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TLOU 2 Trailer Analysis and Death of Joel Theory Refutation.

So unless you don't care about PSX because, like me, you saw last year's PSX and how much it sucked so you skipped this year's; you wouldn't have seen the trailer for The Last of US Part 2 until you found out about it via organic internet searching. This blog is going to analyze that trailer and discuss why a certain theory floating around the internet is at best poorly structured and at worst absolutely wrong.

Here is a link to the trailer.

So the trailer starts off showing a setpiece, a forest. Of note is 0:22 where we can see a tree with many slash marks. This can either be an indication of conflict, or someone marking a path taken for another to follow, or maybe animals marking territory. Personally speaking, I'm going with the second option based on future events in the trailer.

0:35 - We discover that the setpiece appears to actually be a Fireflies base of some sort. A kind of town with a few homes and the stop sign with the Fireflies symbol indicating that it is their territory.

0:50 - An as of yet unknown individual with a tattooed right forearm is shown with a bloodied, bruised, and cut up right hand that is shaking. Why is it shaking? Is it possibly repetitive stress? Is it psychological?

1:04 - The playing of the guitar begins with testing out the sound. This is someone who has been taught to play.

1:20 - The song proper begins and from the voice we come to know that it is in fact Ellie playing the guitar and singing (V.O. is a great singer too)

.1:48 - This setpiece is very interesting. If you look at the window on the left, it is the window that appears at the menu screen for the start of the first game. It is a room we never visit in the first game at all. Perhaps the first game foreshadowed this? Or perhaps it's just a convenience?

1:56 - Appears that Ellie was bitten on the neck, a clear indication that the infected are still present and that she is still immune.

2:06 - The first sign of death in the trailer showing a foream and hand lifeless and bloody, a silhouetted character starts walking up to the door. Is this an enemy? Or is this a friend? Ellie's song continues. Does she not notice someone coming, or does she not care?

2:14 - Notice the grass being displaced, the sound it makes when that happens.

2:17 - Notice the mud being kicked up by the shoes, hear the sound of feet walking over and around the puddle. Remember that the unknown person did not walk into the water except right at the start where mud was kicked up.

2:23 - Individual is holding a gun. Still yet unknown if they be enemy or friend. Ellie just keeps on playing and singing.

2:29 - Individual stops to see someone dead, possibly shot in the head, then keeps moving.

2:38 - 2:40 - Individual walks towards the sound of the playing, trying to listen and confirm where the sound is coming from. His profile looks identical to Joel from the first game.

2:44 - Joel leans against the frame of the door, just listening to Ellie play and sing.

2:59 - Joel questions Ellie and asks her if she's sure of what she wants to do.

3:18 - Without bothering to look up Ellie begins answering Joel's question and doesn't look up to him until 3:27. Anger in her face, she talks about finding and killing someone, some group of people.

3:45 - The full name of the game is revealed and thus ends the most pertinent parts of the trailer.

Ok, so there is a theory floating about the internet that Joel is dead in this game and that Ellie is looking at and talking to a ghost. There is little to nothing backing this theory and enough to refute it. But before I get to that there is something else I want to touch upon.

Many of us, including myself, had the initial impression that Ellie is talking about killing the Fireflies. This theory is substantiated somewhat by the events of the previous game, the reputation the Fireflies have in general, and the setpiece of the trailer. However, we must consider the possibility that Ellie and Joel happened upon the Fireflies base and found them all dead, possibly killed by the real people Ellie wants to kill herself, but I digress.

So Joel is dead? Why? What is the indication, beyond not actually showing his face, that he is dead? We have been told by Neil Druckmann, Naughty Dogs' head, that The Last of Us Part II is Ellie's story, she will be the focus. Now some use that as a reinforcement of the "Joel is dead" theory, but it's much more likely that this is why the trailer is focused on Ellie more than anything else.

Beyond that, pay attention to the physical clues. Joel walks in and parts the grass, we can hear his feet making sounds as he walks through the grass and on the floor, he leans against the door frame. He is holding a gun. Would a dead person be capable of these physical cues? Would a dead person need a gun?

"Why would he come in so much later?" I've seen this used too.

Could be any number of reasons. Maybe he was looking for Ellie and just found her after following the trail of death. Maybe he went to scout out and see if they were alone and safe and the trailer is showing him coming back. We don't know. But to add this to a theory of Joel's death is the absolute pinnacle of circumstantial "proof" there could ever be.

The point is is that I've already seen posts like "irrefutable proof that Joel is dead" posts on the internet. This theory is ballooning and there is no real substance behind it, while I have attempted to show that there is in fact refutation of it in this trailer.

But... opinions in the end. Would appreciate hearing yours on my analysis and refutation. Thanks for reading.

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N81653d ago (Edited 1653d ago )

I don't think Joel is dead. My theory is that because Joel continued to lie to her to the point that she thinks the firefly's are the reason why they haven't found a cure for the virus. They would of had to kill her to get the cure and I think she would have wanted that but, that is not what Joel wanted.

DragonKnight1652d ago

The way the first game ended lends credence to the idea that she knows Joel is not being completely honest. But he didn't outright lie, he only half lied. The Fireflies didn't have a cure. They hoped they could develop a vaccine using the spores from Ellie's brain, but there was no guarantee which Joel was honest and right about.

I think someone took something from Ellie. Maybe the Fireflies, maybe not, but she looks like something important was taken from her.

ravinash1652d ago (Edited 1652d ago )

At the end of the first game, Joel and Ellie were heading back to where Joels brother had created a settlement.
Obviously something must have happened to this in order to put Joel and Ellie on the road again.
Maybe the fireflys came after Ellie and destroyed the settlement or killed someone Ellie was close too.
The fact that Joel comes into the scene later seem to indicate that Joel appeared after he event, but Ellie was already there.
Was she the one that killed them, or was she the lone survivor of those events.

DragonKnight1652d ago

Good point. Something could have happened at the settlement. Your theory about the Fireflies attacking seems plausible. I was thinking maybe Tommy's wife or both could have been killed, but that would have put Joel over the edge and it'd be his game again.

MyDietEqualsGames1650d ago

"The fact that Joel comes into the scene later seem to indicate that Joel appeared after he event, but Ellie was already there.
Was she the one that killed them, or was she the lone survivor of those events."

She had blood on her. Those guys looked like raiders. If anyone can spot a Firefly tag or uniform on one of the dead, please, point it out.
Otherwise, Joel already know who she wants dead, since she didn't mention them outright as she responded to his question "What're you doin' Kiddo?" That lends over to credence that it could be true. Although, it could also be held back for purposes that relate to keeping all of this from us for now, or both!

As for, Joel, just because we hear and see his footsteps, they could have done that to throw us off. Who knows? I think the theory has some validity until we know more. You can't disprove or prove it. We don't know enough to do either.

WileyWatusi1653d ago

Well he could be dead but she's not talking to a "ghost". It could be in her imagination where she would be remembering him as if he would have been there and what he would have said in that situation. What's a better impetus for revenge and hate than to have your father figure taken away from you. Yeah there's no proof but why would ND give away such a huge plot point years from release. I don't want proof but it's fun to speculate.

DragonKnight1652d ago

"Well he could be dead but she's not talking to a "ghost"

Ghost was used for simplicity. I could have also said figment of her imagination but I was lazy.

"It could be in her imagination where she would be remembering him as if he would have been there and what he would have said in that situation."

So she would remember the sound of grass being walked on, the sight of mud being kicked up, the sound of feet walking, a dead man holding a gun and leaning against a door frame? Most of that while she wasn't in the same room? I really don't think so.

"What's a better impetus for revenge and hate than to have your father figure taken away from you."

Your child (like Joel), the love of your life, your best friend (maybe Riley's death was somehow caused by the Fireflies in some way).

Nicaragua1652d ago

The trailer shows Joels point of view as he walks into the house, so either Ellie's imagination is not only conjuring up Joel but also conjuring up camera angles from his perpective (silly), or Joel is a point of view character that is also a ghost (absurd), or Joel is a normal living character (very likely).

MyDietEqualsGames1650d ago

When the theory was first brought up, it was suggested that she is enduring mental illness and Joel's death is a side effect and her seeing him is a byproduct of mental stress. Usually when such stress like that occurs, a person has hit their breaking point within their mental constitution.

Also, if the theory WAS true, would it be better to have this known from the start? Perhaps near the end or at the end? Legitimate question for anyone who supports the theory.

DragonKnight1650d ago

Her mental illness would not conjure up an image of Joel from outside her current location, it would not conjure up him seemingly looking for her, checking out the bodies to make sure what happened, and then wait for her to stop singing. That's not how mental trauma works and it's also senseless.

wheatley1652d ago

Saying how can he be a ghost if he carries a gun and parts grass does little to actually debunk a theory like this - Joel is how Ellie remembers him. Looking at the trailer again, whether they've stumbled into Firefly territory or Ellie was kidnapped again and Joel had to fight through to get her, there has been a lot of bloodshed. Even Ellie has been injured, so Joel walking in without a scratch is hard to believe. Maybe he came in much later, but based on their relationship I doubt they would spend much time apart.
This theory has gained legs not because of Joel's appearance in the trailer, but of Ellie's anger filled statement: "I am going to find and kill every single one of them". Where does so much hate come from? Why would you embark on a journey for vengeance? She is doing this because the only person she knew and cared for is dead and the Fireflies killed him. If you think about Left Behind, in that she loses the one person she cares about and she is given the opportunity to save mankind by giving up her life, and she takes it. The last of us shows the journey of two people learning to care for someone else, that is why Ellie accepts what Joel tells her at the end of the game. She knows what really happened, but she has accepted in her heart that it's okay for her life to keep going as she cares for someone else and she needs to look out for him as he does for her.
Five years pass with these two and then the Fireflies manage to catch up to them. The Fireflies are no longer the answer to Ellie's problem, they no longer offer relief from her pain. They want to steal her to save themselves. Joel protects her as they fight and is killed. In the aftermath, with a moment to honour Joel she picks up a guitar, something Joel vowed to teach her one day, and begins to play. She is paying tribute to Joel's memory with the song.

"This story is about hate" stated Neil Druckmann. Ellie is fueled by hate and vengeance for the murder of her Joel.

This is why the 'Joel is dead' theory works.

DragonKnight1652d ago

"Saying how can he be a ghost if he carries a gun and parts grass does little to actually debunk a theory like this"

Actually it does a lot. You're expecting people to believe that Ellie is remembering a figment having physical impact on the world and being able to conjure up that impact when she is nowhere around. If Joel is a figment, she wouldn't need to "remember" him from, as Nicaragua stated above, his own visual point of view entering the house where Ellie is. He was looking for her. You expect anyone to believe she's "remembering" him looking for her in that way AND having a physical impact on the world when she's not even around? Plus the idea of Joel asking her if she really wants to kill every last one of them, and remember we don't know that she means the Fireflies just because they are at a Firefly base filled with lots of dead members, doesn't fit with his character. Ellie saw Joel be ruthless in the last game, he was never one to second guess.

"Where does so much hate come from? Why would you embark on a journey for vengeance?"

There could be any number of reasons. Jumping to "Joel is dead" has no evidence behind it and is a poorly formed theory. Remember, this game takes place 4 years after the last game. And at the last game they went to Tommy's. Ellie could have easily grown attached to others besides Joel. She could have had her own family, made new friends, had a new love interest. Anything is possible. The Joel is Dead theory has no legs to stand on and is simply basing itself on a single emotional statement. And you are making statements of absolution as though you have anything to back up your claims. You don't. I at least have provided something to show Joel is alive.

Nicaragua1650d ago (Edited 1650d ago )

"Where does so much hate come from? Why would you embark on a journey for vengeance?"

Here are some random ideas off the top of my head which would fit the narrative, and keep in mind that X number of years have passed since the first game so Ellies emotional state isn't dependent on Joel - many other variables would have been introduced in the meantime.

1. They raped her
2. She had a kid and they killed it.
3. They beat her lover to the point where she is paralysed from the eyebrows down.
4. They stuffed her dogs ass with dynamite, lit the fuse, and then ate the charred meat.

Anyone of these works as a reason for intense hatred and revenge, no supernatural fatherly ghosts required.

RevXM1652d ago

Add to the cues that a imaginary Joel wouldnt stop to look at a dead person and checking if the place is clear.
Some have said he is a ghost because he appears from thin air and passively interacts with Ellie. I dont think so, I think it is clearly artistic lighting with excessive bloom that makes it appears as he if "materializes" right outside the house. In the trailer bloom is used elsewhere, not only the door from which Joel enters the place, the window in the room she sits you cant actually see out through it because of the bloom and it is an artistic decition playing into the symbolism of the trailer as Ellie sings about the good that follows her perhaps on some level implying that Joel is there for her and helping her.

WelkinCole1651d ago

I think ND are just toying with people. I am sure they are not that stupid to reveal such an important plot point. As such I think it is something different.

It could very well be that Ellie was in the firefly camp was attacked and she is the sole survivor.

Point is it might not be what it looks like. Were the group attacked by humans or clickers?. It seems like she has a bite mark on her neck?.

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