Why Pearl Jam Was Chosen as Ellie’s Theme for Episode 7 of The Last Of Us

This article contains spoilers for “The Last of Us” on HBO.

Throughout its first six episodes, “The Last of Us” deftly allowed Ellie (Bella Ramsey) to reveal details about her past. In doing so, she created an emotional reveal that brought Ellie’s journey into clearer, more poignant focus.

The seventh episode of the series, titled “Left Behind”, sees Ellie reminiscing about her time in the Boston Quarantine Zone, where she came of age in the most painful of ways. These sequences are framed by Ellie’s treatment of a badly injured Joel (Pedro Pascal) who wants her to leave him for dead. She has her reasons for refusing, and that’s at the heart of this chapter and, perhaps, the series as a whole.

We learn that the mall incident where Ellie contracted her non-fatal infection was an elaborate encounter staged by her best friend Riley (Storm Reid). The pair romp around the abandoned strip mall as a Ken Forees couple; Riley shows off her “Mortal Kombat II” prowess at the arcade, and they share an excruciatingly awkward flirtation at a Victoria’s Secret store. We know what’s to come: the wonderful and the devastating. When they kiss for the first time while dancing to Etta James’ version of “I Got You Babe”, the zombie that chases them during their fun attacks. Although they manage to kill the monster, they are both injured. We know that Ellie will survive, and we have good reason to believe that Riley will not.

As the episode draws to a close and a sobbing Ellie begins to mend Joel, we roll into the credits of a perfectly chosen Pearl Jam song.

Being an obsessed Pearl Jam fan has its benefits.

On the official “The Last of Us” podcast, creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann were asked how they came up with Pearl Jam’s “All or None” as Ellie’s theme song for Episode 7. Given that it’s not a particularly well-known track outside of Pearl Jam’s fiercely dedicated fandom, it stands to reason that one of these guys is a member of the pack. That guy would be Druckmann.

After dealing with his Pearl Jam obsession, Druckmann had this to say:

“(Q)when you grow up, you have a bunch of songs that are like an escape when things are getting tough, or when you’re down for whatever reason. And for me that was one of those songs. (…) There are a certain feel, a mood, a tone (…) capturing where Ellie is right now. That she’s alone, she’s in a place she doesn’t want to be, and there’s nothing going on for her. her. And this song, I think, it captures that mood. But it also captures her attitude. It’s called ‘All or None,’ which is very Ellie. It’s like all or nothing. And it’s always this kind of total commitment.”

The Extinction of Hope

According to Craig Mazin, the show’s previous use of Depeche Mode’s “Never Let Me Down Again” spurred somewhere a 500 percent increase in Google searches for the song – and that’s a pretty well-known track from that band. The vast majority of “The Last of Us” audiences were hearing “All or None” for the first time. If the final scene hit them as hard as it did me, Pearl Jam will gain a lot of new fans this week.

That will be well deserved because it’s a fantastic song that touchingly accentuates Ellie’s absolute anguish. Mazin put it perfectly when he said, “The guitar tells it all before Eddie Vedder even starts. There’s this feeling of ‘Oh, God.’ And Ellie’s situation here isn’t just desperate, as the lyrics say, because she’s trapped in a FEDRA orphanage training to become a soldier, it’s desperate because someone has disappeared.

Having never played the original video games, I’m incredibly excited to see where the last two episodes of “The Last of Us” season 1 take us.

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