Joel makes the right choice in The Last of Us Episode 9

Joel and Ellie (Picture sourced from the HBO Press Room)
Joel and Ellie (Picture sourced from the HBO Press Room)

The Last of Us Episode 9 features both of Ellie’s parents.

Ashley Johnson, who played Ellie in the Naughty Dog video game, plays Ellie's mother in the current adaptation, who gets infected during the time of childbirth.

This is a clear indication of why Ellie (Bella Ramsey) is immune to Cordyceps whereas the rest of the world isn’t. Ellie’s birth mother begs for Marlene (Merle Dandridge) to care for her daughter.

And then there is her second parent – Joel (Pedro Pascal). He ferries little Ellie to her final destination – the Firefly base, in The Last of Us Episode 9. Along the way, the two encounter a delightful surprise - a stray giraffe that makes Ellie break out her widest smile after the events of episode 8.

Joel asks Ellie if they should press on because they could always turn around and retreat to Tommy's. In response, Ellie says that everything she’s endured must be for something.

There are two confessions in The Last of Us Episode 9.

Joel confesses that he almost took his own life after his daughter passed. In a particularly endearing moment, he tells Ellie that it wasn’t time that healed his wounds. It was her. And then they are captured by The Fireflies.

As Joel comes to, Marlene informs him that Ellie is being prepped for surgery. Joel soon learns that the "cure" for the world would come at the cost of his newfound daughter. As Cordyceps grows inside the brain, the operation will lead to Ellie's demise. And Joel is having none of it.

Every Firefly pays the price.

In slow motion, Joel destroys every one of the Fireflies in The Last of Us Episode 9. Even Marlene, who begs him to reconsider for the sake of the world. She tells Joel that Ellie would want to do the right thing. Joel shoots her.

Did Ellie want to do the right thing?

In the closing moments of the episode, we come to the second confession outlined earlier. Ellie talks about Riley, her first kill. But even as they move on to peace and security, she hesitates. In the final scene of The Last of Us Episode 9 Ellie asks – does Joel swear that everything he said is true?

Joel lies and replies in the affirmative.

Did Joel make the right choice in The Last of Us Episode 9?

It is a full-circle moment for Joel who lost his daughter in the first episode. When he has a chance to save Ellie in The Last of Us Episode 9, he takes it, even at the cost of the world.

So, yes, on a personal level, it is the right decision and since the series is from Joel’s perspective, one cannot help but cheer for him. He finally gets to redeem himself and live happily ever after, if such a thing were even possible, in the apocalypse.

This is a direct contrast from Marlene, who promised to protect Ellie in the opening moments of The Last of Us Episode 9 and then, was almost responsible for her death.

Here's what the Firefly motto may not tell you: When you're lost in the darkness, you sometimes make dark decisions.

It's an open-ended question and while the author may have a certain opinion, it's ultimately up to the judgment of the reader. Do reply with your valuable thoughts in the comments.

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Edited by Upasya Bhowal