In The Last of Us, Joel Had It Right

Smigglebops

New member
Dec 31, 2014
11
0
0
I think I remember them saying somewhere in the game that Ellie's immunity came not from her own biology, but from the fact that she was infected by a mutated strain of cordyceps. One that wouldnt spread and eventually sprout out of her head.

If anything the fireflies didnt need Ellie at all, to them she was just the carrier of the mutated strain. I thought they were just going to remove it from her in order to infect themselves with the strain as opposed to being infected by the cordyceps that would eventually turn them into clickers.

I interpreted the fireflies as desperate and in need of something that would validate their cause and efforts and were desperate enough to dehumanize a child and use that child as a means to an end, rather than treating her like a human being.
 

Casual Shinji

Should've gone before we left.
Legacy
Apr 4, 2020
17,280
1,366
118
Zombie Badger said:
The Fireflies inability to think of a way to study the fungus without killing Ellie is just a result of poor writing. The writer needed to contrive a situation in which Joel had to kill them all to get the the tragic ending he wanted, and picked a lazy way to do it.
No, it's a result of the Fireflies being at the end of their rope. Early on in Boston you hear that over there they're basically already dead. Than as you progress through the game the only Fireflies you encounter are corpses. When you finally arrive at Salt Lake City Marlene says she lost half her men trying to cross the country, which explains the Fireflies' extreme hostility when they find Joel with Ellie. And those "doctors" in the operating room are likely the only ones they have, only one of whom is capable of performing brain surgery, if at all.

They're quickly being whittled away and they need to act fast before what little manpower they have is extinguished completely. They simply don't have the luxery to perform months of tests on Ellie, so in an act of deperation they jump the gun.
 

Casual Shinji

Should've gone before we left.
Legacy
Apr 4, 2020
17,280
1,366
118
Zombie Badger said:
Anyone with even the vaguest scientific or medical knowledge would know the most basic part of microbiology, that you take a small sample of a disease and culture it outside the body before experimenting on it. At worst you would have needed a tiny scraping of the growth sprouting from Ellie's brain, at best you could just stick a needle in her spine and drain some cerebralspinal fluid, which would have contained spores. Also, if you kill Ellie and can't keep it alive outside the body you've lost everything.
Disregarding the fact that they obviously ran tests to indicate the state of the growth in her brain and that it makes here immune, they obviously would take their time if they had it as well as a properly supplied facility in a well protected environment, but they don't. Their organisation is bleeding to death rapidly.

It's never supposed to be taken at face value when Marlene says that if they extract the growth they can reverse engineer a vaccine. They most likely can't, it's wishful thinking. Even if by some miracle they could, how would they be able to manufacture enough even for their own men, let alone distribute it across the country? For all you know the Fireflies would start fighting among themselves about who would and who wouldn't get the cure.

The Fireflies see themselves as fighters for a just cause, but that doesn't make them any less of a lost cause themselves, just like everyone else.
 

Joshroom

New member
Oct 27, 2009
403
0
0
So yeah, I had no problem with what Joel did at the end. Okay, maybe not no problems. I did feel a little uncomfortable at first, but once it sank in that these guys weren't exactly shining paragons, it got easier. Didn't like having to kill the defenseless doctor though. Wish I could have just punched him and knocked him out.
This^

I was personally all for Joel gunning down the Firefly's, for the exact same selfish reason he does it; I loved Ellie and these pricks had done nothing to endear themselves to me. My own sympathy for other people in general is always a bit lacking and, as other people have already pointed out, the main bulk of the Firefly's really are no different than the various bandit gangs you've encountered throughout the game.

However, when he straight up brutally murdered the scientists, that was a little to far. They weren't even a threat to him at that point, or even an impediment. Killing the arses in your way is fair enough, but that was just an unnecessarily gratuitous act. Made me lose a little bit of love for Joel.

Still, great, great game though. Still more on Joel's side than any others.
 

MasterBetty

New member
May 21, 2009
10
0
0
I think I took away a slightly different view of the story than most.

The conflict between Joel and Marlene was deciding the actions of a their shared daughter Ellie. Remember, Marlene helped raise Ellie so she too feels a connection to her. And at the last, her words were that Ellie would want to follow through with the surgery and that he can still do the right thing by handing her over. She lowers her gun and raises her hands in a show of peace, and Joel preemptively murders her to prevent her from ever trying again.

At no point does anyone ask Ellie what she would want. And after her journey with Joel, I think it's safe to say she is more or less matured at that point so she could make her own choice. Was there a right choice? No. But BOTH parents deny Ellie any say in the matter.
 

Nixou

New member
Jan 20, 2014
196
0
0
I'll add one more thing I think I already mentioned on another thread. the Firefilies sucks at leadership too, we get a glimpse of several camps the firefiles "liberated" and the only people still alive there are looters since they think giving guns to everybody who can use them won't backfire once they clear the army.

True, but Pittsburgh was starving when the military was overthrown: the soldiers were hoarding the resources for themselves and the rest of the population rose up because that was the most rational thing to do (either risk death fighting your corrupt rulers or face the certainty of slow, painful starvation)
 

Wargamer

New member
Apr 2, 2008
973
0
0
I tend to agree that what the Fireflies were doing was wrong. There had to be better ways - more tests, more options to consider. They were not in the right, morally or ethically.

Joel's actions were absolutely moral. Whether they were ethical is another matter entirely.

Remember: morals are personal, ethics are social. If Joel had no moral objection to the idea that Ellie should die to save humanity, he'd have just walked away. Whether he would have walked away if he didn't care for Ellie, or didn't know her at all, or if she was an adult, etc. are questions we can't answer; the fact is, Joel could not allow Ellie to die.

Ethically, there's no clear answer here. Yes, sacrificing Ellie MIGHT have produced a vaccine. It might also have also been a totally stupid idea and killed the only person who is immune without producing a vaccine. What if, for example, Ellie's children are born immune as the article speculates? Or, indeed, if she could pass immunity through 'infecting' other people with bites? Are the Fireflies ethically justified in killing her now?

The ethics of the finale can only be judged in hindsight, and with clear knowledge of what the outcomes would be in each option.

But for me, the ending isn't about ethics. The ending is about survival, and what it really means to survive. For Joel, Ellie is his link to survival. "Surviving" doesn't just mean not dying; it means reaching a point where you can begin to live again. And that's what we see.

Look at how Joel changes. His goals begin as "do x, go home." He wants to get their guns back, then go home. He wants to get rid of Ellie, then go home. His ambition is life is to go back to his mold-ridden apartment and drink whatever whisky he's smuggled into town. He doesn't want adventure, he doesn't show much, if any interest in sex, he hasn't tried to make a new family, he doesn't have an official job as far as we know; he's just getting by.
But by the end? He's making plans. Now it's "find the Fireflies, then take Ellie to a lake and teach her how to swim." He wants Ellie in his life, he's embraced her as his adopted daughter (whether she feels the same isn't as clear, but she does have a bond with him). He's surviving, and he's ready to start a new life.

At the end, his fear is twofold; first, that Ellie will die and this beacon of hope will go out. Second, after rescuing Ellie, that she will see through his lies and turn against him.

The Last of Us is perhaps the most beautiful love story in gaming, if not one of the most beautiful love stories period. Not erotic love; not the love that is confirmed by cliche Hollywood sex, or the more family friendly cut-to-wedding-vows ending. Joel loves Ellie the way he loved Sarah. She is a part of him and he will literally fight the whole damn world if that's what it takes to protect her. And he didn't come to this in a convenient 90 minute spectacle set over a week of comedic misunderstanding; they spent over a year together, often alone, surrounded by death and danger. It's the fact that we see how hard he fought to NOT care that makes this change of heart so powerful.

In case you can't tell, I fucking love this game.
 

sageoftruth

New member
Jan 29, 2010
3,417
0
0
Rats! I just decided to continue where I left off in Last of Us. I guess I'll have to read this article later.
 

playdude92

New member
Jan 7, 2015
1
0
0
The point of the game is showing you how Joel really DOESN´T have a choice but do everything to save Ellie. In that it´s a gorgeous human tale, rather than a moralist one.

Because that´s the core of it´s message; The Last of Us, meaning; what remains of our humanity? More specificly: What remains of our humanity, when most if not all of human life is reduced to survival. The game asks; What does it mean to LIVE rather than just SURVIVE? And its answer is as conventional as it is timeless: love. To live for someone else as much or more than for yourself. When you gain love, you automaticly begin to live again. You take in the beauty of the world and you want to express yourself (remember the bit about Joel wanting to teach Ellie the guitar, once their adventure is over?).

From a moralist standpoint it´s easy to judge the main character for sure. Only that´s not what the game is about. Like I said, it´s a human tale. And from a human standpoint, only Joel and Ellie stand to lose something, when the Fireflies want to cut out a cure out of Ellie. Joel and Ellie live and love, the Fireflies are scavengers and mere survivors like most of the game´s people.

In the very end, the main characters have the most beautiful exchange, summing everyting up perfectly. I´ll paraphrase it;

E.; "Me and my friend had a deal, that we´d die together. I yet have to deliver on that promise"

J.; "Ellie. You don´t know this yet. We live. We lose. And then we move on."
 

Lord Garnaat

New member
Apr 10, 2012
412
0
0
I don't think I ever walked away from a game feeling more dissatisfied that when I finished The Last of Us. I was seriously in a black rage for hours after its completion, furious that I had wasted time on something that led up to a completely pointless ending. Frankly, it baffles me how anyone can possibly stand by the game or its protagonist, considering that conclusion.

I think that Joel is probably the most selfish, reprehensible character I've ever had the displeasure of playing as. He claims to care about Ellie, but in truth she as a person means absolutely nothing to him, just a way for him to live out a deluded fantasy that his own daughter never died. He kills for her, but its clear that he doesn't care in the slightest about her own choices or personality. She was willing to sacrifice herself to save mankind, and he stole her away, slaughtered the only hope we had left, and carted her off to a backwater town where she will likely die in a decade anyways. He's pathetic, and the only reason I didn't give up and stop playing during the fight inside the hospital was because I was praying that someone would kill him before he did more damage. Sadly, I was mistaken.

I've seen people hold up Joel's actions as somehow "moral" because they have some qualm with the Fireflies. How on Earth does that matter in any way? I don't care what the Fireflies have done. If they found a way to save mankind, I would support finding it. If the military found one, I would support it. If Joel's brother or the other survivors found one, I would support it, or if some crazed dictator found it, or bandits, or anyone else. Do billions of lives mean so little that they should be condemned based on petty political concerns? What use are complaints like that when humanity is on its last legs, and this may be the last chance to save it? This may shock some people, but the world does not revolve around you or your worthless political wrangling, and the fact that some people were rude or abusive to you personally means absolutely nothing when weighed against the good of others. I didn't care that some Firefly pointed a gun at my head or threatened me, because what anyone does to me is irrelevant if you weigh it against billions of lives.

"Mankind doesn't deserve to survive, so I'm going to deprive it of its only chance to rebuild and become better!" What insane kind of logic is that? You're saying that millions upon millions of innocent people deserve to die, and our entire species deserves to be wiped out, because some of them are bad? And because many were forced to do evil things because of the situation they were forced into? And now you're destroying the only chance to cure that situation, end the suffering, and help mankind heal? You're condemning people based on circumstances that you are allowing to perpetuate, rather than try to end them. This goes for the fatalist as well, who says "Well, mankind is doomed anyways, so what matter is it?" The only reason it is doomed is because of the choice you just made! It's because of people like that, who put selfish wants over the needs of others, that humanity is being exterminated, and now you say it is inevitable to cover your own actions? The fact that it was possible to make a cure proves that it was not inevitable, and that there was a chance to save everyone, but Joel chose to snuff the last light out. You can say that even then it isn't a certainty that we can rebuild, but is it not even worth trying? Do other people really mean that little?

Ellie had no problem dying to save mankind, so why should we? So far as I'm concerned, any man that isn't willing to sacrifice his life for others doesn't deserve to have that life to begin with. What Joel wants is irrelevant, what you and I want is irrelevant, and what the Fireflies or the military or anyone else wants is irrelevant if mankind goes extinct. There is no other concern. Ask the four billion dead people, or the two billion living ones in that world how much one person's desires are worth, or whether politics still matter, and guess what that answer will be.
 

Shpongled

New member
Apr 21, 2010
330
0
0
Lord Garnaat said:
Your entire argument is predicated on the notion that the Fireflies were correct about the cure. Was there any in-game reason to believe this was the case? I don't recall any.

Personally i felt i had no reason to trust the Fireflies as far as i could throw them, and no reason to believe they actually had the cure. I mean, every single thing up until this point has failed, but i'm to believe these random crazies who've proved themselves both psychopathic and utterly, miserably unsuccessful in achieving their goals every step of the way have the answer, and all they need to do is kill this one particular person?

Seriously, you guys couldn't just sample some of her blood and run some tests or something? You're jumping straight into manipulating a little girl into lying on her deathbed while you slice out her brain in your latest hare-brained scheme to attempt what everyone previously had failed at so conclusively? Ok, I'm outta here, and i'm taking the kid.

At least that was my reaction, maybe i missed something, idk. Was there any concrete in game reason to believe the Fireflies were anything other than a crazy cult who've brainwashed themselves into believing that all they need to do is just this one thing and then everything will all be ok again?
 

Gethsemani_v1legacy

New member
Oct 1, 2009
2,552
0
0
Zombie Badger said:
Anyone with even the vaguest scientific or medical knowledge would know the most basic part of microbiology, that you take a small sample of a disease and culture it outside the body before experimenting on it. At worst you would have needed a tiny scraping of the growth sprouting from Ellie's brain, at best you could just stick a needle in her spine and drain some cerebralspinal fluid, which would have contained spores. Also, if you kill Ellie and can't keep it alive outside the body you've lost everything.
Or maybe they think the reason she's immune has something to do with how the fungi has grown in her brain and that they can't replicate it without seeing the symbiotic relationship "in action"? As Shinji says, it is meant to be interpreted as a desperate move on behalf of the fireflies. They are putting all their resources and efforts into this cure, but they need to get it fast or it simply won't matter, because the fireflies will be too few to do anything with it. That is if they can even get a cure in the first place, which isn't a certainty. As Shinji says, they are lying to themselves, just like everyone else in the game.
 

Evonisia

Your sinner, in secret
Jun 24, 2013
3,257
0
0
I like the idea of Joel being some kind of reverse tragic hero.

I go by the logic that the Fireflies probably weren't going to save the world, but at the same time their desperate attempts to justify the act they attempted is horrible. Who the fuck cares what one person wants anymore? It's not an excuse for either Joel or the Fireflies actions. I see the Fireflies get punished for their deed. Cool. Then Joel just gets away with it in the anti-climax of an ending.

Now, if Ellie murdered him or dragged him to Hell, that would have been cool.
 

Trishbot

New member
May 10, 2011
1,318
0
0
Nods Respectfully Towards You said:
I'm getting really tired of hearing that faux-deep bullshit being spouted. No, fuck you Spec Ops: The Line developers. "Hurr, stop playing the game, you are the demons" is not a fucking choice. Compound this with "Baby's First Heart of Darkness" and you get a game with boring gameplay and an overrated story.
It absolutely is a choice. The game is deliberate manipulation that presents, then usurps, its set-up as a generic military shooter, only to unravel the rug thread by thread while exploring the more taboo themes of militarism, PTSD, nationalism, xenophobia, and hero worship. I didn't like it at first... only to replay the game, chapter by chapter, scene by scene, and find shocking depth if you play it as anything OTHER than a military shooter. If you rush forward, the game sucks and twists come out of nowhere. If you take time to look around, you'll see your reality begin to crumble and signs of what's truly happening appearing in the cracks.

I seriously cannot recommend Spec Ops: The Line enough as the antidote to Call of Duty doldrums. So many secrets in the game telling you the truth... the names on the walls... the true in the courtyard... the reflection on the windows... the billboard in the distance... and on and on and on it goes.

I love Heart of Darkness, but this is not Heart of Darkness; it's thematically based off of it and instead branches into the interactive narrative of outright war crimes. It is a game that is not meant to be "enjoyed", just like nobody "enjoys" watching the cruelty on display in Schindler's List or The Passion of the Christ. It was not designed to make you feel "good".

And, on topic, that's exactly how The Last of Us goes down. Moral ambiguity, terrible deeds justified on flimsy logic and lies, and ultimately letting the player themselves decide what is or was the "right" path to take, even if all actions taken result in death, carnage, and inhumanity.

I think Joel was right in The Last of Us, but I tell myself that over and over again despite how barbarous his actions were to save someone he loved. The Fireflies were wrong, and so was Joel's reasons. Would you kill an innocent to save the world? No, I wouldn't. If the world can't exist without killing a child, the world deserves what it has coming.
 

MustardTiger

New member
Mar 31, 2010
27
0
0
On whether Ellie would have said yes or no, well, thats up in the air for me. I mean I guess she would have? Its very clear to me that Ellie is experiencing some severe survivors guilt and really wanted this whole journey to be for something. With that I think she probably would have gone along with trying to get a cure out of her.

But then, earlier on in the game when you first get to Pittsburgh you stumble onto a bunch of cars with dead bodies hanging out of them. Ellie comments that they don't look infected, and Joel explains that they couldn't let everyone into the safe zone, so they resorted to shooting. He says, "You sacrifice the few to save the many" and Ellie replies with "Thats kind of shitty". Which is all more or less what the Fireflies were going to do with her to try and get a vaccine.

So, its up in the air for me. Towards the end of the game her attitude on the whole matter may have changed. I'm leaning towards her saying yes, and Joel knew that. Which is why he did what he did.
 

Smigglebops

New member
Dec 31, 2014
11
0
0
I didn't think the fireflies were stupid, so much as they were very desperate and impatient. The reason they are so quick to want to kill Ellie rather than run tests first is because if you find the recordings in the hospital you learn that they've been running tests on infected individuals for sometime and it hasn't yielded any results. They just want the passive cordyceps strain that is growing on Ellies brain as soon as possible, rather than take the time to run tests and attempt to understand how the fungus works.

The fireflies are on their last legs and it is heavily implied that Marlene is losing control and is under pressure from other higher ups to go through with the extraction of the fungus immediately.In recordings many fireflies just want the whole thing to be over with and to make all their efforts worth while. Just like how Ellie wanted her journey to be worth it.

Really, if Ellie had died from drowning as Joel was trying to resuscitate her, the fireflies could still get the fungus from her body and synthesized a vaccine from that. Just like the real world cordyceps, the fungus stays alive long after the host has deceased. Ellie herself was disposable to the fireflies so long as they got the strain from her brain (rhyming!).