When Joel (Pedro Pascal) beats a FEDRA soldier to death with his bare hands in the first episode Last of us, it serves as an introduction to the anger and grief that Joel has been holding on to since the day he saw his daughter Sarah being shot by a terrified soldier at the start of the fungus outbreak. Since then, Joel has been a man without a purpose, which he admits when he reveals the reality of his failed suicide attempt to Ellie (Bella Ramsey) in the emotional finale of the show’s first season. By the time Joel agrees to accompany Ellie in episode 9 “In Search of the Light”, it becomes apparent that Joel has become attached to his teenage partner. About the same time Last of us it also seems to move away from the personal trials and tribulations of Joel and Ellie as characters to become a sci-fi saga about saving the world. In the end, however, Last of us sets a record by showing that the first season of this epic video game adaptation was never about saving the world.


For eight episodes of the first season Last of us presents Joel as a grieving father who refuses to believe that there is anything in the world worth saving. Throughout the events of the season, Joel is haunted by tragic memories of the night Cordyceps decided to take over and he lost his only daughter. But as his journey with Ellie drew to a close, we saw that Joel was rekindled with hope. For a moment, Last of us The first season makes viewers believe that Joel has found his destiny in this world – to give humanity one last chance. But Joel’s actions at the end reflect that for Joel, the only world worth saving is the world with Ellie.

Joel reunites with Sarah through Ellie

In Ellie, Joel found Sarah. Not literally, of course, but in Episode 9, when Joel points out all the similarities between Ellie and Sarah, it’s clear that he believes she fills the vacuum left in his life by Sarah’s absence. From the beginning to the end of the season, Joel’s emotional spectrum shifted from one extreme to the other extreme of the same scale. He begins as a cold and stubborn man who is used to a harsh lifestyle in a post-apocalyptic world. Joel refuses to acknowledge his past, let alone reveal his insecurities. Every time Ellie tries to delve into his past, Joel keeps her from delving into memories he never wants to talk about again.

Joel’s gradual transformation takes place over the course of the season as Ellie evolves from being just cargo for the Fireflies to being a part of his life worth risking everything for, literally in this case. When he confesses to Ellie in episode 9 that she made the world worth saving for him, he finally reveals his fears and accepts the father inside him that he left behind just in time. After a tragic encounter with David in episode 8, Ellie realizes that too many people around her have died for her to live, including her mother Anna and her best friend Riley. If her life has any meaning, Ellie decides that she must fulfill her destiny and save the world. She makes this obvious to Joel in the season one finale, when Joel suggests going back halfway through.

Joel finds redemption through Ellie

Joel, played by Pedro Pascal, carries Ellie, played by Bella Ramsey, in a hospital gown in Episode 9 of The Last of Us.
Image via HBO

If Ellie’s journey is to save humanity and give the world a second chance, then Joel’s journey has always been more personal. When Joel realizes that Ellie must die so that the Fireflies can find a cure for the Cordyceps infection, Joel decides that Ellie’s life is too expensive to pay for God to save the forgotten world and decides to save Ellie. For him, this is the understanding that he still has hope in the form of Ellie. Maybe Ellie would have cured humanity if he hadn’t stopped the Fireflies, or maybe she still can. But the father in Joel does not want to lose his daughter again. Although he was unable to save Sarah by getting a second chance, he snatches what he thinks he rightfully deserves, even if it means he has to lie to Ellie. He does not even regret Marlene (Merle Dandridge) life so she doesn’t make another attempt to take Ellie away from him. In his unrelenting rage when he kills the Fireflies in Episode 9, the father inside Joel finds redemption.

From the start, Joel never believed the world was worth saving. He wouldn’t have agreed to move Ellie to the Fireflies base if it wasn’t for Marlene’s offer to provide Joel with the resources he needs to find his brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna). And it was Tess’s strong belief in Ellie that ensured that Joel stuck to his mission in the early episodes. But as he spent more time with the defiant and funny teenager, he realized what was missing in his life. Through the many dangers that he overcomes and overcomes with Ellie, Joel realizes that there is a part of this world that is worth saving – Ellie and only Ellie. The teenager has also lost people close to her and becomes the perfect companion for Joel, whose story began with the greatest loss. Last of us The greatest trick of the first season was to make viewers believe that all the pain that Joel endured will be directed towards saving the world. But Joel and Ellie’s journey was never about finding a cure for Cordyceps and saving humanity… it was about finding ourselves through each other.