The Last of Us

The Last of Us Finale Could Answer the Game’s Biggest Question

One lingering riddle could finally be addressed.


The Last of Us has delivered eight episodes of accurate video game adapting, supplementary worldbuilding, and stellar standalone storytelling. Now it’s time to see if they stick the landing. Episode 9, slated for release on March 12, promises to bring Ellie and Joel’s story to an end. But while gamers know what (presumably) lies ahead, there may be some additions to the narrative.

Major spoilers ahead.

The last time we saw Joel and Ellie, they were narrowly escaping the Silver Lake cannibal cultists. They’re heading to Salt Lake City, where the Fireflies have apparently rebuilt their science facility after leaving the university in Colorado. We know they’ll reach the base, but what will they find there?

Because we have the game as source material, we know what to expect. The Fireflies are planning on using Ellie to develop a cure, but to do so they’ll need to kill and dissect her. Marlene considers it a necessary sacrifice, but Joel disagrees and rescues Ellie with force.

The game ended with Joel rescuing Ellie from the Fireflies.

Naughty Dog

It’s a monumental lead-up to the game’s sequel: not only is Ellie’s survival integral to the story, but Joel’s operating room tirade is the main motivation for a significant new character. If The Last of Us Season 2 is going to adapt the second game like so many fans expect, these elements will have to be included in the season finale.

But, much like every other episode, there’s more to the story than just what’s in the game. We saw the game’s original Joel, Troy Baker, appear in Episode 8, but the original Ellie, Ashley Johnson, has yet to appear — meaning she has to appear in the finale.

Entertainment Weekly describes her character, Anna, as “a pregnant woman, alone and on the run, who must give birth under the most terrifying of circumstances.” That led to overwhelming fan speculation that she’s not just any woman, but Ellie’s mother. It would further flesh out Ellie’s backstory, and there’s no better time to flash back to Ellie’s birth than an episode centered around her potential death.

Ashley Johnson as Anna in the trailer for The Last of Us.


This flashback could answer some key questions. Who was Anna? Was she a rebel, giving Ellie her headstrong nature? Did something happen to Anna during her pregnancy that gave Ellie her immunity?

In the game, the player can read a letter from Anna that says, “Holding you is the most incredible thing I’ve done in my life — a life that is about to get cut a little short.” We know that Ellie is an orphan, but we don’t know exactly what happened to her mother. This letter, and Ashley Johnson’s scene, may confirm that the strange circumstances of Ellie’s birth were the key to her unique condition.

While the Season 2 renewal all but confirms that Ellie will survive the finale, we may learn why the Fireflies wanted to dissect her in the first place: to discover the source of her immunity.

The Last of Us is streaming on HBO Max.

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