Why Pearl Jam Was Chosen As Ellie's Theme For The Last Of Us Episode 7

This article contains spoilers for "The Last of Us" on HBO.

Over its first six episodes,"The Last of Us" has cleverly allowed Ellie (Bella Ramsey) to mete out details about her past. In doing so, it set up an emotional haymaker of a reveal that brought Ellie's journey into clearer, heartbreaking focus.

The series' seventh episode, titled "Left Behind," finds Ellie flashing back on her time in the Boston Quarantine Zone, where she came of age in the most wrenching of ways. These sequences are framed by Ellie's treatment of a severely wounded Joel (Pedro Pascal), who wants her to leave him to die. She has her reasons for refusing, and that is the heart of this installment and, perhaps, the series as a whole.

We learn that the shopping mall incident where Ellie contracted her non-fatal infection was an elaborate date staged by her best friend Riley (Storm Reid). The pair romp around the abandoned center of commerce like a couple of Ken Forees; Riley shows off her "Mortal Kombat II" prowess in the arcade, and they share a painfully awkward flirtation in a Victoria's Secret store. We know what's coming: the wonderful and the devastating. When they share their first kiss while dancing to Etta James' rendition of "I Got You Babe," the zombie that's been stalking them during their frolic attacks. Though they manage to kill the monster, they're both wounded. We know Ellie will survive, and have good reason to believe Riley will not.

As the episode draws to a close, and a weeping Ellie starts patching up Joel, we fade to credits on a perfectly chosen Pearl Jam song.

Being an obsessed Pearl Jam fan has its benefits

On the official podcast for "The Last of Us," creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann were asked how they arrived at Pearl Jam's "All or None" as Ellie's theme for episode 7. Given that it's not a particularly well known track outside of Pearl Jam's fiercely devoted fandom, it stands to reason that one of these guys is a member of the flock. That guy would be Druckmann.

After copping to his Pearl Jam obsession, Druckmann had this to say:

"[W]hen you grow up, you have like a handful of songs that are like an escape when things are getting hard, or when you're down on yourself for whatever reason. And to me this was one of those songs. [...] There's a certain feel, a mood, a tone [...] capturing where Ellie's at right now. That she's alone, she's at a place she doesn't want to be, and there's kind of nothing going on for her. And this song, I think, captures that mood. But it also captures her attitude. It's called, 'All or None,' which is very much Ellie. It's like everything or nothing. And it's always this kind of full commitment."

The extinction of hope

According to Craig Mazin, the show's previous use of Depeche Mode's "Never Let Me Down Again" spurred somewhere in the neighborhood of a 500-pecent increase in Google searches of the song –- and that's a fairly well-known track from that band. The vast majority of the audience for "The Last of Us" was hearing "All or None" for the first time. If the closing scene hit them as hard as it did me, Pearl Jam's going to acquire a load of new fans this week.

This will be well deserved because it's a terrific song that touchingly accentuates Ellie's sheer anguish. Mazin put it perfectly when he said, "The guitar tells you everything before Eddie Vedder even starts in. There's this sense of, 'Oh, God.' And Ellie's situation here is not simply hopeless, as the lyrics say, because she's stuck in a FEDRA orphanage training to become a soldier. It's hopeless because someone's gone missing."

Having never played the original video games, I am incredibly anxious to see where the last two episodes of "The Last of Us" season 1 take us.