Skip to main content

Who Are the Fireflies and FEDRA in ‘The Last of Us’?

Wait, who?
Who Are the Fireflies and FEDRA in ‘The Last of Us’?

If you're watching The Last of Us, you would have heard the words "Fireflies" and "FEDRA" thrown around a lot. But who are they again?

The two groups are featured both in the Naughty Dog game and the HBO adaptation by Chernobyl director Craig Mazin and The Last of Us creator Neil Druckmann. Now, it'll be impossible for me to tell you everything about the Fireflies and FEDRA, as we're only five episodes in — if you've played the game, you'll have much more knowledge of what happens with both these groups and the people in them as the story goes on. Trust me, there are plenty more raiders, smugglers, black market dealers like Robert (Brendan Fletcher), militant groups, and armed communities Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) come across in their travels.

But here's what I can tell viewers of the HBO series so far about the Fireflies and FEDRA.

Who are the Fireflies in The Last of Us?

Natasha Mumba and Merle Dandridge play Fireflies Kim and Marlene.

The Fireflies are a highly-skilled, revolutionary militia group revolting against the U.S. government's military arm FEDRA in the quarantine zones (QZs) across the country. Using repurposed (read: seized or smuggled) FEDRA gear and weapons, their goal is to liberate QZs from FEDRA forces and topple the military dictatorship — but they're branded terrorists by the authorities. The Fireflies' signature logo is an abstract design of a firefly, which the rebels spray all over the QZ walls along with written graffiti that reads, "When you're lost in the darkness, look for the light." It's the Firefly motto, one Joel instantly recognises when approached by a recruiter in the marketplace in episode 1.

FEDRA and the Fireflies in one image.

When we encounter the Fireflies in the HBO series, we meet the Fireflies' leader Marlene in their Boston QZ hideout, giving orders to put Firefly teams in place across the city. Perfectly embodied by Merle Dandridge, reprising her role from the game, Marlene is referred to by Tess (Anna Torv) as "the Che Guevara of Boston." Having strategically blown up FEDRA targets over two weeks and ??despite her second-in-command, Kim's (Natasha Mumba) doubts, the plan is for all Boston Fireflies to leave the city.

Tess (Anna Torv) did not expect to find the Fireflies here.

"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 these explosions is the car bomb that interrupts Tess' conversation with black market dealer Robert (Brendan Fletcher) — "Free Boston now, motherfuckers!" calls out a nearby Firefly sniper engaging FEDRA's Incident Security Force from the rooftops. When Tess gets arrested by these authorities, she screams, "I'm not a Firefly!" and gets sent to lockup.

We first meet Ellie (Bella Ramsey) captive in the Fireflies' Boston QZ hideout.

The bigger plan for Marlene's Fireflies is to leave Boston and take Ellie west to a group of Fireflies supposedly waiting at the old State House in another QZ in Massachusetts, then onto a Firefly base camp where doctors are working on a cure for the Cordyceps pandemic. "Whatever happened to me is the key to the vaccine," Ellie tells Joel and Tess in episode 2. However, at the end of the episode, Tess, Joel, and Ellie sadly find the group in the State House all dead and Infected, leaving the mission in their hands instead — and leaving Tess to make the ultimate sacrifice to get Ellie out of there. Marlene has known Ellie since her youth — Ellie was training in FEDRA's military school, as Marlene explains she enrolled Ellie there to keep her safe — but Ellie snuck out and was bitten by an Infected. Marlene stopped her from being killed.

Want more entertainment news delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for Mashable's Top Stories newsletter today.

How did Tess and Joel get mixed up with the Fireflies? Joel, Tess, and Joel's brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna) have known the Fireflies for a long time through their smuggling networks in the Boston QZ. When attempting to find and pulverise Robert for screwing them over, Joel and Tess follow the trail to the Fireflies hideout, where Ellie has been held captive and monitored for signs of infection. As we learn in episode 4, Tommy joined the Fireflies after meeting Marlene, then left and went missing, which means Joel doesn't exactly have love for the group. But as Marlene is shot in her bad deal with Robert, Joel and Tess take on the journey with Ellie.

Who is FEDRA in The Last of Us?

Joel (Pedro Pascal) is spotted by a FEDRA officer outside the Boston QZ.

The Federal Disaster Response Agency (FEDRA) is the main authority in the U.S. following the outbreak of the Cordyceps fungus, a military arm of the government that has essentially replaced it.

You'll see FEDRA warning signs dotted all over city buildings in The Last of Us, as markers of quarantine zones, rules, and regulations to manage the fungal pandemic. "Safety begins with you," reads a FEDRA sign listing the signs of Cordyceps infection. "Report Cordyceps to authorities immediately," reads another detailing how long it takes to full infection with a diagram. FEDRA also runs factories for making ammunition and pharmaceuticals, as the FEDRA officer tells Joel in episode 1 of a factory in the Atlanta QZ that supposedly only makes both.

FEDRA's Incident Security Force has one job: to "secure areas." Whatever that means...

FEDRA acts as the law in the QZs, with surveillance marking the streets and perimeter in person or through security cameras. They enact the QZ curfew of 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. "to fight infection and insurrection," as you can see specified on a sign Tess walks past in episode 1. FEDRA also has an Incident Security Force, which works to "secure areas," within the QZs — this team engages a rooftop Firefly and wrongfully arrests Tess after the car bomb goes off.

Wearing navy military armor with ballistic shield helmets, FEDRA officers patrol the entrances to QZs, making sure no one gets in or out. If people arrive at the gates of the QZ, they're taken to a processing station, where they're checked for infection. When we first encounter FEDRA in The Last of Us, an officer is questioning a child who collapsed outside the QZ. They're scanned with FEDRA's bio device, and when found to be infected, they're executed by injection.

Red is bad.

Infected are not the only ones executed by FEDRA, however. Joel witnesses a public hanging in the Boston QZ of people accused of violating FEDRA's law. In these cases, unauthorised entry or exit in a quarantine zone. Each person was "tried in a court of military justice" and found guilty offscreen, but we're not privy to how fair these trials were.

FEDRA has a list of jobs out for people in the QZ to sign up for, including street sweeping and sewer maintenance, of varying pay levels. In fact, FEDRA hires people to burn infected bodies (and probably not infected in there too) to avoid further spread, for which they can earn ration cards — Joel Miller is one of these people.

"Not today, you New World Order jackboot fucks."

Bill, 'The Last of Us'

However, with great power comes great corruption. We've seen FEDRA raids in action before: in episode 3, armed officers swarm Bill's (Nick Offerman) town as he sits watching the whole thing from his basement. ("Not today, you New World Order jackboot fucks.") And yes, FEDRA is responsible for the mass murder of non-Infected civilians Ellie and Joel come upon as they're travelling to Bill's.

In episode 4 and 5, Henry (Lamar Johnson) tells Joel, FEDRA's Kansas City officers drove the infected underground successfully, however, they then terrorised the QZ residents for decades, abusing their power.

"We always heard KC FEDRA were..." Joel starts.

"Monsters? Savages?" Henry interjects. "Yeah you were right. Raped and tortured and murdered people for 20 years. And you know what happens when you do that to people? The moment they get a chance they do it right back to you."

Kathleen's rebels overthrew FEDRA in Kansas City's QZ.

This constant violence led to a revolution by a militia group of Hunters led by new character Kathleen (Melanie Lynskey) and her brother Michael, who was tortured and killed for information on the rebellion. It becomes clear Kansas City QZ residents were either threatened by FEDRA to snitch on their neighbours with any whispers of the resistance, or they traded information for medicine, alcohol, or as Kathleen puts it, "fucking...apples!?" The rebels ratted out were either imprisoned or hanged. Kathleen interrogates and kills these informers — including her former doctor, Dr Edelstein (John Getz), who was helping Henry.

Ultimately though, using all FEDRA's gear and weapons, Kathleen ends up running the Kansas City QZ just like FEDRA did, with armed patrols and snipers monitoring the streets, enforcing curfew, and hunting for trespassers like Joel and Ellie, who they believe to be associated with their main target, Henry. Why Henry? In episode 5, we learn he gave up information on Kathleen's brother to FEDRA in return for medicine for his brother Sam (Keivonn Woodard), who was battling leukemia.

Essentially, FEDRA are the military authority in America in The Last of Us and the main focus of the Fireflies' rebellion. And there'll be more to each faction as the series progresses.

The Last of Us is now streaming on HBO Max. New episodes air every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

Hey! People are also reading these stories:

‘The Last of Us’ Episode 5 Referenced a Truly Tragic Backstory From the Game

‘The Last of Us’ Finally Adds Ellie’s Favourite Thing: Comics

‘The Last of Us’s Melanie Lynskey Defends Show and Her Casting as Kathleen

Follow Mashable SEA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube.

;

Cover image sourced from ;

Recommended For You

Trending on Mashable

news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news