The terms “Fireflies” and “FEDRA” were mentioned in the first episode of The Last of Us. But again, who are they?
The two groups are in both the Naughty Dog game and the HBO version made by Craig Mazin, who directed Chernobyl, and Neil Druckmann, who made The Last of Us. Now, I can’t tell you everything about the Fireflies and FEDRA because we’re only in the first episode.
If you’ve played the game, you know a lot more about what happens to both groups and the people in them as the story goes on. Beyond these two, Joel (Pedro Pascal), Tess (Anna Torv), and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) encounter numerous other raiders, smugglers, black market traders like Robert (Brendan Fletcher), militant groups, and armed communities on their journeys.
But here’s what I can say about the Fireflies and FEDRA so far to people who watch the HBO show.
Who Are The Fireflies in The Last of Us?
The Fireflies are a skilled, revolutionary militia group that is fighting back against FEDRA, the military arm of the U.S. government, in the quarantine zones (QZs) all over the country. With seized or smuggled FEDRA gear and weapons, they want to free QZs from FEDRA forces and get rid of the military dictatorship, but the government calls them terrorists.
“When you’re lost in the dark, look for the light” is written in graffiti all over the QZ walls, along with an abstract design of a firefly that is the Fireflies’ trademark logo. It’s the Firefly motto, and Joel knows it right away when a recruiter approaches him in the market.
In the HBO Show about the Fireflies, we meet their leader, Marlene, in their Boston QZ hideout. She is giving orders to place Firefly teams all over the city. Tess calls Marlene “the Che Guevara of Boston” because Merle Dandridge, who played the part in the game, did it so well in the movie. After two weeks of planning and blowing up FEDRA targets, and despite Kim’s (Natasha Mumba) doubts, the plan is for all the Boston Fireflies to leave the city.
Marlene says, “We are at war with a military dictatorship to bring back democracy and freedom.” “You are not a rebellion if you fight for 20 years and get nowhere. Just paint with a can.”
One of these explosions is the car bomb that stops Tess from talking to black market dealer Robert. A nearby Firefly sniper fighting FEDRA’s Incident Security Force from a rooftop shouts, “Free Boston now, motherf******!” When the police come to arrest Tess, she screams, “I’m not a Firefly!” and is taken to jail.
The bigger plan for Marlene’s Fireflies is to leave Boston and take Ellie west to a group of Fireflies who are supposed to be waiting at the old State House in another QZ in Massachusetts. Marlene has known Ellie since she was a child. Marlene says that she put Ellie in FEDRA’s military school to keep her safe, but Ellie snuck out and was bitten by an infected person. Marlene stopped her from being killed.
Joel and Tess follow the trail to the Fireflies’ hideout, where Ellie is being held captive and watched for signs of infection. They want to find Robert and beat him up for screwing them over. Tommy, Joel’s brother, used to be in a band called the Fireflies, so Joel doesn’t really like Marlene. But when Marlene is shot because of her bad deal with Robert, Joel and Tess join Ellie on the trip.
Who is FEDRA in The Last of Us?
After the Cordyceps fungus spread through the U.S., the Federal Disaster Response Agency (FEDRA), a military branch of the government, has taken over as the main authority.
In The Last of Us, there are FEDRA warning signs all over the buildings. These signs show quarantine zones, rules, and regulations that are used to control the fungal pandemic. A FEDRA sign that lists the signs of Cordyceps infection says, “Safety starts with you.” “Report Cordyceps to the authorities right away,” says another. A diagram shows how long it takes to get a full infection. In episode 1, a FEDRA officer tells Joel about a factory in the Atlanta QZ that supposedly only makes ammunition and drugs.
In the QZs, FEDRA is the law. Streets and the perimeter are watched over by people or by security cameras. The QZ has a curfew from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. “to fight infection and insurrection,” as a sign Tess sees in episode 1 says. FEDRA also has an Incident Security Force that works to “secure areas” in the QZs. After the car bomb goes off, this team fights a Firefly on a rooftop and wrongfully arrests Tess.
FEDRA officers watch the entrances to QZs to make sure no one gets in or out. They do this by wearing navy military armor and ballistic shield helmets. People who enter the QZ are taken to a processing station where they are checked for disease. In The Last of Us, the first time we see FEDRA, an officer is talking to a child who has passed out outside the QZ. They are scanned with FEDRA’s bio device, and if they are infected, they are killed by injection.
FEDRA does not only kill people who are infected, though. Joel sees people who are accused of breaking FEDRA’s law being hung in public in the Boston QZ. In these situations, people get in or out of a quarantine zone without permission. Each person was “tried in a court of military justice” and found guilty off-screen, but we don’t know how fair these trials were.
People in the QZ can sign up for a list of jobs put out by FEDRA. These jobs, which pay different amounts, include street sweeping and sewer maintenance. In fact, FEDRA pays people, like Joel Miller, to burn infected bodies (and probably some that aren’t infected) to stop the spread of the disease. In exchange, they get ration cards.
In The Last of Us, FEDRA is basically in charge of the military in America and is the main reason why the Fireflies want to rebel. And as the series goes on, each side will get more to do.
The Last of Us is now available to stream on HBO Max, and every Sunday night, new episodes air on HBO.