In The Last of Us 2, girls run the show. Ellie, Abby and even Dina manage to keep players hooked to the story with their complex relationships, past traumas and uncertain futures. The predecessor’s story was all about Joel and Ellie but the sequel takes it and turns it on its head.
Here, the REAL enemies are the demons within the characters.
It is a brilliant decision by Naughty Dog to make Last of Us 2 all about Ellie and Abby’s revenge and how it consumes them. Players can experience the perspectives of both of these powerful women and feel their emotional pain. Before going ahead, here’s a SPOILER WARNING. This article is going to have some spoilers regarding the twist in the story, so if you already know it, let’s continue.
Strong Women of The Last of Us 2
Naughty Dog knows how to get people talking about this game. Before and after TLOU 2’s launch there was lot of discussion about Abby. People want to know who she is and what’s her role in the game.
Is Abby part of the LGBTQ community?
Is she Trans?
The discussion about Abby’s gender gave Last of Us 2 the fame it needed. In short, Abby became the center point of everything. But to be clear, Abby is a woman, it’s just that she has strong features. She’s someone who is solid like a rock yet subtle like water.
Naughty Dog has decided to clearly break stereotypes with this character but interestingly, they haven’t made her a complete bully. Abby doesn’t kill Ellie or Tommy because she doesn’t need to kill them. She took the extreme step of killing Joel because he was the person who wronged her.
She knows what she wants and manages to get it done, even if her target ended up rescuing her. The situation didn’t soften her heart because the trauma caused by Joel was much more powerful than that. Her rage is fiery enough to drive her into the jaws of death.
Was Ellie right?
Both Ellie and Abby lost their fathers (or father figure in the case of Ellie) but the only difference is that Abby only ends up killing Joel, while the teenaged Ellie goes on a murderous rampage. She kills almost everyone in her way which is a far cry from the Ellie we saw in the previous game. There’s a stark character difference if you look at Ellie’s arc closely. She starts off as a simple and innocent girl with a rough background but due to the traumatic experiences of her life, she turns into a hard-boiled assassin. Joel was her only support in this post-apocalyptic world and when she saw him being brutally murdered, all hell breaks loose.
What The Last of Us 2 does differently is going for the risk to show two strong females who are protagonists and antagonists. Women who are powerful, strong and fiercely willing to avenge the death of their loved one. They don’t back down easily, not even while looking at death straight in the eyes.
But it’s not all about revenge and killing. There is some respite in Ellie’s life due to the presence of Dina and those moments end up being very precious to her. The fact that the makers developed a beautiful relationship between Dina and Ellie, gave players a certain sense of hope amidst the chaos of the outside world.
Was Abby right?
Abby shares a complex relationship with Owen. Abby has flaws, no doubt, huge flaws. But that is what makes her such an interesting character. Abby also really cares about her friends and family. People misjudge her for her looks, but she doesn’t look like she gives a damn. All that mattered to her was to avenge the death of her father. In fact, she might just be more humane than Ellie, but it totally depends on how you see it.
Is she the antagonist of the story? Or is it Ellie? Do we think Ellie is right about what she did just because we experienced her story since she was fourteen? Or was Abby right? Well, this moral dilemma is what Naughty Dog wanted all of us to go through and truly, there is no right answer to this. Both of these characters have gone on the path of what’s right for them.
What do I think?
Women have taken the story of The Last of Us 2 and added love, anger, fear, pain and a lot of complicated emotions which made for a thrilling ride for the player. They are no damsels in distress – they are fierce, flawed and sensitive. They make tough choices and deal with their repercussions but they are also vulnerable and filled with remorse.
The little nuances in the women-centric story of revenge include contributions from Halley Gross, the co-writer of the game. She has said that there are no heroes or villains in The Last of Us 2 and I have to agree.
Will there be a male protagonist in The Last of Us 3 ? Or will Naughty Dog choose to continue with women in the forefront?
Only time will tell.
But at the end of the day, TLOU 2 shows us how the women have defied age-old stereotypes. We have never seen women like these before, but we thoroughly enjoyed the dark journey that we lived vicariously through them.