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The Last Of Us Reveals The Truth Behind Ellie's Love Of Mortal Kombat

Warning: This article contains spoilers for "The Last of Us" Episode 7.

With "The Last of Us" heading into its home stretch, Episode 7, "Left Behind," gave us our best look yet at Ellie's (Bella Ramsey) life before meeting Joel (Pedro Pascal). Until this point, we've followed the pair as they survive in the ruins of the postapocalyptic world and try to get Ellie to a group of freedom fighters who can use her to make a cure for the cordyceps infection. But this week, we get a look at one of Ellie's oldest friendships.

In an extended flashback, Ellie reunites with her best friend, Riley (Storm Reid), for a night out at an abandoned local mall. The two discover the wonders of booze, elevators, and merry-go-rounds before hitting the video game arcade. But as the two girls go for fatalities while playing "Mortal Kombat II," it becomes clear that Ellie might have told a peculiar half-truth to Joel during their travels. Yet, by the end of the episode, the purpose behind her hesitance to open up becomes all too clear.

Joel and Ellie both have lost people they'd rather not dwell on

In the episode "A Long Long Time," we don't spend much time with Joel and Ellie. Most of the episode is dedicated to telling the romantic story of Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett). But during the brief scenes with the main duo at the start of the episode, they enter an abandoned gas station where, in one of many Easter eggs from the game, Ellie spots a broken "Mortal Kombat II" machine. Ellie tells Joel, "I had a friend who knew everything about this game." That line possibly implies Ellie has never played it herself, but as we now know from Episode 7, that's not the case. Ellie played "Mortal Kombat II" alongside Riley, and the two shared a kiss afterward, just before both of them were bitten by an Infected.

Of course, Ellie was spared the gruesome fate that normally befalls those who become Infected. She's naturally immune to the cordyceps fungus. But Riley wasn't so lucky and presumably succumbed to her own bite. In only briefly speaking to Joel about her experience with the video game, Ellie was actually protecting herself from having to dredge up memories of her deceased friend.

Fans have seen that both Joel and Ellie are people who know loss all too well. Joel lost his daughter during the initial chaos of the 2003 outbreak, and Ellie, too, has lost people close to her. It's how they move forward together in solidarity that now defines both Joel and Ellie. But will they ever find the courage to truly open up? Fans are sure to keep rapt attention in search of that resolution.