At the end of The Last of Us Part IIThe players leave Ellie at the lowest point in her life. Seeking revenge, she alienates everyone around her and is left broken in the world. While unconfirmed, the success of the first two entries, plus a hit adaptation on HBO, makes a third game seem inevitable.
When then The Last of Us Part III happens, it must complete the cycle of Ellie’s story – and give her the happy ending she deserves.
The last of us Co-creator Neil Druckmann has stated that the series is about “cycles of violence”. The Last of Us Part II is a depiction of the horrific damage wrought by these cycles and how they are mostly meaningless. Ellie’s devotion to Joel leads her down a path from which she may not be able to return. Looking ahead, The last of us must bring the story full circle and give Ellie a path to redemption.
Warning! End spoilers ahead for The Last of Us Part I And Part II
The last of us has much in common with Aeschylus’ trilogy of classical Greek dramas Oresteia, each part of it follows increasingly meaningless atrocities committed for less and less meaningful reasons.
The first play depicts the murder of Agamemnon by his wife Clytemnestra in retaliation for their daughter’s sacrifice years earlier. The second play follows the murder of Clytemnestra by her son Orestes in retaliation for the murder of Agamemnon. In the third play, Orestes is pursued by the Furies to avenge the murder of Clytemnestra. It’s easy to see how this chain of murders connects The last of us. It also highlights that Ellie’s story has another part to it.
Each game in the Naughty Dog series reveals different aspects of revenge. Joel’s crucial decision to eliminate the fireflies and ultimately save Ellie from surgery part One is a morally gray act rooted in a desire to do some good in the world despite its consequences. Part II shows these consequences when Abby murders Joel in revenge for the death of her father (the surgeon in part One) and shows how Ellie’s taking on the cause of revenge only leads to more pain and suffering. Still Part IIThe ending of Ellie sets the stage for Ellie’s redemption.
In the final confrontation between Ellie and Abby, Ellie decides to give up her vendetta and help Abby escape. But the damage to her own life has already been done. The house she built with Dana and baby JJ is something she can’t go back to. Part III must help her find that way back.
The Oresteia ends with the literal deus ex machina of Athena descending from heaven to try Orestes and establish justice by law versus justice by vengeance.
Similar to Orestes in the last chapter of OresteiaEllie in Part III would be haunted by her demons – both literally and figuratively. Seeking a way to close the cycle that has been going on for too long and will likely continue throughout Abby and Lev’s storyline, Ellie is able to find a path to redemption that involves taking meaningful responsibility for her role, which caused so much pain to the world. But ultimately to keep The Last of Us Part III From an even more weary and painful mediation on brutality, there must be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Through both The Last of Us Part I And II, the moments that make the world seem worth living in are those of hope and humanity. Tommy’s community in Jackson, in particular, represents the kind of life Joel always wanted Ellie to have and the reason he saved her. Joel wanted Ellie to live as close to a normal life as possible. At the end of her story The Last of Us Part III must fulfill this and bring Ellie back to this world of humanity – so that she can regain her happiness and overcome the need for further bloodshed.