did Joel do the right thing? He killed one of the only surgeons left alive, dozens of people fighting for freedom, and the woman who raised Ellie. But he did it to give her a real life, and to give himself something to live for. But he didn't let Ellie make her own choice. But he had to because he knew Ellie would have accepted. Is it better that he took away her choice, rather than forcing herself into a situation where she would have felt that she had to sacrifice herself? And Ellie knows Joel is lying to her, how is that going to affect their relationship? She already has survivor's guilt, this is just going to make it worst? Would the cure have even worked, or would the Fireflies have used it as leverage to become dictators themselves?
That’s absolutely the most amazing thing to me. Like through all of the insanity she’s gone through Joel still sat down and taught her to play. Not only that, but she finds solace in it.
And then it goes to her face and she starts to sing. I don’t know about you guys but I’ve missed Ellie so much and it brought back a huge wave of emotions for me. This scene is heartbreaking too, she looks hurt and pained but she sings anyway.
Then she’s so determined in the final moments of the trailer. She’s grown so much from the end of the previous game, where she questioned Joel’s honesty with her and also questioned her own decisions. She’s an adult now (or almost there it’s hard to tell) and she knows what she wants.
Also her hair is tied up like the way Tess used to tie her hair. I can’t handle it.
So this is my personal long-ass interpretation/aggressive rant on The Last of Us’ ending, how I think Part II is going to play out, as well as where I personally think Joel and Ellie are at in the story as of right now. It’s long as hell so I apologize, lmao buckle your seatbelts.
First off, I know everybody is excited Ellie is a more grown up woman now, I am too. But I think Ellie has always been a woman though in the sense of the word. It has nothing to do with her age. Even at 14, she wasn’t an ordinary 14 year old, but now in Part II that she’s obviously physically older, she has matured even more now and her mind has changed and has adapted to different things. Ellie’s maturity and how it continues to grow ties a lot into what i’m gonna say next.
Now, in that Last of Us One Night Live performance, Neil Druckmann (Writer for The Last of Us), Ashley (Ellie), and Troy (Joel) did, there was this ‘alternate ending scene’ at the end where Joel tries to mend his relationship with Ellie because he knew he broke their trust a bit. Ellie seems hesitant and doesn’t really want to talk to Joel at first, but after he gives her the guitar, (I’m assuming the one we see Ellie playing in the Part II trailer,) He not only taught her how to play eventually, (Given Ellie is playing guitar in the trailer so Joel clearly taught her, as hinted to him telling her he would in the first game.) But in the moment after he gave her the guitar and sung to her as well, (Future Days by Pearl Jam.) Ellie warms up to him again a little. Joel is clearly communicating in song how much she means to him, therefore after, she seems willing to repair their relationship - it’s a joint effort. On Joel’s hand it’s him realizing the repercussions of his mistake, and wanting Ellie to understand and forgive him. On Ellie’s hand it’s her trying to understand and make amends with Joel, but still trying to show him why she wasn’t fully okay with what he did. Neil said that the One Night Live alternate ending wasn’t official or canon - but it wasn’t just written how it was for no reason, there was something more behind it.
I mean, think about it. In the Part II trailer, Joel was still with Ellie, meaning that through the five years leading up to Part II, Ellie in some way had accepted Joel’s decision and choice. A misconception is because Neil said Part II is about ‘hate’, that it automatically has something to do with Joel. But what if it doesn’t? He never said or even implied that hatred was toward Joel, and it seems like Ellie has more anger toward the people she had seemingly just killed in the house she was in. Sure at first, maybe even her being 19 now, she still doesn’t fully like that Joel lied. Fine. But there is clear indication she moved on from that, and there’s a lot of reasons why she likely did. And i’ll you why.
I think a big reason is actually because of Riley. Allow me to explain. In Left Behind, Riley tells Ellie after they’ve been bitten that, “We fight for every second we get to spend with eachother, whether it’s two minutes, or two days, we don’t give that up.” We also see that in the cutback shot to Ellie managing to make a makeshift gurney for Joel, stitching him up, as well as going through all kinds of hell, (David and James.) just to get her hands on medicine to keep him alive. Because she was fighting for him. For what he means to her. And I think that’s one of many reasons why Ellie replaces guilt, with acceptance. It’s because Riley taught Ellie to value loyalty and friendship over what seems to be the bigger decision or the right thing to do. (Example of this is Riley giving up joining the Fireflies’ cause for Ellie, despite Riley always wanting to support the Fireflies and their cause.)
Another reason I believe is that it’s Ellie realizing what she has with Joel is something she always wanted, because she didn’t have her father or her mother Anna to comfort her; it also helps her ease her fear of being alone, (As she told Sam, “I’m scared of ending up alone.”) She knows no matter what Joel makes her feel safe, he is a constant in her life and has never abandoned her. (”Everyone I have cared for has either died or left me, everyone fucking except for you!”)
I also still don’t think that Joel is evil. Sorry I just don’t. Evil is and always has been a point of view. And that was a big theme in The Last of Us. Evil is a perspective, everything isn’t black and white, it’s only grey. Hence why Neil Druckmann left everything up to interpretation, like the ending, or even how you viewed David in the Winter chapter. Because to everybody else, how they view Joel, what he did to Marlene at the end, how you view David or the Hunters, it varies depending on each person and their ideals of morality and moral obligations to do what seems to be the right thing, and going against what seems wrong. It’s about finding what your limits are and where you as the player, personally draw the line. To Joel, it isn’t wrong. To anybody who has a child or a family, they agree with Joel. They would do the same thing. To the Fireflies, killing a young girl for a potentialchance for a vaccine, as well as putting her under without her knowledge first was absolutely necessary. And that what Joel did by taking Ellie from them was horrible, as he doomed a potential chance for mankind - even if mankind might’ve been beyond repair at that point. To David and the cannibals, they didn’t see how they were much different than Ellie and Joel, they both “Kill to survive.” As David said, and had to do what was necessary so their group could live. But to Ellie she saw them as terrible people for eating human beings.
All-in-all it wraps up into what you are willing to accept, and what you are not. I think after everything Ellie saw, she couldn’t just morph it all together into a simple answer of just, “Well Joel lied to me, he’s clearly a terrible person for robbing me of what I wanted and now I hate him, despite everything we went through together.” After David, everything Ellie had seen with Henry killing himself after seeing Sam turn, along with all the other horrific things - that’s exactly what caused Ellie to level with Joel. And Ellie knew full-well Joel was lying, and even Ashley Johnson, (Ellie’s actor), agrees with the fact that Ellie knew Joel was lying. Ellie is smart, she knew he was full of shit. But she embraced it anyway and said, “Okay.” Because this was something she was willing to understand. Looking back on all the moments, you can see Ellie’s unwillingness herself to let Joel go. Like the scene at the ranch house, how happy she was when Joel changed his mind on handing her over to Tommy, how she fell into his arms crying after killing David, and many other moments throughout the game. However, her saying, “Okay.”, doesn’t mean that she’s necessarily okay with him lying, it’s saying, “Okay. I understand why you’re doing this and why you’re saying this.” And it’s going from there. It seems like the whole journey was for nothing. But maybe it wasn’t, because in the end, Ellie and Joel figured out what they needed - and that was eachother. And, again, it was Ellie being able to replace guilt with acceptance.
That’s also why I don’t agree with the whole Joel is dead theory in the trailer and him being a hallucination. Not only does it not make sense from a game design standpoint, but also a narrative standpoint. Neil said so himself, the story of The Last of Us is about Joel and Ellie and their relationship, it doesn’t feel right any other way. Besides, there’s only so much you can do if Joel is dead. I think playing out all what I just explained in Part II would be much more interesting and much more catering to how the first game went, and would allow us to become more attached to their characters and more involved in how we interpret decisions, character, and ideas of morals.
Here’s my theory for TLOU2, theory that I’m sure most people have thought of already lmao. Joel is dead, killed by someone (Fireflies??) and Ellie seeks revenge. She talks to Joel in the trailer but it’s actually a ghost/an hallucination. We spend most of the game talking to Joel and only toward the end we (the players) realize he was actually dead all along. Sixth Sense-style.
what she means:
I really came to love Ellie and Joel's relationship over the course of the game. They became the pseudo-father/daughter duo I wanted them to be and they shared many tender and open moments with each other. But how could Joel lie to Ellie like that at the end of the game? How could he be so selfish? I'm mad at him, but in a way, I understand why he did it. They went through so much together; how could he just leave her behind? It must be difficult to navigate the waters of fatherhood, let alone with a girl who isn't actually your daughter. Still, I don't know if I can forgive him. I wanted them to be happy, but not like this.
If you had any doubts, [the kiss] takes the doubt away. Or at least, it should. I’m sure that some people will still have doubts. I know that there’ll be some of that cynical criticism, people who’ll say, ‘Oh, you just stuck that in there to create more waves.’ But ultimately, we just wanted to tell a different kind of story, we wanted to tell a romantic story. We had it at our disposal and it didn’t matter to us that it happened to be two girls. It wasn’t any more or less than that.