Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

What's The Song In The Last Of Us Episode 7's Mall Scene?

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

HBO's "The Last of Us" has refused to pull its emotional punches, and tonight's installment was no exception. With Joel's (Pedro Pascal) life hanging in the balance, Ellie's (Bella Ramsey) mind wanders to the last time she lost someone close to her.

In another episode-long flashback sequence that closely adapts the original video game's DLC mission (which shares the episode's title "Left Behind"), we finally get to see Ellie's life before the Fireflies captured her. While living in the Boston Quarantine Zone and attending what is essentially FEDRA's JROTC, Ellie befriends a young girl named Riley ("Euphoria" and "A Wrinkle In Time" star Storm Reid). The two clearly have a deep, emotional connection, but their relationship is threatened when Riley reveals she has joined the Fireflies (a veritable terrorist organization in Ellie's eyes).

Despite some apprehension, Riley convinces Ellie to sneak out with her in the dead of night. Ellie follows her to an abandoned shopping mall, surprisingly powered by a bit of electricity. To a girl born after the apocalypse, an escalator ride may as well be a theme park attraction.

As Ellie and Riley enjoy their time together (providing the audience with much-needed levity after last week's dour "Kin"), a song plays in the background that surely perked the ears of music fans and video game nerds alike. For those who've played "The Last of Us — Part II" specifically, this iconic '80s track strikes a particularly heartbreaking chord.

The song is Take On Me by A-ha

The song that plays during the mall sequence of "The Last of Us" Season 1, Episode 7, "Left Behind" is "Take On Me," a long-enduring hit from the '80s Norwegian pop group A-ha. First released as a single in 1984, the song was ultimately intended for their 1985 debut studio album "Hunting High and Low."

Though the song's opening chords likely evoke a number of niche online jokes and memes for internet-savvy viewers, the lyrics convey a very earnest love story about someone overcoming their own anxieties, expressing their most vulnerable emotions, and convincing their true love to "take" them "on." As far as love songs go, "Take On Me" is just about as dramatic as they come — making it no surprise that the track has popped up in numerous films, TV shows, and video games since its release.

In the late '90s, "Take On Me" appeared in George Armitage's action-rom-com "Grosse Pointe Blank" — several years later, it was iconically featured in an episode of "Family Guy." Even Avalanche Studios and Square Enix's "Just Cause 4" referenced the song's unique music video. For fans of "The Last of Us" video game, however, the song already carries a much deeper meaning. If you are experiencing Joel and Ellie's story for the first time on HBO — or if you have yet to play "The Last of Us — Part II" — you may want to stop reading, as minor spoilers lie ahead.

What is the significance of Take On Me in The Last of Us?

Viewers may remember from last week's episode, "Kin," that Joel's brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna) has found a new life at a survivors' settlement in Jackson, Wyoming. In the games, by the time of "The Last of Us — Part II," Joel and Ellie join their relatively comfortable society — until a devastating attack on the camp forces Ellie to embark on her own journey.

Ellie and Dina — possibly otherwise known as "The Staring Girl" (Paolina van Kleef) to HBO fans — leave Jackson together, following Tommy on horseback toward Seattle. Coincidentally, this trip comes shortly after the two share a very public and complicated kiss at a town dance. Along their journey, Ellie comes across a guitar — an important object in "The Last of Us — Part II," as it connects her to Joel and represents the opportunity for a life free of vengeance and violence. When the two women initially find the instrument, Ellie plays Dina a few bars of "Take On Me," practically causing Dina to swoon.

By playing "Take On Me" in Episode 7, which focuses on another important relationship for Ellie, HBO's "The Last of Us" is simultaneously nodding to longtime fans while setting up a subtle connection to be paid off in Season 2. It's also worth noting that in Frank's (Murray Bartlett) radio code, '80s music signifies danger — which turns "Take On Me" into sly foreshadowing for Episode 7's tragic climax.