The Last of Us HBO Series: Episode 1 Recap

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The Last of Us HBO Series: Episode 1 Recap

The first episode of the highly anticipated HBO Max adaption of The Last of Us premiered Sunday, January 15. Based on that debut installment, we can’t wait to watch more. Wondering if you need to play the acclaimed The Last of Us game series before watching? So far, that answer is a resounding “no.”

In case you’re not aware, The Last of Us tells the story of a post-apocalyptic future in which an evolved strain of the Cordyceps fungus has infected humanity, turning them into zombie-like cannibals. The games are set in the 2030s, while the show takes place in 2023 with flashbacks to the original outbreak.

The two main characters in the game are carried over into the series, with an expanded cast of characters surrounding them. Pedro Pascal plays Joel Miller, and Bella Ramsey plays Ellie Williams.

Like any good series premiere,  the first episode of the show drops breadcrumbs for what lies ahead. Could Ellie be immune to the fungal infection? That certainly seems to be the case. Who exactly are the Fireflies and FEDRA, and what’s up with the repeated mention of “find the light”? Those answers are below. 

Who Is FEDRA in HBO’s The Last of Us?

Image via HBO

Much of the action in The Last of Us premiere takes place in the Boston QZ (quarantine zone) a survivor work camp of sorts kept under martial law. Overseeing Law and order in the Boston QZ is FEDRA, a mysterious force of armed soldiers. But what exactly is FEDRA? 

As fans of The Last of Us game series are well aware, FEDRA stands for Federal Disaster Response Agency, formed after the fungal pandemic broke out. In a military style coup, FEDRA overthrew the U.S. government. At the point the debut takes place, the governmental agency oversees QZ zones in Boston, Pittsburgh, and Seattle.

FEDRA seem to figure much more prominently in the show than in the game. The Fireflies, also play a big part in the series debut, as they fight back against oppressive FEDRA occupation.

Who Are the Fireflies in The Last of Us?

Image via HBO

The second large group of characters introduced in The Last of Us series premiere are the Fireflies. The Fireflies are led by Marlene, played in both the game and the HBO show by Merle Dandridge. With factions all over the U.S., the Fireflies have pushed back on FEDRA’s martial law while working to develop a fungal vaccine on their own. 

In addition to the Fireflies, there are a number of unaffiliated rebel factions in both the game and show. Seemingly immune, could Ellie play a part in the Fireflies’ work to develop a cure for the Cordyceps brain infection? We’ll keep watching to find out. Something else viewers likely noticed in the debut episode of The Last of Us series is repeated mention of “look to the light” graffitied around the Boston QZ. Here’s what that saying means.

What Does ‘Look to the Light’ Mean in The Last of Us?

Image via HBO

“Look for the light,” or in full, “When you’re lost in the darkness, look to the light,” shows up as a graffitied revolutionary slogan around the Boston QZ. Those words are also said as a sign of solidarity between those involved in the resistance, especially Fireflies.  “Look to the light” also figures heavily in The Last of Us games.

For example, collecting Firefly pendants to achieve the “Look to the Light” trophy is one big game incentive. The image also resonates with how fireflies drawn to a light source. For now, “Look to the light” or the saying in full, alongside a graphical representation of a firefly, seems to serve as a symbol of rebellion. It’s also a way to indicate which side of society each character is on. We look forward to seeing where it all goes from there.

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THat’s it for our breakdown of The Last of Us episode one! Let us know your thoughts and questions in the comments, and subscribe to our newsletter for regular updates on the show.

Happy watching!


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