Making sense of The Final of Us‘s thrilling, affecting season finale

The view is pretty great...
Enlarge / The view is fairly nice…


New episodes of The Final of Us are premiering on HBO each Sunday evening, and Ars’ Kyle Orland (who’s performed the video games) and Andrew Cunningham (who hasn’t) can be speaking about them right here each Sunday night. Whereas these recaps do not delve into each single plot level of the episode, there are clearly heavy spoilers contained inside, so go watch the episode first if you wish to go in recent.

Kyle: We made it to the final of The Final of Us season one! Which suggests I get to ask you the primary query I requested myself after enjoying the primary sport; the one I have been ready weeks to ask you; and doubtless an important and lingering query of the entire season:

Does Ellie consider Joel?

Andrew: OK, I undoubtedly got here away from this with a wholly totally different lingering query! However like many episodes of The Final of Us, possibly we must always minimize away from the motion in order that we will leap again in time after which work our manner again as much as these questions?

On this episode, Joel and Ellie make it! They’re in Reno, and so they discover the docs they have been looking for this complete time. They only have to let the docs run a couple of checks, after which they will trip off into the sundown collectively, their surrogate father/daughter bond intact and wholesome and completely nice. Proper?

Kyle: There are many different questions, to make sure, however I needed to start out with the one which lingers most after that gripping remaining shot.

However sure, backing up a bit, I like how this episode will get again to some quiet time between Joel and Ellie, who get to joke round and feed giraffes and be usually wistful about their journey collectively. They’ve clearly and totally change into a surrogate father/daughter pair to one another, which is saying one thing, given how reluctant they have been to even be in the identical area again initially of the collection.

Andrew: There are good moments. However now that Joel is totally open to letting Ellie occupy the position of his lifeless daughter, there is a kind of manic, nearly determined be aware to his relationship together with her on the episode’s outset. Joel’s stolid, monosyllabic veneer is gone, and now that it’s, he is speaking an excessive amount of; he is all of the sudden too keen to attach.

Kyle: You would additionally argue he is all of the sudden too keen to guard his surrogate daughter on the expense of humanity…

What did you do, Joel, and why did you do it?
Enlarge / What did you do, Joel, and why did you do it?


Andrew: Sure! Sure. That is the factor.

Not like nearly each different group of individuals we have run into in The Final of Us universe, there does not appear to be something particularly sinister in regards to the Reno Fireflies. Sure, they determine fairly rapidly that the one solution to research and transmit Ellie’s immunity is to take away her mind (That is defined considerably in one more episode-opening flashback the place we meet Ellie’s mom and do the truth is study the unimaginable true story of how Ellie acquired her knife, a joke I made a couple of recaps in the past that ended up coming true).

However they don’t seem to be, so far as we all know, a group of sadistic evangelical vigilante brain-removers. They’re, to borrow a phrase, placing the wants of the various forward of the wants of the few. And it is not that I do not really feel deeply for Joel, who’s clearly not prepared or keen or capable of lose one other daughter. However his response to the scenario…

It leads me to my query: is Joel the dangerous man? Have we, the viewers, been hoodwinked by Pedro Pascal’s dadly charms into rooting for a monster?

Kyle: To me, this isn’t, ultimately, a really fascinating or troublesome query. Any goal take a look at the scenario would conclude that Joel clearly made the flawed selection right here. Saving humanity from cordyceps is strikingly extra helpful than defending Ellie’s life.

The one solution to come to the alternative conclusion is by being hopelessly sentimental about the entire thing. And Joel’s actions are made even worse as a result of, as Marlene factors out, Ellie would fairly clearly be keen to sacrifice herself for that better good.

That stated, I believe each the sport and the present do an excellent job of threading the needle between not defending Joel’s actions however nonetheless explaining them. By the point we get to those remaining scenes, we perceive how and why a really damaged Joel would basically sacrifice the human race for this lady he met comparatively just lately. You do not have to agree with it to grasp it from Joel’s standpoint, and I believe that is an incredible narrative feat.

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