Backloggery Beatdown: The Last of Us

BONUS:

During the writing process, I often find myself entering into digressions that are incongruent with the flow of the article. Generally, I use those ideas to develop new work. However, these points that surfaced are succinct enough not to require an additional essay. I have included them below for your reading pleasure. 
 I might be abusing the phrase “alpha female” when discussing Tess. In the fungal-frenzy world, conditions are so dire that patriarchy has been tossed on its head in every community which simulates some sense of stability. Indeed, while there are few visible women in TLOU, notice that when they appear, all of them are calling the shots.
Every.
Single. 
Female.
In TLOU
Is a BossLady.
Marlene is the leader of the Fireflies; Maria is the governess of a settlement in Jackson County; Ellie has an entire chapter (Winter) devoted to her where therein, the one female heard among the cannibals after Ellie escapes David the first time can be heard calling the shots (even if that involves the gendered convention of protecting the children).

BossLadies! There isn’t a single game in the history of the industry with such a prodigious display of girl power it is refreshing…and disturbing. Notice that amonga  hundred or so corpses that Joel can create out of sentient humans in a single playthrough, not a single body among them is female. Ironically, the only female brigands encountered are the same ones that are the BossLadies that I have mentioned. Consider that Marlene is fugitive on the federal authorities’ Most Wanted list. No telling what Maria has done, and have you seen Ellie perform a stealth kill? Vicious! 
Ellie kills david 2

Blurry photo to sell the impact. She kills David with not one, two, or even three cuts of the machete, but cuts his face into mush. Her “father” has taught her well, right?

Maurice Pogue

Since picking up an NES controller in 1985 at the age of 2, Maurice and video games have been inseparable. While most children aspired to be lawyers, doctors, or engineers (at the behest of their parents), he aspired to write for publications such as EGM, PC Gamer, PC Accelerator, and Edge. After achieving ABD status in English at MSU, Maurice left academia and dedicated his writing to his lifelong passion. He is currently the Video Game Editor at Geeks Under Grace.

6 Comments

  1. Grant on May 14, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    Hey Maurice!
    I just have to say, I love seeing multiple sides to an argument. I also love hearing others opinions; especially pertaining to games that are almost universally applauded. I do have to say, I loved the Last of Us. I thought its narrative was unrivaled, and the gameplay was not distracting. One of my favorite games of all time.
    As for the ending, I thought that the weight of his decision is what makes it an ending. Lets look back, over the course of the game. In the beginning, Tess and Joel are pretty bad people. They steal, they kill, they smuggle, all in the name of making money (or ration cards, currency, you get it.) When Marlene wants them to take Ellie, Tess makes the statement “she’s just a package”, or something of the like. They clearly don’t sympathize with the fact that she is a little girl.
    Fast forward, and Tess dies, and Joel is left to take Ellie to the Fireflies alone. As you stated in your article, this is because Tess requested it, and he does in fact feel obligated in some way to finish it for her. I also believe there is an element of the fact that there is nothing else to really do. Bringing her back would be pointless, and almost equally time consuming. He also has little to go back for. Regardless, he sets off with Ellie alone.
    Throughout the rest of the game, leading up to the conclusion, you see a relationship blossom. The hardened and taciturn Joel begins to regain his father-like qualities, and Ellie opens up to Joel, and they gain a bond like that of a father and daughter. There relationship, even if you refute it, is the core of the game. It is the catalyst for the events, and force that keeps the story going. From the point where he deems her worthy to wield a gun, his conversation with her about his desired singing career, and the point, aforementioned, when he saves her from David, the relationship has progressed. I fail to see why this building is unbelievable for a callous man to change. There is a build, and no one is immune to change; regardless of their past.
    As for the conclusion itself, I feel that it is supposed to leave you with a mild feeling of emptiness. The game doesn’t have a lot of overwhelmingly happy moments, excluding the giraffe scene. But there are still two sides to it: Joel would have to give up Ellie to save a human race he isn’t too fond of, remember he always talked about how the whole cure thing was his brother’s cause; or, he can save the one person he actually loves in the modern hellscape they still call Earth. I think that the ending was well done, and didn’t include the typical post-apocalyptic protagonists-dies-in-the-end cliche.
    As I began with, I respect your opinion, but I felt that this article does little to represent the whole truth, and, even if you had trouble excepting that Joel could care for Ellie as much as he does in a year, it isn’t an instantaneous progression, nor does he like her immediately. There is a build.
    With Respect,
    Grant

  2. Tim on May 11, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    I also disagree very strongly. Joel was a monster before he met Ellie. Some of the dialogue between Joel and Tommy indicate that. Even when Joel and Ellie were first talking, when they ran into those people in pittsburg, saying he’s been on both sides or that ambush. Joel is capable of some horrific stuff. And as the game progressed, he gained a deep love for Ellie. One that replaced that grief in his heart of Sarah. Ellie is the one thing that Joel fights for now. That is something he even told Ellie in the final scene. Joel’s monster wasn’t erased, but only suppressed, showing a softer exterior for Ellie. He loved her so much, as displayed throughout the game, that he would do anything to keep her safe. Ellie and Joel’s character arcs intertwined and switched. Ellie had to learn to become the caregiver when He was unable to provide. And Joel became the one that needed tend to. Ellie learned that the world is truly dark and that there is hardly any “light” in it anymore; With the exception of the occasional giraffe or firefly. Joel learned that there is still a chance for fatherhood, a chance to care for someone. That it’s okay to open yourself up to another person, something Bill advised against. And Joel wasn’t about to lose his “light”. Not after he fought so hard for it. He’s not going to lose his daughter again. That’s what makes the ending so perfect. It’s real. And that final “Okay” was heartbreaking. Ellie really knew he was lying. But she also cared for him dearly. That’s why it’s perfect.

    • Maurice Pogue on May 11, 2015 at 8:34 pm

      Hi Tim, Thanks for the response.

      I don’t disagree whether or not Ellie knew he was lying nor her deep desire to care for him. I mention that that is up for interpretation. At the same time, she’s absolutely terrified of him even if she does care for him. Moving forward from the ending is arguably a case of Stockholm syndrome

      She tells Joel a short story of what we (may) have witnessed in the DLC concerning how she witnessed all her friends die. Ellie has survivor’s guilt, and was willing to die too as Marlene told Joel. “It is what she would want.” But, of course, Joel is a brute; Tess, the brains of the duo, was already dead.

  3. Kody Johnson on May 10, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    I very much disagree. The fireflies had come into contact with immune people before and they had become human experiments. Joel had no indication that ellie would become anything more than an experiment. I think he was completely justified.

    • Maurice Pogue on May 11, 2015 at 8:28 pm

      Hi Kody. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Check out this YouTube clip of the recording found in the Fireflies’ hospital:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtu918mfeHc

      I agree that there were other experiments, but Ellie is unique. Never before seen. One of a kind. Perhaps in the sequel (if it ever happens), there may be more, but for all intents and purposes, Ellie is the only one.

      Tim’s comment below is one reading among the popular opinions concerning why the ending of the game is so powerful. It would have less gravity if dooming the entire human race were not a consequence of his desire to have another chance at life with “surrogate Sarah.”

      He choose to be selfish, which is why he is still the monster.

      • Kody Johnson on May 14, 2015 at 9:52 pm

        I can respect that! Also, super cool you are in mobile. I am a pensacola native myself.

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