.

Is Ashley Johnson in The Last of Us show?

She is! Ashley Johnson portrayed Anna, the mother of Ellie. (And as game fans are more than aware, she also voiced and performed Ellie in both The Last of Us games.)

Anna never appeared onscreen in the game, as we only get a glimpse of Anna through an in-game note. As Variety noted, game creator Neil Druckmann had written a script about Anna giving birth to Ellie that was originally intended for a short film or downloadable in-game content.

Was that a Laura Bailey cameo in the hospital?

Ashley Johnson and Merle Dandridge aren’t the only TLOU game cameos in this episode, as Laura Bailey played one of the nurses in the operating room. Bailey plays a pivotal role in TLOU Part II, and she’s also appeared in other games from TLOU developer Naughty Dog.

A day at the zoo

The scene when Ellie plays with the giraffe in downtown Salt Lake also comes straight from the game. As in the show, it’s a brief moment of levity before things go downhill in the story’s final act. And as the TLOU behind-the-scenes documentary on HBO Max revealed, the giraffe wasn’t full CGI—Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey filmed against a real-life giraffe.

The Last of Us episode 9 coverage around the web

Joel holding Ellie from HBO's The Last of Us
Image courtesy HBO.
  • In a joint interview with Entertainment Weekly, Mazin and Druckmann went into detail about Laura Bailey’s cameo and didn’t rule out casting her in the next season of TLOU. (We’ll also take this moment to bang the drum for a Shannon Woodward cameo. Make it happen, HBO!)
  • Speaking of “things that weren’t actually CGI” in this episode, Variety revealed that Baby Ellie was played by two 12-day-old twins.
  • On HBO’s The Last of Us Podcast, they ended the season with special guest Ashley Johnson.
  • Over at The Wrap, Merle Dandridge (Marlene) talks about what it was like to reunite with Ashley Johnson and her take on the finale’s climactic decision.
  • Vulture has a suite of post-finale coverage pieces including a big interview with Craig Mazin.

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