a masterful ending, Ashley Johnson memorable, analysis

That’s it, here we are! The 9th and final episode of The Last of Us is finally available, three months after its launch in early January. It’s also the shortest opus at 43 minutes (which some will no doubt find rushed), but Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann’s choice will have been to focus primarily on human relationships, and through this prism there it’s a great success. It is still directed by Ali Abassi who had already taken care of episode 8 last week, an episode that everyone agreed on, and this one should also have more than one, not just because of the introduction scene, the one that will introduce the character of Anna, the mother of Ellie, played by the talented Ashley Johnson, none other than the actress who plays Ellie in video games. It’s not only meta, but on top of that, the whole world will finally discover her talents as a great actress from the one we decided to call The Queen…

After Troy Baker last week with episode 8, it’s Ashley Johnson’s turn to make her debut in the series, with what is undoubtedly one of the best roles Neil Druckmann could offer her. Play Anna, Ellie’s mom, in a scene where she’s going to give birth to her child in a tragic situation, it’s honestly the best scene of the entire series, without any possible discussion. Realize, Ellie gives birth to Ellie. It’s meta, it’s powerful, and it’s divinely played and realized. And this is all the more important because the video game never dealt with the character of Ana. We were treated to a poster hanging in a bedroom in The Last of Us Part 2, but nothing about its history. A few weeks ago, Neil Druckmann admitted to Variety that he wrote Ellie’s mom’s story as a short story and thought about making it into a DLC, but it never came to fruition. The series therefore allowed him to rectify the situation. And damn, what a scene! In a few minutes we immediately understand what is at stake of this young woman who is pregnant up to her neck, who runs frightened through the woods and keeps turning around. We understand very quickly that she is being chased by someone, or something. At that point we don’t know. Very soon she will arrive in front of a house (and moreover for the little anecdote, in the unfinished version of the episode I had seen 3 months ago, the top of the house did not exist, it was a big blue tarpaulin that the production reworked in the post production). A house that once again teases Season 2 and the events of The Last of Us Part 2, as it is neither more nor less than the replica of the house Ellie and Dina settle into in the video game. At the moment the house is empty, Anna seeks help, but she will not come and is forced to barricade herself in a room upstairs. We understand right after that it was an infected person who ran her and not just anyone, a runner, the ones who run like crazy.

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One of the great strengths of this episode 9 is the narrative and emotional power with which we are transported. The stress of watching Anna’s water begin to break, the attention to detail of watching her try to open the door as the handle slips out of the liquid she just touched, so she uses her dress to open the door . The confrontation then, visceral and brutal as Anna uses her knife to hit him on the head. Things move quickly and in this moment of panic she finally gave birth, surprised herself when she heard her baby cry. The situation is raw, so is the scene, with this real baby used for the sequence, with real cries, real tears. The umbilical cord she will cut herself to prevent the virus from being passed on to Ellie as she has just been bitten on the thigh. And then Ashley Johnson giving us an incredible performance nuanced by a lot of emotion. The fear, the stress of childbirth, the rage to kill, the amazement, then the joy of having her baby, of reassuring him, the tears too as she begs Marlene to execute him. Powerful.

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This scene also allows us to better understand the personality of Marlène who did everything she could to help her friend Anna, to finally take care of Ellie and to better understand the pain of having to sacrifice her for the good of others. the world. this vaccine that will never come, and therefore to have even more empathy for it while Joel executes it in a more than dirty way. Anyway, this episode 9 is when Joel will let go of his feelings for Ellie. He will show her the attachment he has for her, that he now somehow considers her to be his adopted daughter, while conversely, Ellie will show that she is more distant, more fearful, also more doubtful. This moment when he talks to her about the board game he finds in a car with almost disturbing naivety. From the looks he will give her on many occasions, we know that what he is looking for now is her happiness, which is what will motivate him to get her out of the operating room at the end of the episode. But we’ll be back…

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Another important scene in this episode 9, which video game fans were clamoring for on social networks before, was the famous giraffe scene, which Neil Druckmann also reproduced in the series. To be honest, we were never emotionally gripped by this sequence in the game, certainly soothing and iconic (and it had to be adapted in the series), but emotionally it didn’t touch us more than that. Anyway, compared to the video game, it’s the same sequence, from the short scale that Joel gives Ellie to the discovery of the animal, even going through the dialogues and the choice of music being exactly the same. The hospital scene will happen pretty soon because the series still ignores the clickers we encountered in the tunnel in the video game. We’ll see Ellie and Joel talk to each other in the series, but that’s about it. It is true that they could have added an extra 10 minute sequence to bring some more intensity just after the contemplation sequence. So there will not be the order of the bus submerged in the water, nor of Ellie having to be brought back to life after drowning, but a grenade attack by the Firelies and Joel will nevertheless be knocked out with the butt of a rifle.

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Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin, on the other hand, will catch up with the hospital scene where Joel will unleash his anger, proving to us once again how much of a survivor he is, and that he will do anything to save Ellie. certain death. Marlene, who we hadn’t seen since the first episode, is therefore back and explains to Joel why they are obliged to take a sample from Ellie, which will cost her life, but will allow them to get a vaccine. The scene of the hospital shooting that we play as a player is sublimated in the series, thanks to this staging that manages to transcribe all the hatred that slumbers in Joel, ready to do anything to save Ellie. He will kill a lot, finish people off, sometimes execute them with a knife, with this camera remaining fixed on all fours, muffling the sound to give an even more fearful aspect to the situation, all carried by melancholy music. The whole thing works dead, maybe a little less with the hallway scene being more impactful and iconic in the game. And then that masterful ending, so unfair, so selfish, but so human. A true declaration of love from Joel to Ellie, even if it means lying face to face. A lie that will have a strong impact in The Last of Us Part 2 and therefore also in season 2.

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What are we willing to do for the love of a loved one? All, sometimes the worst, a feeling that will also motivate the character of Abby, whose father was brutally murdered by an angry Joel. A bullet to the head and whose camera takes its time to stay on it for a few seconds, as if to tell us what’s next. It is clear that those who do not know video games, who discovered The Last of Us through this series, are not ready for the events of Season 2. Season 2, which should be much longer, as Neil Druckman said. Probably part with Ellie, part with Abby. Now that the series is over, we can try to take a step back, watch the 9 episodes one by one, maybe binge-watch them and thus better understand the overall success of this story, which will have a separate character for each emphasizes delivery. Sarah for episode 1, Tess for episode 2, Bill and Frank for 3, Henry and Sam for 5, Tommy for episode 6, Riley for 7, David and James (Troy Baker) for 8, and of course Anna (Ashley Johnson) for the last episode. We realize that this is not only the best adaptation of a video game, but also a brilliant series. Not everything is perfect, of course, the only drawback of the series is the lack of infected, and perhaps action. At 8:44, the series would have gained intensity with more sequence-focused clickers, even if it means extending the series for an extra episode. We hope that season 2 can restore this balance…

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