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HBO’s The Last of Us Is Planting the Seeds for Dark Ellie & I Am Not Ready

Image Source: Naughty Dog

HBO’s The Last of Us Is Planting the Seeds for Dark Ellie & I Am Not Ready

These violent delights have violent ends.

First off, we’ll be getting into minor spoiler territory for The Last of Us Part II. So if you’re new to the series and haven’t played the games, you might want to look away for this one. I won’t go over any major story spoilers, but you know what they say, some things are best experienced on your own.

While HBO’s television adaptation of The Last of Us has been pretty faithful thus far, it’s clear that showrunner Craig Mazin and series creatore Neil Druckmann have been using the show as a tool to explore different aspects of our beloved characters a little more. We’ve seen the beautiful relationship between Bill and Frank that never got its time to shine in the game, as well as a slightly more nuanced take on Tess’s short character arc. More importantly, however, we’re also starting to see hints of darkness within one of the show’s main protagonists, Ellie herself.

With the show quickly getting renewed for a second season, it seems obvious that it’ll likely cover the events of The Last of Us Part II, with Ellie taking more of a central role as she goes on a bloody journey of her own. We’re still a long way off from that, but HBO is already starting to plant the seeds for her uglier, sinister side, and it all started with episode 1.

In this week’s episode, we were treated to a rather curious scene of Ellie encountering an infected trapped under some rubble in the basement. She whips out her pocket knife, but instead of stabbing it in the head immediately, she chooses to cut open its forehead tenderly before delivering the killing blow.

bella ramsey as ellie in the last of us on HBO
Image Source: HBO

It’s honestly a pretty disturbing moment, even for how fleeting it is. Thanks in no small part to Bella Ramsey’s impeccable portrayal of the character, the way Ellie studies the infected as she cuts its forehead is actually pretty creepy, and kinda scary in a way.

As mentioned in the Inside the Episode video for episode 1, the showrunners are making a deliberate effort to drop hints on Ellie’s violent tendencies. As a child who grew up in a QZ, she hasn’t been able to enjoy a conventional childhood and has only ever known death and violence. It isn’t obvious yet, but she relishes the thought of harming those who intend to hurt her, and it’s that very idea that will soon pave the way for a much darker storyline in The Last of Us.

Ellie’s one of my favorite video game characters of all time, yet this portrayal of her in the HBO adaptation feels especially jarring, and it’s because we never quite got to see this side of her in the first game. As someone who’s played the first game countless times, Ellie made an impression as the curious, dorky girl that you couldn’t help but endear yourself to and want to protect. Save for a particularly harrowing sequence in the winter chapter (y’all know what I’m talking about), her acts of violence have always been made in self-defense or to protect Joel. We never got to see anything quite as gratuitous as Ellie being morbidly curious about what it was like to hurt a living thing.

With how much darker The Last of Us Part II gets, it’s important that the HBO adaptation sets the stage for the events to come. But as Ford loved to say in Westworld –and Shakespeare too, of course– these violent delights have violent ends. It’s still early days, but I’m certainly already looking forward to seeing how HBO handles the back half of the story.

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