The final episode of The Last of Us’s first season is here, and fans weren’t ready. After trekking all the way across the post-apocalyptic wilderness that the US has become in the aftermath of the emergence of cordyceps, Joel and Ellie finally make it to the hospital they set out to find.
Joel and Ellie have developed a stronger bond than either of them ever imagined, and now, faced with an impossible choice, Joel does the unthinkable. Here’s what you missed in the season finale of The Last of Us.
Joel and Ellie get a brief moment of respite on the way into town, with Joel joking around and generally feeling good finally. Ellie is distant after the events with David back in the resort town, but she cheers up once she finds a giraffe snacking on nearby greens. Joel and Ellie are stunned by the appearance of a rare African animal in the middle of a Californian town, but they reason that the giraffe must have been from a nearby zoo.
This surprising find gives the pair a second to savor the moment and just enjoy being alive. That’s something neither of them has done in a long time. As the giraffe rejoins its herd and they disappear into the ruined city, Joel finally gives Ellie more background on his life before the outbreak.
He tells Ellie that the scar on his head was self-inflicted. He tried to take his own life shortly after the outbreak but missed. To this day, Joel says he doesn’t know what made him flinch. Still, he’s happy to be alive and with Ellie. As the two share jokes, they’re ambushed by armed men and Joel is knocked unconscious by a swift rifle butt to the temple.
Joel wakes up safely in a Firefly hospital. Marlene, inexplicably healthy again after being shot in the gut back in the pilot, has also made it across the country and greets Joel. She explains that Ellie is already being prepped for surgery. Joel contends that since cordyceps grows in the brain, Marlene is suggesting a procedure that would kill her.
Marlene, meanwhile, insists that this is the only way to create a cure for the cordyceps infection. Joel seethes, but Marlene has her men take him outside to send him on his way. He’ll never see Ellie again, but at least he’ll know he helped save the world. However, Joel doesn’t accept this. He rounds on his escort, steals an assault rifle, and proceeds to rampage through the hospital like a one-man army, content with condemning the world if it means he can still be with his adoptive daughter, Ellie.
After a brutal ascent, Joel swiftly dispatches the surgeon as he prepares to cut into Ellie’s skin. He takes his still-unconscious young friend down to the parking garage to find a vehicle and return to Tommy’s neighborhood in Jackson. There, Marlene confronts him once more, telling Joel that it’s not his place to choose this for Ellie. Joel argues much the same and kills Marlene.
When Ellie wakes up, she’s devastated to find out the procedure didn’t work. Joel lies and tells her that the Fireflies have given up on working on a cure and that they had to flee in a hurry once raiders attacked. Ellie seems suspicious of Joel but allows him to spin his lies.
The season ends on a bleak, mysterious note. Ellie asks Joel to swear that he’s not lying about what happened at the hospital. He takes a deep breath and tells Ellie he’s telling the truth. In a heartbreaking and frustrating moment, Ellie simply says, “okay,” and the screen cuts to black. See you next season.