Before HBO’s “The Last of Us” premiered in January, fans of the iconic survival horror game anxiously awaited its release, wondering if this adaptation would fall into the same trap that so many video-game adaptations had by not staying faithful to its source material.
Although the show has undoubtedly taken some creative liberties, fans of the games and newcomers to the franchise have been impressed, so much so that sales for the “The Last of Us: Part I” game have skyrocketed, and the HBO series has already been picked up for a second season.
Since the first season of “The Last of Us” follows the first game’s story, the second season could cover “The Last of Us: Part II”‘s events. So check out what happens in the “The Last of Us: Part II” game to get an idea of what may happen in HBO’s “The Last of Us” season two.
A Tragic Change in Point of View
“The Last of Us: Part II” was a massive success when it came out. It won Game of the Year in 2020 like its predecessor did in 2013. Praised for its progressive nature with multiple women leads and a lesbian protagonist, Ellie, it offered a lot of diversity that the gaming industry still tends to shy away from. All that said, the game was still controversial upon release, primarily because of its plot.
In “The Last of Us,” players played Joel, a middle-aged man who gets stuck escorting Ellie across the country but eventually comes to see her as a daughter (he’s portrayed by the incredible Pedro Pascal in the TV series). There’s a limited portion of the game where players play the 14-year-old Ellie and a DLC that features her as the playable character.
Considering Joel’s beloved in the fandom, fans expected to play Joel again in “Part II,” not the plot that the creator, Naughty Dog, went with. Ultimately, players only get to play Joel for a short time at the beginning of the game, at which point Joel confesses to his brother, Tommy, that he saved Ellie from the Fireflies who wanted to kill her for a potential cure. After the opening prologue, players are tossed into a now-adult Ellie’s point of view.
Within the first few hours of the nearly 24-hour-long game, Joel dies in a brutal and bloody fashion. This decision was divisive among fans. The initial shock of Joel’s death came out of nowhere, leaving many fans angry and condemning the game. Some even refused to finish the game at all.
Joel’s Death, Explained
“Part II” introduces Abby Anderson, the daughter of the doctor who was going to kill Ellie in “The Last of Us.” As it turns out, Abby’s been hunting Joel ever since Joel’s rampage through the hospital at the end of the first game. The final fight in the game was Joel mowing down the entire hospital full of Fireflies, including Marlene, to save Ellie. “Part II” follows the logical path that such an act would anger people. In this case, Abby, a similar age to Ellie, lost her father. Also, Joel potentially cost the world a potential cure for cordyceps.
The ending of “The Last of Us” was a hard pill to swallow because, naturally, the player wants to save Ellie from a horrible fate. The Fireflies don’t even know that killing her will help them produce a cure at all. It was never a sure thing. Still, in saving Ellie, Joel may have dashed the world’s only chance of finding a cure. Both options are terrible, but a decision needed to be made. “Part II” follows up by forcing Joel to face the blowback of his actions.
The game forces players to play Abby for half the runtime as she first meets Joel and isn’t sure who he is. Joel saves her from a hoard of zombies and helps her get to safety. It isn’t until Joel and Tommy introduce themselves that she realizes she’s finally found the man she’s been hunting. She knocks out Tommy and proceeds to torture Joel, slowly beating him to death with no explanation to the player as to why it’s happening. Ellie arrives during the beating, and she’s held down and forced to watch as Abby kills Joel by crushing his head with a golf club.
Ellie Seeks Revenge
Ellie and Joel’s relationship is strained and distant at the start of the game because she finds out Joel lied to her when he said her immunity couldn’t help the Fireflies, and she never gets a chance to patch things up before Abby kills him. Being held down and forced to watch as a stranger murdered her father figure breaks something in her. Abby and her friends argue about killing Ellie but ultimately leave Ellie and Tommy alive because they were only there for Joel.
Ellie leaves their settlement in Jackson with her pregnant girlfriend, Dina, in pursuit of Abby. Determined to get revenge on the woman who killed Joel, Ellie stops at nothing to achieve this. The pair track Abby to Seattle, where Abby’s settlement is. The longer Ellie goes, the more unreasonable she becomes in her bloodlust. Eventually, Dina can no longer get through to her. Unfortunately, Tommy can’t get through to her either, and her pursuit leads to Abby shooting Ellie’s friend Jesse in the head.
Ellie and Abby’s Showdown
Eventually, Ellie ends up alone, unwilling to give up on her mission. Her desire to get to Abby causes her to cross multiple lines, including murdering several of Abby’s friends, one of whom was pregnant at the time. When Abby and Ellie face off at the end of the game, there’s a lot of bloodshed and hatred between them. When given the opportunity to kill Abby, Ellie finally decides not to. A little boy who Abby’s protecting swears that if she hurts Abby, he’ll never stop until he finds her, continuing this endless cycle of needless violence. Ellie decides to stop and returns home to Dina and her baby.
“The Last of Us: Part II”‘s Meaning
The “The Last of Us: Part II” game is told from two perspectives. It constantly shifts the player between Ellie and Abby’s stories. As the player controls Abby, they learn of her history and why she is hunting down Joel: she’s seeking him out for killing her father. In that way, she serves as a mirror for Ellie’s mission to avenge Joel in turn.
The time spent with Abby is meant to accomplish a few things, including showing how her life hasn’t improved since killing Joel. In fact, killing Joel set off a chain reaction of her people being seriously hurt by her revenge spree. It’s also meant to offer a different perspective so fans could choke down the reality that there are limits to being a good person in the world of “The Last of Us.” In a world overrun by zombies, where people are desperate to survive, they can do horrible things that would be condemned as evil in the real world. Abby isn’t a bad person. She cares about and protects her people and works hard to keep her settlement running. She felt justified in murdering Joel, but doing so never gave her closure.
Most importantly, Abby is meant to be a cautionary tale for Ellie. Revenge never accomplishes anything, it only perpetuates needless violence. Abby lost so much because she couldn’t let Joel go, and if Ellie committed to murdering Abby, she would just be continuing the never-ending need for vengeance.
Although Ellie did cross many lines during her attempts to get to Abby, Abby’s mistakes, mixed with her own, taught her (and the player) a valuable lesson.