If it wasn’t clear by the headline, we’re going to be diving into some pretty heavy spoiler territory on The Last of Us Part II, directly talking about the ending and the deeper meaning behind a couple of different scenes. Don’t read further if you don’t want to get spoiled.
Discussion surrounding The Last of Us Part II ending tends to focus on Ellie, her journey, and what she lost, and while the game’s opening and closing moments may linger specifically on Ellie’s guitar, the main menu tells the story of a different pair of characters. When first playing through the game, the main menu is an image of a boat moored to a stake in fog (seen above). It’s a bit of a confusing scene, because we don’t actually see that moment until the very end. It’s not even in Seattle. It’s on a beach outside of Santa Barbara.
It turns out that boat is near where Ellie finds Abby and Lev at the Rattlers’ base, its gentle rocking becoming the backdrop of the big final fight. It’s the boat Abby and Lev get into after Ellie lets Abby live. After completing the game, the menu changes, becoming a sneaky The Last of Us Part II post credits scene that reveals a lot more than it’s letting on.
The new menu screen now shows the boat beached with the sun shining over the nearby mountains. It’s a hopeful image, one that’s clearly meant to convey that the fog is starting to lift and there’s an opportunity to move forward—symbolically for both Ellie and Abby. But besides the symbolism of this scene, it actually has real narrative implications for where the story moved to after the credits had rolled.
Remember just before Abby and Lev were captured by the Rattlers, when they contacted the remnants of the Fireflies via radio? The voice on the other end of the radio said that they were on Catalina Island. Look closely enough at the above image and you’ll recognize the distinctive outline of the Catalina Casino, which means not only did Abby and Lev make it away safely, but they also potentially reconnected with what’s left of the Fireflies.
There’s some debate as to whether the voice on the radio was really the Fireflies or if it was a trap setup by the Rattlers, though a few pieces of evidence offer hope that it was the former. For one, it asks detailed questions about the Fireflies leadership, ones the Rattlers wouldn’t need to ask (or necessarily care about) if they were simply setting a trap to grab Abby and Lev just outside the house.
Press Start spoke with The Last of Us Part II’s co-director Kurt Margenau and asked about whether or not this radio chat was a simple ruse. “That’s actually a very common question,” Margenau said. “Did you beat the game and see the new screen? An eagle-eyed viewer would note that it is actually Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles, where the Firefly camp is meant to be.”
Margenau says it’s unfortunate that the moment is being misconstrued as a Rattler trap, as it’s meant to be a beacon of hope near the end of the game. “The fact that they ask Abby on the radio about who operated the Firefly base and she answers that it was her dad, for us that was the validation of that,” he explained. “It shows they’re more cautious of her and were testing her legitimacy as a Firefly. But, as I said, it’s a common question, and it’s unfortunate because it’s meant to be a hopeful beat.”
Still, even if it was the Fireflies, it doesn’t necessarily mean that things are completely okay for Abby and Lev now. After all, it was months before Ellie rescued them from their fate at the hands of the Rattlers. Months between that radio call letting the Fireflies know they were coming and finally arriving at Catalina Island. In this world, a lot can change in that span of time. After all, it was years before the events occurred that set off Part II’s tale of vengeance and loss.
Making the main menu of this game scenes that directly relate to Abby and Lev further enforces that The Last of Us Part II is not just Ellie’s story anymore. Naughty Dog has been pretty ambiguous on if they might explore this world more in a potential The Last of Us Part III. They’ve said that nothing is off the table (except DLC for Part II), but continuing to tell engaging and worthwhile character stories within the world becomes “exponentially harder.”
Margenau commented to Press Start about Part II’s story, saying it is designed as a complete experience with an end and a sense of closure. Though it’s clear the threads are in place if Naughty Dog wants to start weaving a new narrative.
Did you catch the significance of this stealthy The Last of Us Part II post credits scene?