An Explanation of the Harrowing Decisions Made in the ‘The Last of Us’ Finale

After a breakout first season, The Last Of Us finale has aired, leaving viewers reeling in the wake of this harrowing, dystopian story. Like many that have come before it, The Last Of Us came to a spectacular, blood-soaked crescendo. With the weight of legions of fans riding on this finale, the showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann delivered, even if some particular choices were made.

In the finale, we see Joel and Ellie — played by internet daddy Pedro Pascal and fellow Game of Thrones alum Bella Ramsay — finally reach their destination of Salt Lake City where an impossible choice awaits them. Arriving at the hospital, and the Fireflies base, group-leader Marlene reveals to Joel that Ellie’s immunity can only be used to create a cure for the Cordyceps infection by killing her. 

The choice presented to Joel is the ultimate moral conundrum — save Ellie from the Fireflies or save all of the human race from the fungus? Ellie told Joel earlier in the ep that they needed to finish their mission, no matter what, indicating that she would have chosen to sacrifice herself if given the option. Joel, under the guise of protecting Ellie but likely doing so for himself, proceeds to brutally shoot up the entire hospital, killing Marelene, and delivering a piece of television fraught with both tragedy and heroism.

We also discovered the answer to one of the show’s key questions after returning to the very start of Ellie’s story and seeing see her mother Anna, played by Ashley Johnson, become infected while giving birth, resulting in Ellie’s immunity. In a heartbreaking scene, Anna convinces her life-long friend Marlene to shoot her before the virus takes over, mirroring Ellie’s later experience with her friend, Riley. The insight into Ellie’s immunity isn’t something that the game reveals.

In the closing scenes, Joel tells a ‘post-anaesthetic’ Ellie that the Fireflies didn’t need her immunity after all, that there are dozens like her, and that he had to drag her out in a hurry after a raider attack. Ellie struggles to believe all of this and we see her trying to convince herself that the person she has come to trust more than anyone in the world isn’t lying to her. When she asks him if everything he said about the events at the hospital is true, Joel tells her it is, setting up season two for a major falling out between the two characters.

It was an episode that tested the moral compass of the characters and therefore asked the audience to delve within themselves to ask how they would have responded if they were faced with such decisions.

Of course, the internet had some things to say about the choices made in the finale.

No show is perfect but, given the reception received for The Last of Us, many will argue that this is as about as good as it gets. And now we look toward season two which may or may not be released in 2025…happy waiting game, everyone.

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Tags: TV