The Last of Us ended on a strong note, rounding off the story of the game nicely and setting the stage for the seasons to come. It was great to see Ashley Johnson, the voice actor for Ellie in the games, guest star as Ellie’s mother. It’s a great way to honour the original Ellie and it provided the interesting reveal to Ellie’s immunity that we never got in the games.
Joel and Ellie’s character arcs round out beautifully and we also got more emotional depth to Marlene with some hints as to the nature of her close friendship with Ellie’s mother, making her decision to ultimately put humanity over Ellie that much more interesting. She and Joel aren’t really all that different when it comes to the lengths they’ll go to in order to save what they value most.
It was good to see the episode’s moments of calm like Ellie genuinely giggling with delight at seeing a giraffe and Joel asking for some jokes from her pun book. These moments were grounded with the lingering traces of trauma that have built up over the course of the show. Ellie is quieter and more subdued and it’s easy to understand that the only thing keeping her going is getting to the Fireflies and making a cure so that she knows that she hasn’t lost almost everything for nothing.
It’s part of what makes Joel’s lighthearted conversation attempts at the end of the episode so strained and tragic. He’s committing to the lie that there is no cure and the Fireflies have given up though I suspect he knows she doesn’t believe really believe him. And with the trauma Ellie’s sustained, she’s not ready to confront Joel with any conviction because she knows if she does she may have to lose the only thing she has left at the moment.
The massacre scene at Saint Mary’s Hospital was perhaps the most effective scene of the episode, if not the entire show. It’s a brutal part of the game but the cold ruthlessness of the scene plays out better for me in the show because Joel is a much more effective killer when he doesn’t have to hide behind walls for stealth takedowns, heal himself or craft gear.
It leaves us in a very interesting position for the second season as game fans will know the consequences that arise from Joel’s actions and secrets from the end of the first part. The show creators have already said they’re planning for multiple more seasons so while we may not get to the bulk of The Last of Us Part II in the second season, it will give us more room to dive into Joel and Ellie’s time at Jackson, allowing us to see more of the background of the relationships forged there.
It will also give us more time to spend with other characters from the second game, specifically Abby, Owen and the rest of the Salt Lake Crew. It should be interesting to see what they can do with building up their motivations and relationships and deepening some characters who don’t get much – if any – screentime in the second game.
What did you think of the finale? Excited to see where they take Joel and Ellie in the second season? Sound off in the comments below!