There’s been a heavy amount of discourse in the gaming community surrounding The Last Of Us Part II‘s ending. Following in the footsteps of its predecessor, this Naughty Dog sequel took many risks that paid off in double. Some say it’s horrible, while others call it a masterpiece. If you want to hear more about what we thought, check out our The Last Of Us Part II Spoilercast.
I can say with certainty after having a week to think over my experience playing the game and partaking in the spoilercast, this game’s ending is perfect; here’s why. Oh, and spoilers ahead, of course. So beware!
The hardest gut punch in this game comes at the point where you expect to roll credits. Instead, you come face to face with the harsh reality of what has really happened to Ellie over the course of the game. I was scrambling to finish it, as the sun was beginning to rise after I pulled an all-nighter. I don’t think I’ve ever been so emotionally exhausted—and just a little sleepy—from a game before.
My tears in the last cutscene weren’t in vain, though. I knew as soon as Tommy sat Ellie down to talk serious with her, that this wasn’t the end. As spoken perfectly by the game’s co-writer and creative director Neil Druckmann on a Kinda Funny Games Spoilercast, Ellie’s quest for revenge is analogous to drug addicts. Druckmann explains it like this in the episode:
Ellie’s obsession with Abby is a lot like a drug addict, and Dina leaves because she sees a drug addict who just can’t quit. No matter—every time Dina thinks she hit bottom, it’s like…she hasn’t hit bottom, it doesn’t look like she’s gonna hit bottom anytime soon.
When Tommy breaks the information to her, Ellie and Dina both know she’s an inch away from going back to her addiction. Us, as the players, hate having to watch Ellie destroy her peaceful life with Dina and the baby for something as trivial as revenge. We may know it’s a bad idea, but there’s nothing we can do to convince the person otherwise.
Wouldn’t it be better to have a happy ending? No. This cycle of violence Ellie and Abby have got themselves caught up in warrants consequences. We’ll be getting into that later, but this just shows how dedicated Naughty Dog is to their inquisitive endings.
The farther you get into the last section of the game, the clearer it is to see Ellie falling into an obsession. She’s not the same, innocent girl she used to be, hence one of the most underrated lines of the game: “Oh Ellie, I think they should be terrified by you”.
After cutting and slashing your way through hoards of enemies, you finally come to the dark, clouded-over beach. Dozens of people are being hung from crosses, two of them being Abby and Lev. This is finally Ellie’s chance, the fight she’s been waiting for. But when she takes her down, Abby is malnourished and frail. She looks scared, even.
After taking down Lev and bringing him to a boat, Abby still shows no signs of anger left in her. There’s no confusion about that. Abby already had her healing and acceptance when she nearly killed Dina, but Lev stopped her. They had hope of finding the Fireflies again. Abby had, as Joel said in the first game, “something to fight for”.
The reason why Ellie is in the wrong when getting her revenge is that she has lost sight of what she’s fighting for. In reality, she has no one left to fight for but herself. She may think she’s doing it for Joel’s sake, but is it true? The moment she’s holding Abby underwater, she remembers Joel in a flashback, on the last day they spoke before he died.
It’s up to us as the players to infer why she let Abby go in the end. I don’t think it’s as simple as feeling bad for her. No, Ellie knows this is not what Joel would’ve wanted. What would the game accomplish if she killed Abby in the end? Absolutely nothing. There would be no hope for Ellie because she needs to do exactly what Abby and Lev are doing: finding hope.
The Final Scene
Ellie, with only three fingers on her left hand, heads back to the farmhouse. Dina and JJ have left, probably gone back to Jackson. It finally hit Ellie that in her obsession and addiction to kill Abby, she lost everything in her life. Dina, the baby, and even Tommy are gone. These are the consequences of her actions.
Ellie isn’t alone in facing consequences. Abby lost everyone she cared about too; Yara, Owen, and yes, even Mel. All because she chose revenge over forgiveness. Of course, I don’t think any of us or Ellie could forgive Abby for killing Joel mercilessly, but just as Ellie said in her final talk with Joel, “I don’t think I can ever forgive you for that. But I would like to try.”
Ellie has lost not only the people she has loved, but the one thing that Joel gave her even after he passed: music. When Ellie goes into the farmhouse and tries to strum the guitar, her fingers are gone, so she can’t strum any chords. It’s subtle, but powerful.
I love Ellie with all my heart, but I can’t lie when I say she got the comeuppance she deserved. I don’t think she should’ve gone through any of this, but when you abandon everyone in your life to go after a selfish desire fueled by hatred, the only way to learn is to lose.
The reason why this ending is personally so perfect is that it’s so human. Our world isn’t black or white, it’s grey with everyone in-between. There was no villain in the end, but I’d say the main antagonist was hatred. As widely spoken by the creative director, Druckmann said the first game was about love and the second hate. This can only leave one more thing for a possible third game.
If Ellie’s story were to continue, the third game should be about acceptance and healing. They’ve broken the cycle of violence, and now it’s up to Abby and Ellie to regain their honour, and heal. Not just themselves, but to the ones they’ve hurt. It would be interesting if Abby and Ellie in the following game could reconcile, and prove that love triumphs over hate.
I hope that in my quest to analyze this ending to an amazing game, I was able to convince you of some things. How do you feel about the ending? Let us know in the comments below!