The Last of Us Episode 9 Release Time and Season Recap: When and Where to Watch

Joel and Ellie's cross-country journey is coming to an end in HBO's The Last of Us. Here's everything you need to know about the season finale, including when and where to watch!

Ellie (Bella Ramsey) sits on the edge of an abandoned truck in The Last of Us
Photo: Liane Hentscher/HBO

This article contains spoilers for The Last of Us

HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us has captivated viewers for weeks, with both fans of the game and newcomers to the story eager to see what happens next in Joel and Ellie’s journey to find the Fireflies. Episode 8, “When We Are in Need,” had a total of 8.1 million viewers (up 74% from the series premiere), according to a press release from HBO and HBO Max, with 30 million views total for the first five episodes of the series.

Sadly, this chapter of Joel and Ellie’s story will come to a close with episode 9, “Look for the Light,” though thanks to the series’ season 2 renewal, we know that this likely won’t be the last we see of Joel and Ellie. With the season 1 finale fast approaching, here’s everything you need to know before the episode:

When Does The Last of Us Episode 9 Come Out?

In the U.S., The Last of Us episode 9 will be available to stream on HBO Max starting at 9pm ET on Sunday, March 12 and will air on HBO at the same time.

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In the UK, The Last Of Us episode 9 will air at 2 am on Monday, March 13 on Sky Atlantic and NOW, with a 9 pm repeat that same night.

The Last of Us Season 1 Recap

In 2003, the world was changed forever by the Cordyceps Brain Infection, a mutated parasitic fungus that turns its host into a zombie-like creature whose only goal is to spread the infection further. Joel Miller is living in Austin, Texas with his daughter Sarah when the outbreak hits. They try to escape the city with Joel’s brother Tommy, but Sarah is killed by a soldier patrolling the city’s border, despite neither of them being infected.

Twenty years later, Joel is now living in the Boston Quarantine Zone, which is run by FEDRA, the military regime that has risen from the remains of the US government. There, he works as a smuggler with his partner Tess. Joel is trying to find a truck and a battery that will get him and Tess to his brother in Wyoming. After not hearing from Tommy in weeks, Joel is worried about him. After another smuggler screws them and the Fireflies (an anti-FEDRA militant group) over by trying to sell them both the same broken battery, Joel and Tess are hired by the Fireflies’ leader Marlene to smuggle a young girl outside the city and get her to the other Fireflies that are heading west. The young girl, Ellie, is immune to the Cordyceps infection and Marlene hopes to get her to a doctor who is working on a cure. 

Joel, Tess, and Ellie make it to the meeting point only to find that the Fireflies became infected and killed each other. Tess then reveals that she was bitten during an earlier fight with infected Clickers on the way there, and begs Joel to finish what they started and get Ellie to the Fireflies. She sacrifices herself as a swarm of infected close in, and Joel and Ellie head to allies Bill and Frank, hoping that they can help them acquire a car.

Bill and Frank live alone in a small town outside of Boston that they’ve turned into a fortress against raiders and infected. They live out their days together, trading with Tess and Joel occasionally, until Frank becomes ill. Frank asks Bill to let him die, having already lived a full life with Bill over the last two decades. Bill obliges, giving Frank one more beautiful day together before they die in each other’s arms after drinking drugged wine. Bill leaves behind a truck and other supplies that Joel and Ellie use to set off for Wyoming.

On their way to Wyoming, Joel and Ellie are attacked in Kansas City. The people of KC have overthrown FEDRA, and their leader, Kathleen, is hunting conspirators ruthlessly. She has her sights set on Henry and his younger brother Sam, who end up working with Joel and Ellie to escape the city through a tunnel system. Henry turned over Kathleen’s brother, the former leader of the FEDRA resistance in KC in exchange for life-saving medicine for Sam, and she wants revenge for this betrayal.

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Henry, Sam, Joel, and Ellie make it to a nearly abandoned cul-de-sac before Kathleen and her soldiers catch up to them. However, their vehicles accidentally release a swarm of infected that had been driven underground by FEDRA and the rebels are quickly overrun by the horde. Even though Henry, Sam, Joel, and Ellie escape to a motel, it’s revealed that Sam was bitten during the ambush. Ellie tries to save him with her blood, but it doesn’t work. Sam turns the next morning and attacks Ellie. Henry shoots Sam to save Ellie, but appalled by what he’s done, he then turns the gun on himself and commits suicide.

Ellie and Joel bury the brothers before setting off for Wyoming on foot. They eventually make it and find that Tommy isn’t in danger, but has instead been living in an almost utopian settlement with his wife Maria (Rutina Wesley). Tommy tells Joel that he’s heard of some Fireflies setting up a lab in Colorado, and Joel begs Tommy to take Ellie there. After losing Sarah, and now Tess, Joel is worried that he won’t be able to keep Ellie safe. Ellie overhears their conversation and gets angry with Joel, thinking that she’s going to lose him just like she’s lost everyone else in her life. In the end, Joel decides to let Ellie choose who she goes with, and of course she chooses Joel.

With a horse borrowed from the Jackson, Wyoming settlement, Joel and Ellie arrive at the University of Eastern Colorado to find it abandoned by the Fireflies. They find a map that indicates they fled to Salt Lake City, but before Joel and Ellie can head that way, they’re attacked by a small group of raiders. Joel kills one of them, but is stabbed in the process. His injury is critical, and Ellie does her best to take care of him in the unforgiving winter they find themselves in.

As he fades in and out of consciousness, Joel begs Ellie to leave him behind. In a flashback to the night Ellie was bitten, we see her reconnect with her best friend and first crush Riley in an abandoned mall in Boston. Riley has planned one last night for Ellie before leaving for Atlanta with the Fireflies. The two have an emotional but fun reunion before they are attacked by infected. Back in the present, remembering all that she’s lost, Ellie stays and does what she can to take care of Joel. 

Running out of food, Ellie tries to hunt on her own while Joel slowly heals. After she shoots a deer, she runs into two men from a nearby community, David and James (played by original Joel voice actor Troy Baker). David offers to trade Ellie for half of the deer, and sends James back to the town for some antibiotics to treat Joel’s infection. While James is gone, David reveals that the man that attacked Joel at the University was from their community, and they all want Joel dead for killing him. Ellie takes the medicine and runs back to Joel, giving him a couple of injections before David and his men track her down.

Ellie tries to lead them away from Joel, but gets captured in the process. David tries to convince her to join him and lead this community (in a super creepy way), but Ellie rightfully refuses. David, who’s been secretly feeding his starving group the flesh of their dead family members, then turns violent, threatening to chop Ellie up and feed her to them too, just as he did to Alec, the man Joel killed. Ellie fights back, killing James and setting the lodge she’s been held in on fire in the process. David finds Ellie again and tries to assault her before she brutally kills him with the same cleaver he threatened to chop her up with. In the meantime, a weak but determined Joel is fighting his way through David’s men and the harsh weather to find Ellie. At the end of episode 8, the two share a tearful reunion that definitively proves that the pair are so much more than just a smuggler and his cargo.

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The Last of Us Episode 9 Trailer: What Will Happen in the Season Finale?

The trailer for episode 9 shows Ellie and Joel walking into Salt Lake City, the next stop in their quest to find the Fireflies. In a voiceover, Ellie says, “After all we’ve been through. It can’t be for nothing. There’s no halfway with this. We finish what we started.”

We’re reaching the end of this chapter in Joel and Ellie’s story, and based on the shots we see of Joel and Ellie trying to dodge a smoke bomb and Joel shooting at an unknown assailant in the hospital, it seems like this might not be the happiest of endings for Joel and Ellie. Will they find the Fireflies or is this once again a false lead?

In the trailer, we also briefly see Ashley Johnson, the actor who performed the voice acting and motion capture for Ellie in the video games, as a pregnant woman in an abandoned farmhouse. IMDB credits her as Anna Williams, which is the name of Ellie’s mom in the games. Even though we never get to meet her or discover how she died, through letters and other collectibles we learn that Ellie’s mom was friends with Marlene. Like other elements from the games that have been expanded upon for the series, it looks like we may get to see what happened to Ellie’s mom and how Marlene came to have custody of her, however brief that was.

Fans of the game know how divisive and emotional this ending will likely be. But even if you aren’t yet familiar with how this story concludes, know that as with pretty much every other episode this season, it’s best to keep some tissues handy for the season finale.