The Last of Us season 1 finale recap, review & ending explained

In the finale of The Last of Us, Joel and Ellie finally reach their destination, where Joel makes a decision for Ellie. The episode is now streaming on HBO Max.


A pregnant woman runs through the forest, away from an infected that she can hear. She reaches a farmhouse, only to find out that the people she is looking for aren’t there.

As she walks upstairs, her water breaks. She hides inside a room and puts a chair on the door latch, hoping that it will keep the infected from entering.

An infected woman still manages to break through. The woman has the same knife that Ellie does. With the help of that knife, she fights off the infected, and upon killing it, she realizes that she has given birth to her baby during the struggle and has also received a scratch from the infected.

The woman names her baby ‘Ellie’. At night, Marlene and her associates arrive at the place. They look for the woman, whose name is Anna, and find her upstairs.

Anna spends time convincing Marlene to take Ellie to Boston and find someone who can raise her. She says she hasn’t fed Ellie since she got a bite and had cut the umbilical cord before that happened.

Though Marlene denies the request, in the end she agrees. She picks up Ellie, and as per Anna’s wishes, she kills her unwillingly and quickly so that she won’t think twice.

In the present, Ellie is still traumatized from what happened back at Silver Lake. She is more quiet than usual, and Joel is doing his best to cheer her up. He challenges Ellie to a game, but Ellie isn’t excited about it.

On their way to the hospital in Salt Lake City, where the Fireflies might be, Joel talks about fixing a guitar and teaching Ellie how to play. The duo settles down on their usual plan to go inside a building, find a skyscraper, and take a look around.

Ellie continues to be lost until, from inside one of the buildings, she notices a giraffe. Feeding and caring for that giraffe puts a smile on Ellie’s face again. Joel watches in comfort.

As the giraffe leaves, Ellie and Joel follow it and see a herd full of them, just like how they saw a swarm of infected back in episode 2. Joel attempts to have a conversation with Ellie, claiming that there is always going to be a risk or something bad out there.

Joel pitches that they don’t have to do this; they can just go back to Tommy’s and forget about the Fireflies and everything. Ellie believes that after everything they’ve been through and what she has done, they should not give up.

Ellie knows where Joel is coming from and that he wants to protect her. They can go back to Tommy’s, the moon, or wherever he wants them to when they are done here. She will follow him anywhere.

Joel and Ellie walk through an army camp. They indulge in a heart-to-heart conversation where Joel admits that Ellie’s arrival healed him. Moments later, while enjoying the puns from Ellie’s favorite book, they are attacked by a group.

Joel wakes up to see Marlene. It turns out that they have finally found the Fireflies

The Last of Us ending explained in detail:

What are the plans of the Fireflies?

Marlene says Ellie is fine. She was more worried about Joel. Marlene claims that she owes Joel for bringing Ellie across the country.

Joel can’t see Ellie because she is being prepared for surgery. According to the doctors of the Fireflies, the cordyceps don’t attack Ellie because they think she is a cordyceps too.

They will remove it from her, multiply the cells, produce these chemical messengers she has, and give it to everyone else. Joel then proceeds to say that cordyceps grow in the brain.

Marlene agrees and stays quiet, suggesting that Ellie’s life might be at risk because of this procedure. Joel confronts Marlene by saying that she doesn’t understand. Marlene, in return, says she is the only one who understands, as she was there when Ellie was born.

Does Joel kill Marlene?

Some Fireflies escort Joel out of the building. Joel fights them off and kills several Fireflies. He makes his way to the Operation Theater, kills the doctor, and rescues Ellie.

In the parking lot, Marlene stops Joel from escaping with Ellie. Marlene tries to convince Joel that Ellie would want to do the right thing.

Joel proceeds to shoot Marlene. After putting Ellie in the car, he kills Marlene, believing that she will never stop coming for them.

Does Joel tell Ellie the truth?

Joel drives Ellie, who is still waking up, to Wyoming. Joel lies to Ellie about what happened in Salt Lake City. He says that the Fireflies were running tests on her and other people just like her—people that are immune.

Joel tells her that the doctors have failed to find a cure and have stopped looking for one. When Ellie asks him about her clothes, he explains that the raiders attacked them and he barely got them out. Joel also refrains from telling her about Marlene’s death.

Joel’s car dies near Wyoming. So they decide to walk their way. Joel talks about Sarah, and soon they see Jackson in the distance. A confused Ellie tells Joel about her first kill, which was Riley. Then she reminds him of all the people they have lost during this journey.

Ellie asks Joel to swear that everything he said about what happened at Salt Lake City with the Fireflies is true, and Joel swears.


  • The finale sees a completely new Joel, who is supporting his relationship with Ellie like never before. It’s more or less like the world has given him a second chance, which he wanted with Sarah.
  • Ellie, on her side, goes through a character development of her own. The deaths she has witnessed and the people she has killed have left a mark on her, which one can notice.
  • The finale brings the plot of the first season full circle as the duo finally meets the Fireflies. It doesn’t feel rushed, and watching Joel lie to Ellie is something the viewers would not have seen coming.
  • The old Joel, before he met Ellie, came back stronger. He single-handedly killed a number of Fireflies to save Ellie. Certainly, he is in no place to decide what Ellie should do, and the finale does hint at the conflict that the viewers will see in the second season once Ellie finds out what happened in Salt Lake City.
The Last of Us season 1 episode 9
The Last of Us season 1 finale recap, review & ending explained 1

Director: Ali Abbasi

Date Created: 2023-03-13 08:30

Editor's Rating:

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