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The Last Of Us Episode 9 Review: The Things The Show Did Better Than The Game And The Thing That It Didn’t

The Last Of Us Ending Explained
Joel holding Ellie (CC: HBO)

What an amazing way to end the season. In this The Last Of Us Episode 9 Review, I will be going through every major moment and give my thoughts, and we will also discuss if Joel did the right thing of killing everyone to save Ellie.

Having played the game, I knew this ending would absolutely obliterate everyone, and I think the execution of the climax worked out perfectly. Joel’s rampage through the hospital to save Ellie while simultaneously dooming the world is narrative brilliance.

This story beat is amazing, and Neil Druckman, for actually making this scenario believable, is astounding because the fact that we are actually kind of sympathizing with Joel here is a really hard thing to do from a story perspective, given that he murdered dozens of fireflies.

The Last Of Us Episode 9 Review

Through the course of the show, we’ve really bonded with Joel and Ellie, and the entire experiment of this arc is if we’d accept what Joel does here. In order for us to accept this, we need to fully understand the character and be able to relate to him.

Having the sound slowly fade out at the end of The Last Of Us Episode 9 and primarily drive the emotion of Joel’s headspace with music was an outstanding idea that helped with this notion. It really submerges you into Joel’s twisted and motivated perspective.

The Last Of Us Episode 9 Review

Ellie helped Joel (CC: HBO)

What Joel is doing here is obviously not right, but what makes this so compelling is that he’s a character who’s solely motivated by what he cares about the most. He’s someone who has been broken since the death of Sarah, and Ellie is what fixed him.

This idea is expressed in probably one of my favorite lines in a script in a while, where Joel and Ellie say this: “So time heals all wounds, I guess.” To this, Joel says, “It wasn’t time that did it.” What a smart way to communicate this without saying it outright. Having Joel look at Ellie at this moment visually says that she is the one that cured his depression, and her realizing that is peak writing to me.

And the crazy thing is that I think this is a show-specific moment. From how integral this line is for Joel’s entire arc, I’m surprised it didn’t originate in the game. Unless they did say it at some point, but it wasn’t in a cinematic. So this moment punctuates Joel’s arc perfectly, and I think it is the best way to prepare the audience for the upcoming massacre.

What The Last Of Episode 9 Did Better Than The Game?

In comparison to the game, I think people were more motivated to save Ellie and to kill all of these people because of how much they’ve already killed in the game. It kind of becomes additional violence, and the people you kill here blend into the already big body count you’ve been accumulating. For the show, this is almost the opposite because Joel and Ellie haven’t had to kill as many people.

So Joel making the decision to kill the fireflies is even bigger here. It has more dramatic weight because we haven’t been mowing people down. In both the game and the show, they are definitely impactful segments, but I think the show executes it really well, along with having a lot of great moments to communicate how far gone Joel is, like him gunning down the unarmed firefly and him having to finish off someone with the knife.

The Last Of Us Episode 9 Review

Joel on a killing spree (CC: HBO)

This particular moment feels like a mirror to episode 4, where this drawn-out segment of the guy’s death was really haunting and difficult. The fact that Joel is unmoved by having to execute this person and does it without hesitation is a staggering contrast. And even the brief shot of showing Joel’s face after killing the doctor is kind of terrifying. Joel becomes a monster here, and it’s OK to disagree with what he is doing.

The Last Of Episode 9 Handled The Ending Pretty Well

The show sets up both sides of the coin as being immoral because even Marlene is killing Ellie without her approval. Obviously, the correct thing to do is to ask Ellie if she is willing to sacrifice herself for the vaccine, but Marlene is equally doing a bad thing by not giving her that choice. This is met by Joel’s outrage.

So from a character point of view, everyone here makes sense, and it all clashes with one of the best climaxes in the video game and even shows history. From here on out, it basically follows the game exactly, which makes sense because I think the ending is spectacular.

Through Ellie questioning Joel and the circumstances in which they left, she knows that he is probably lying to her. So her giving him one final chance to come clean at the end and putting their entire trust on the line, I think, speaks volumes for what she knows deep down.

So having Joel double down on the lie and compromise their trust is a tragic ending despite it supposedly being uplifting since Joel and Ellie are back together again. From here, the question remains as to how this will impact their relationship going forward and whether Ellie will ever find out the truth about what really happened.

The Last Of Us Episode 9

Joel lying to Ellie (CC: HBO)

So the ending was executed to a complete tee in comparison to the game and retained that gut-punch of an ending. I’m happy nothing was changed, and despite people saying that the ending was originally controversial, I think it has always been an outstanding ending.

The Cold Opening With Ellie’s Mom

From her,e let’s go into some of the other strengths of the episode. In particular, I loved the cold opening. I kind of missed this tradition that was set up by the first two episodes, and I’m glad it returned because it has the opportunity to flesh out the world a lot more.

Having the actress who played Ellie in the game play her mother is such a genius way to pass on the torch, and quite literally at that. But the fact that this scene offers way more than just seeing Ellie’s origin is great. We simultaneously learn how Ellie gained her immunity through her mom getting bit before she cut the umbilical cord and seeing Marlene’s relationship with Ellie’s mother.

In the game, Marlene’s connection to Ellie is pretty underdeveloped because her only scene is her giving Ellie to Joel and Tess, along with the ending. For the show, they develop her character a lot more, which was a good change because it makes her eventual demise that much more moving. We understand the hurt and conflict within her to kill Ellie for the greater good, and it offers an interesting contrast between her and Joel.

They both care for Ellie, but since Joel has been shattered by Sarah, it’s impossible for him to give her up without fighting. While Marlene is on the opposite end of that spectrum in which she’s a selfless person who wants to serve the greater good at the obvious expense of killing an innocent girl.

The Last Of Us Episode 9

Ellie’s mom (CC: HBO)

So this cold open was actually really important in the grand scheme of things and shows how the TV show medium has an easier time telling stories. Given that, they cut to flashbacks without interrupting the flow of gameplay.

The Beautiful Giraffe Scene

Then the one scene that everyone has been really excited about is the giraffe scene. This, again, was a perfect translation from the game and captured the pure whimsical joy that comes from our characters at this moment. It essentially operates as the calm before the storm, and the pure bliss the characters share here has priceless value.

It also acts as a good contrast to the last episode in which Ellie brutally murders David. So having this moment kind of brightens up her mood, and she then opens up to Joel. I also liked how they made Ellie barely speak in the beginning.

It is a clever reversal of her character, and it immediately portrays the notion that something is wrong with her. She’s always been the one to constantly talk and make jokes, and it’s even crazy how Joel is the one making jokes now, considering his starting point, along with him opening up more about Sarah.

Everything up until this point was basically pulled from the game, but the addition in which Joel tried to kill himself adds another vulnerable layer to Joel that increases his overall value in my eyes. The show has really made Joel into a fractured and hurt individual, and the reveal of his suicide attempt adds a brilliant final layer, especially since he lied about it earlier, so the callback here has even more meaning.

One Thing That The Last Of Episode 9 Lacked

Going into one aspect of the episode that has been getting criticized the most is the pacing. The common complaint is that the episode was way too fast, and they should have slowed down, and for once, I kind of agree with this sentiment. I do think the pacing was pretty solid and included no filler at all. It was very optimal in a way.

The Last Of Us Review

The Giraffe in The Last Of Us (CC: HBO)

However, since this is the finale, I think it should have been longer. Joel and Ellie’s current journey into the city feels kind of weird because it essentially has no conflict. This is actually the one time where I think the game did a better job in its execution of events.

In the game, they had to maneuver through a tunnel of infected, and eventually, they got to an area that had a rip current going through one of the tunnels, and Joel and Ellie got swept away. When they emerge, Joel is trying to resuscitate Ellie, and in the process, the Fireflies capture them. To me, this leaves a better ending for Joel because it acts as more of an emotional cliffhanger for him.

Ellie was on the precipice of death, and suddenly he couldn’t see her again. It creates a sense of emotional shock for Joel because the last thing going through his mind is Ellie being close to death. So the first thing he wants to do upon waking up sees her again and reassure his biggest worry is that she isn’t dead. This creates more of an urgency to see Ellie because this is his last memory of her.

Instead of a happy one in which they are sharing puns. Then Marlene denying Joel to see her again stings that much more because of the way things ended. So if they went from the punk scene into a zombie scene that then gets interrupted by the Fireflies, I think it would have flowed much better.

Pacing Was Just An Minor Downgrade

Now I don’t think this pacing issue compromises the climax in the show by any means, but I think it is a minor downgrade from the game, along with the fact that it would have been nice to see a bit more zombies.

I did just say in my last article that it’s not a big deal not to include that many zombies within this show, but this is the one time when they would be appropriate. It would have given Joel and Ellie one final obstacle to overcome together before the ending. Because when you think about it, the last time they really cooperated was back in episode 5.

The Last Of Us Review

Joel and Ellie before the hit (CC: HBO)

So seeing them work together as a team to show their efficiency and growth would have been great to see. I think this would perfectly tie in the infected threat and would have easily combated the notion of there being a lack of them. There is an infected appearance at the beginning of the episode, but since Joel and Ellie are in a city again, it would make sense to have an encounter.

So while this isn’t a major flaw, I’m surprised by the rare instance in which the game is better than the show for once. This is a pretty straight adaptation since there aren’t a lot of original moments here in the show, and this is a time in which they should have brought more over from the game.

Final thoughts On The Last Of Episode 9

Overall though, I think episode 9 is a slam dunk in its execution, and this marks one of the best video games to a tv show/movie adaptations. Sitting right next to Arcane in terms of quality. I am really excited to see how they handle The Last of Us Season 2.

So far, they’ve announced that Bella Ramsey will remain as Ellie, which I think is a great choice. It was kind of in question because of the second game doing a time jump. But she’s 19, so she can definitely play a slightly more mature version of the character.

Then they’re also going to do 2 seasons for The Last of Us 2. Considering that the game is huge and is about double the length of the first game. So yeah, thank you for joining me on this series. Have a great day, and let me know what you think about episode 9 of The Last of Us.

Our Rating: ⭐ (4.2/5).

Also Read: Last Of Us Season 1 Review (Spoiler Free): Near-Perfect Video Game Adaptation Till Now

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I'm gonna put some dirt in your eyes.., yeah I'm a Bully Maguire Stan. I love movies(Spiderman), Series(GOT), Anime(AOT), and Music(Zayn & One Direction). If you are the same then we can be Besto Friendo.

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