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Who Are The Fireflies On ‘The Last Of Us’?

The first episode of HBO’s The Last of Us adaptation kickstarted a different kind of zombie apocalypse, setting the stage for an epic and terrifying cross-country adventure and leaving fans with plenty of questions to mull over before next week’s installment airs.

“When You’re Lost In the Darkness” introduced fans to Pedro Pascal’s Joel, a hardened smuggler living in a Boston Quarantine Zone (known as the QZ) in the year 2023. Joel – and really all of mankind – has been put through the wringer thanks to a fungal pandemic that threw the world into chaos 20 years earlier. The infected – humans whose minds and bodies have been hijacked by a strain of fungi from the Cordyceps genus — roam the country unchecked while the living herd themselves into city pockets run by dictator-like governments.

And while the main conflict is between humanity and serial killing fungi, there’s another war brewing between those in power – known as FEDRA – and those willing to stand against them. Here’s everything we know about The Fireflies.

Who Are The Fireflies?

When the Cordyceps Brain Infection, or CBI, first breaks out, the government declares martial law to restore a sense of order and protect the uninfected. This sounds like a reasonable plan of action until we witness soldiers carrying out orders to kill innocent civilians at the end of the show’s first episode. It appears that, whatever this new world order is, it’s harsh and unforgiving and more than a bit tyrannical. The military runs the QZs unchecked while the uninfected work odd jobs for ration cards and live in squalor.

It’s unclear at the moment how the Fireflies first formed, but they seem to be a band of rebels that have been working for decades to put an organization known as FEDRA in check. They have their own network of spies and militia that extend beyond the Boston QZ (and likely all the way to the West Coast) and they’re run by a woman named Marlene (Merle Dandridge), dubbed by Tess (Anna Torv) as the “Che Guevara” of the Boston QZ.

What Do They Want?

One obvious demand of the rebel group is for the military to have less might and for citizens to have more say in how the QZ is run. We know that penalties for breaking laws are fairly unjust after witnessing a hanging in the town square in episode one. That kind of unchecked power has made life untenable in the QZ so, naturally, the Fireflies want people to rise up and form a true democracy in which everyone has a say in how things are run.

But more freedom is just a part of the group’s overall plan.

After Marlene discovers Ellie’s (Bella Ramsey) immunity to CBI, the Fireflies focus on their main mission, which is to find a cure for the fungal pandemic. In the games, it’s been something the group has been working on for years with no progress. In the show, we’re not sure how long Marlene and company have been waiting for a break like Ellie, but she quickly becomes priority number one which is why they’re so eager to smuggle her out of Boston.

Whether the group can actually be trusted is still up in the air – although Joel would probably say no.

It’s clear the Fireflies want to create a better world, despite this fungal apocalypse reducing everyone to their baser instincts, but Marlene seems gung-ho to sacrifice any and everything to hold onto Ellie and the hope for a cure. When someone with power has that kind of tunnel vision, it’s rarely a good thing.

The Last of Us airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.