Explained: What Happened in The Last of Us Episode 9

By | March 13, 2023

The Last of Us Episode 9 unveiled some pivotal details of Joel and Ellie’s story, bringing to an end the first part of the protagonists’ journey.

In “Look for the Light,” Joel and Ellie finally make their way to the Fireflies and meet Marlene again, but their encounter doesn’t go as expected. Plus, the installment revealed something about Ellie’s past and showed her mother.

What Happened in The Last of Us Episode 9?

The Last of Us Episode 9 finale showcased a giant gunfight between Joel and the Fireflies, with Joel besting all the rebels. After much traveling, Joel and Ellie finally reached the Firefly encampment in Salt Lake City but their welcome wasn’t the warmest — to put it mildly — since Ellie was captured by soldiers while Joel was knocked unconscious. When Joel woke up in a hospital, Marlene told him a doctor wanted to study Ellie to create a cure for the cordyceps infection, but the procedure would need the doctor to open Ellie’s brain. Marlene also said they had already prepared Ellie for surgery, even though it would result in her death.

After all that happened in their journey, Joel showed he cared deeply about Ellie, and, as soon as he heard about the plan, the grumpy man fought back against Marlene and the Fireflies by killing every soldier in his way to save Ellie. The doctor himself ended up badly after refusing to let Ellie go. Ultimately, Joel carried Ellie out of the hospital, where Marlene intercepted them. Even though the Fireflies leader suggested there was still a chance to find a cure, Joel killed her with his gun. When Ellie woke up, Joel told her some raiders killed all the Fireflies, who couldn’t create a cure for the infection. Ellie looked a bit skeptical about Joel’s story, but ultimately they headed to Jackson.

Why Is Ellie Immune to the Infection?

Ellie is immune to the infection thanks to a mutation in her brain. It is important to note the series never explained why Ellie is the way she is, but the season 1 finale heavily implied the reason. Cordyceps takes root in the brain, which means that Ellie’s brain has to be special since she never turned into a monster after being bitten. Luckily for the young protagonist, the Fireflies’ doctor never had the chance to study the peculiarities of Ellie’s brain due to Joel’s intervention.

The Last of Us Season 1 finale also featured a flashback showing Ellie’s mother bitten by an infected. A few moments later, she gave birth to Ellie and rushed to cut the umbilical cord as she looked afraid Ellie might get an infection from it. Even though for just a few moments, Ellie was in the same situation as her mother but the result turned out to be quite the opposite. The child developed immunity to the cordyceps after it triggered her immune system to respond differently.

The exact reason why Ellie is immune to the infection will be subject to speculation from the fans in the days to come. Even the video games don’t offer a full explanation for her immunity, but the upcoming seasons of the TV series might take a closer look at that.