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  3. This story isn't really about revenge *spoilers*

User Info: Blackstar110

Blackstar110
2 weeks ago#1
This story is about two broken young women attempting to cope with trauma and to heal, both of which having varying degrees of success and failure.

I've seen people harping a lot on how the "cycle of revenge = bad!!!" narrative has been done, but I think analyzing the story through the lens of revenge is kind of surface-level and misunderstands why Ellie lets Abby go. It is not some moral thing where she realizes "wow, I guess revenge is bad after all!" There's a reason Ellie goes to kill her, changes her mind, almost lets her go, changes her mind, almost kills her, and then changes her mind AGAIN and lets her go -- she is desperately scrambling for anything that will make her feel better. Revenge is a factor in the story, but it is primarily just a method of coping that has failed both women.

For Abby's part, she tries the revenge method and follows through -- it doesn't really work. You can see even as she kills Joel that she's waiting for the satisfaction to kick in and it never comes. Her brutality alienates most of her friends, and ultimately every single one of them is killed for it. She tries to reconnect with Owen, which doesn't really work and only results in Mel calling her a terrible person, which she implicitly agrees with. Ironically, the method of beginning to heal and find a purpose for herself is Joel's -- her hardened exterior cracks and she bonds with a child (it's worth remembering that we never saw it, but the allusions to Joel's and Tommy's early days as hunters are pretty grisly... I would not bet against Joel having done as bad or worse to others as Abby did to him). However, while bonding with Lev is a great step for recovering her humanity, it doesn't undo her actions; she can never take back the lives her revenge trip cost and ends up getting tortured by slavers for months after fleeing the WLF, then nearly killed by Ellie.

For Ellie, though, I think a big key factor missing in some of these conversations is that her journey to Seattle to kill Abby is really only half about revenge in the first place. We see throughout the game that Ellie has been wrestling with a lack of purpose from the moment she left St. Mary's. Avenging Joel was just as much about a proxy "purpose" as it was about actually getting justice, and I think she knew that deep down, and still resented him for it as much as she loved and missed him. She doesn't let Abby go because revenge bad, she just finally comes to terms with the fact that murdering a half-dead Abby, who was at that point just trying to care for a half-dead child, gets her no closer to where she actually needs to be and would probably just make her hate herself. As she's finally holding Abby's life in her hands and feels nothing, the utter futility and pointless of everything she's been through crashes down on her. Ellie's only way forward was forgiving Joel. That last memory with him is her saying she wants to try to forgive him, and through that she eventually begins to. Once she can accept what Joel did, why he did it, and that the path of becoming the cure is long gone, she can begin to move on and find a real reason to live. In my perspective, that last time she plunks through "Future Days," she's realizing that she ultimately did not completely lose herself. She came damn close, though, and not because killing Abby would've been so much worse than killing... everyone else she killed, but because killing an already beaten woman in front of a dying kid she's taking care of just because she can would be pretty beyond the pale. As is, she knows Joel loved her, she loved Joel, and that despite all the horrid mess that has happened along the way, life has to go on.

You don't have to like Abby. You don't have to forgive Abby. You're 100% allowed to sympathize more with Ellie -- after all, Ellie's story is about stopping her massive skid towards the point of no return in the nick of time, whereas Abby's story is about diving headfirst into those waters and trying to slowly make her way back to shore. You're allowed to like Abby more too, if you want. Ultimately, I think the game doesn't intend to force you to feel equally for both. Everyone will have their own takes. All it wants to do at the end, IMO, is make you see these two broken down shells of people for what they are... human beings who just want the pain to stop. And for both of them, I think that process finally begins.
-Shred

User Info: luckyrusty007

luckyrusty007
2 weeks ago#2
Yep, I agree. I think this is, on its surface, a "revenge" story but really its so much more than that.

After playing the game you realize its a game about empathy and perspective which, god knows, we as a culture need to appreciate more.

The irony in all of this are the people who are incapable of achieving perspective and empathy for Abby for the precise reasons why Ellie destroys everything in her path.

People will say its unoriginal, bad writing, horribly produced and paced but in actuality, those same people are creating a masterpiece out of it because the game itself symbolizes the hate that is embodied by Ellie.

It's the most meta game I've ever played in that regard.

User Info: lovemachine

lovemachine
2 weeks ago#3
So deep, games ten years from now will reference this masterpiece as inspiration for their advanced story telling that transcends the video game genre.

Lets all complete bros!

User Info: motobuchi

motobuchi
2 weeks ago#4
I like this view of the story! The story being about revenge feels like it's surface-level. Deeper down, there are elements of healing and grief and suffering.

User Info: Blackstar110

Blackstar110
2 weeks ago#5
luckyrusty007 posted...
Yep, I agree. I think this is, on its surface, a "revenge" story but really its so much more than that.

After playing the game you realize its a game about empathy and perspective which, god knows, we as a culture need to appreciate more.

The irony in all of this are the people who are incapable of achieving perspective and empathy for Abby for the precise reasons why Ellie destroys everything in her path.

People will say its unoriginal, bad writing, horribly produced and paced but in actuality, those same people are creating a masterpiece out of it because the game itself symbolizes the hate that is embodied by Ellie.

It's the most meta game I've ever played in that regard.
I get what you mean. Like I said, you don't have to like or forgive Abby. The game DOES require you to feel empathy for Abby, to view her as a suffering, flawed human being who did a terrible thing. If you can't or won't come around to that, you won't like the game. Some of the people who hate the game the most seem completely devoid of empathy to a troubling degree, but some just didn't want that kind of thing out of the game and that's fair enough, to each their own.

It was definitely a bold choice and I'm sure ND knew there would be a portion of the fanbase who would not be down for being emotionally challenged that way (see: everyone mocking Druckmann for saying stories don't always have to be "fun," just "engaging"). I'm not even saying those people are stupid or incapable of getting it, some people play video games just to have a fun escape and they want a character to rally around, to root for, and to win. That's fine. It's just not what this game does and I think it's wildly overblown to say that makes it a 0/10 dumpster fire because the story doesn't do what you want out of a game.
-Shred

User Info: Mr_Grumbles

Mr_Grumbles
2 weeks ago#6
I think most people understand that Druckmann tried to write a "deeper" revenge story, people just like being reductive because its efficiant. But trying to write a deep story doesn't make it deep or good or well directed.

User Info: Blackstar110

Blackstar110
2 weeks ago#7
Mr_Grumbles posted...
I think most people understand that Druckmann tried to write a "deeper" revenge story, people just like being reductive because its efficiant. But trying to write a deep story doesn't make it deep or good or well directed.
I do think it’s pretty deep and pretty good. Not saying it’s Citizen Kane but it’s a lot more ambitious and well-executed narratively than the video game genre typically dabbles in. There are some pacing issues, though.
-Shred

User Info: InhumaneRaider

InhumaneRaider
2 weeks ago#8
The ending itself has so many layers and interpretations, that's deep right there.
I saw my chance, so I got him at last, I took his six-shooter, put two in his chest, he'll never say a word no more.
Black Lives Matter.

User Info: soysturm

soysturm
2 weeks ago#9
So instead of being a story about surface level revenge bulls*** it was even more surface level than that
CALVIN AND HOBBES!!!!! If you don't get the reference in this topic, you have been leading a horribly deprived life.-TK_925 about G.R.O.S.S.
Clapton is GOD!

User Info: Druff

Druff
2 weeks ago#10
A few days ago in the Kinda Funny Spoilercast, Druckmann said, "Years ago when we announced Part 2, we said the first game was about love and this one is about hate. We lied. They're both about love."
Caution - You are approaching the periphery shield of Vortex Four
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