Context: Butch has just completed a certain scene near the end of The Last of Us
Note: Spoilers for The Last of Us


So what exactly do I make of THAT?

I’m not sure what I make of that.

Starts with them talking about how dreams are weird, re Ellie’s plane dream. Then…..that. Was it real? I think it was real. But (and here’s a technical thing) it was the most aware I was of music since I’ve been playing this game. And the music was rather surreal. Present. We’ll go with present. Why then?

And to end with them at the wall on the roof. This exchange:
“So is it everything you’d hoped it would be?” (odd question. What is “it?”)
“It has its ups and down. But you can’t beat the view.”

I’m not sure I’ve wrapped my head around this yet, in terms of the broader themes. But lord knows they want me to.

Just got the picture from Ellie, went in the tunnel. I have a feeling bad shit’s about to ensue. Whenever a character says “Let’s just go finish this,” make sure your guns are loaded. But I need a break.


I think the giraffes were real, but obviously intentionally dreamLIKE. I felt like it was this intentional moment of magical detachment from the real world, a “THIS is awesome” kind of experience that they shared that was kind of the high point and the end point of their journey together. Whatever happens next, their experience as traveling companions is coming to an end, and this is like the grand finale.

It also suggests a certain hopefulness, a sign that cool things can happen even in the middle of destruction, and that life goes on, even without humans–because, significantly, there was no evident human involvement. It was like a picture of the way that the world in general carries on and still contains beauty even if there are no people around to tend or witness it. Even if we’re not here (even after the last of us is gone, perhaps), the awesomeness of life continues.

It doesn’t need us. These giraffes are doing just fine.

And it was this nice moment for them: they’ve shared so much horrible stuff, and the mundane dreariness of life on the road, and the companionable pleasure of travel, and now they also get to share this kind of pure wonder. I also think it’s important that Ellie is the one who first makes the discovery, and shows it to Joel.

She brings wonder back to his life, to totally beat the point to death.


I see that. Good point about Ellie making the discovery. Especially as this is really getting to the end of her coming of age. Joel asks to “go back,” to Tommy, to try to keep things the way they are, but, of course, that doesn’t work with kids. They grow up whether you want them to or not. It’s Ellie who wants, needs, to keep going. To make her life “not be for nothing.”

That being said, a GREAT gameplay mechanic there: at the end of gazing out at the giraffes, it’s incumbent on YOU, the player, to move the stick back to move away from the rail. You have to be the one to push away and keep going. You have to end the moment. You have to let Ellie go. The game won’t do it for you. And I found myself not wanting to. I wanted to look around just a little bit more. But no; you have to move.

And then you have to go hug your kids.

Indeed, the giraffes are doing BETTER without us. They’re free.


Good note about the game waiting for you to move on and end that moment, rather than doing it for you. Another thing that would be difficult to replicate in a movie (barring an invitation to pause it on your TV or something, which would seem weird and make the whole thing strangely intrusive rather than a lovely, subtle detail).


Yeah, that was surprisingly difficult to do. So subtle, but a very powerful thing that only works in a game.

It did find its game groove, I’ll give it that. Certainly made me go “Oh, ok, THAT’S what people were talking about with this game.” Curious to see if it can nail the ending.