The Last of Us: Plot/Ending Discussion

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I believe it goes without saying that there will be spoilers ahead.

So, I literally just finished The Last of Us as I type this. As the credits rolled, I wondered, "How do I feel about this decision"?

I don't think a games ending has ever left me feeling so conflicted, and that is what I'd like to discuss. How do you feel about what Joel did in the end? Do you believe he was selfish in his actions, or was he only doing what he thought was right?

In my opinion, I believe that a part of Joel just snapped. He couldn't take anymore loss or pain, so he decided to fight in order to keep the one thing keeping him alive and sane. I believe his choice is completely selfish, and honestly, a bit scary. He knows that saving her was wrong, and possibly, has convinced himself that it happened the way he said. He's made it clear that he will never give up or lose the girl.

So what do you fellow Escapists think? Do you believe it's not as dark as I've imagined, or perhaps even darker? Are you satisfied with this ending?

As for me, I am fully happy with the ending. I'm glad that they didn't end it a predictable note, and it really adds weight to what he says about finding a reason to survive. Ellie is his reason, and he will protect her whether it is right or not.

I agree.

The ending was very nihilistic and bleak, like much of the game itself, and tops off the story masterfully. It's sort of an interesting break down of the "Hero/damsel" trope. Ellie doesn't really need Joel's protection anymore, but he can't give up that role because it's all that keeps him going.

Near the end when Marlene attempts a last-ditch effort, it's made clear Ellie would be more than willing to sacrifice herself for a cure. But Joel is now hopelessly depended on being Ellie's protector, and her death would mean his. Ofcourse there's also very much his projection of Sarah onto Ellie, and how he couldn't protect his own daughter, so he will now protect Ellie at any price, even if it's against her will.

Add to that Joel and Ellie returning to his brother's settlement, which has as much chance of being overrun by infected or bandits as any of the demolished quarantine zones you passed during the game.

Casual Shinji:
I agree.

The ending was very nihilistic and bleak, like much of the game itself, and tops off the story masterfully. It's sort of an interesting break down of the "Hero/damsel" trope. Ellie doesn't really need Joel's protection anymore, but he can't give up that role because it's all that keeps him going.

Near the end when Marlene attempts a last-ditch effort, it's made clear Ellie would be more than willing to sacrifice herself for a cure. But Joel is now hopelessly depended on being Ellie's protector, and her death would mean his. Ofcourse there's also very much his projection of Sarah onto Ellie, and how he couldn't protect his own daughter, so he will now protect Ellie at any price, even if it's against her will.

Add to that Joel and Ellie returning to his brother's settlement, which has as much chance of being overrun by infected or bandits as any of the demolished quarantine zones you passed during the game.

Perfectly worded my friend. I find it almost infinitely pleasing that they broke away from the typical trope to tell a story like this. I remember when it ended, I was pretty surprised on the final note. You get so used to typical endings that when a bleak and serious one shows up, it's almost jarring.

Casual Shinji:
Near the end when Marlene attempts a last-ditch effort, it's made clear Ellie would be more than willing to sacrifice herself for a cure. But Joel is now hopelessly depended on being Ellie's protector, and her death would mean his. Ofcourse there's also very much his projection of Sarah onto Ellie, and how he couldn't protect his own daughter, so he will now protect Ellie at any price, even if it's against her will.

I think that its more that he lost his daughter for "the greater good" and look at all the good that did. The vaccine wouldn't have been able to stop the clickers and infected that already exist and the world has already gone to shit. I think that Joel wasn't willing to lose his newfound daughter especially since I don't think it would do any good. Think of it this way, Ellie was immune to the disease and was she in any less danger throughout the game, no she was in just as many life threatening positions and the only time her immunity came in handy was when she didn't have to wear a gas mask. Out of all the major characters in the game all of them were killed by humans, none of the major characters were killed by an infected with the exception of Sam I guess, where even though Henry killed him, I would say he was already dead because he was infected.
I'm not sure if Joel made the right choice, because both the options were kinda morally grey, but I think that given the options I agree with the decision he made. And I don't think Ellie would have let her self be sacrificed, she was talking about all the things she wanted to do after this was over and she so knew that Joel was lying to her about what happened in Salt Lake City and she just let herself believe the lie.

I think Joel was conflicted as a result of all of the evil he had seen.

Think about it... how many GOOD people had he encountered throughout the journey? The good ones always die. Tess, Henry, Sam... Sara...

Think about the countless ruthless a-holes you encountered along the way who raped and pillaged and slaughtered innocent human beings out of pure greed.

Human beings, by nature, consume all they desire as a means to prolong their own well being.

Is this right? Is this OK? Does humanity DESERVE a chance to continue, free of the plague?

Even the people who imagined they were "saving the world" by creating a cure were at ease with the killing of a 14 year old girl to achieve this. Were the Fireflies not just as blood drenched as everyone else Joel had encountered?

I think Joel's actions WERE selfish, but I can't entirely disagree with him. After all he's seen, all he's been through... losing his own daughter to a government pawn commanded to take a like "for the greater good" and all... How COULD he allow Ellie to be killed "for the greater good" as well?

Is that the world we really want to live in?

Casual Shinji:
I agree.

The ending was very nihilistic and bleak, like much of the game itself, and tops off the story masterfully. It's sort of an interesting break down of the "Hero/damsel" trope. Ellie doesn't really need Joel's protection anymore, but he can't give up that role because it's all that keeps him going.

Near the end when Marlene attempts a last-ditch effort, it's made clear Ellie would be more than willing to sacrifice herself for a cure. But Joel is now hopelessly depended on being Ellie's protector, and her death would mean his. Ofcourse there's also very much his projection of Sarah onto Ellie, and how he couldn't protect his own daughter, so he will now protect Ellie at any price, even if it's against her will.

Add to that Joel and Ellie returning to his brother's settlement, which has as much chance of being overrun by infected or bandits as any of the demolished quarantine zones you passed during the game.

I'm not too sure about Ellie being willing to do it. There was a whole mess of ambiguity in that section. She was unconscious since the incident in the tunnel and only wakes up in the car. There was no consent. That's a shit start. Would ellie have accepted her fate? She could have... if her distance and aloofness at the beginning of that chapter carried over to the end. She seemed detached and melancholic for a while and that loss of self could easily lead her to accepting such a fate. But then she sees the giraffes and she suddenly snaps out of it. Even echoing Joels desire to teach her guitar with "you can teach me how to swim". She starts to find herself again, but that revitalisation is cut short.

Not to mention, we are aware at this point the thing ellie is scared of most is being alone. Joel is afraid of attachment, but proximity leads to the inevitable. The 2 are inextricably bound to each other, as strong as any paternal/child relationship, except without the blood bond. So Joels inability to turn away is painfully understandable.

Then there is Marlenes selfishness. She claims to know what Ellie wants, but she is driven by her own fear, of infection et al, not Ellies well-being. She is rationalising it in her mind, turning it over and over, even talking to a long deceased friend, Ellies mother Anna, looking for a escape from her guilt. Her fear kept her from fulfilling her promise and she only convinced herself it was for the good of mankind to sacrifice Ellie. Heck, at one point we even find out she doesn't believe she had a choice to begin with, but that didn't bring to rebel... despite her revolutionary idealism she couldn't revolt. She just submitted and adopted ellies captors mentality.

Joel, while equally selfish, is also fighting for ellies sake. After all ellie went through during the winter when Joel was out of it, the last thing he could do is walk away. If they let him talk to her that would have been fine. But they didn't want her awake... they didn't want to risk her rejecting their plans.

None of Ellies captors wanted to give her the choice. They saved her, then drugged her and sent her to her execution. For the greater good? Perhaps, and she wouldn't suffer to boot. But the action is stripped of all humanity. She is reduced to a vessel. A glorified organ carrier. Would the curious and naively optimistic ellie we knew want that? Whats more, if the fireflies got to her first as was initially planned, would they have groomed her to accept her fate or would they have just taken it anyway?

What got me was when Joel blows away the surgeon with the gun only for another to go "you animal" or something to that effect, while ellie lies comatose waiting to be dissected, like a cadaver right their the fuck in front of them.

In the end there was no guarantee they could synthesise or disseminate a cure from their research, it was only wishful thinking (though the best chance available). If that ended up being the case then the best thing would be for ellie to live on to propagate her genetic immunity. Otherwise they just murdered mankinds last hope for survival on a fear driven whim.

As for what Joel did explicitly. He lied to Ellie about the events that transpired for the obvious reason... to spare her the grizzly truth of what happened (marlenes emotional abandonment for "teh grater gud" as well as her brutal, cowardly demise, and the crushing reality that their journey of hope, all they went through, demanded a callous sacrifice with no relief from their ordeal). Does he need to this? Probably not, after what we see Ellie go through we can assume she understands the depravity mankind can drop to.

But more to the point, he lied to keep her with him. Where she is safe (possibly unnecessary) and he isn't lost without purpose.

In the end, despite the ambiguity, I think Joel did right by ellie by leaving her fate to be a choice of her own making. But its undeniable he lied for his own sake.

As for the chance that their new home could be overrun. Well... as Joel responded to Marlenes line of the same fatalistic notion. Its not anyone's choice to make but theirs.

... holy shit that was a long post. I'm sorry, this game really got to me.

Ragsnstitches:

... holy shit that was a long post. I'm sorry, this game really got to me.

Don't worry, it's all worth reading.

And The Last Of Us definitely is a ride worth taking, a game worth playing, a story worth witnessing as the events unfold.

It's some great interactive fiction.

And I must admit that I really needed that after Bioshock Infinite. I'm not hatin' on Bioshock Infinite. I love the firefights and strategic bits in 1999 mode. But the story, the twist, the Levine special non-kosher rub just rubbed me the wrong way, all the way.

The Last Of Us might seem - or actually be - bleak, Joel's decision might be all sorts of wrong, but, alas, as a human being I can relate to pretty much everything anyone does in the course of this tale, from beginning to end. There's no supernatural hocus pocus, just various people in a predicament, faced with adversity, trying to survive even when making a living seems to be more borne out of being bored with living life as a imprisoned cattle than out of proper necessity. After all, pretty much everything has gone to shits since the shrooms took over. This 'game' hits you right between the eyes during the non-interactive scenes of exposure, and it demands that you keep your shit together at all times when you're given control. There is very little margin for error, and I was delighted to get some of my vanilla of choice gaming flavour, which is the D* Souls flavour during those unforgivable mushroomhead confrontation moments. The suspense of Condemned, the invitation to go for perfect runs from Dark/Demon's Souls, the excellent dialogue and writing from that Hollywood movie I haven't seen before and the technical perfection derived from years of Uncharted sparring with both the code and the hardware... but NONE of the annoyances of Uncharted.

I loved playing through this one, as it's bound to stick with you for a while. Question life, question people, question everything. Once again, a piece of interactive fiction that is easily on par with, if not quite beyond what many a movie or book could deliver.

This sounds like a rare new game that could be worth playing. I've kind of gotten the impression that the ending involves the girl in the boxart being sacrificed or something. I've kind of gotten the impression from this thread that the game doesn't end in a stupidly creepy way that could've easily been disturbing enough to have forced me to discount the game.

Now the only question is is the game really so thick that it would propose a situation where somehow a kid would be sacrificed for some reason other than ensuring the crops will grow for another year? Because there is no scientific reason to kill someone. Does the game understand this? Or would it rather have an existential crisis?

Mick P.:
This sounds like a rare new game that could be worth playing. I've kind of gotten the impression that the ending involves the girl in the boxart being sacrificed or something. I've kind of gotten the impression from this thread that the game doesn't end in a stupidly creepy way that could've easily been disturbing enough to have forced me to discount the game.

Now the only question is is the game really so thick that it would propose a situation where somehow a kid would be sacrificed for some reason other than ensuring the crops will grow for another year? Because there is no scientific reason to kill someone. Does the game understand this? Or would it rather have an existential crisis?

I'm not going to directly answer your question, but I'll simply address your concerns by saying that this game will exceed your current expectations in satisfying ways.

Go play it.

I didn't personally like the way the ending went since I found Joel to just kinda go crazy and start killing everyone for selfish reasons, but I still think it worked perfectly for the game and it was right to end the way it did.

I should probably explain.

The situation was definitely a gray area. This girl is the possible key to creating a vaccine, and who knows, they might be able to go even further, reverse some of the effects! But to do that they have to kill her. She will never grow up, she will never learn how to swim, she is just a kid. Its a crappy situation, one that Marlene in particular hates to her core, but she believes it has to be done. I actually agree with her decision to kill Ellie.

What I don't agree with is how they basically decided this without any input from her specifically. They found her unconscious, drugged her up to keep her that way, and were going to pretty much murder her. And though Marlene has a point in that Ellie would indeed sacrifice herself for the cause, the fact they did so without consulting her rubs me the wrong way.

Then you have Joel, who pretty much sees Ellie as his adopted daughter by this point. Its interesting to wonder how much of his own daughter Sarah he is projecting onto Ellie. While he admits that she is completely different from Sarah, that final level acts almost as a revenge of sorts. He wasn't able to protect his own daughter, and was essentially helpless. By the time this roles around, he is clearly a different man, a man who just lets out all this frustration to protect the one thing he cares about. He WILL save her this time. So he slaughters everybody, and you even have the choice of killing all the doctors in the room, the few people specialized in studying the infection, all for the sake of this one girl.

But to me, Joel was clearly in the wrong. It was a crappy situation no doubt, and it could have been handled SO much better if Marlene, Joel, and Ellie sat in a room and talked about it. He was too afraid of failing, or letting go, or symbolically losing his daughter again, or whatever you think Joel was feeling. But this chance was too good to pass up. He sacrficed the fate of the world and its people, for one person. As heroic as that can sound (especially in romance stories), he was so caught up in his own selfish desires he pretty much screwed everybody. To sacrifice the world for someone, or walk through hell to save the ones you love is fine, but not if you end up condemning everyone in said world. It really just...irks me morally on what Joel did (Not just Joel, I actually get irked by this notion in most stories that do this unless they have a really good justification for it or something).

And yet it was perfect. Joel was never seen as a particularly good or evil character. He was a guy who did what he had to to get by for himself. And that's exactly what he did here, He didn't see himself as actually living without Ellie, and he just chose the natural path, the only one he knew how to take because that's all he has ever done since the infection started. What Joel did, and the results stemming from his actions, are perfectly inline with how they game delivers its tone, setting, and characters. It even leaves things a bit ambiguous, as you can argue whether Ellie believe Joel's lie to her or not. I'm actually glad they gave you control over her in that last chapter, because I was so disconnected from Joel that controlling Ellie made me gravitate to her more.

So...hopefully that all made sense. Fireflies were right (mostly), Joel was wrong (mostly), and I hated it, but I liked that I hated it. I would totally LOVE to see Joel get his comeuppance (in fact, for a small bit I thought the game would have you kill Joel as Ellie or something, lol) someday.

I don't think Joels actions at end were all that selfish considering the last couple of conversations he and Ellie have. The first one after the scene with the giraffes where she says "every thing we've been through can't be be for nothing". And in the last scene when she talks about Riley and how she was "waiting for her turn to loose her mind and die" since being infected. On top of that she also blames her self for a lot of the deaths along the way such as Tess and Sam. To me it seems like Joel lied to protect Ellie from herself, so that she doesn't blame herself for all the dead fireflies and maybe even people she feels might have been save by the vaccine.

Either way an uneasy and dark ending was a great end to an amazing game. Definitely the best piece of entertainment (movies, tv shows and books included) this year if not for quite a long time.

What I loved about The Last of Us was that it was never about saving the world, it was about the human condition and Joel recovering his inner humanity, that the loss of Tess and Sarah and the brutal, unforgiving world of post-apocalyptic black market trading in a disheveled quarantine zone had robbed him of. It was about Ellie finding someone who wouldn't abandon her, about her softening as well and becoming human.
TL;DR
The Last of Us was not about saving the world, The Last of Us was about being human, even when the world wants nothing to do with it.

Ragsnstitches:
In the end there was no guarantee they could synthesise or disseminate a cure from their research, it was only wishful thinking (though the best chance available). If that ended up being the case then the best thing would be for ellie to live on to propagate her genetic immunity. Otherwise they just murdered mankinds last hope for survival on a fear driven whim.

I thought of that too initially. But as Marlene said, Ellie's immunity lies not in her genetic makeup, but in the freak occurrence of the Cordyceps having mutated in her brain in such a way that it makes her immune - It won't carry over to her children. Ellie at the end even mentions that she's still waiting for her turn, which might very well happen. Maybe not for years, but the Cordyceps in her brain is still there, and could easily turn on her when she least expects it.

There is no right or wrong here though. The Fireflies were likely just as delusional as... practically everyone else in this world. Robert says at the beginning that the Fireflies are hanging by a thread, and their hospital HQ is all but abondened except for a small platoon of militia and three doctors. So even if Ellie truly held the cure, the Fireflies would probably be in no state to actually synthesize and manufacture it.

And this is the theme running throughout the entire game; The futility of surviving for the sake of survival. Each character deludes themselves with thoughts of light at the end of the tunnel, and excuse the horrible things they do because of it. But human society is crippled beyond repair, and humanity itself is slowly going extinct. And the environment is a testament to how we as a species don't matter in the grand scheme of things, and that nature will simply go on just as it has been for billions of years in our absence.

Like I said, bleak.

the way i look at it is there's no real happy ending for anyone in the long run, i hope they make another game set in this world but does'not have anything to do with the characters, looking forward to hearing more info or details on the single player dlc there doing

cjspyres:
I believe it goes without saying that there will be spoilers ahead.

So, I literally just finished The Last of Us as I type this. As the credits rolled, I wondered, "How do I feel about this decision"?

I don't think a games ending has ever left me feeling so conflicted, and that is what I'd like to discuss. How do you feel about what Joel did in the end? Do you believe he was selfish in his actions, or was he only doing what he thought was right?

In my opinion, I believe that a part of Joel just snapped. He couldn't take anymore loss or pain, so he decided to fight in order to keep the one thing keeping him alive and sane. I believe his choice is completely selfish, and honestly, a bit scary. He knows that saving her was wrong, and possibly, has convinced himself that it happened the way he said. He's made it clear that he will never give up or lose the girl.

So what do you fellow Escapists think? Do you believe it's not as dark as I've imagined, or perhaps even darker? Are you satisfied with this ending?

As for me, I am fully happy with the ending. I'm glad that they didn't end it a predictable note, and it really adds weight to what he says about finding a reason to survive. Ellie is his reason, and he will protect her whether it is right or not.

One thing I noticed towards the end was that Joel and humanity as a whole shared many characteristics to the point where Joel felt like an embodiment of humanity. I wouldn't say this makes him an actual representative for all humankind as it is apparent he isn't. I mean humanity and Joel share almost every characteristic. The desperation for a reason to go on, a me vs. the world approach to every situation, trying to forget their past due to where it has lead them as well as how unexpected and unforgiving it was, etc.
Because of this saving Joel's humanity vs. saving humanity's chances is like a coin toss for me. Humans are adapting to the environment as has been shown with Ellie's immunity and Marlene's mention of others like her. How common it is, is unknown. It is the eternal debate of good of the many vs. the good of the few. Usually people say the good of the many is the right choice but gloss over the doom you then bestow on the few.

I think what I like most about it is that Joel accidentally invested to much in his job. When they kept reminding him of Sara towards the end I think he swapped out the role of guardian with the role of parent by mistake. You'll notice that after Tommy shows the photo, Joel starts to open up quite a bit more to Ellie. He starts to see her as an innocent instead of a burden. He actually wants whats best for her, unable to see her be a disposable chance at hope for fireflies/humanity. (Which he has an apparent distaste for) Joel clearly thinks the fireflies are in the business of false hope and to sacrifice Ellie for false hope is unacceptable for him. Not to mention I think by attaching many of his undealt with issues with Sara to Ellie, Ellie's death would break him down even further. He had already lost Tess for this mission and now having invested so much in Ellie, he was at the point of no return. FOr him, it would have all been for nothing and he would have sacrificed everything for it. Losing Ellie would make him either go the way of Bill and be bat-shit crazy unable to form a relationship with anyone again or go the way of Henry and blow his brains out.

Ragsnstitches:
I'm not too sure about Ellie being willing to do it. There was a whole mess of ambiguity in that section. She was unconscious since the incident in the tunnel and only wakes up in the car. There was no consent. That's a shit start. Would ellie have accepted her fate? She could have...

This was going through my mind all through the hospital scene. The lack of actually hearing Ellie and not Marlene saying this was what Ellie wanted. The whole ambiguity was done wonderfully. First with her whole droopy demeanor scene and the giraffes. That's when you really see Joel step outside himself as well. He had small moments before that but that was the first time you seen him actually try to influence Ellie's decision making process. (Not override it) However, the ending she clarified that she knew the vaccine would kill her. The story about her and her friends all getting bitten together and they all died and that she didn't get to die with them. Her history of basically not having parents anymore early on in the game. She came off as letting Joel know she was OK with that. Her biggest fear was even being alone because she can't get infected but humanity can. The sacrifice makes perfect sense. Even when Joel lies to her, her eyes seem to tear up. This could be due to betrayal but it also could be due to her feeling a sense of belonging too. It is hard to pin it down. I think she was OK with either decision - as the story enforces that she is OK with the sacrifice but her accepting Joel words knowing it was a lie means she is OK with not going through with the sacrifice and Joel apparently felt it improtant enough to lie to her.
Ellie is a smart girl and even assuming Marlene lied to her and said it was a simple surgery, why would they sedate her for the surgery (she woke up from being sedated in a hospital gown which isn't hard to put two and two together) and then decide "meh, let's not worry about a cure". I think Ellie is much smarter than that. However, I also believe Marlene was completely honest with her as it seems in Marlene's nature. However, even if she wasn't the truth is pretty evident. Thus, I take it that Ellie knows what happened at the hospital in truth if not the details. She is however, willing to accept Joel's lie as truth because she has shown to trust his judgement - and she also can let go of that fear of being alone a bit due to it. It is sort of a professed commitment from Joel in the shape of a lie about something else.

That's my take on it anyways.

I'm gonna go with the "Infection Theory". Joel was infected during the beginning of the game, when he moves a dead clicker from a door handle, and spores burst into his unprotected face. He slowly loses awareness and imagines the rest of his "journey" as he lies dying; eventually turning into a feral infected himself.

(Just kidding... but really, that spore scene made me cringe.. want to know if it was deliberate or an oversight.)

While I'm glad it wasn't predictable, I was mashing my D-pad the whole time I was behind Joel in the end. I was so hoping I could pull out a gun, shoot him in the back and return to the hospital. It was totally selfish, and I can see him being mentally broken down after his daughter, but come on. That was the cure for ALL of mankind, and Ellie wanted to do it. I just finished it too, and I'm a bit disappointed. He even killed the head surgeon, so if they ever found another mutation they might not have to knowledge or skill to pull it off anymore. I left the game seeing Joel as a villain. I tried to give up, or let the surgeon kill me, but it wasn't a "choice" ending.

As for the gameplay, I think it could have been better off as a movie. It was pretty boring and repetitive, which is sad seeing how the game is about twelve hours long FOR ONCE. Then again, it had a large amount of zombie cliches...

Well, fuck you Joel, if you can make up things then I can too. Ellie shot him in the back, and went back to the hospital, since there wasn't anyone left alive who could perform the operation, she set out on her own to survive in the world.

There. Also she shot him in the spine and left him and he got eaten by a bear.

On the developer side I'm a bit disappointed in their edicate. Sanzaru didn't even have the ties with the others that Sucker Punch did, and they still added in easter egbgs for ND and Insomniac. Naughty Dog just kind of put a Jak and Daxter one in and called it a day.

HippySteve:
What I loved about The Last of Us was that it was never about saving the world, it was about the human condition and Joel recovering his inner humanity, that the loss of Tess and Sarah and the brutal, unforgiving world of post-apocalyptic black market trading in a disheveled quarantine zone had robbed him of. It was about Ellie finding someone who wouldn't abandon her, about her softening as well and becoming human.
TL;DR
The Last of Us was not about saving the world, The Last of Us was about being human, even when the world wants nothing to do with it.

Huh, I didn't think of it like that. That's a good take.

Savagezion:

That's my take on it anyways.

That's the wonderful thing about this story. It has a lot of leeway in regards to what people read into it, but the diversity of possible outcomes doesn't diminish its impact.

Marlene wouldn't lie, your right... it isn't in her nature. But we know that Marlene didn't know about the specifics of the surgery until Ellie arrived at the base. Maybe, like joel, she knew it wouldn't be simple. The truth was harsh, possibly harsher then she expected. But she accepted it... for, in my opinion, reasons of fear that I outlined above. Its why she seems so conflicted in her audio recordings. She's feeling guilt and trying to rationalise it to spare herself of that guilt.

Whats more, we know ellie was out of it from incident up until after Joels "rescue". We don't know specifically that Ellie was aware of the costs, but like Joel and Marlene, it likely crossed her mind.

At the end, for me, the lack of her consent tore away any sympathy I had for the Fireflies plight. Like marlene, they wanted to avoid the feeling of guilt, so they kept her choice in the matter out of it and treated her like one of the infected corpses they had dealt with before.

In my mind, Joels choice, though selfish and brutal, was a fairer choice for ellie. If ellie wants to be the sacrificial lamb she can be... firefly isn't extinct, just badly gimped as a result of Joels rampage. But whats important is that she can choose. That might be the harsher reality, given the circumstances, but again... its fair.

I don't think Joel's actions were selfish, they were humane. They may have been driven by selfish reasons, but they were based in human emotion.

Here were my thoughts from another thread

____

Considering how he lost Sara to the exact same "for the greater good" logic, he wasn't going to let it happen again.
Also:
-Marlene and Fireflies are just as bad the government
-Did they actually have a chance at making a cure with one specimen?
-More of a stretch, but would the cure even make a difference at this stage of the world? After the fungus has caused so much damage?
_________

Now. Here's the thing, me and everyone keep calling it a "cure." But this is wrong. It's not a cure, it's a vaccine. It's going to prevent further infected, it's not going to change back those infected.

I am A-OK with what Joel did, because really what good would a vaccine be anymore? Even thinking way down the road, how the hell would the Fireflies, who are just barely hanging on themselves, be able to distribute enough of a vaccine to make a real difference? And that's considering they could even make a working vaccine, which I doubt.

In the end I think Joel did the right thing, because he understood what the Fireflies really were, he saw that behind all their optimism and 'Plucky Freedom Fighter' facade they were just as brutal and immoral as the world which created them. They were going to sacrifice a 14 year old girl, to try and make a vaccine that might not even work, so they can possibly distribute it to a savage world that is far beyond saving. Moreover I think it was one of Marlene's recording where she mentioned that the Fireflies were just going to straight up murder Joel for his trouble once the job was done, until she talked them out of it. Those are not 'good guys'

It doesn't matter why Joel did it, doing the right thing for selfish reasons is still doing the right thing.

I'm with Joel.

I could sympathize with the Fireflies, but for one crucial thing: They never asked Ellie if she was okay with it. Hell, if they had, she may well have submitted. If they had, and she accepted it, and the game gave you a choice, I would have let them do it.

Of course, Joel didn't ask her either. But between the two parties I'm inclined toward the one who isn't planning on murder. Although I do like that in the end it came down to two people trying to do different versions of the right thing.

Besides, at the end of the day, what kind of parent, even adoptive/surrogate parent, would let their kid essentially be killed in her sleep?

Plus, I've always been a sucker for characters who say, "I'm saving the one(s) I care about and fuck your greater good with an extra large pineapple."

Savagezion:

Ellie is a smart girl and even assuming Marlene lied to her and said it was a simple surgery, why would they sedate her for the surgery (she woke up from being sedated in a hospital gown which isn't hard to put two and two together) and then decide "meh, let's not worry about a cure". I think Ellie is much smarter than that. However, I also believe Marlene was completely honest with her as it seems in Marlene's nature. However, even if she wasn't the truth is pretty evident. Thus, I take it that Ellie knows what happened at the hospital in truth if not the details. She is however, willing to accept Joel's lie as truth because she has shown to trust his judgement - and she also can let go of that fear of being alone a bit due to it. It is sort of a professed commitment from Joel in the shape of a lie about something else.

That's my take on it anyways.

I couldn't have said it better! I feel like Ellie can see through Joel in the very final scene when she asks him to swear to her. And like you said, I think that Ellie accepts the lie because she finally sees that Joel was willing to give up humanity's chance at a vaccine for her own sake, and it shows that Joel deeply cares about her (as demonstrated when he repeatedly whispers "baby girl" to Ellie at the end of Winter and while escaping the hospital) and doesn't just see her as special cargo that holds the key to a vaccine (basically, he sees her as a human being).

It might sound kind of twisted/evil of Ellie to accept Joel's lie (and not go through with the vaccine business), but Ellie has gone through a lot of terrible experiences during this journey (particularly during the Winter portion of the game). And it seems like Ellie has somewhat lost her faith in humanity not only because of this journey, but also because everyone she cared about before the journey "has either died or left [her]". And Joel is that one person who has refused to leave her side.

Now that Ellie has found a person who cares for her and whom she cares about, I think that she willingly accepts the lie so that she will never have to be alone again. And one last thing, throughout the journey, she gains a deeper appreciation for life and is very curious about the world (giraffes, college life, etc.), and I feel that she knowingly accepts the lie so that she can have a life of her own for once and not just be vaccine-girl. She might still have survivors' guilt, but Joel is essentially her solution to that problem.

Here's a pretty good link to a post-mortem discussion on the ending (as well as some other nice tidbits about the acting): http://www.playstationlifestyle.net/2013/06/18/major-spoilers-naughty-dog-talks-the-last-of-us-beginning-ending-and-slightly-alternate-ending/

It's implied that Ellie knows about the lie.

Food for thought:

Apparently one of Marlene's voice recorders indicated that the surgeries have been done before UNSUCCESSFULLY. Immune people robbed of their lives because of the scientists' inability to create a vaccine. Anyone able to confirm/deny this?

Anyway, It's hard to either condemn or justify Joel's actions, because this is a world where there are no morals - there is "good" or "bad." Everyone is trying to survive, Joel included, and the only way he can keep on living is with Ellie. Absolute masterpiece of a game, and a title that gets virtually everything right. Naughty Dog once again proves their pedigree for making unmatched experiences.

Hazy:
Absolute masterpiece of a game, and a title that gets virtually everything right. Naughty Dog once again proves their pedigree for making unmatched experiences.

I never expected them to be able to craft such an intense yet restrained drama though.

And points if you noticed the Jak and Daxter pinatas.

Also, is that Savage Starlight a real comic strip or what? Because it seemed remarkably authentic for it to be just a joke comic. Though it wouldn't surprise me with the amount of detail Naughty Dog put in the environment.

Casual Shinji:

And points if you noticed the Jak and Daxter pinatas.

Also, is that Savage Starlight a real comic strip or what? Because it seemed remarkably authentic for it to be just a joke comic. Though it wouldn't surprise me with the amount of detail Naughty Dog put in the environment.

On the subject of easter eggs, was the map Joel used while torturing those two guys to get Ellie's location a map of Silent Hill from Silent Hill 2 or was it just me? Its been many years since I saw that map but looked hauntingly familiar.

OT I loved the ending and actually found it quite positive. Ellie was a symbol of hope for both Marlene and Joel. Reading Marlene's diary and listening to her logs she is at the end of her tether. She's given up all hope of ever being free of the responsibility of leading the Fireflies while doubting her fitness as a leader and sees Ellie as her only chance of an end to all of it. I think that's why she's convinced herself that Ellie would be fine with it, she's desperately needs to believe it to justify her course.

And obviously for Joel she's the thing that's currently keeping him alive and has given him the reason he needs to try and make a better life for himself and her by settling down in Tommy's settlement (which I took to have a much better chance of survival than the QZs. The abandoned QZs seemed to have been abandoned more because of insurrections than failings, something unlikely to be an issue for Tommy and his willing group of families). Like others have said Ellie is willing to go along with it all because its the proof she needs she'll never be alone.

I felt pretty conflicted in the end, on one hand if it had been guaranteed that the vaccine had been created and could've been distributed to finally save humanity, I don't think I could do what Joel did. On the other hand, the idea that this experiment could've failed and Ellie would've died pointlessly, or even if a vaccine could be created but the fireflies wouldn't be able to mass produce and distribute it, then Joel's actions are completely justified.

I would've felt better in the ending scene if only Ellie didn't express doubt that Joel hadn't sabotaged the experiment. I'm really glad Ellie didn't die, even if it meant that a vaccine would be lost to humanity, although I'm glad they went back to Tommy's town in the end, it seemed like the last place on Earth that was well organized and fully functional.

Zhukov:
I'm with Joel.

I could sympathize with the Fireflies, but for one crucial thing: They never asked Ellie if she was okay with it. Hell, if they had, she may well have submitted. If they had, and she accepted it, and the game gave you a choice, I would have let them do it.

Of course, Joel didn't ask her either. But between the two parties I'm inclined toward the one who isn't planning on murder. Although I do like that in the end it came down to two people trying to do different versions of the right thing.

Besides, at the end of the day, what kind of parent, even adoptive/surrogate parent, would let their kid essentially be killed in her sleep?

Plus, I've always been a sucker for characters who say, "I'm saving the one(s) I care about and fuck your greater good with an extra large pineapple."

There's one other reason to hate the Fireflies too.

You can learn from Marlene's journal that they wanted Joel to be killed after he got to the hospital. Why I don't know. I mean really.

Firefly 1: Hey you know that guy who fought across this infested hellhole of a country, going against all odds to bring us this girl who is the key to saving all human kind?

Firefly 2: Yeah. That was cool of him. I hear the guys found him trying to save her from drowning. Nice guy.
Anyway, what about him?

Firefly 1: Well, I think we should kill the shit out of him. What do you think?

Firefly 2: F@#K yeah! Lets do that!

Marlene: x( Did the fungus eat some of your brains or something? We ain't doing that!

Firefly 1+2: :'( Aw.......

Don't get me wrong. Joel is no hero.
He's a survivor.

Zhukov:
I'm with Joel.

I could sympathize with the Fireflies, but for one crucial thing: They never asked Ellie if she was okay with it. Hell, if they had, she may well have submitted. If they had, and she accepted it, and the game gave you a choice, I would have let them do it.

Of course, Joel didn't ask her either. But between the two parties I'm inclined toward the one who isn't planning on murder. Although I do like that in the end it came down to two people trying to do different versions of the right thing.

Besides, at the end of the day, what kind of parent, even adoptive/surrogate parent, would let their kid essentially be killed in her sleep?

Plus, I've always been a sucker for characters who say, "I'm saving the one(s) I care about and fuck your greater good with an extra large pineapple."

That was how felt. It's very easy to sit back and condemn Joel from a distanced, lofty position but if it had been me in his position (and with his ruthless capability for violence) I would have saved Ellie. It's not the logical thing, nor is it the heroic thing, but it is the humane thing.

Right outside the hospital, when you meet the giraffes, I realised what was so special about Naughty Dog's apocalypse. It isn't desolate. It isn't a barren wasteland of fear, and hatred, and loathing. This is a beautiful place, reclaimed by nature and full of life. Just because it isn't human life doesn't make it less valuable or less meaningful. To murder a young girl for some lofty, idealistic view of rebuilding an inherently vicious and desperate species seemed utterly despicable.

FargoDog:

Zhukov:
[snip]

Right outside the hospital, when you meet the giraffes, I realised what was so special about Naughty Dog's apocalypse. It isn't desolate. It isn't a barren wasteland of fear, and hatred, and loathing. This is a beautiful place, reclaimed by nature and full of life.

Much agreed on that point.

A lot of post apocalyptic setting seem to kind of "assume" that the downfall of humanity necessitates the world turning into a wasteland.

The Last of Us does the opposite. Humanity is circling the drain but the wider world really doesn't give a damn.

Casual Shinji:

Hazy:
Absolute masterpiece of a game, and a title that gets virtually everything right. Naughty Dog once again proves their pedigree for making unmatched experiences.

I never expected them to be able to craft such an intense yet restrained drama though.

And points if you noticed the Jak and Daxter pinatas.

Also, is that Savage Starlight a real comic strip or what? Because it seemed remarkably authentic for it to be just a joke comic. Though it wouldn't surprise me with the amount of detail Naughty Dog put in the environment.

Well, I did see a Dark Horse Comics logo on the back, so they could be real. If not now, maybe later.

OH! You know what Naughty Dog should do for DLC?! They should make one like the Far Cry: Blood Dragon/ Boarderlands 2 Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep.

It can start with Joel getting Ellie the last Savage Starlight issue, and have her deciding to go back and read them all in order. Then we can get to play as Daniela, kicking ass all over the galaxy fighting the Travelers!

Yeah, it's a long shot, but I can hope.

Well....I'm pretty conflicted. It wasn't a BAD story by any stretch of the imagination. Far from it, it was fantastic. I'm just not sure I AGREE with the message behind it.

The thing is that no matter how you interpret Joel's actions, there's no happy ending. Either he was right to save Ellie and the human race didn't deserve a cure, or he was wrong to save Ellie and Joel is pretty much the worst person to ever live.

And I'm honestly not sure which interpretation the game wants me to take. On one hand....Well, this:

FargoDog:

Right outside the hospital, when you meet the giraffes, I realised what was so special about Naughty Dog's apocalypse. It isn't desolate. It isn't a barren wasteland of fear, and hatred, and loathing. This is a beautiful place, reclaimed by nature and full of life. Just because it isn't human life doesn't make it less valuable or less meaningful. To murder a young girl for some lofty, idealistic view of rebuilding an inherently vicious and desperate species seemed utterly despicable.

I realized looking through some concept art galleries that this concept is pretty much beaten into us throughout the entire game, the moment with the giraffes being the most telling. The world will go on without us. And after witnessing what humanity has become, you can understand why Joel might think that possibility isn't so bad.

But on the other hand....

FargoDog:

That was how felt. It's very easy to sit back and condemn Joel from a distanced, lofty position but if it had been me in his position (and with his ruthless capability for violence) I would have saved Ellie. It's not the logical thing, nor is it the heroic thing, but it is the humane thing.

Is it though? Ellie probably would've consented to the procedure. It's true that her consent isn't explicit, but it IS very probable. And the fact that Joel lied in order to avoid giving her that choice means that he knew it, too. All Joel wanted was to live out the rest of his life in peace with is brother and Ellie, and what Ellie would've wanted didn't matter to him. That means that what he did, he didn't do for Ellie's sake. he did it for his own. He did it based on his own nihilistic (if earned through experience) view of humanity, and his pathological need to protect her. By removing Ellie's choice from the equation, hasn't Joel mistreated and betrayed her JUST as much as the Fireflies did?

Again, I want to state that I think the story of The Last of Us is absolutely fantastic, it just also happens to be depressing as fuck.

Robot Number V:
Ellie probably would've consented to the procedure. It's true that her consent isn't explicit, but it IS very probable. And the fact that Joel lied in order to avoid giving her that choice means that he knew it, too. All Joel wanted was to live out the rest of his life in peace with is brother and Ellie, and what Ellie would've wanted didn't matter to him. That means that what he did, he didn't do for Ellie's sake. he did it for his own. He did it based on his own nihilistic (if earned through experience) view of humanity, and his pathological need to protect her. By removing Ellie's choice from the equation, hasn't Joel mistreated and betrayed her JUST as much as the Fireflies did?

Your point about Joel not giving Ellie a choice (just like the Fireflies) is really good! I never really thought about Joel's lie from that perspective. But even then, I still think that Ellie is ultimately "at peace" with the life that is ahead of her because I'm pretty sure that she is aware of the lie (at least that's what the developers implied they were aiming for) and still wants to continue on with the rest of her life now that she knows she won't be alone (with Joel's lie being sort of an "expression of commitment" to quote a previous post).

snowmaneddy:

Robot Number V:
Ellie probably would've consented to the procedure. It's true that her consent isn't explicit, but it IS very probable. And the fact that Joel lied in order to avoid giving her that choice means that he knew it, too. All Joel wanted was to live out the rest of his life in peace with is brother and Ellie, and what Ellie would've wanted didn't matter to him. That means that what he did, he didn't do for Ellie's sake. he did it for his own. He did it based on his own nihilistic (if earned through experience) view of humanity, and his pathological need to protect her. By removing Ellie's choice from the equation, hasn't Joel mistreated and betrayed her JUST as much as the Fireflies did?

Your point about Joel not giving Ellie a choice (just like the Fireflies) is really good! I never really thought about Joel's lie from that perspective. But even then, I still think that Ellie is ultimately "at peace" with the life that is ahead of her because I'm pretty sure that she is aware of the lie (at least that's what the developers implied they were aiming for) and still wants to continue on with the rest of her life now that she knows she won't be alone (with Joel's lie being sort of an "expression of commitment" to quote a previous post).

Yeah, now that I'm thinking about it, I'm pretty sure she knows he was lying. I mean, Joel's story is pretty shaky at best. "We found the Fireflies, but it turns out that they're not even looking for a cure, which is why we left before you even regained consciousness, but after someone put you in a hospital gown. And put an IV in your arm. Great news, huh?!"

....Yeah, Ellie is smarter then that. I think at the end of the game, when she asks him to swear he was telling the truth, what she's really asking him to do is swear that whatever happened, whatever he did, it was the right call.

Of course, whether it actually WAS the right call or not is still up for debate. I'm not even sure yet, myself, despite my previous post.

If the Fireflies had allowed Joel to see Ellie and had given him the chance to talk to her--alone--and she had said, "I'm fine with this, Joel, really," then I would have been okay with what would have happened to her. As it is, since we never saw any of that and they wouldn't even let Joel talk to her after all they'd been through, I can't really blame him for what he did. Saving humanity is a tough choice when you are not actually given a choice in the sacrifice that will be needed.

But that's the kicker, or at least one of them. Can it really be called 'Humanity' after everything that Joel and Ellie saw? Are people worth saving like that? Even the Fireflies, the so-called good guys, don't exactly come off as heroes in the final chapter. They were ready to kill Joel on the spot, and the fact that Marlene told the guard to shoot Joel if he tried anything proved that she's no shining paragon either.

I did like the Joel went back and finished her off. And he said exactly what I was thinking. "She can't be allowed to live. She'll never give up looking for her." Still, I was appalled that Joel actually wen through with that.

I also believe Ellie is aware that Joel is not telling the whole truth, however I don't think she was given a choice for the surgery. Keep in mind that when she wakes up, she asks, "What am I wearing?" This means she wasn't conscious when they changed her into the hospital gown. She was probably still knocked out from nearly drowning. It would also explain why she doesn't start question his lie with counter information she should have easily gotten from the Fireflies. Ellie was never truly aware of what was going to happen to her, but she also suspects that Joel is not telling her the truth. And I wouldn't be surprised if that comes back to haunt both of them later in their lives--assuming they make more games.

Finally, if Ellie is immune, who's to say that there aren't others out there too? So the disease can't be cured right now. Odds are that more and more humans will become immune eventually, until the disease is no longer a threat. Just a thought.

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