Here’s a spoiler warning for Spoiler Warning: This week our play-through of Last of Us will come to an end. Which means it’s time to talk about the ending. On the show I do the conversational version with the other hosts, but my column this week is the slightly more organized version.
Analogy time: Let’s imagine there’s some movie where a passenger airliner loses an engine. The hero immediately lands the plane on the highway, which kills somebody. Everyone is like, “The hero saved the lives of 100 people, so it’s okay that one person died.” But then some jerkass like me comes along and points out that he didn’t save anyone, because planes can continue to fly if one engine malfunctions. Does that mean that the hero is guilty of manslaughter because he should have just landed the plane properly at an airport? We end up arguing about what the author intended. Was the writer saying our reckless hero panicked and performed a needless emergency landing? Or was the plane really going to go down, regardless of how planes work in the real world?
You end up with two different debates taking place, but they keep getting their wires crossed. One is an ethical debate about the kind of risks you can take when 100 lives are at stake, and the other debate is about how planes work. But if we don’t agree on how planes work then the ethical debate doesn’t make any sense and some people will be arguing that the engineering doesn’t matter because the story is really about the ethical debate and so we go in circles until everyone gets mad.
So maybe it’s unfair of me to analyze Joel’s actions based on the logic of the real world and not on the logic of his world. On the other hand, I think the ending would have worked better if the science wasn’t so muddled. And I think it was muddled because the writer wanted to blur the line a bit to avoid having Joel perpetrate an objectively evil act.
I don’t know. It’s an interesting conundrum.
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