Amidst all of the controversy and abusive threats that have loudly and obnoxiously overtaken the conversation surrounding The Last of Us Part II, fans are discussing specific details about the game’s story and ending. One tiny detail that has come to light could entirely change the context of the ending and what the game’s final scene actually means. Without further ado, we’re jumping right into The Last of Us Part II ending spoilers, so if you haven’t finished the game or you don’t want to know what happens in the end, click(er) away right now. Spoilers start after the jump.
The Last of Us Part II Spoilers Below
At the end of The Last of Us Part II, after her confrontation with Abby and the Rattlers, Ellie returns home to the farmhouse she shared with Dina to find it empty and abandoned. Dina clearly left at some point. The only “stuff” left in the house is Ellie’s, boxed up and shoved into a corner in an upstairs room. Ellie attempts to play her guitar, but fails due to two missing fingers. She somberly sets the guitar down and we see her walking away, leaving that old life behind.
There’s been a lot of speculation about what this scene might mean, where Ellie might go next, and if it’s just a window into everything that Ellie has lost, including some of the final gifts Joel had given her before his death. It’s a sad and depressing scene, with just a small glimmer of hope present in the fact that Ellie is still alive, and sometimes even just that’s enough.
But what if that glimmer of hope were bigger? Naughty Dog’s attention to even the smallest detail is beyond compare, and fans are noticing a few things about this ending that suggest it might not be what it appears at face value.
In a thread on Twitter, Mara Cerreti called attention to a YouTube comment, which calls out small details about this scene. Before Ellie leaves to pursue Abby to California, a letter in the farmhouse from Jesse’s mother says that they’ll always have a home in Jackson should they choose to return to that community. This makes it pretty clear where Dina and the baby ended up at the end. But did Ellie ever reconnect with them?
Apparently, when Ellie heads to California, she is not wearing the bracelet that Dina gave her. Multiple images of the fight with Abby confirm that it is indeed not on either wrist at that time. However, when she’s back at the farmhouse, the bracelet is once again on her wrist. Ellie’s wounds have also healed, and it seems to be later in the year—fall, instead of the blazing summer heat. Ellie also doesn’t have any of her weapons on her, all of which seem to indicate this scene may not be immediately when she returns home from confronting Abby.
The theory goes that this is some time after Ellie got back. She’s already reconnected with Dina and the baby back in Jackson, and her wearing the bracelet shows that they’ve made amends. Ellie returns to the farmhouse to get the guitar—notice that she doesn’t seem surprised the house is empty or even call out Dina’s name. When Ellie sits down to play the guitar for the first time since losing her fingers, she realizes just what her pursuit of vengeance cost her, losing what Joel had given her. She sets down the guitar, says goodbye to that part of her past—both his death and his betrayal of her in the first game, two things she had been struggling with—and looks forward to the future and what she still has.
Of course, this doesn’t entirely confirm anything, but it offers a lot of new context that puts the nature of the ending up for debate. What happened between Ellie letting Abby go in California and her returning to the farmhouse that is (probably) near Jackson? What’s the exact time frame between these moments? Did Ellie really lose it all, including Dina, or does a small token of affection—a bracelet—offer a light of hope for her future? Were we, the players, so focused on rage and revenge and loss that we failed to notice this little beacon showing that things may not be as they seem?
Naughty Dog is unlikely to answer any of these questions outright. The composition of the scene makes it pretty clear that the developer wanted to encourage discussion and debate about what it might mean and let fans’ interpretations of the scene—not to mention their eye for these little details—propel the conversation forward.
The studio did recently clarify a detail that they hadn’t meant to be so ambiguous, however. The change of the main menu screen after completing the game acts as a kind of “post-credits scene” which also offers hope for Abby and Lev having reconnected with the remnants of the Fireflies. Going off the sense of hope and new light that the end of the game is supposed to provide, it also lends some credibility to the theory that Ellie’s darkest days are behind her and there’s some hope for her future as she leaves vengeance and hatred behind. Without DLC coming, and a potential third game still up in the air (though unlikely and unnecessary, in my opinion), it’s left up to the fans to interpret the ending.
What do you think? Does Ellie wearing Dina’s bracelet hint that we shouldn’t take that final scene at face value? Is there additional context that implies Ellie’s return to the farmhouse doesn’t immediately follow her trek back from California? Let us know your thoughts on the end of the game in the comments below.