The biggest difference in the mall scenes between “The Last Of Us: Left Behind” and the HBO adaptation is merely one of structure: Riley’s wonders of the mall are presented in a different order in the game. Early on, the pair go to a Halloween store and don costume masks. Later, they play a version of what can only be called water gun hide and seek, covering their own eyes before chasing each other down with squirt guns. That’s when their tender moment occurs in the game. “I would love to do this all day,” Ellie tells Riley, clearly meaning it. “But you gotta get back,” Riley responds, resigned.
Riley asks to walk Ellie home, and Ellie seems to quietly register the gesture as something more date-like than friend-like. She gives Riley back her Walkman and the pair dance on top of a glass case in an electronics store, playfully cutting the rug to Etta James’ version of “I Got You Babe.” Mid-dance, though, Ellie heaves a small gasp, suddenly on the verge of tears. She asks Riley not to go, and in response, Riley yanks off her Firefly necklace. Forget the cause, she’ll stay for her girl. Ellie quickly kisses her, then apologizes. “Sorry,” she says, to which Riley responds, “For what?” When Ellie asks “What do we do now?” it seems clear she’s talking not about their relationship, but about Riley ditching the Fireflies. “We’ll figure it out, but I don’t think Marlene’s gonna go for–” Riley says, before being cut off by the arrival of a group of infected.