The Last of Us: Who are the Fireflies and FEDRA?

The Last of Us: Who are the Fireflies and FEDRA?

if you watch The last of us, you would have heard the words “Fireflies” and “FEDRA” in the first episode. But who are they again?

The two groups appear in both the Naughty Dog game and the HBO adaptation of Chernobyl Director Craig Mazin and The last of us Creator Neil Druckmann. Well, it’s going to be impossible for me to tell you all about the Fireflies and FEDRA since we’re only in one episode – if you’ve played the game you’ll know a lot more about what’s happening with these two groups and the people in them, while the story goes on. And alongside those two, there are many more looters, smugglers, black marketers like Robert (Brendan Fletcher), militant groups and armed communities that Joel (Pedro Pascal), Tess (Anna Torv) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) encounter throughout their travels.


The opening TV interview scene of The Last of Us was almost completely different

But here’s what I do can tell viewers of the HBO series about the fireflies and FEDRA so far.

Who are the fireflies in? The last of us?

Two women in military tank tops stand in a shabby apartment and look at a map on a table.

Natasha Mumba and Merle Dandridge play Fireflies Kim and Marlene.
Credit: Shane Harvey/HBO

The Fireflies are a highly trained revolutionary militia group rebelling against the US government’s military arm, FEDRA, in Quarantine Zones (QZs) across the country. Using misappropriated (read: confiscated or contraband) FEDRA gear and weapons, their goal is to liberate QZs from FEDRA forces and overthrow the military dictatorship – but they are branded terrorists by the authorities. The Firefly’s signature logo is an abstract design of a firefly that the rebels spray-painted all over the QZ walls, along with written graffiti that reads, “When you’re lost in the dark, seek the light.” It is that Firefly motto that Joel recognizes instantly when approached by a recruiter in the market.

When we encounter the Fireflies in the HBO series, we meet the Fireflies’ leader, Marlene, at her Boston QZ hideout, who issues orders to deploy Firefly teams across the city. Perfectly portrayed by Merle Dandridge, who reprises her role from the game, Tess refers to Marlene as “the Che Guevara of Boston”. After strategically blowing up FEDRA targets over a two-week period, and despite the doubts of her second-in-command Kim (Natasha Mumba), the plan is for all of the Boston Fireflies to leave town.

A woman peeks through a secret door into a corridor full of corpses with a flashlight.

Tess (Anna Torv) didn’t expect to find the fireflies here.
Credit: Shane Harvey/HBO

“We are in a war against a military dictatorship to restore democracy and freedom,” says Marlene. “Fight for 20 years and get nowhere, you’re not a rebellion. Just spray paint.”

One of those blasts is the car bomb that interrupts Tess’ conversation with black marketeer Robert – “Free Boston now, motherfuckers!” exclaims a nearby Firefly sniper, who attacks FEDRA security from the rooftops. When Tess is arrested by these authorities, she yells, “I’m not a Firefly!” and is sent to prison.

A teenager sits chained by the ankles on the floor of a run-down apartment.

We first meet Ellie (Bella Ramsey) trapped in the Fireflies’ Boston QZ hideout.
Credit: Shane Harvey/HBO

The bigger plan for Marlene’s fireflies is to leave Boston and take Ellie west to a group of fireflies said to be waiting at the old state house in another QZ in Massachusetts. Marlene has known Ellie since she was a teenager – Ellie trained at FEDRA’s military school, as Marlene explains she enrolled Ellie there to protect her – but Ellie snuck out and was bitten by a walker. Marlene prevented her from being killed.

In an attempt to find and pulverize Robert for screwing her up, Joel and Tess follow the lead to the firefly lair, where Ellie was being held captive and monitored for signs of infection. Joel’s brother Tommy has a history with the Fireflies, which means Joel doesn’t exactly love Marlene. But when Marlene is shot in her bad deal with Robert, Joel and Tess set out on the journey with Ellie.

Who is FEDRA in The Last of Us?

A man raises his hands to surrender to a military officer who is pointing his gun at him.

Joel (Pedro Pascal) is spotted outside the Boston QZ by a FEDRA officer.
Credit: Liane Hentscher/HBO

The Federal Disaster Response Agency (FEDRA) is the key agency in the US following the Cordyceps fungus outbreak, a military arm of the government that has essentially replaced it.

You will see FEDRA warning signs scattered throughout the buildings The last of us, as markings of quarantine zones, rules and regulations to deal with the fungal pandemic. “Safety starts with you,” reads a FEDRA sign listing the signs of Cordyceps infection. “Report Cordyceps to authorities immediately,” reads another chart, which details how long it takes to become fully infected. FEDRA also operates factories manufacturing ammunition and medicines, as FEDRA officer tells Joel in Episode 1 of a factory in Atlanta QZ that supposedly only manufactures both.

FEDRA acts as law in the QZs, with street and perimeter surveillance in person or through security cameras. They are enacting the 6am-6pm QZ curfew “to combat infection and rioting,” as you can see on a sign Tess walks by in Episode 1. FEDRA also has an Incident Security Force that works to “secure areas”. inside the QZs – this team attacks a firefly on the roof and unfairly arrests Tess after the car bomb explodes.

FEDRA officers wear naval military armor with ballistic shield helmets and patrol the entrances to the QZs to ensure no one is boarding or exiting. When people arrive at the QZ gates, they are taken to a processing station where they are screened for infections. When we first meet FEDRA in The last of us, an officer questions a child who collapsed outside the QZ. They are scanned with FEDRA’s biodevice, and if infected, they are executed by injection.

A child sits buckled in a wheelchair next to a military officer in a derelict building.

red is bad
Credit: Shane Harvey/HBO

However, those infected are not the only ones executed by FEDRA. Joel witnesses a public hanging in Boston’s QZ of people accused of violating FEDRA laws. In these cases unauthorized entry or Exit to a quarantine zone. Each person was “tried before a military court” and found guilty off-screen, but we don’t know how fair those trials were.

FEDRA has a list of jobs for people in the QZ to apply for, including street sweeping and sewer maintenance, with varying salary levels. In fact, FEDRA hires people to cremate infected bodies (and probably not infected there either) to avoid further spread, for which they can earn ration cards – Joel Miller is one of those people.

Essentially, FEDRA is the military agency in America The last of us and the main focus of the Firefly Rebellion. And there will be more to each faction as the series progresses.

The Last of Us will now continue HBO Max(opens in a new tab) with new episodes airing weekly on Sunday nights on HBO.

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