Captain Kwong Confirms a Dark Truth About The Last of Us
“We're the only thing holding this all together.”
The Last of Us is full of failed authority figures. If there’s anything the games (and now, the show) wants to teach you, it’s that putting your faith in any sort of leader is usually a mistake. But in Episode 7, HBO’s Last of Us introduces a new authority figure who seems to actually have good intentions: FEDRA’s own Captain Kwong.
Played by Terry Chen (probably best known for playing a Rolling Stone editor in Almost Famous), Captain Kwong appears in The Last of Us Episode 7, “Left Behind” as perhaps Ellie’s first father figure. With most of the episode serving as a flashback to Ellie’s time at FEDRA military school, he swoops in to give her a pep talk just when she needs it — though whether his advice is valid or not may be up for debate.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for The Last of Us Episode 7.
Captain Kwong’s defense of FEDRA
After Ellie gets in trouble for fighting with another student, Kwong basically tells her to shape up or wind up dead. When she asks why he cares so much, he responds succinctly:
“I care because no matter what anyone out there says or thinks. We're the only thing holding this all together. If we go down, the people in the zone will starve or murder each other.”
Is Kwong right? Everything we’ve seen so far in The Last of Us paints FEDRA more like fascist thugs, and that appears to be pretty accurate. Depending on where you live in the show’s post-apocalypse, FEDRA is either actively murdering you and your neighbors, or just treating you badly and rationing food beyond what seems necessary.
But is the alternative worse? We’ve also seen that when FEDRA does fall, and it isn’t much better. Kansas City didn’t improve after a group of revolutionaries took down FEDRA, it got worse. And that seems to be a common trend. So maybe the fascists really are the best option in the face of a zombie apocalypse.
But it’s later in the episode that we finally understand the true power of Kwong’s words.
The problem with Captain Kwong
When Ellie’s missing friend Riley returns, it’s because she’s joined up with the revolutionary Fireflies and wants to say goodbye. Ellie doesn't take this very well — especially when she finds out Riley has been protecting a stash of bombs used to attack FEDRA. But even before that, she says something to her friend that may sound familiar.
“Like, in a way, FEDRA kinda holds everything together,” Ellie tells Riley, echoing Captain Kwong’s pep talk.
It’s this moment that reveals a dark reality of FEDRA. It’s one thing to install yourselves as the fascist leaders of a crumbling civilization, but to keep that going, you’re going to need new soldiers. And that means indoctrinating a generation of children even as the rest of humanity turns against you.
History is full of examples of evil groups targeting children with their propaganda, and that’s a tactic that continues today. Through Captain Kwong, we see how that same strategy plays out in the world of The Last of Us, and how it allows a group like FEDRA to stay in control far longer than they probably should have.