Post Mortems

The Last of Us EPs Break Down Season 1 Finale's Upsetting Ending and Joel's Choice: 'I'm Confused About It, Morally'

Warning: This post contains spoilers from The Last of Us‘ Season 1 finale. Proceed accordingly. 

If the last 10 minutes of The Last of Us‘ Season 1 finale have you feeling some kind of way, know that the HBO series’ co-creator is right there with you.

Craig Mazin, who with Neil Druckmann adapted Naughty Dog’s video game for TV, said that he has felt different things at different times about Joel’s bold (to put it nicely) choices at the end of Episode 9.

“Unconditional love, we give that way too much credit, like it’s the highest form of love,” he told reporters at a press conference ahead of the finale. “‘Unconditional’ means literally no conditions. None. Including conditions where you really ought to be doing something that is not within the best interest of the person you love, at least according to some sort of moral code or a standard of ethics.”

the-last-of-us-finale-recap-season-1-epiosde-9In case you need a refresher: After the Fireflies ambushed Joel and Ellie, they separated the pair and prepped Ellie for surgery to harvest some of her cells, in hopes of creating a cure for Cordyceps infection. But when Joel learned that doing so would mean ending her life — and that the Fireflies hadn’t told Ellie that taking part in the research would ensure her death — he went on a murderous rampage. He killed nearly everyone in the hospital to get to Ellie, who was already anesthetized in preparation for the procedure. When Marlene put up a last-ditch fight for the girl, Joel killed her, as well.

When she woke, Joel told Ellie that the procedure hadn’t worked and that raiders had attacked the hospital, requiring a hasty exit. Just before they drew near to Jackson, Wyo., she demanded that he swear to her that his version of events was true. He swore that it was. Though she said “OK” in response, the look on Ellie’s face in the hour’s final moments made it seem like she didn’t believe him. (Read a full recap here and hear from game OG/Ellie’s mom Ashley Johnson here.)

the-last-of-us-finale-season-1-episode-9“I’m not suggesting that I have a hard opinion about how things go at the end, and I don’t,” Mazin said. “I’m confused about it morally. I think it’s a difficult choice. I go back and forth, and I think a lot of people will go back and forth on it.”

Druckmann said that the game was always trying to make the player “feel the unconditional love a parent feels for their child, and this worry and fear and love that can come with it. But then sometimes, you know, when you love something unconditionally, logic goes out the window. And you will do really horrible things to protect the ones you love, and there’s a lot of examples worldwide of this happening all the time.”

How do you feel about Joel’s actions at the end of the finale? Hit the comments and let us know!