The Last of Us Part II is a sprawling, agonising swan-song for its core cast. It feels at once like an unnecessary footnote to a complete story that's trying to forge a new space in its own fiction. The occupation with its predecessor cuts the legs out in some of the most important moments of the story.
The size and scale of the narrative makes it hard to talk about. And the louder the discourse, the less the nuance. This episode is our longest podcast ever for a reason. You can read an excerpt and listen to the full episode below.
The last of us Part 2 is a third-person action-adventure game developed by Naughty Dog, published by Sony for the PS4. Written by Neil Druckmann and Hayley Gross. Druckmann is a vans, jeans and hoodie guy with a man bun and beard. Hayley Gross is every girl I’ve ever fallen in love with: bleach-blonde hair, double-denim and a fuck you attitude that could see a Thursday night for her doing yoga or smoking two joints and getting into an argument about the lack of structural integrity in the dark knight rises.
Set five years after The Last of Us (2013), the player controls two characters in a post-apocalyptic United States whose lives intertwine: Ellie, who sets out for revenge after suffering a tragedy, and Abby, a soldier who becomes involved in a conflict with a cult.
Before we get started, a brief anecdote!
When I was eighteen and single I started messaging a girl on Tumblr I thought was cute. We went back and forth for a month. Eventually she wanted to video call, so we added each other on facebook and snapchat. It was very flirty, and eventually it graduated to us talking all the time. She sent me explicit photos and videos, and I mostly returned the favour, but not the same extent. I didn’t treat her as an equal, I was only interested in what I could get from her.
I say this at the start of this analysis because the topic of gender and imbalance will come up a lot in this episode. I was not a good person when I was younger. I’m still a train wreck of a human being but I’ve learned a lot. I defer to people with lived experience when it makes sense, and I shut the fuck up when it is not my time to speak.
I say this because:
I don’t think I know better than Druckmann and his team, but I know a lot about story. So as we break down this game, let’s remember all of the context from the previous episode and this: we are not the arbiters of ‘good’ story, but my god nothing will stop me from conducting valid and fair criticism, because it is important in driving the craft forward. If we do not allow critical voices to thrive, we stifle our opportunity to tell good stories. And to be better people.
This transcript has been edited for length and clarity. You can subscribe on Youtube, Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you catch podcasts. Please take a moment and review the podcast where you find it. It really helps.