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The Last Of Us: Ellie's Mom Explained (And What The Show Reveals About Her Death)

Contains spoilers for "The Last of Us" Season 1, Episode 9 — "Look for the Light"

Growing up in a postapocalyptic world that is fought over by human survivors and populated by fungal-based zombies has got to be precarious, at the very least. Where older generations may remember what the world was like before falling to pieces, the youngest has no understanding of what was lost, only glimpsing vague echoes of the past reflected in the ruins.

HBO's "The Last of Us" sees Ellie (Bella Ramsey) become the focal point of the story, and this young, 14-year-old girl enjoys hearing stories and learning all she can about what life was like before. What makes her so special, though, is that she is immune to the Cordyceps infection that has ravaged humanity, and she may be the only one to have such resistance.

Now that the Season 1 finale has premiered, the journey of Ellie and her adoptive father, Joel (Pedro Pascal), has taken a rather dramatic turn. Throughout the entire series, their objective is to get Ellie to a Firefly base in order to create a cure. However, once Joel is informed that this would come at the cost of her death, he lays absolute waste to the base in order to rescue her from this fate, all of which he keeps from her, though she certainly has her suspicions.

By the end of the episode, their relationship is left somewhat strained, and it isn't clear what will happen next. On the other hand, the beginning of the episode treats viewers to a flashback of Ellie's unlikely birth, which provides additional information and context that is lacking from the game on which the show is based.

Audiences get a chance to meet Ellie's mother in the season finale

This isn't the first time "The Last of Us" has explored previous moments in Ellie's life. From her aggressive behavior at the FEDRA-run military school to her lovely jaunt through an abandoned mall with Riley (Storm Reid) that reveals how Ellie gets bitten, Ellie's life hasn't been easy by any stretch of the imagination. However, these moments do paint a picture of who she is and why she behaves the way she does. In "Look for the Light," audiences are shown what kind of person her mother was and what kind of people she knew.

The episode starts with a pregnant Anna Williams (Ashley Johnson) struggling to move through the forest. Straining and grunting, it becomes apparent that Anna is going into labor while at the same time being chased by one of the Infected, not exactly the most welcoming environment for a child. Although she manages to make it to a lone dilapidated building in a field, unfortunately, so does her pursuer. It's not long before the crazed fungus-ridden zombie bursts into the room she has barricaded herself into, and the two fight before Anna delivers a killing blow and a baby at the same time.

Anna was best friends with the leader of the Fireflies

Unfortunately, this moment of victory in both combat and birth is interrupted when Anna notices that she has been bitten. She quickly cuts the umbilical cord, but this brief moment in which Ellie is still drawing nutrients from her mother's placenta may explain her immunity to the Cordyceps infection. It also shows why she is unique — if the prerequisite for natural Cordyceps immunity hinges on one's mother being bitten while giving birth, the chances of that occurring would be rare at best.

The scene then shifts to Marlene (Merle Dandridge) as she enters the aforementioned house and sees the bitten Anna holding the newborn Ellie. Anna swears that she cut the umbilical cord before being bitten and asks Marlene, whom she has known her entire life, to take care of Ellie, to which Marlene reluctantly agrees. Anna then begs Marlene to kill her before she turns. Although Marlene initially refuses, she eventually takes Ellie out to the hallway, instructs her companion to cover her ears, and returns to shoot Anna.

Ellie may be immune because of Anna's quick thinking

This early scene in "Look for the Light" conveys a tremendous amount of information in very little time. First, it gives audiences a glimpse of Ellie's mother, who is established as not having immunity; second, it explains why Ellie is immune to Cordyceps; and third, it shows that Ellie is intrinsically connected to Marlene, the leader of the Fireflies. This is why Marlene tearfully tells Joel that she is the only other person who truly understands the value of Ellie's life. In a normal world, Marlene probably would have been Ellie's godmother.

Speaking with Variety, video game creator Neil Druckmann revealed that the scene with Ellie's mom is what he was most excited about in the show that isn't in the video game. "I had written a short story after we had shipped the game already. It was supposed to be an animated short, but it fell apart and didn't come to be. There was a moment where we almost made it as DLC, but it fell apart," he explained. "We brought it to life in the most beautiful, poetic way, which is Ashley Johnson playing Ellie's mom and she was the original actor for Ellie."