The Last of Us HBO: FEDRA and the Fireflies explained

Fireflies leader Marlene in The Last of Us HBO show, and a dead FEDRA soldierHBO/Sony

Who are FEDRA and the Fireflies in The Last of Us? The HBO adaptation has just dropped its first episode, so let’s break down two of the major factions in the show.

Nearly 10 years after the release of the original, critically acclaimed game, HBO has delivered The Last of Us – and Episode 1 is absolutely incredible. In our review, we said it “breaks the video game curse.”

The series follows Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey), an unlikely duo forced to work together on a cross-country trip across America amid a deadly, monstrous fungal pandemic.

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There are two opposing groups you need to know: FEDRA and the Fireflies – so, let’s break down who they are and why they’re important. Spoilers for The Last of Us to follow…

The Last of Us HBO: Who is FEDRA?

FEDRA – which stands for Federal Disaster Response Agency – is the government agency controlling most of the US following Outbreak Day.

In Episode 1, a FEDRA guard is responsible for murdering Joel’s daughter Sarah as they try to escape Austin. We also see FEDRA soldiers testing a young child for Cordyceps, before his infected body is thrown on a fire, and receiving smuggled pills from Joel.

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While we’re still early on, it’s likely FEDRA will be framed as an antagonistic force throughout The Last of Us, just as it is in the game. In the source material, FEDRA is amalgamated with the US military as ruling authorities of quarantine zones, and it remains one of the last remnants of the government, alongside the Department of Defense and Center for Disease Control, as per the Wiki.

In the game, FEDRA took its place as the country’s leading authority following the outbreak, declaring martial law. However, by 2033 (when the game takes place, as opposed to 2023 in the show), it had lost control of several areas as a result of raids and attacks by Fireflies, hunters, and the Washington Liberation Front.

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In the show, it still appears to be the prevailing authority, with Boston’s Fireflies leader Marlene (Merle Dandridge) complaining about their struggles against FEDRA in the city.

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The Last of Us HBO: Who are the Fireflies?

The Fireflies are a rebel militia group, standing against the military “dictatorship” of FEDRA with the goal of restoring government control and finding a cure to the Cordyceps virus.

In Episode 1, we meet Fireflies leader Marlene and get a brief insight into their efforts against FEDRA, which seem to consist of firefights in the streets and trying to acquire enough gear to go up against the soldiers. We also learn that Tommy, Joel’s brother, became a Firefly.

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The Fireflies also have a slogan: “When you’re lost in the darkness, look for the light.”

In the game, the Fireflies were founded as a direct response to FEDRA declaring martial law, and their cause attracted further support when six Firefly members were executed. Alas, their efforts throughout the game were mostly unsuccessful, sometimes even leading to increased violence and uncontrolled uprisings.

The Fireflies voted to officially disband following the events of the first game, which will likely be chronicled in the show… but we won’t tell you what happens yet.

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The Last of Us Episode 2 will be available to watch on January 22 in the US and January 23 in the UK.

For more TLOU content, check out some of our below guides:

Joel & Tess explained | Sarah spoilers | Fungus threat is terrifying | The dog’s fate | Who is Marlene? | Why is Ellie so important? | Soundtrack choice | FEDRA & the Fireflies explained

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