Merle Dandridge as Firefly Marlene in The Last of Us

‘The Last of Us’ Episode 7 Has Us Questioning the Fireflies More Than Ever

HBO’s The Last of Us is seven episodes in and has done a fairly thorough job of establishing a vivid post-apocalyptic world. However, one component that has remained elusive is the Fireflies. Throughout the series, Fireflies have been mentioned quite a bit more than they’ve been shown. We know that Marlene (Merle Dandridge) is the leader of the Fireflies and that Joel (Pedro Pascal) is trying to deliver Ellie (Bella Ramsey) to another group of Fireflies with the resources to potentially use her immunity to create a vaccine for the outbreak.

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So, a lot of us may have just assumed that the Fireflies were the good guys. After all, they oppose FEDRA and, considering FEDRA are “fascist dickbags,” this makes the Fireflies look pretty good, right? However, in episode 7, “Left Behind,” Ellie makes us second guess the nature of the Fireflies in a flashback where her best friend, Riley, is revealed to have joined the group. Surprisingly, Ellie isn’t happy with the news of Riley joining the group and shares that she has some reservations about the Fireflies. She talks of how FEDRA has labeled the group as “terrorists” and is angered when she finds Riley guarding explosives in the abandoned mall.

These circumstances might have some viewers second-guessing the nature of the Fireflies, too. Who exactly are these people, and should Joel trust them with Ellie?

Related: The Last of Us Evolves Video Game Adaptation on The Escapist

What is a Firefly?

Storm Reid as Riley and Bella Ramsey as Ellie in  'The Last of Us'

“Firefly” is the name given to members of the revolutionary militia group known as the Fireflies. They are a group of rebels that sprung up after the outbreak to oppose FEDRA’s rule. Since its inception, the group’s goal has been to topple FEDRA, relieve citizens from the oppressive military rule (especially in quarantine zones, dubbed QZs), and restore the pre-outbreak democratic republic and freedom. Their motto is, “When you’re lost in the darkness, look for the light,” which they graffiti throughout the QZs and utilize for recruitment. However, they have declared this fight for freedom as a “war,” meaning they are willing to take pretty drastic measures to win.

Since the group’s formation, it has been led by Marlene. She is desperate for the group to make an impact and to be a true “rebellion” and not “just spray paint.” As a result, she decides to blow up FEDRA posts throughout Boston’s QZ to allow the Fireflies and Ellie to flee. A deal gone wrong leaves Marlene injured and forced to put Ellie in Joel and Tess (Anna Torv)’s care. However, Marlene does reveal to them that another goal of the Fireflies is to find a cure for the infection, with members of the group utilizing the resources at St. Mary’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, to do so.

Intention-wise, the Fireflies aren’t a bad group. Their methods and effectiveness are what make them questionable, though. In episode 7, “Left Behind,” Ellie insinuates that the group may not be all that careful about civilian lives when launching their explosive attacks on FEDRA. One of their major downfalls is that overthrowing FEDRA in some QZs only led to more chaos. For example, in The Last of Us game, the Fireflies aided the people of Pittsburgh’s QZ in overthrowing FEDRA. However, the people, fearful of the Fireflies taking FEDRA’s place, killed them all and adopted a brutal regiment known as the Hunters. While the Fireflies have good intentions, their fighting has been occasionally futile and their minor successes may not be worth the casualties.

(featured image: HBO)

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.