HBO’s “The Last of Us” Continues to Receive Praise For Its Soundtrack

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In this week’s episode of HBO’s hit show The Last of Us, Joel (Pedro Pascal) remains semi-conscious while Ellie (Bella Ramsey) relives a haunting memory. After Joel tells Ellie to leave him behind in his wounded state, she lingers as she decides what to do. The memory that Ellie takes viewers through is of the night she was first bit by a Cordycep (the fungi-fueled zombies that launch the world into an apocalypse in The Last of Us universe). It is revealed that she previously lied to Joel and his partner Tess about being alone when she was bit and discovered her immunity, and that she was actually with her best friend, Riley (Storm Reid). As Riley was not immune, it is insinuated that she died that night instead of embarking on a journey to join the rebel group the Fireflies like she had planned.

Ramsey’s sassy character Ellie is fueled by a desire for friendship and family, as she was orphaned and placed in a military government run school as an infant. Viewers got a glimpse into why Ellie has become so close to Joel in their journey across the country, and her motivations to save him from his injuries from an altercation in Wyoming. The episode garnered emotional reactions across the internet.

The Last of Us continues to receive across social media for its musical choices. Notably, in episode three, Linda Ronstadt’s 70s ballad “Long, Long Time” is a significant element in the love story of characters Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett). The song’s lyrics depict a love that will last a lifetime, despite the challenges it took to get there, even spending time alone in order to find it. The episode was praised for its LGBTQ+ representation, as was the more recent episode seven.

Last night, Ellie experienced her own love story, though it was short lived. As Ellie and Riley embark on a night of seemingly mundane adventures down escalators, riding carousels, and playing arcade games, several iconic 80s tracks can be heard faintly in the background, and fans of the show feel that they were all meant to be foreshadowing of Riley’s untimely death. The 1985 hit “Take On Me” by a-ha can be heard as the pair first journey through the abandoned mall–and the lyrics tell a story. The track details a narrator’s desire to share their romantic feelings with someone before they leave, which is exactly what Ellie does with Riley.

Later on, in a viral scene of the pair riding the carousel for the first time, a hand bells rendition of the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” can be heard in the background of the characters’ conversation. As usual, the song was placed with purpose–it details a narrator waking up having lost the person that they love, which is exactly what happened to Ellie with Riley. And of course, Twitter had an additional theory–foreshadowing that Ellie could hold the literal cure to the global pandemic.

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Additionally, going back to the very first episode of the series, Joel and Tess had a list of radio codes written out that Ellie discovers while Joel is asleep. Ellie tells Joel that she has figured it out, and that “80s means trouble.” As the episode features primarily 80s music, it could be warning viewers of even more impending danger on the horizon. Hopefully, The Last of Us has not seen the last of its beloved characters. The show airs every Sunday on HBO, and is expected to conclude its first season March 12.

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