|"The journey was kind of for nothing, but at the same time it was for everything." - Neil Druckmann|
"I swear." "Okay." If you have completed The Last Of Us you know these two lines as the last lines said in the game. It is the final moment between two characters that have been through traumatic events, and it carries a ton of weight. The ending in its nature is open for interpretation, but for some reason I see some gamers looking at the ending in a different light, which isn't wrong we are all allowed to have opinions, but I feel that I have a solid grasp on the ending. So I will start off with what my interpretation is and then slowly move through a bunch of points other gamers have brought up and slowly dissect it.
My interpretation of the ending is that Ellie knows Joel is lying and is Okay with it. You see Ellie was out cold from the moment she drowned until the moment she woke up in the back of the truck with a hospital gown on. Ellie even says "What am I wearing?" We all know Ellie is smart so she probably saw right through Joel's lie right there in the car, that is why she turns her back away from him. The reason she asks Joel to swear to her in the forrest is for two reasons. The first is to rid her of the guilt she feels for being okay with not being the cure. The second is to make Joel pretty much say that he will always be there for her and not leave her like everyone else has in the past, which is her biggest fear. When Joel lies to her and she says Okay it is to clear her of guilt and so that they both can move on to the next part of their lives. To both of them their relationship is more important than humanity.
So now let us discuss some of the other views and questions about the ending.
"Does Ellie know Joel is lying?"
In a interview with Edge both Neil Druckmann (Writer for TLOU) and Ashley Johnson (Ellie's VA) say Ellie has a bullshit detector. Evidence of this could be the whole scene with David when she is locked in the cell. So it is pretty safe (and essential to my interpretation) that Ellie knew Joel was lying. Ms. Johnson also states that she saw the ending as Ellie accepting the lie and moving forward with Joel. I am inclined to believe that she has a solid grasp of Ellie's views since she did her voice.
"Ellie would of sacrificed herself for the cure! She said when is it going to be my turn!"
She has survivor's guilt. She feels that she has done wrong by surviving where others have died. Joel tries to tell her it is Okay to survive and that she will find something to fight for, but she moves on quickly to asking Joel if what he said was the truth so she could clear her mind of all guilt.
"She was dejected at the start of Spring because she knew she might have to die for the cure and was accepting it!"
What is the first thing you see in the spring segment? Ellie staring at a deer mural. A deer was the start of the whole Ellie-Dave saga so she was probably reflecting back on that series of events. She also is worried that when Joel hands her off to the Fireflies that he is going to bail back to Boston. That is why Ellie starts to probe Joel and try to make plans saying things like "You can teach me to swim and play guitar when this is all said and done." This also helps kill the whole she would sacrifice herself thing as well, since people that are willing to sacrifice themselves usually don't make plans for the future.
"Joel is just using her as a replacement for Sarah it is creepy as F***."
Joel moves on from his daughter in the spring chapter. When Ellie gives Joel the picture and he says thanks it is him moving on from the tragedy that occured 20 years ago and him looking at a possible future with Ellie who he recognizes as a special person in his life.
"The Fireflies are the good guys and Joel is a monster."
From my view Joel did what any guardian should do and his lie was one of just telling his "daughter" what she wanted to hear and to help her move on. The Fireflies were willing to murder a young girl on the off chance of producing a vaccine. A vaccine that would benefit who? Who's to say the Fireflies won't use the vaccine as a powergrab? Also look at who is left in the world. A majority of the people left in the world are murderers and cannibals. Sure you can give them the vaccine, but the world isn't going to go back to the way it was. The infected would still be around and heavily outnumber the survivors as well. Lastly any attempts at making a vaccine in the past have failed (opening credits of the game). The real hope for humanity would be Tommy's group at the dam. They are self sufficient and thriving.
Okay, so I just discussed several different views for the ending or talking points and I am feeling pretty good of my assessment of it all. The last scene is up for discussion as it is left open on purpose, but I think that my view is right even though opinions can't be right. Weird huh?
In closing The journey that both character's went through was not for nothing. Ellie says it can't all be for nothing when Joel tells her that they can just go back to Tommy's no questions asked. Did Joel effectively make it all for nothing by not letting Ellie die for the vaccine? maybe, but in the process Joel found someone that helped him face his past and love again and Ellie found someone who would never leave her which was her biggest fear. Sure they didn't make the world better, but they made each other's world better.
If you want to discuss The Last Of Us with me you can follow me on twitter @Nick_Willy I also apologize for any spelling and grammar mistakes in here I am pretty sure I am running a computer that is using the originals windows program. Stay Cool.