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A Break Down of The Last of Us Part II’s Trailer and Its Divisive Fan Theory

the last of us part ii

A dark beginning.

Rumors have been circulating for a while that Naughty Dog had a Last of Us 2 in production, and Sony finally opened things up this year at PlayStation Experience. A pretty hefty reveal trailer was shown to close out Sony’s keynote, and in it we can see that both Ellie and Joel will be returning with the original actors reprising their roles. There are quite a few details to glean from the trailer although as it’s the very first, there’s still quite a bit about the game that’s unknown. Let’s break it down.

The trailer opens with a few stunning shots of a dense forest as a moody song begins to play in the background. The camera pans towards some abandoned buildings, until we see a stop sign emblazoned with the mark of the Fireflies, the revolutionary militia group that wanted to use Ellie to create a vaccine in the first game. During this opening sequence, it’s important to note that we don’t see any indication of Firefly activity at the location, as well as any trace of infected at this point. This may not mean anything, or it could mean something has changed in the world.


The scene then switches to a shot of someone’s hand, which we soon find out is and older Ellie’s. Her hand is bruised, calloused, and bloody and it looks like she’s having trouble using it at all. On top of that, her right arm is now covered in tattoos. We don’t yet know the significance of Ellie’s new tattoo, but it is interesting to note that the first infected bite she received was on her right arm just above the tattoo. Ellie, of course, is immune to the infection, but her tattoo is covering up the majority of the bite.

This all indicates that Ellie has seen intense violence recently, either through self-defense or anger. The girl then begins playing a guitar she’s holding, in a somber song that perfectly matches the tone of what we’d expect from The Last of Us.
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As she plays the guitar, blood drips down the side of her head and we see the camera switch to other locations of the house Ellie is sitting in. Dead bodies are dotted everywhere around the house in the living room and bathroom, and blood is all over the place. We see Joel walk in through the front door holding a gun, and he heads back to the room Ellie is playing the guitar in. She’s clearly having some trouble singing the song, and her emotions look like they’re all over the place.

As her song ends, Joel speaks up and asks, “What are you doing, kiddo? You really gonna go through with this?” Ellie responds after a thoughtful moment by saying, “I’m gonna find em, and I’m gonna kill every last one of them.” It’s not made explicitly clear who she’s talking about, but as we saw a Firefly emblem at the beginning of the trailer, we can assume Ellie just killed the members at one of the organization’s outposts. Either she specifically hunted them down herself, or she and Joel were living at an abandoned outpost when they came.

From there, by Ellie’s tone of voice and emotion we can tell she has some intense hatred and anger going on over something that happened. The other thing we can see is that Ellie is running separately from Joel, not necessarily following his lead. She’s gone off on her own to kill these people, and Joel comes to ask her if she’s really going through with it. From the sounds of it, Joel might not necessarily be trying to stop her either.

After the trailer we came to find out that The Last of Us Part II takes place five years later, with a 19 year old Ellie as the main playable character. There are a ton of questions lingering about this next game, and it’s hard to say just what is going on based on the trailer we got. It’s clear that Part II will be a story about revenge and violence, but just why does Ellie want to track down and kill the Fireflies?

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The lingering question of course has to do with the ending of The Last of Us. Does Ellie now know the truth about what happened with the Fireflies and when Joel took her from their facility? Or has she found some new lease on life, and is ready to kill anyone that comes for her because of her immunity to the infection? At this point, we don’t have enough information to definitively say exactly who Ellie wants to kill or why.

If you really want to go for it, there’s even a wild fan theory out there that says Joel is actually dead in this trailer. The theory going around Reddit currently uses multiple pieces of evidence in the trailer to support this. For one, Joel appears out of a bright light as a shadowy figure, bearing no immediately visible marks of battle upon him. He also looks quite a bit similar to how he did in the first game, while Ellie has changed quite a bit. Of course Joel is going to have physically changed less than Ellie over the five years, but it’s hard to ignore that he looks completely unscathed here, while Ellie has been bloodied up a little.

The theory then suggests that Ellie is projecting a dead Joel, and the dialogue we hear is actually all in her head. The revenge she so desperately seeks is the young girl actually hunting down the people responsible for killing Joel, the one person she had left in the entire world. Other fans aren’t really pleased with this notion and say that this ‘Joel is dead’ theory is far too obvious. Either way it’s too early to say what’s true, but it’s undoubtedly an interesting thing to think about.

Another thing to note about this trailer are the lyrics of the song Ellie is singing, which is coincidentally sung by the actual actress. The song is “Through the Valley” by Shawn James and here are the lyrics in full,

I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
I fear no evil because I’m blind to it all.
My mind and my gun they comfort me,
because I know I’ll kill my enemies when they come.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell on this earth forevermore.
I walk beside the still waters and they restore my soul,
but I can’t walk on the path of the right because I’m wrong.
Well I came upon a man at the top of a hill,
call himself the savior of the human race.
Said he come to save the world from destruction and pain,
but I said how can you save the world from itself.

I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.
I fear no evil because I’m blind.
I walk beside the still waters and they restore my soul,
but I know when I die my soul is damned.

This is a song that was chosen very very intentionally for The Last of Us, reinforcing the themes of the game and where Ellie is at this point in time. It shows that she’s resolved to her choice ready to kill anyone that she needs to, without regard to anyone that might try to come in her way, in this case Joel.  The lyrics are perfectly evocative of the dark head space that Ellie appears to be in. Time clearly has not been kind to either of our main characters.

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The final note about this trailer is in regards to the actual title of the game. I believe that Naughty Dog very specifically chose to name this game The Last of Us Part II. They could have just as easily gone with The Last of Us II, but the Part II is an interesting point. It shows that this isn’t so much a sequel, as it is a continuation of Joel and Ellie’s story that we already know.

What this means is that much of drama and threads established in the first game could prove important again, as this is almost the second act of a two part story. Clearly Naughty Dog wants to show people that they want this game to be a natural continuation of the character’s storylines, and maybe events progress to this point only because of actions taken in The Last of Us.

We’ll find out more about The Last of Us Part II’s plot as more information is revealed. Feel free to hop into the comments with your own thoughts and interpretations, and let us know what you think of the reveal trailer.

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