‘The Final of Us’ episode 7: How Ellie’s cassette tapes hyperlink again to the sport

The Final of Us is sort of the musical present. It’s made us cry to Linda Ronstadt’s “Lengthy Lengthy Time,” jam out to Depeche Mode’s “By no means Let Me Down Once more,” after which cry once more to that very same Depeche Mode tune. However episode 7, titled “Left Behind,” may simply be the present’s most musical episode but.

“Left Behind” provides us an in-depth have a look at Ellie’s (Bella Ramsey) backstory by means of a flashback to an evening she and her best good friend Riley (Storm Reid) spent in an deserted mall. Proper from the opening scenes of the flashback, you’ll be able to inform music will play a giant function within the episode. As Ellie runs laps at her FEDRA faculty, she listens to Pearl Jam’s “All or None” on her Walkman. Later, in a sequence of Easter egg-filled pictures of her room, we see a stack of cassette tapes together with Etta James’s Inform Mama and A-ha’s Headlines and Deadlines: The Hits of A-ha.


‘The Final of Us’ episode 7 ending hyperlinks tragically again to a key scene in episode 4

Songs from each albums make appearances later within the episode — however these aren’t simply any needle drops. These songs, in addition to “All or None,” all tie again to varied The Final of Us video games. Right here’s how.

“I Received You Babe” by Etta James.

Bella Ramsey and Storm Reid in “The Final of Us.”
Credit score: Liane Hentscher/HBO

Etta James’s cowl of Sonny and Cher’s traditional duet seems in the identical place in each “Left Behind” and The Final of Us: Left Behind DLC upon which the episode is predicated. Riley performs the tune for Ellie, and the 2 of them dance collectively earlier than sharing a kiss. Within the DLC, Riley mentions that she’s the one who gave Ellie the James tape. We don’t get that trade within the present, however the truth that Ellie retains it shut by in her room highlights simply how a lot it means to her, like her Will Livingston joke e-book or her beloved comics.

“Take On Me,” by A-ha.

Two teenage girls hanging out in an abandoned mall; one is reading a book to the other.

Bella Ramsey and Storm Reid in “The Final of Us.”
Credit score: Liane Hentscher/HBO

Whereas each The Final of Us present and sport use “I Received You Babe” in the very same manner, A-ha’s “Take On Me” will get a considerably completely different remedy. Within the present, it performs whereas Ellie marvels on the marvel of a working mall escalator. The tune and its iconic synth riff lend the sequence the texture of a traditional happy-go-lucky mall montage. Certain, this mall has been looted and is roofed in classically post-apocalyptic particles, however for Ellie, it is a entire new world! “Take On Me” captures her joyful exploration completely. Plus, the scene accommodates a enjoyable nod to the tune’s lyrics: When Ellie launches herself down the escalator at Riley, she tells her, “I’m coming for you,” a mirror of A-ha singer Morten Harket’s declaration, “I’ll be coming in your love, okay?” (A telling second, given Ellie and Riley’s candy kiss later within the episode.)


‘The Final of Us’ episode 6 incorporates a heartbreaking musical callback

The Final of Us Half II provides “Take On Me” a extra somber context. Whereas mourning a devastating loss, Ellie performs “Take On Me” for her girlfriend Dina. Ellie’s model is much sadder and slower than the unique, lending it a high quality that’s without delay romantic and tragic. This mix of romance and tragedy extends to the present’s use of the tune as nicely. For starters, in enjoying “Take On Me” over a scene the place Ellie interacts with Riley, the present establishes that it is a tune that Ellie associates with love, with the upbeat sound of A-ha’s unique accentuating the joy and uncertainty of her crush. Nonetheless, Ellie and Riley’s story ends in sorrow, and the 2 by no means get sufficient time to discover a romantic relationship. If Ellie performs “Take On Me” for Dina in Season 2 of The Final of Us, maybe she — together with the viewers — will probably be considering of Riley.

“All or None” by Pearl Jam.

A teenage girl in a grey sweatshirt sits in front of a desk.

Bella Ramsey in “The Final of Us.”
Credit score: Liane Hentscher/HBO

The looks of Pearl Jam’s “All or None” in “Left Behind” is an fascinating one, as this specific tune by no means seems in any of The Final of Us video games. Nonetheless, one other Pearl Jam tune, “Future Days,” performs a significant function in The Final of Us Half II. Keep in mind how Joel admitted he had wished to be a singer in episode 6, and the way Ellie insisted he sing for her later? In Half II, we lastly get Joel singing to Ellie. “Future Days” is the tune he goes with.

It’s a poignant tune selection, with strains like “If I ever had been to lose you / I’d certainly lose myself” talking to the deep familial bond between Joel and Ellie. The tune turns into a motif all through Half II, with Ellie usually enjoying it when she thinks of Joel. Since he gave her her guitar and taught her to play it, her instrumental renditions of “Future Days” carry much more emotional weight.

Because the present’s timeline adjustments the yr of the Cordyceps outbreak from 2013 to 2003, utilizing “Future Days” as a needle drop subsequent season can be chronologically incorrect. Nonetheless, the inclusion of “All or None,” which got here out in 2002, is a pleasant method to spotlight Pearl Jam’s connection to the franchise whereas nonetheless maintaining the timeline correct. The lyrics right here additionally converse to Ellie’s scenario at her FEDRA faculty. “It’s a hopeless scenario,” the tune opens, reflecting Ellie’s hopeless perspective about Riley’s disappearance. Later lyrics embrace strains like “I attempt to run on,” which comes by means of actually in Ellie working laps round a fitness center and figuratively in how she tries to persevere with out Riley.

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“All or None” is a stable tune selection right here for the Pearl Jam connection, but it surely additionally raises the query: What tune, if any, will Joel sing to Ellie in The Final of Us Season 2? It appears unlikely that showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann would reduce the scene given its significance. So will they use one other Pearl Jam tune to be consistent with the unique, or will they department out totally? Primarily based on the music choice all through the present to date — and particularly in “Left Behind” — I’ve a sense one other nice, but devastating, needle drop is someplace on the horizon. Convey on the music…and the tears.

The Final of Us is now streaming on HBO Max. New episodes air each Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.(Opens in a brand new tab)