Sorry for formatting and any mistakes found
I initially wrote this for a few friends who asked for my thoughts regarding the game, I decided to share it because maybe someone can find something worthwhile in it. I was NEVER into The Last of Us. I tried multiple times but was never able to. At the time of the leaks, I got spoiled about Joel’s death, not that I cared to be honest.
Fast forward to now and after watching then playing both games back to back to back to back for a whole month, I have thoughts on this.
The Last of Us was mostly based on clichês and tired ideas/concepts. The game had its share of shortcomings and while it is not my favorite game, it ranks quite high among them. Character dynamic and heartfelt narrative are two of the biggest sellers. I came to like this game with time. I fell asleep on the first day watching my friend play through it because I was still kind of forcing myself, but after that it was an amazing trip. Enough of the first game though, you’re here for Part 2.
Throughout your campaign and, admittedly monotonous at times, armed robberies of coffee shops and pizza places, from drawer to drawer looking for a fresh pair or panties, you’ll find documents, heartbreaking notes and moments captured to let you know about the world you live in. These serve as context and lore. (Think Santa Barbara, when prior to Ellie getting attacked, she finds a note in a garage warning about Rattlers.) The concept in Seattle is simple, WLF, an organization strong armed by a man named Isaac, are at war with the Seraphites, who live on an Island and have been slowly pushing deeper into WLF territory. Nothing all too new or revolutionary, it’s mostly the stories of the soldiers who died or escaped on both sides of the conflict that really matter.
The Last of Us world as always been about morally gray characters. Questionable decisions made by questionable people that we can’t help but love, and even understand with time.
The game focuses on Ellie, and Abby, and their conflict over Joel’s death, it’s a story simply about Revenge. Or is it? I never looked at it that way, to be honest. Now, don’t be fooled… the game does touch on Revenge quite A LOT, and the idea of “Revenge Bad” is definitely present here, but reducing the entire game to just that is a bad take imo. The game touches upon a few concepts that I would like to analyze with you, Bonds, Family, Survival, Hatred for oneself and Hatred for the other. Every concept is intertwined, after these concepts come Revenge, and after Revenge, comes the end and last concept.
In the first few hours of the game Joel is beaten to death…. It’s truly heart wrenching moment, to say the least. Both him and Tommy had seen a girl named Abby on the mountains of Wyoming and helped her escape an infected horde. As soon as they’re all semi safe inside a warehouse, Tommy who happens to have the biggest brain on the universe, announces, “I am Tommy, that’s my brother, Joel” at this particular moment you can see Abby’s face changing… Her look gets stuck on Joel and she seems baffled. Soon after they’re making plans to run and Abby, conveniently… lures them into the WLF complex in Wyoming, an old abandoned, Estate. There, the WLF talk to Joel and Tommy, Tommy reveals his name, and in a (REASONABLE CHARACTER MOMENT) so does Joel. Why do I say reasonable? Well… This is not the Joel from The Last of Us, people say he acts out of character (completely neglecting the fact that Abby already knew about them because of Tommy, by the way) but this is the same Joel that busts out a guitar and lets it rip slamming some Pearl Jam to a 14 year old Ellie, why isn’t that considered out of character too by that logic? Even though to the core, you cannot change who you truly are, you can get accustomed… you can learn and get comfortable, you can… adapt. This is Joel after years of living in peace and quiet, Joel when all he needs to do is kill infected hordes that threaten the outskirts of Jackson, Joel who isn’t that battle hardened and scarred contrabandist from The Last of Us anymore, mans is old. This is NOT an out of character moment. But even then, like I initially said, you can’t fully let go of who you are. As soon as Abby blows his leg away and reveals herself as the Villain, the Big Bad, the She-Hulk, the Transgender Mess, his face and voice tone say it all… “I got soft, I let my guard down for a moment because I saw innocence in these KIDS, and now I’m paying for it.” In a brutal scene that many consider (and I can see why) Torture Porn, Joel has his face bashed in by a Golf club, used by this girl whose arm is as thick as my leg. It’s definitely brutal, it’s vile and it’s disgusting. What really sells it though is taking control of Ellie again and moving inside the Estate, hearing the grunts and screams of pain, far away, but above all that, that fucking Ashley Johnson performance… Jesus Fucking. Christ. That performance is SOMETHING ELSE entirely. It’s so fucking believable… it’s heartfelt; it’s painful to hear; she screams of the top of her lungs; the crying; the buzzing noise and muffled sound while Joel is being killed; this performance is nothing short of incredibly telling of how she truly feels about that man. In that moment, she can only see those people in the room, and hear Joel’s last breath drawing near, she can’t make out what the others are saying or what’s going on completely, her focus is on her Father, on the man who traveled with her, the man that couldn’t give up his whole world even if it meant saving the real one. And in that moment, I cried. Most of us did. I already knew what was coming but I was not ready for that scene.
Now let’s analyze Joel and motivations. Joel is as morally gray as they come. I do not think of him as the Hero of the First game, nor do I think of him as the Villain. He is a Hero in the eyes of many, and a Villain for those that felt like he acted selfishly at the end of the first game. Well, I can’t say I blame Joel. Having a baby sister, I understand exactly the lengths I’d go through to protect her and make sure no harm came to her. I can’t blame him for being overly attached to Ellie after all he went through and after all he saw and felt, after losing one daughter.
BUT he did act in a selfish manner. He was not thinking about Ellie, he was not thinking about what she would have wanted, he was only thinking about how he didn’t want to lose a daughter again. He rushed to that room and saved her because he knew that if she was conscious she would have said yes, she would have accepted… Literally hours prior to the events of the Hospital Ellie says “I’m seeing this through, this trip won’t be for nothing, I want my life to matter.” which is a sentiment she echoed MULTIPLE times throughout the first game, and the last time she did Joel’s heart wasn’t in it already… He wanted to go back, she wasn't cargo anymore, she was Kiddo.
Another morally gray character is Jerry, father of Ma’am herself, Jerry isn’t a Hero at all. He may have helped Zebras, he may have been a good dad, he may have been an incredible Doctor, but he still didn’t keep his nose clean enough as to us not being able to see how fucked up his actions are. This man had motives, let’s get that out of the way. I can understand, the sacrifices made and lives lost would finally matter, a cure was finally at hand. Marlene questions about the possibility of it being his daughter and he misdirects the question, though Abby does tell him she would accept it if it were for the betterment of the World. That’s pretty and all but Hell is also full of people with good intentions, rotting and burning away. The most Fucked up part, however, is his attitude… This man wanted to KILL A LITTLE CHILD, WITHOUT even CONSULTING with HER or HER FATHER FIRST. That’s all types of fucked up. At the same time I can understand why he didn’t want to risk it… What if the kid didn’t accept? What if the Father lost his mind? We can’t risk that, can we? Let’s just, fuck shorty up and throw the corpse down the stream for the Bloaters in the sewers to find. Even though I understand, I DO NOT find it to be acceptable.
Joel murders Jerry and most people at the Hospital, grabs Ellie and leaves before she wakes up, he then proceeds to lie to her. He needed to save face, he needed for her to be on his side, he couldn’t risk telling the truth and losing her affection, but he also didn’t want to break her heart by letting her know that yes… She would have had an extremely meaningful death, and he robbed her of that by deciding in her stead, what was best for her, something that Jerry, for example, didn’t even consider to begin with.
These events have a deep effect on both Ellie, and Abby. Ellie can never quite let go of that feeling that Joel is lying, he says it himself to Tommy in the beginning of Part 2, when he asks him if she believed him, Joel’s reply is, after thinking about it for a while and letting out a sigh "She didn’t say otherwise" Contrary to popular belief, Ellie is not stupid. Eventually, later down the road, after some extremely heart warming flashbacks with them, she finds out the truth. She has a panic attack, can’t quite catch her breath, she finds herself utterly destroyed by the realization of what truly happened that day. She also promises Joel that it’s over. They’re not talking anymore, there is nothing that will make her go back and get along with him, she hits him with the biggest “Yeah, thanks a lot, DAD.” I have ever seen a teen girl give her father. Now… The Elephant in the room… Ma’am, BodyBuilding 101, Steroids and Crack, The “Do you even Lift, bro?”, The… Abby reacts how you’d expect her to react, honestly. She bawls her eyes out in the arms of Owen, she falls to her knees and calls out for her father in a very touching performance, but that isn’t what’s most important, the most important is… The aftermath. I’m not talking about what happens to Joel, no, I’m talking about her obsession. Case in point, the Owen and Abby Aquarium flashback. While it does drag on for too long, Lord knows it fucking does and I can’t stand it anymore, there are some parts that caught my attention. Her obsession with going back to the base to Train. Can’t skip a single day, gotta chase them gains, she dedicates herself and her whole life to one purpose, build herself as a War Machine to destroy the man that killed her father, her Firefly companions, and doomed humanity. Throughout most of the flashback Owen makes comments regarding her strength and she mentions she has been training hard. At the end of the flashback, it is shown that she can’t think about anything else, she can’t keep a stable relationship even with Owen because she’s obsessed with this Man she intends to find and kill.
And what did she get out of it? Well… Absolutely nothing. Rather, mostly, nothing. At least not what she wanted to get out of it.
See, the thing is that Abby suffers from some type of PTSD, kind of like Ellie does from the moment Abby lays hands on Joel, kind of like Joel does in the beginning of the first game (when you first meet Ellie, she even comments on his nightmares.) Abby’s part starts with a flashback that is a dream. In this sequence you find out about her father and her reaction. This lays the stage for her to speak her piece and lay her part, there is an extremely curious detail here that I haven’t seen a lot of people talk about… And that is, “regret” for killing Joel. Hold on now, I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out. Maybe regret is too strong a word for it, but I’ll explain it. She’s dreaming about the day her father was murdered, the events that led to the Fireflies demise, she’s dreaming about her crying and feeling completely emotionally wrecked. And then the dream cuts to her… Eyes closed, contemplating on the killing blow on Joel’s (almost) rotting corpse. For a split second she questions it, she takes her time thinking about these events, she waits on it for a bit… Wondering, but the rage is too much, she lands the last blow and suddenly, you’re seeing the scene from her perspective, there’s no more muffled or buzzing sound, it’s all clear now… and… cue to her opening her eyes. She wakes up from her nightmare…
“Joel’s dead, then why do I still have nightmares? Why do I still feel like this? Was it useless to kill him? Was that not what I had to do to get rid of this plague and finally move on? Then, what fucking is?”
Herein lies Abby’s struggle. The purpose she had fought for and sought out the past few years meant naught in the Grand Scheme of things, no time to think about it though because Manny’s stupid ass is waking her up to give Scars this work. Let’s take a moment to say “Fuck Manny” because never in my life have I ever disliked someone as much as I do him in a video game. “pEnDEjo” Well, maybe Mel.
Back to Joel’s death though and to answer something I already see coming. No, leaving Ellie and Tommy alive is not bad writing. It actually shows how Human Abby is and actually… a good person, kinda.. sorta. She went to Wyoming for Joel, her objective, was Joel, nothing more, that’s it, we’re done. Manny, Jordan, Nora and Mel thought otherwise, they wanted Ellie killed right then and there. And while Abby was killing Joel, Owen was pushing everyone else away from Ellie, not letting them lay a finger on her because she was not to blame for anything. They almost get into a fight over it because Owen wants to do this with as little bloodshed as possible, though bloodshed, is needed. Cue Abby saying that “We’re done” and letting the others know, no one is laying a finger on Ellie, she’s staying there, and they’re leaving. I feel like this is a very overlooked detail that people just brush off as bad/poor writing. Because we’re all the same and because people believe that if they don’t like someone, that person can’t have any good parts about them, it’s gotta be all bad without a single quality to them.
Okay! We unpacked quite a bit so far… Believe it or not, we’re almost to the end, I hope… I’m improvising this.
After the events of Joel’s death, we see a heartbroken Ellie… But we’re actually looking at Joel, personified as Ellie, and this, is the beginning of her downfall. I’ve heard once that, people need to learn to not live the life of those long gone or they’ll be stuck in time, not growing, and doomed to make the same mistakes. Which is EXACTLY what happens to Ellie. After the events, Ellie decides to leave on a trip to hunt them all down and kill them by her own hands, take revenge upon them, do be mindful though, this story is NOT entirely based on revenge. She sets out with Dina, putting her at risk too, and as the days go by… Ellie gets darker… and darker… and darker… It gets to a point where it’s actually complicated for me as the player, to keep helping her on her quest. Sure, I understand her, I’m right there with her, I fucking love Joel, but Ellie starts acting… I think this culminates in the first Torture scene with Ellie. After hunting Nora down through the Hospital and throwing her to a basement filled with Clickers and spores, Ellie corners her. This is one of the most heart wrenching moments in the entire game… Not because of Nora, though I don’t believe that “Yeah, that bitch got what she deserved” as she would put it, but because you see Ellie letting go of her humanity… Letting go of that cute little shorty from The Last of Us that cracks stupid puns and just wants her life to have meaning. This Ellie, right now, is crying, rather, trying not to. She starts breathing fast, grasping for air, she contemplates if it’s all worth it, why she’s doing this, she’s doing it for Joel, she concludes… The devs make YOU do the clicking while the Pipe does the smacking, which I’m still pissed about, by the way. You can hear Nora crying in the background, and eventually… She starts talking. Ellie then proceeds to go back to the Theater, to Dina and Jesse, she’s still crying, her hands are shaking, she’s traumatized by what she just did, who she became.
At this point in time, this isn’t Ellie anymore, she’s having a progressively harder time accepting herself and her actions as the story goes by, she’s becoming more and more like Joel was, she’s resorting to torture and mass murder because….Well, muh revenge is at hand. Ellie’s last day in Seattle starts, and oh boy, here I go killing again!
Ellie and Jesse leave and go to the Aquarium, they separate midway because Jesse goes to help Tommy, the Sniper shooting at Abby and Manny. They separate from each other in a rather sour note because Jesse calls her and basically Ellie says “Go fuck yourself, Tommy is a grown ass man, he can take care of himself, now, you about to help me or you about to fuck out of my way?” clearly showing that Ellie, lost sight of what matters… Ellie lost sight of her friends, her companions, they don’t matter nearly as much as Abby. Jesse leaves, disappointed, as he should, and Ellie makes for the Aquarium.
In the Aquarium, Ellie finds Owen and Mel, arguing. Here we see more of Ellie=Joel, as she is seen trying to use his torture methods on them both, failing to realize that they’re supposed to be tied up lmao, what a doofus. Things escalate and now they’re both dead. Rip.
Honestly, Mel is insufferable throughout most of the game, and while I did hate Owen, for the most part, he has been growing on me quite a bit as of late so his death kind of saddens me, to be honest. In his last, dying breath, he says that Mel is pregnant… Ellie is shocked by this revelation, she starts hyperventilating, she starts regretting what she just did, Tommy and Jesse show up and take her away.
Back at the Theater the Woman of the hour shows up, pissed as can be, as she should be, after an extremely shitty day. The hair saloon was closed that day so her hair was a mess, the weather was awful, she had just been on an island where both her faction, who she betrayed, turned against her and so did the faction of the kids she was helping, the Gym was closed so there wasn’t any power lifting for the whole day, plus she got home to find a pretty shitty but pregnant “friend” dead, and her boyfriend too… So, understandably, she was, let’s say… a bit upset. Still, no reason to do my mans Jesse like that.
Let’s backtrack a little, let’s talk about Lev and Abby.
In Abby’s campaign, she gets overrun and caught by Scars, in the process, she is to be hanged and gutted, Yara and Lily (now known as Lev) make their escape that night from the Seraphites, and they’re caught at around the same time that Abby is. Yara has her left arm completely broken with a hammer, and Lev uses a bow to murder the rest, they both cut Abby and basically decide to help each other get out of there as long as their enemies align. After a bit of a rough night, Abby leaves both of the kids in a sketchy ass part of a Seattle hood to fend for themselves, with one of the kids being… damn near useless, at this point, because of excruciating pain and lack of an arm. She leaves towards the Aquarium, she finds Owen who had betrayed the WLF because he couldn’t find it in himself to kill a defenseless Scar and cue absolutely unnecessary and please patch this out sex scene.
That night, Abby is plagued by nightmares again, only this time, in place of her father dead on that Hospital floor, are Lev and Yara, hanged. She wakes up, and there she goes to pick the kids up. Lev almost shoots her face off in the process, but she reaches them, grabs Yara and takes her to Owen, who is now accompanied by Mel, the single most irresponsible pregnant woman in this entire world. She leaves Yara there, and sets of with Lev towards the Hospital to find supplies for help Mel treat Yara.
In this segment you have a few heart warming scenes with Lev’s innocence and Abby, plus her fears and his very dumb but kind of caring way of helping her, a few jokes in there, basically, a callback to The Last of Us. What you can tell by this is that Abby, a ruthless killer that built herself like a War Machine, was now running errands and helping kids from an enemy faction, betraying her own, because well, they’re just kids caught in the crossfire, kind of like she and Ellie were/are and, again, she is not, a fully bad person. She reaches the Hospital, shit hits the fan, her faction, WLF, arrest her by orders of Issac. This happens hours before Ellie reaches the Hospital. Nora lets Abby go, she fights the ugliest little shit I have ever seen in my life in the Hospital basement and she makes off with a med kit to help Yara. She reaches the Aquarium with Lev, Mel patches Yara up dispatching half of her arm due to infection, and they call it a day. EXCEPT, Lev had other plans.
That night, Abby has yet another dream… It starts off the exact same way as the others do, except, it ends differently… This time, when she enters through that Hospital door, her father isn’t dead on the ground, nor are the kids hanged, her father is there, staring, looking at her, happy. It wasn’t killing Joel. It was NEVER about killing Joel. It wasn’t Revenge that brought back her sanity, it wasn’t years of training that made her breath fresh air and feel hopeful, it was helping those two kids that made her find her humanity again… Kind of like Jo-…
Abby wakes up, Mel confronts her, as it turns out there are rumors of the Fireflies meeting up again at Santa Barbara and both Mel & Owen are going with the kids… IF Abby doesn’t go. Mel ends up calling Abby a piece of shit and says she’s an awful human being putting up an act (… girl had finally found inner peace… ffs Mel) Abby admits she hasn’t always been in the right and Mel interrupts by telling her to let the kids go before she fucks them over too. Abby, clearly in a good mood, kicks a chair standing by into another fucking Galaxy and back. She starts crying, thinking about what Mel had said, and gets interrupted by Yara… Apparently Lev decided to say “fuck it” and steal a boat to head towards the Seraphites island. His idea was to grab their mom so she could leave with them.
Abby and Yara heads towards the Island and after a few hours of roaming around you find Lev at their place, his body full of scratches and marks, with their mother, laying dead. This whole ordeal had started because the Seraphites Elders had picked Lev to be a wife, but that wasn’t how he felt, so at the time SHE decided to shave her head and become a HE, soldier. Their mother was extremely devout so that was sacrilegious to her. This is why Lev and Yara meet Abby in the first place, because Lev runs away and Yara follows. In conclusion, after being chased down and being pushed away by Lev, she ends up dying and well… It’s time for Abby to pick the kids up and go back to the Aquarium while Ellie is there doing what she does best, fucking everything up. Problem is… A storm had just brew, and the WLF were attacking the Seraphites island, hard. In the process of leaving, Isaac shows up to confront Abby, Yara kills Isaac, WLF soldiers kill Yara, and Abby fucks out of there with Lev, running from Seraphites and WLF soldiers alike.
Back at the Aquarium you know the deal, three corpses and a dead dog, Abby puking with disgust and crying, and on the ground… A map. A map that Ellie had dropped off and didn’t even notice it… A map with the whole trajectory she had been doing since she first reached Seattle… And with it, Abby and Lev made towards the Theater.
They entered through a window, immobilized Tommy, shot Jesse point blank and killed him, Ellie shows up, and Abby is not having it. This part has one of the single most memorable lines and delivery in video game history by Laura Bailey. “We let you both live…And you wasted it!” Abby tries to shoot Ellie’s head clean off and Tommy intervenes, Lev fucks his knee up with an arrow and Abby shoots him in the head, Ellie leaves and Abby follows. To be honest, I still feel like Jesse deserved better, and I don’t know if I’m alone here but, at this point in the story, I felt bad… I felt bad for helping Ellie do all those things and I was feeling like she was the true Villain, and while Abby was no heroine, she was the one getting the short end of the stick… I mean, she had just come to gripes with reality and found inner peace and… Talk about getting out of the frying pan…
Fighting ensues, as expected Abby completely fucks Ellie up. Shorty so gorgeous but damn near got disfigured, and as Abby is almost done with Ellie, Dina shows up to fight Abby off. Abby makes quick work of Dina and readies herself to cut her head off, Ellie, almost in her last breath says “She’s pregnant…” Abby replies, “Good.” Lev screams for her name and Abby stops…
I want to take a moment to talk about this specific moment. I’m tired of seeing people acting like they shit roses and they never said or did anything while hot headed. Do I think Abby would have killed Dina? No, I do not, I could be wrong though and I can see why you’d feel otherwise. In my opinion, that “good” came out because of how she was feeling, she was drained, she had just lost every single person she had with her except for Lev, I find it incredible how people managed to show sympathy to Joel for similar reasons but can’t do it for Abby too. I’m not saying I agree with her attitude, I’m saying I understand it and she wasn’t level headed when she replied, even if she did kill Dina, that shit would haunt her forever, just like killing Joel was haunting her and her motives there were way bigger. She lets Dina go and warns Ellie “Don’t ever let me see you again.”
Before we head into the Final Act… I feel like, for the most part, this game is based on empathy, and how willing we, as humans and “gamers” are willing to forgive and reach out/let others reach out. I’m not saying you’re a trash human being if you can’t forgive Abby. I don’t think that the story is incredibly complex, everything that you need in order to understand it is right there, most things aren’t said explicitly, the devs hope that you’re paying attention to subtle nods and cues. At parts this does almost seem like torture porn and overly violent, the first game is incredibly depressing with an awful ending that is everything but an Happy one, but I understand that you’re tired of depressing art, don’t dismiss this entire game because of that, though… Give it a fair chance. I’d argue that The Last of Us is more depressing than this one, mainly because of the ending on both but we’ll get there soon… This game isn’t perfect. Let’s get that out of the way. It is my favorite game of all time, it still fucks with me mentally and emotionally, but this game has pacing issues… Some flashbacks drag on for too long, some things in the story could be better explained, Dina being pregnant is straight up unnecessary and only there to draw parallelisms between her and Mel. I understand the frustration and lack of will to use Abby for 10 hours after you witness what she did, I really do, I think devs could have executed it better because not everyone is that willing to show empathy at first glance and maybe rightfully so. But never in my life… Have I ever felt this way towards a game. This game switches who the Villain and who Hero is twice during its course, it shows you that it isn’t always correct to judge without knowledge of fact, it does get quite bleak, it’s true, but at the same time it’s a ray of sunshine and a light at the end of a seemingly infinite tunnel. I'd argue this game is a huge Leap for video games in general, a true work of art from top to bottom and really an example on how to bring out the best and worst in people… Just look at how everyone reacted to this game. So while it was not executed poorly, it wasn’t executed flawlessly, either. Though damn near, in my opinion… I’m a lot more forgiving in that aspect because sometimes the roughness of it is what makes us Human. Another thing before I wrap this up…Just because you DISLIKE a character OR AN EVENT, it DOES NOT mean that character or event is POORLY WRITTEN. Jesus Christ, people. You like every motherfucker you meet? You agree with everything that people do? How everything in life pans out and ends up being? No, you do not. I, for one, can dislike a character and admit that character is well written, just like I can love a character and say that it was written poorly, one thing does not invalidate the other. Okay… Sorry, I just needed to get that out of the way and out of my chest.
Now! For the Final Act… Roughly a year as gone by. We see Ellie carrying JJ around, Jesse’s and Dina’s mid, they all live together in a big farmhouse. After a few moments of goofing around and playing, Ellie starts locking the animals up at the barn, when all but one is locked away, a shovel hits the ground, showing a clip of Joel grunting with his face completely smashed by Abby, Ellie starts moving away towards the exit, an eerie red aura invades the screen (kind of looks like when Ellie was torturing Nora.) I look at this aura in a symbolic manner. Seems to me that this aura shows up because it takes Ellie back to the moment where she almost completely gave up on herself and her humanity, and became a full on “monster”, at this moment in time, contrary to what we thought by what we saw thus far, not everything is okay with Ellie… she’s still stuck with the PTSD that Abby got rid of, and while leaving the Barn… the door closes with a huge bang. You can hear Joel’s screaming far away, calling for Ellie’s name, and her, running, and trying to open the door where he is locked and being tortured by Abby. I interpreted this scene in a bit of a different fashion. See, I believe that the game is about Revenge, but not fully. I believe it is also about self hate and repentance, at this point Ellie still doesn’t know that, or if she did, she still didn’t accept it, the image cuts back to a very convincing performance by Ashley Johnson, with Ellie screaming and JJ crying, with Dina next to them reassuring Ellie that everything is okay, she is Home. It is revealed that Ellie barely eats, she barely sleeps, she lives traumatized and with nightmares, she can barely keep her sanity… Notice how this didn’t happen during the 3 days you used Ellie, in the beginning of the game… It only started getting worse since she started straying away more and more from who she really was.
All of this happens Early Summer… Tommy goes visit sometime later, probably not more than a day or two. Tommy somehow survived Abby’s shot, he only lost his eye and can barely walk now due to Lev’s arrow, his wife left him… He became a shadow of who he once was… He was still obsessed with Abby. He brings news of her whereabouts, and, in one of the single most disgusting scenes of the entire game, this man, manipulates Ellie, blames her for giving up on killing Abby, throws the words she said back at her face and makes her feel guilty, says that it’s easy for her to ignore Abby, now that she’s living all comfy with Dina and JJ. Those words start eating away at Ellie, and during that night, after a brief conversation with Dina, Ellie leaves for Santa Barbara… The image cuts to Lev and Abby searching for leads on the Fireflies. Looking through an abandoned basement, they find a notepad with coordinates and city names and after trying and trying to catch someone in line… Abby starts panicking and accompanied by a voice crack, is a plead for someone to “please respond”… and someone does. They tell her the Fireflies are getting back together, they tell her to meet them in Catalina Island, Avalon, they’ll find her when she reaches the place. Abby and Lev, happy as can be, leave the House, only to get bulldozed and knocked out by The Rattlers, and taken away. The Rattlers take prisoners and treat them as slaves, beat them, most try to run and get gunned down.
Ellie arrives at Santa Barbara three months later and gets caught up in a trap set by The Rattlers, after a small exchange and confrontation, Ellie damn near passing out due to blood loss and malnutrition, squeezes info out of one of The Rattlers, apparently a girl named Abby built like a Bull was captured with a young boy a while ago… he gives up their location and Ellie shoots the guy dead.
She infiltrates the Dome and carefully treads around until she reaches the prison where the Slaves are kept, there she asks for Abby, apparently Abby tried to run away with Lev but she got caught, she’s most likely dead at the beach. Ellie makes to the beach and gets to see one of the mos grizzly sights of her entire life… Dozens of people hanged to piles of wood, most dead with decomposing bodies and in the midst of them is Abby… Literally a third of the size she previously had when we last saw her, completely malnutritioned and damn near dead… She recognizes Ellie, and Ellie cuts her down.
Immediately Abby helps Lev down from another pillar, and she tells Ellie “There’s boats this way…” they reach the shore and the image from the main menu appears, a lone boat with a very eerie, dark, atmosphere. A few meters away is another boat. Abby sets Lev down, and prepares to leave, Ellie goes to the other boat and prepares to leave too. Let me take a moment to add something here. I feel like the ending we got in this game is amazing, I’ll explain why soon.
If Ellie NEVER left the Farmhouse those who believe in Karma and giving Abby what she deserves would be happy, she’d die, hanging there with her body rotting away, sort of like pay for what she did to Joel. Ellie, who hasn’t keeping her nose so clean as well, would be living with the trauma, still. Only person who’d be left unjust would be Lev, who did nothing to deserve dying there in that awful manner.
Ellie is ready to set sail, except… not. She looks at her hand, it’s covered in her blood and while looking at it… an image of Joel, laying there with his head completely smashed, appears, and Ellie’s resolve is back, she turns back and warns Abby “I can’t let you leave.” Abby says she’s not about to do this again, Ellie throws her to the ground, kicks her just for good measure and forces her to fight, she refuses. Ellie then puts a knife to Lev’s throat. Abby begs her not to do it, and said that she’ll give Ellie what Ellie wants. This part is honestly depressing. If you found this amusing, if you got your rocks off with this or was rooting for a showdown of sorts looking at these two barely girls fighting, then you need to get some help because you’re clearly deranged and did not understand a single bit of what you played. This is literally the single most depressing moment in the entire game. Ellie, with a knife, fights a bare fist Abby, who ends up succumbing to Ellie, but not before biting off two of her fingers. With Abby underwater, with incredible performances by both Laura and Ashley, Ellie starts drowning her… and with Abby almost dead, and Ellie crying throughout most of these past few moments, an image of Joel playing guitar in his porch appears… and Ellie let’s Abby go, telling her to take “him” with her. Abby leaves with a damn near dead Lev, and Ellie is left by herself, sitting, crying on that shore.
Now, that small flashback that Ellie has at the end of the fight only plays in full a bit after this whole ordeal but I’ll talk about it now. This dialog between Joel and Ellie happens shortly after the confrontation with Seth at the bar, after Dina and Ellie kiss. Joel intervenes and Ellie gets mad at him, she meets him in his porch where he is playing the guitar and drinking coffee. They talk, Ellie tells him he had no right no pick for her and that she’d never forgive him, he doubles down on it, further showing how much he loves her and wants her to have a meaningful life, and she says she’s willing to try to pardon him. Troy’s voice crack in this part really sells the whole scene and this is, in my opinion, why I think that self-hatred, (though hatred might be too strong a word) is more prevalent as a main theme than revenge is. Ellie had two whole years to forgive Joel, to enjoy his company, to keep building on the relationship created in The Last of Us, and, when she is finally ready to understand and lend her hand, he’s murdered the very next day by Abby, who in other words, strips Ellie away from that possibility of starting anew with Joel. In my opinion, Ellie as been projecting the entire game, sure she’s furious at Abby, and rightfully so, she wants to have revenge, but seeing that flashback as soon as Abby is about to die is very telling of how she truly feels… having that scene in the barn where Joel calls for ELLIE specifically, which NEVER happened, just further shows that Ellie couldn’t find it in herself sooner to come to grips with the fact that… it was her fault, it was her fault that he died before they truly had a chance to bound again, and she can’t forgive herself for that.
Letting Abby go at the end, shows that the little girl from The Last of Us that was completely absent in Part 2, actually still exists, Ellie doesn’t have to be a continuation of Joel like she was trying to be, he’d want her to be better than that, and she was when she let Abby go. Perhaps Ellie came to realize this too late, but it’s hard for people do that, especially when the matter is blame and hatred, so I can relate and understand why it took her so long to finally be honest with herself, to realize that the last few moments she had with Joel were a good time and in hopes of something better, and not that picture of him laying dead on the ground of that mansion.
Fast forward to the end of the summer, Ellie is back at the farmhouse (this time without two fingers but with Dina’s bracelet) but both her girlfriend and son are nowhere to be found… She goes up to her “artistic room” where she tries to play the guitar and fails miserably, the cutscene I mentioned previously plays at this point, with Ellie staring into nowhere, putting the guitar down and leaving, leaving Joel, and all of the past, behind. I find it amazing how Joel was portrayed in this game. He wasn’t a ruthless killer or a contrabandist, that was in the past, his last outing was as a caring father figure who ultimately was paying for his “wrong” but completely understandable decision at the end of the first game… I ended up liking Joel even more after this game, saying that Naughty Dog put 0 thought into him and just wrote him off is laughable at best. The dining table with a view to Ellie’s place, the books about Dinosaurs and Space so he can talk about them with Ellie, this is a man that is tired of the rough life and finally managed to find inner peace at the cost of his daughter’s love and is now, even without her giving him the deserving praise, doing his best to win her back. He ended up getting emotionally attached after he tried to hard not to, and I don’t think he can be faulted for that, he can be faulted, however, for many other things, among those things are a few adjectives that fit both him and Abby… It’s a matter of understanding that in the world of The Last of Us, what is good and bad is all but set in stone. The heart warming flashbacks, the playfulness, the regret smeared across his face when Ellie confronts him, every single voice crack when talking with her, a mind full of regret, not because of what he did because he admitted it was worth it to see her growing up, but rather because he lied, and that cost him her love. All of this really help cement Joel as someone who is very deserving of being called one of the best and more fleshed out video game character in recent memory, in my opinion. (Conclusion in the comments)
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