CW: Spoilers ahead.
Fans of the hugely popular TV series The Last of Us were once again left in tears after its seventh episode landed on HBO last Sunday with a new heart-wrenching storyline about young queer love.
Following the events that unfold after Joel (Pedro Pascal) remains gravely injured, the episode introduced an origin story for Ellie (Bella Ramsey) and the new character Riley (Storm Reid). While Ellie tries to stop Joel from bleeding to death, she is reminded of a time in her life when she lived in the custody of the Federal Disaster Response Agency (FEDRA) with other kids.
In particular, Ellie’s flashback brings her back to one night when her friend Riley drags her away to an abandoned mall to show her “the best night of her life”. During the episode, Riley and Ellie have fun together among carousels, photo booths and arcades in what looks very much like a first date. As the episode unfolds, Ellie and Riley also share a tender kiss.
Devastatingly, because this is The Last of Us, it can’t end well. During their trip, Ellie and Riley get attacked and wounded by an infected, which leads to Riley’s death and to Ellie’s realisation that she’s immune to the plague.
— The Last of Us (@TheLastofUsHBO) February 27, 2023
With this seventh episode, the creators of The Last of Us showed once again how skilled they are at creating heartbreakingly beautiful storylines about queer love. This should come as no surprise after the third episode, which explored the tragic love story between Bill and Frank and was praised as one of the best episodes of TV in years.
Interestingly enough, these two are the episodes with the lowest scores on IMDB compared to the rest of the series and fans have been quick to notice that what the two have in common is queer storylines. Indeed, the series has received backlash from a corner of the internet that repeatedly condemned the inclusion of queer narratives, despite the fact that such narratives were also present in the original video game.
— Alice (@ArmoAlice) February 27, 2023
Conservative viewers berated the two episodes so much that both Bella Ramsey and Storm Reid hit back against them. When asked about it during an interview with GQ, Ramsey said: “I’m not particularly anxious about it. I know people will think what they want to think. But they’re gonna have to get used to it.”
“If you don’t want to watch the show because it has gay storylines, because it has a trans character, that’s on you, and you’re missing out. It isn’t gonna make me afraid. I think that comes from a place of defiance,” the actor continued.
— emilia ? obx spoilers (@lexiescarina) February 27, 2023
Co-star Storm Reid referenced Ramsey’s words in a later interview, saying: “Like Bella said when episode three came out: if you don’t like it, don’t watch”.
Reid continued, saying: “We are telling important stories. We’re telling stories of people’s experiences and that’s what I live for. That’s what makes good storytelling because we are telling stories of people who are taking up space in the world.
The Last of Us just rips out whatever’s left of your heart from the previous week every Sunday night pic.twitter.com/2La4k34Mom
— Landon (@landonisdon) February 27, 2023
“I’m not only representing women. I’m representing young Black women and I’m representing young queer women that are experiencing new feelings and new relationships,”
“It’s 2023. If you’re concerned about who I love, then I need you to get your priorities straight,” she concluded. “There [are] so many other things to worry about in life. Why are you concerned that these young people – or anybody – love each other? Love is beautiful, and the fact that people have things to say about it, it’s just nonsense.”
the last of us episode 7: STAGGERING I FEEL HOLLOW THANK GOD LESBIANS ARENT REAL
— tali (@m3galotron) February 27, 2023
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