The following article contains spoilers for the season one finale of The Last Of Us. You have been warned…
For the past ten years, the ending to hit game The Last Of Us has been one of the most divisive in history.
And this week non-gamers finally got to find out why, as the conclusion was faithfully adapted for the season finale of HBO’s hit TV adaptation, being just as morally complex (not to mention emotionally devastating) as the source material.
In short, Joel discovers that the only way the Firefly scientists can extract a miracle cure from Ellie would be a surgery that takes her life.
So, having developed a surrogate father-daughter bond with her, Joel makes the hasty decision to doom humanity to save Ellie’s life, killing several Fireflies on a dubious rescue mission.
Translating It From The Game
One of the main reasons why Joel’s final rampage is so divisive is because there’s no way around it: in the game if you want to continue playing, you have to kill multiple innocent people, most of whom are shown directly begging you for their lives.
It’s a masterstroke decision designed to make you complicit in Joel’s actions even though you will likely disagree with them – with the show not having this interactive element that forces you to carry out the massacre, there was some concern it may not have the same impact.
Thankfully, due to the extra time the series has spent fleshing out Joel’s history with his daughter Sarah and his softer characterisation that helped him form an easier bond with Ellie, the show delivered the devastation it needed to.
Series creators Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin have previously spoken about softening the characterisation of Joel due to the change in medium, with their decision fully paying off in this finale.
After seeing another ‘daughter’ being put at risk of being taken away from him, Joel makes the decision to prevent what he couldn’t before – an understandable motivation, even if it only dooms us all.
As with the game, it’s safe to say this will be the subject of intense debate for weeks to come.
Where Do We Go Next?
The finale neatly sets up events for the upcoming second season of the show which has already been announced after the first became a huge hit and will adapt the sequel to the game.
In Part II, we pick up with Joel and Ellie who have returned to Wyoming, where they have settled down, but their relationship is strained although Ellie is still unaware of the truth – Joel has only told Tommy what really happened.
However, that truth threatens to come out after the pair rescue Abby Anderson, who leads the pair to her secret hideout, also revealing herself to be the daughter of one of the Firefly medics Joel was responsible for killing.
Yes, the second game directly grapples with the ramifications of Joel’s actions, becoming equal parts revenge-thriller.
For those familiar with that game’s non-chronological structure, which also puts you into the shoes of Abby, it’ll be intriguing to see how this is translated to the screen – although the two flashback episodes in the first season suggest the ground has already been set to tell a more ambitious tale.
Our biggest hope right now is that we won’t have the same seven year wait that we did for The Last Of Us Part II game to arrive following the first one.
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