Warning – This post contains huge spoilers for the Last of Us series. If you have not yet beaten the first or second game, I would suggest you avoid reading this article.
Like many people who played the Last of Us Part 2, I found it difficult at first to deal with not only the fact that Joel was killed but was killed in such a cruel and brutal way. Naturally, hating Abby for killing Joel is what you would expect to feel. Everyone who played the first game will remember him quite fondly. The video game father as he is often referred to.
Having completed part 2 and seeing Abby strung up on the beach looking so weak and helpless, I felt a certain amount of empathy toward her. We had already seen the reason why she did what she did. Joel killed her father and in an act of revenge, she felt the need to kill Joel. I don’t think anyone can blame her but forgiving her is a different story.
When Ellie refused to kill her in the end, it was a difficult thing to digest. Although I had some understanding of why Abby killed Joel, I still wanted her to die. As the days passed and I put the review of the game together, I started to feel like I understood why Ellie did it. She didn’t want to be the monster Abby was. Killing her was not the answer and wasn’t going to bring Joel back. Abby was broken and that was enough.
Returning To Last of Us Part 1
I never felt the need to return to the Last of Us Part 1 after completing the second game. I had completed the game multiple times and having done so on the hardest difficulty, the memories of the game were burned into my brain. So I sort of accepted that Abby did a horrible thing but I see why she did it. Ellie decided to let it go and I felt it was the right thing to do, kinda. Returning to the Last of Us Part 1 changed this.
It has been almost 10 years since I played the Last of Us. At the time, the game was blowing me away with visual fidelity and how awesome the gameplay was. While it is still incredibly good, I was able to see a lot more in the relationship between Ellie and Joel that I missed the last time.
Joel had no idea who Ellie was and to a degree, was sort of misled into helping her. He was not happy about the situation and was not very welcoming or accepting of Ellie at the start. Although he maintains this emotional distance from her, you can see how he begins to care for her as time goes on.
When Ellie offers to jump over a small gap in a fence to open it from the other side, he gives her a stern warning to be careful. He does this quite frequently when Ellie is in a position where she is vulnerable and he is not in a position to help her.
The care obviously goes back to the start of the game when we see that Joel was a father. He keeps wearing the broken watch his daughter gave him as it is the only link he has left to her. It shows that he has a softer side and cared for his daughter.
Joel was never portrayed as a bad guy or cold for that matter but in an apocalyptic situation, a certain amount of selfishness is needed. Joel risked his life countless times and treated Ellie like a daughter when he could have just said no and gone home. And what did he get for it, bludgeoned to death with a golf club!
Abby did what she did, ignorant of the full picture. From our side, sure, sacrificing one person (Ellie) to save humanity seems like it is worth it. The fireflies were doing something horrible in the interest of all humans on the planet. Abby was blinded to the fact that an innocent 14-year-old girl was going to be murdered to achieve this.
After experiencing all that Joel sacrificed and did to help Ellie, it is very hard to feel any sort of empathy for Abby again. It has all dried up and I am back to wishing that The Last of Us Part 2 gave us the option to kill her after the fight at the end of the game.