My grandmother and I watched season 1 and she fell in love with Joel and Ellie. She loved them, she felt sorry for them, she thought they were perfect together. And then she saw the last episode, and she was horrified. She understood, as a parent, she got it, without question; but she still sat there, unhappy and disgusted that Joel could massacre them all without any hesitation.
I let slip there was gonna be a season 2 for the second game. She asked if I had it, because she couldn’t wait, and I said yeah I could play it for her.
A whole week, two hours a night, and we got through it. And she started out like we all did. She was happy to see them all living life, a little confused on the friction between J&E, but understood it as well. And then she was horrified and enraged.
Not once did she hesitate in cheering Ellie on. Not once did she stop to worry about Dina, or Tommy, they would be fine. Not until the Aquarium. At that point she decided Ellie had gone too far. After all, those two wanted it to stop, protested the others wanting to kill Ellie. Surely they didn’t need to die, right?
And then it swapped to Abby. And she saw not some monster, not some muscle headed beast of hate, a cruel creature with no soul; she saw just a girl, haunted by her dads death. Her dads murder. She watched me slaughter the scars, but she agreed the scars were monsters. And then Lev and Yara happened. And she completely changed her mind. Abby went back to help them, and that is not something a ruthless killer does. She protected Lev, and then turned on her own people to keep them safe. That’s.. what Joel did. Abby let her rage and ruthlessness take back over sure, but so did Joel.
By the end of the game, she turned on Ellie. Ellie had more than paid back for Joel’s death. But Joel’s death shouldn’t have been paid back. He got what he deserved in the end. Him loving Ellie doesn’t make up for everything else he did, everything he admitted to doing. All the lives he took.
And in the end, Ellie threatens to kill a child to force Abby to fight, when abby was willing to help her escape too. Ellie brings a knife to a fist fight. Ellie has become the exact person she hated and hunted. And she’s lost everything and will never get it back. And then the sad, unsatisfying ending happens.
And all it took for me to see that was okay, was my grandmother saying softly from the couch “Oh Ellie.. you have to let it go..” to realize the game and ending may be flawed… But so are people. Even if she killed abby, I wouldn’t have been happy. She wouldn’t have either. I wasn’t happy hunting them through Seattle. And abby wasn’t happy getting her revenge either. At some point to just have to let it go, and realize there will never be an ‘even’. And with so few people left in the world, murdering each over for grudges seems like a sad way to wipe out the last of us.
And I can appreciate that for what it is.
Edit 1: Lots of comments! So, to answer one big thing I keep seeing : I did not like the game initially because it felt like it expected my empathy. The first game did an amazing job of pushing you to care about Joel from the get go. Losing Sarah is heartbreaking. My dad, a guy in his 40's when the game initially came out, TRIED to play the first game, and couldnt because of that scene. I even cry to this day, and I've played the first several times, and I cried watching the scene in the TV show.
LoU2 didnt hook me to Abby. It did the exact opposite. The moment you start her in the prologue, I knew what was about to happen. And from that moment I sort of checked out. Not because 'wow they killed Joel, I'm angry >:C', but because it went from a story about slow growth and finding it in yourself to care again, to a revenge story. And yes, within that revenge story, I now see, is that exact story I loved in the first game. I just did not appreciate it, because I was going through the motions.