Season 1 of HBO’s “The Last of Us” reached its epic conclusion on March 10, bringing the first chapter of Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie’s (Bella Ramsey) journey to a close. Though the unlikely pair ultimately reached their destination, the story is certainly not tied up with a bow. Instead of a cure for cordyceps, we get a vicious rampage through a hospital and a slew of dead Firefly soldiers. The show has already been renewed for Season 2, which will begin to adapt the events of the second Naughty Dog video game, “The Last of Us: Part II.” As fans eagerly await the next installment, we will undoubtedly be pondering these three lingering “The Last of Us” finale questions which Season 1 leaves unanswered.
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Is anyone else immune?
The season finale begins with a sharp deviation from the original video game. In a flashback, actress Ashley Johnson (who portrayed Ellie in the game) plays Ellie’s pregnant mother Anna. She is bitten by an Infected in the final moments of her pregnancy, cutting her daughter’s umbilical cord moments after receiving a bite. This implies that Ellie receives her cordyceps immunity due to the specific timing of this bite.
It’s unlikely that other pregnant women encountered this precise series of events, but it wouldn’t be difficult for Marlene (Merle Dandridge) to connect the dots as to what ensured Ellie’s survival. Might she have purposely infected other soon-to-be mothers in hopes of creating more inoculated children? As we saw in the finale, Marlene is capable of making ruthless decisions if there’s even a chance that it could save humanity. In the brutal world of “The Last of Us,” this scenario is not off the table.
Will Joel ever reveal what actually happened in the hospital?
When Joel realizes that the Fireflies are going to perform a fatal surgery on Ellie, rather than just take some blood, he makes the vicious, but totally understandable, decision to murder Marlene and her group. This includes the surgeon who would have experimented on Ellie’s brain stem, perhaps the only person left in the world with the medical skill to create a vaccine (although if he was such a smart doctor, why did he jump straight to lethal brain surgery instead of keeping Ellie alive for various tests?) Joel is ultimately unable to tell Ellie what he did to save her. Instead, he concocts a lie that multiple immune individuals were discovered and the doctor simply couldn’t make a vaccine from any of their blood samples. Oh, and that Marlene was killed by some raiders who attacked the hospital and totally not because Joel went on a rage-fueled rampage.
In the last moment of the finale, Ellie clearly suspects there is more to the story than Joel lets on, but he sticks with his lie. Will this deception eat away at him? And how would Ellie react if she discovers that her new father-figure lied about the mission that gave her life purpose? Joel and Ellie finish their journey more closely bonded than ever, but this lie could be a ticking time bomb that threatens their entire relationship.
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How will the show divide up the rest of the story?
Without spoiling anything for non-gamers, “The Last of Us: Part II” is a more sprawling tale than the first installment. It’s complex story follows multiple protagonists over a longer period of time. Series co-creator Craig Mazin has already confirmed that the events of the second game will take more than one season to tell on screen. That could mean simply splitting the game in half, but there is also the opportunity to divide up the story into several seasons based on specific themes or villains.
We also have to wonder if the series will deviate from the script and outpace the games. While Naughty Dog will soon release an ambitious multiplayer game set in cordyceps apocalypse, “The Last of Us: Part III” has not been announced and may never happen. But given the massive numbers that the TV series has pulled in, it’s safe to say that HBO would be happy to continue the story past the events of the second game. This fungal apocalypse will probably stick around for as long as the creators would like.
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