The Last of Us was right to miss out this finale scene
The Last of Us finale spoilers follow.
The Last of Us' season one finale was nail-shreddingly tense, but perhaps not in the way many fans were hoping for.
It seems despite requiring solvent to detach their eyes glued to the screen, many have had a deep hankering for more Bloater-Clicker-Stalker interactions, and were not content with the deluge of Infected in episode one, nor Tess' explosive exit as she burned down a building to take on the onslaught of cordyceps.
You'd think the eruption of Infected from the ground in episode five would have done the trick but it appears only to have deepened some fans' thirst for spore action.
Turns out there's a reason for the rationed Infected thrills. During a press conference, creator Craig Mazin explained his decision to water down the cordyceps presence in season one.
"Ultimately, we generally stressed the power of relationships and trying to find significance within moments of action," Mazin said. "There may be less action than some people wanted because we couldn't necessarily find significance for quite a bit of it, or [there was] concern that it would be repetitive.
"After all, you're not playing it, you're watching it and although a lot of people do like to watch gameplay, it needs to be a little more focused and purposeful when we're putting it on TV."
We can all agree that his 'less cordyceps, more relationships' strategy paid off.
The episode with Bill and Frank is a testament to that as is the penultimate episode, which, quite frankly, didn't need its Infected to be terrifying. The finale also speaks to the power of relationships and how they have the capacity to grip viewers harder than a Bloater would a human.
While the final episode opens with a flashback scene of Ellie's mother, Anna (Ashley Johnson), still pregnant with her, fighting off a Clicker whilst in labour, the rest of the action in the episode is reserved until the end and that's owing to a missing scene.
Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie's meet-and-greet with the Fireflies at Salt Lake City played out somewhat differently in the games. Instead of strolling along, bonding over terrible puns before being attacked by the Fireflies, Joel and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) were ambushed by a selection of Infected in an abandoned tunnel, and by selection, we mean it ran the gamut.
There was everything from the newly Infected – termed Runners – right up to a big, beefy Bloater.
In the games Joel and Ellie (mainly Joel) stabbed, punched and incinerated Infected after Infected as he tried to secure a path to safety from them both.
The two eventually escape but Joel becomes trapped in a bus submerged in water. He escapes but in trying to help him Ellie almost drowns. It is then that they encounter the Fireflies, who knock Joel unconscious and later resuscitate Ellie.
There's no doubt this would have been a compelling addition to the finale. One that would have satiated the calls for more Infected and increased the drama, however including this scene would have robbed us of what was really needed in the end. Less action, more heart.
The events that play out in the finale are a critical turning point in the story.
Joel went to extreme measures to prevent Marlene (Merle Dandridge) and the Fireflies from subjecting Ellie to that fatal operation and it's not enough to explain away his actions as 'because he cares'.
After all his apathy and hesitancy towards building a relationship with Ellie, we needed to see his care play out, we needed to feel its authenticity. We needed to understand the full depth and breadth of Joel's feelings towards Ellie at this point so that when he sacrifices the fate of the world for this one child it not only makes sense from his perspective, it feels right and we are able to feel the weight of his decision.
These moments between him and Ellie as he cares for her and supports her after her ordeal in the previous episode are transformational for him.
Lest we forget, this is someone who would have initially sacrificed her for a car battery and some tires, now he's willing to give up humanity's future for her. She has changed him and these scenes show that, adding richness to the plot in a way that just another Infected fight doesn't have the capacity to match.
All episodes of The Last of Us are available to stream now on Sky Atlantic and NOW.
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