Shagger Says: The Last of Us (Part 1)
This is something I worked on a while ago to gather up and express my thoughts on the ending so I could share with another community, but I decided to add to it and then publish it here to share with you guys to here your thoughts now there is plenty to discuss with the second game now out. I will be doing a proper review/analysis of the The Last of Us Part 2 in due time, but I don't want to rush that so I beg your patience. Basically, it's my synapsis of the plot with more detailed analysis of certain key scenes and characters. The second game is out now and I have played part of it. Some of the updates I have written in here I have written after starting to play TLOU2, but I haven't beaten the game yet and these are my thoughts as there were before I started playing, they haven't been changed.
Disclaimer and Spoiler warning
I would really appreciate it if you read this whole thing and shared your own thoughts in the replys, but fair warning you should get comfortable if you intend to do so as this will be a very long read. If you have any comments on any of part of this, please refer to the numbered chapters as that may be easier than trying to quote the passage because of the length. Speaking of length, appoligies for any typo's grammical and/or spelling errors. I tried my best to proof read this, but once this is posted there's no way I'll be able to edit out any mistakes. The 10 minute window just isn't long enough.
A second warning for spoilers. If you haven’t played the game, I’d advise you not to read on as reading this will spoil the game almost completly, leaving nothing in the story left to explore. Most are probably familiar with the story given the game’s age, but I feel it is necessary to say. If you haven't played and want to read on anyway I'd be grateful for you to do so, but you have been warned.
Anyway, let’s get started.
The Last Day of Civilization: (intro)
I will do more focused chapters for certain characters and elements within this game, but not on Joel. Whilst writing this I kept referring back and explaining his motives and traits as part of the other analysis of other things. As a result, a chapter on Joel would just be saying stuff I’ve either said already or will say, so decided not to bother. Joel is the protagonist in this game, so it’s not surprising to see his influence in all areas of the game. So, with that out of the way...
The game begins near Austin Texas by introducing us to our main protagonist Joel (played by Troy “between me and Nolan North we voice just about every video game character” Baker), a single father to a 12 year old girl named Sarah (Played by Hana Hayes). They appear to have a quirky, comfortable and very close relationship and is made very clear with very natural dialogue and very believable performances.
I liked Sarah and Joel as characters immediately because they are very everyday people with normal lives every roblems (At least at first). This makes them instantly relatable and easy to connect with without actually telling us that much about them. The game let’s us get even closer to Sarah by having her be the first character we actually control. This is so smart because we then see the ensuing chaos that is the cordycepts outbreak through her eyes, an innocent child. By the way, and it is important to point this out for anyone that doeasn't know as it adds a realistic, creepy, spin on the tradictional "Zombie Apocalypse" story. Cordyceps is acually real. It's a fungal infection that aflicts insects. Still, the "madness" (call it directed behavor to help the infection spead), the fungus, the spores, all of that acually happens. This is what might happen if it were to jump to humans.
This works especially well as we observe Joel who, despite being the loving father he is, is also something of Darwinist, survival of the fittest, survivor. He puts the safety of himself and those he loves over other people, even if the are in need. The way he barely hesitates to shoot his neighbour, drives past the family on the side of the road and showing little regard to the panicking mob that obstructs the truck they’re driving to escape are all clear signs of this mentality. These are important details I think because allot of people will say upcoming events what turned Joel into the cold, closed off individual we know him as in the rest significant portions of the game. Now, whilst, I do agree that suffering the pain of what happens is something he desperately avoids by not letting himself get close to anyone again, I still see allot of that, cold, darwinist, self centred Joel in him before that loss happened.
Joel’s brother Tommy (Played by Jeffrey Pierce) is also with them as they try to escape the bedlam. As a character Tommy’s role in the quite limited with te exception of one major thing, and it is important and done to great effect. The brings is kind of contradiction to Joel and that aforementioned Darwinist attitude. But as said, more on that later.
The story though. A Stressed Joel on the phone concered about his job retuns home one evening to find his daughter asleep on the couch. She wakes and Sarah, being the kind daughter she, gives her Dad a watch as a birthday gift. Soon she falls asleep again and is put to bed. It's about 2am when her landline rings and it's a panicked uncle pleading with her to get her dad on the phone. There's good reason to panic, as some kind of violent pandemic is affenting the world and it's ecalating quickly. This section is wonderfully done with great foreshadowing and a quite, haunting tone gareenteed to increase panic. Sarah does eventully find her dad also in a panic and loads his gun knowing obviously that something is very wrong with thier neighbours. This crazed neighbor then smahes into the house, giving Joel no choice but to shoot him. Sarah is rocked, but Joel calms her down tells her that they have to leave. Thankfully, Tommy has given up on phone calls and pulls up outside the house and they go.
They drive toward the highways on the roads just outside Austin looking for an escape, but major roads are blocked. Drive past a family in need at Joels behest, get attacted buy more crazed sick people and eventully end up is a car crash. Sahra's hurt, likely a broken leg, but Joel and Tommy are OK and leav on foot to escape and the choas ensues arounf them. More accidents, people trampling each other and, of infected tearing people appart. The make it though the bedlum to a bar whar Tommy holds to give Joel and Sahra a chance to escape. Joel runs for the highway holding Sarah being persued by more infected... then.
Right, now let’s address THAT scene...
With Tommy buying Joel time to carry an injured Sarah to safety, they’re saved from a group of perusing infected buy a soldier. The soldier is never named, but for shits and giggles I’m gonna call him Nibley. As a very thankful Joel pleads with Nibley for help, Nibley demands he stays put then confers with his CO over the radio. It is clear that the CO has ordered Nibley to shoot Joel and Sarah, obviously not taking chances when controlling the spread of the infection. Joel and Sarah are both knocked down, but the Nibley sees Joel is unhurt. It does have to be said, how in the name of cockeyed God did not one bullet him? Anyway, as Nibley is about to finish the job on Joel, Tommy shoots and kills him (RIP Nibley). The brother’s relief is short lived though as they quickly realise that Sarah has been shot. Joel tries his best to save her, but it is of course to no avail and Sarah dies in Joel’s arms. A distraught Joel continues to cradle Sarah in his arms and then that’s the end of the intro.
This scene has become iconic. One of the most hard hitting, emotionally intense scenes not just in gaming, but within this genre of media entertainment in general. We all got hit hard by this moment and there’s no debating how well it worked, what I’m going to give my own reason why I think it works so well.
Obviously the performances, the music and direction were all big factors and I take nothing away from them, but there’s a couple of things that I feel set it apart.
First is what I like to call the “Hope? Nope!” pacing of the events,, abig this in this games as it turns out, it really toys with your hopes for the best throughout the entire scene.
Nibley saves them from the infected, hope?
Nibley threatens them with the gun, nope!
Nibley makes a radio call to people that can maybe help, hope?
Nibley get an order to shoot instead, nope!
Nibley seems reluctant to shoot, hope?
Nibley is clearly going to shoot anyway, nope!
Despite the gunfire Joel is still alive and well, hope?
Nibley stands over him to finish him point blank, nope!
Tommy shoots Nibley and saves Joel, hope?
They realise Sarah has been shot in the gut, nope!
She is still alive and Joel is providing first aid, hope?
But then she dies... oh, fuck you guys!
Allot of dramatic death scenes follow a very constant, usually very mellow tone, but this is nothing like that. Here comes some sacrilege, it actually feels like an action scene, it’s chaotic and unpredictable. With hope and positive expectations offered to only be taken away makes the ultimate bad end all the more tragic. A very different, but very effective way to present a scene like this.
The second thing that sets this apart is that they had the courage to make Sarah’s last moments very undignified, something that is usually a big no no, especially when the death involves a child. I think this is best shown with a example. Compare these two child death scenes, one from the Star Trek Voyager episode Real Life and other Sarah’s death.
Belle’s Death from Star Trek Voyager
BTW, big shout out to my brother @Crazycrab for his help with this. There was no decent clip of this scene that I could find, so with his help I had to upload this myself.
Sarah’s Death from The Last of Us
The scene from Voyager is actually very good, I especially like how the Doctor had the courage to tell the truth in very straight yet kind way. The problem with it when compared to Sarah’s death is that it turns into what would be probably the most traumatic nightmare any parent would go through into a fantasy. As a parent I can tell if life decided it needed to be cruel enough to take my son from me, I would love for it to be like that. No pain, some nice last words, all the family around and just falls asleep as the last act. All very dignified, but still moving and emotional and obviously tragic, but is it really that dramatic?
Sarah’s death is a very different story. Laying in the cold dirt, already suffering from a broken leg, she’s been shot in the gut which could be the most painful place to get shot, her face is twisted with agony and fear and she’s crying to hard to say anything. For Joel this the nightmare it’s supposed to be.
That’s the combination of reasons why this scene works so well as far as I’m concerned, but of course, if you want to expand on this or indeed explain why you disagree please do so in the replys.
I'm just gonna quickly go through the early stages of the main story and the set up of the world before taking a closer look at the main protagonists and the rest of the story is told through their journey referring to the plot as and when I need to. This will help this already very long read just a bit shorter and more manageable. Besides, just repeating the entire plot in text is not the point of this anyway.
To start, we cut forward twenty years from Sarah's death and Joel is now living a quarantine zone within what’s left of Boston. Limited food rationing, compulsory job assignments, an ongoing conflict between government forces and the Fireflies and brutal martial law makes life hard here.
It’s this totalitarian control that the Fireflies are fighting against. The game tries hard to make you sympathise with the Fireflies by showing how brutal the military can be, hinting that they hoard food from the residents and have people executed just for mere alleged association with the Fireflies. I personally don’t just automatically sympathise with them because inciting political unrest, even if provoked, is not what the world needs at a time like this. According to the summery during the opening credits, their demands are for the “return of all branches of government”, so this a grab for power. Yes, they want to protect people from cordycepts outbreak and the other dangers of this world, but the same is also true of the government they just going about it in a brutal, but arguably necessary way. There’s more I can say on them, but I’ll save that until my look at ending.
Joel and a friend named Tess (Played by Annie Wersching) are smugglers making what they canof the can of this situation by bringing contraband and extra supplies in and out of the QZ. They peruse a man armed Robert who appears to be some sort of smuggler or dealer of contraband himself. Joel and Tess purchased guns from Robert that he never delivered. What did Joel and Tess need a bulk of guns for? I don’t know, it’s never explained. Do they have their own militia, or are trying to form one, are they seeking to overthrow the QZ forces, are they looking to sell the guns on, who knows. Anyway, Robert gave the guns to the Fireflies to pay back a debt. He also tried to kill Tess fearing the inevitable wrath that, of course, does catch up with him. After negotiating with the leader of the Fireflies Marlene (Played by Merle Dandridge) they agree to smuggle a fourteen year old girl named Ellie (Ashley "OMG, SHE'S AMAZING IN THIS GAME!"Johnson), out of the Boston QZ to get the guns plus more back. Not the ideal situation, but it's necessity in a nutshell. Ellie keeps the details surrounding her being smuggled out close to her chest. Still, the focus on getting her to the drop point in the Capital Building in the ruins of Boston.
The game mostly spends this time gradually tutoring game controls and mechanics and introducing common enemy types. It's great for getting to grips with the gameplay and breaks into story progress often enough for it to not feel padded out, but this element of the “Summer” level does make it by far the longest section of the game, so be patient.
Things don't go well for long, as they're captured by a patrol just outside the fence. Our smuggling duo and teen girl cargo are forced to kill the soldiers to evade capture, but not before back-up is called and all three of the are scanned for the cordycepts infection, revealing Ellie to be infected. Under interrogation of the understandably angry Tess and Joel believing they've been set up, Ellie quickly tries to explain that she got bit three weeks earlier, even showing the scar, but hasn't turned. There's no time to argue, hey still have to run.
Once safe from the soldiers, Ellie offers up more details on the Fireflies plans for her. Her immunity and figuring out how she came to be that way could be the key to finding a cure, so the Fireflies want take her to their own secure research centre and quarantine zone. This, of course, dose not work out as when the get to Capital Building to meet with the Firefly transport, they're all dead with no clues on them of the location of the research lab. Even worse, Tess was bit whilst trying to reach them. Tess begs Joel to take Ellie to his brother, and former Firefly, Tommy as he would know the location of the lab. The next thing, more solders and a final demand from Tess to go and allow her to buy Joel and Ellie time to get away.
This, whilst heartbreaking, shows just how courageous a character Tess is. A strong, smart and imposing woman you did NOT wanna cross, and when she believes in something, she'll do anything to defend it. In this case, it's what Ellie can do for humanity. Ellie, this snarky, four mouthed girl in a moment moved from being an inconvenient job, to something worth dying for. Tess, your alright.
This obviously hits Joel hard as well, but Joel being Joel, his emotional defences kick in, he just focuses and ignores his pain.
This does being the story in earnest as Joel is now set on the goal of the plot. Bring Ellie to the Fireflies.
It Goes On...
This isn't intended to be a full plot synapsis, it's analysis, and there is a few specify areas of the game that I want to focus on that I feel are important.
After escaping Boston, Joel, after shutting out Ellie's sympathies over Tess and building the wall right back up between then as he does, he leads Ellie to a nearby town where a scavenger he had trades witha guy named Bill lives that could get possibly him a working car as payment for some owed favours.
Now, the town is not that interesting. Good gameplay and some optional exploration to revel more out what it was like during the outbreak, but it's just another abandoned town now overrun with infected with this one guy surviving in it. What is interesting though, is Bill himself (Played by W. Earl Brown).
He's a bitter, distrustful old loner. He and Ellie get on each others nerves immediately and constantly. Built to survive, though, with a high talent for scavenging, fighting and with a spanner. Even shows Joel how to make a nail bomb. All he had was his “partner” (The hilarious scene with that THAT magazine in the car shows, we all know what he meant, LOL.)
Bill has a plan to fix up a car, all he needs is a battery from a military truck that crashed into a nearby school weeks earlier. They make their way toward the School fighting and/or avoiding infected along the way, but end up surrounded when they get inside. In the game's typical style of taking every chance to dump on our characters, the battery is missing. They need to escape the school, and more importantly, the infected. In the school gym, the player is introduced to their first Bloater. A huge infected monster covered with fungal armour plate that'll literally rip you face of if they get close and through acid bombs. A brilliant “Boss” style threat and terrifying to fight, I love it.
Once out, the enter a house to gain their bearings and try to decide what to do now. While Joel and Bill argue, they're interrupted buy bill noticing a hanging body with bite marks. It's Frank. It turns out Frank met his sad fate determined to escape Bill as he was fed up with him and his “Set in his ways attitude”, as descried in a brutal goodbye note near found by Joel in the house. Damn, that's harsh. Frank had indeed stole that very battery and installed in a truck in this house's garage. The battery will work, but the truck needs a push start. No problem, push a pick up truck down the street full of infected. They get the truck started and Bill parts ways with Joel and Ellie with all his love and best wishes by telling Joel, We're square, now get the fuck out of my town.”. You can feel the love...Yeah.
Just for the hell of it, here is THAT scene n the truck;
What's interesting about this though is that despite Bill's ill feeling about Ellie and this mess Joel's gotten into, it's during all this criticism that Joel starts to stand up for her and encourage her. Why would he do that when Ellie's just as much a trigger these issues between them. Well, I think through Bill, Joel sees a possible future for himself. A lone survivor with nobody left to care about him. He may have even been comfortable with that before, or didn't think that would happen, but with Tess and Sarah gone and his brother long since fallen out with him, he sees this possible now and doesn't like it. This... task. Bringing Ellie to the Fireflies, might be more of an opportunity than he first thought.
It Was Either Him or Me...
After that touching moment of bonding the truck, we're suddenly reminded of the “Hope? Nope.” principle with Joel being forced on the main highway and into an ambush. Surviving the initial onslaught from these “hunters” (bandits, I suppose), they see a bridge across town as their only way out. Joel even confesses to Elle that he could see the ambush coming because he's “Been on both sides” before. Yeah, this guy has a past, and I like that because hero's need a dark side and characters need flaws to human and relatable.
Making their way through what happens to be an old quarantine zone where the residents have rebelled and taken up the aforementioned banditry the have to through a hotel. An unfortunate incident involving a lift-shaft and gravity separates the two and Joel has to make his way back up.
One of the things that people often, and quite rightfully praise this game about is how so much of the lore, background, exposition and even story itself is told in a natural, unforced way during the actual gameplay. In this part, for example, the duologue between the enemies, the graffiti on the walls, optional notes, optional duologue between characters really opens this world up. The environments play as vital a role in this story as any cutscene. Few game before and indeed since have really been able to do this, at least this well. I'll touch on this a little more later.
Anyway, once fighting through an infected filled basement and getting back up to the ground floor of the hotel, Joel still has to fight through more of these hunters. One of them gets the better of him and he finds himself face down and drowning in a puddle unable to reach his gun. But then, the gun is picked up and BANG!
And, it's Ellie, having just shot the guy. As you can imagine, Ellie is shocked and feels ill by what's just happened, whitest Joel is furious at her... for saving him. Ellie just wants some appreciation, in her own words, she wants him to say “I know it wasn't easy, but it was either him or me. Thanks for saving my ass.”, but instead she gets blamed buy Joel for not staying put like he asked and even suggesting he's lucky Ellie didn't just kill him. Joel has a point... I mean no, he doesn't have point at all, This just his own phycological defence mechanisms barring from trust, appreciation and accepting help from others. After this, Ellie is obviously upset and withdrawn. She's reluctant to help Joel when asked to and responds mostly with mumbles of sarcasm. It is a little immature for Ellie to go in the huff like this, but she's still a kid and honestly, who could blame her after what just happened? I'm focusing a lot on this because next is something significant.
Facing another group hunters holding down what looks like an old food court, Ellie once again insists it's better for them if she helps, Joel finally relents. He gives her a brief lesson on how to use a bolt-action rifle and instructs her to cover him if he gets in trouble. Before heading down Joel turns and says, “About back there, it WAS either him or me.” for her to respond “You're welcome.” acknowledging it as his way of finally saying thank you.
Except it was more than that. A barrier between the Joel had tried hard to hold up until now has crashed. He's trusting her. Trust is a dangerous thing for Joel and it can lead to something he has feared ever since Sarah's death. Caring for someone. That's dangerous because he knows the hurt loosing someone he cares for, but now those defences are just starting to break down, and, is it so bad?
Henry, Sam, and Fuck That Truck
After making their way through city being hounded by the hunter and their armoured Hum-V with a 50cal machine gun mounted on the back, Ellie and Joel find themselves in the company of another two survivors, Henry (Played by Brandon Scott) and his younger brother Sam (Played by Nadji Jeter). Together, they formulate a plan to get across the bridge, guarded by the hunters, at night when there's less of them. The plan is successful, but messy as Henry comes to a point where he feels he has no choice but to push forward without Ellie and Joel. Ellie and Joel still (just barely) make it, and Joel is obviously pissed and only Ellie's pleas stops Joel from killing Henry. Not much to say on that. The player is obviously more connected with Joel, so is more likely to take his side, but you could also say Henry did the wrong thing for the right reason, to protect Sam. I do believe that the Joel of old, would have killed him. We know he's killed mercilessly for much less, but he's changed, or changing.
Our group enters a storm drain ho to find a way through to a radio tower Henry's group were supposed to meet up at. Now, remember what I said earlier about the environment in this game being a storyteller all own its own? Well, this section tells a gut wrenching story all through exploration about a community, with families and children, that formed, grew and even thrived for a long time here only to fall apart because of one mistake and then the place was overrun with infected. To give you an idea of just how powerful this imagery is, check out this one shot as an example of it.
That's one of my favourite things about the game, it rewards your exploration of this world with insights about this world that most games games don't and isn't afraid to respect the dark situation that this world is in with some equally dark imagery and tone.
With the depressing storm drain settlement behind them and that radio tower ahead, our group makes their way through a typical town in world. You know, falling apart, an ice cream truck that Ellie couldn't believe was a real thing, a few resident lunatics, one of which with a sniper rifle, the usual. There's almost through when the hunters from the bridge who have pursued them catch them up. Pettiness, revenge, afraid they'll tell someone on the outside about them or do they genuinely believe this is worth it on the hope that one of these people will have a decent pair of shoes, I can't fully understand what's driving them to go to this length to catch these this group, but it seems a tad obsessive. Anyway, we take them and their FUCKING truck out then proceed to the radio station. Man, that was satisfying. Infected rush in and almost take out Ellie and Same, but thanks you Joel's sniper skill, them seem OK, but it's time to go.
Now at the tower, our group has time to eat, relax, rest and even bond. Joel and Henry have patched their differences and Ellie tries to cheer up a downtrodden Sam, even gifting him a toy that Sam said he couldn't have. Despite her efforts, Sam is still very down in the dumps, questioning whether the infected are still people, have they “moved on to be with their families”, is there any hope of them coming back. Ellie is honest, but gentile and kind in her realisum expressing how she feels about the subject,. Once your gone, you gone with the infection. This does nothing to cheer Sam up, and as it turns out that was for a very good reason. It's revealed he been bitten. The next morning, the inevitable happens. At Henry's behest, Ellie proceeds to wake Sam up as Henry let him sleep in for a change, because of course he had to choose THIS morning of all mornings to do that. And yes, Sam has turned and attacks Ellie and Henry is forced to shoot Sam. Henry is, obliviously, distraught and unstable. Joel tries to calm him down and take the gun from him, but Henry threatens Joel with the gun, blaming Joel for everything before turning the gun on himself.
This has impact not just because of the superb performances from the actors, but from what was established about the characters. Sam was a very timid, run down person any who never got a chance to really live in this world. The time he spend with Ellie was probably about as happy as he's ever been, so it's so tragic to see this innocent kid we've come to care for never get the chance to live a life he desperately wanted. Henry's demise is, if anything, even more tragic because this young man lived to give Sam a better life. He was driven by a soul that was full of hope and determination, much unlike his more pessimistic brother. So to see him break down they way that he did and loose every ounce of that hope in single moment is one of that most tragic parts in the game, and it hit hard. And all for characters that don't actually serve the main story very much.
Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou? (Fall)
Curt forward a number of months and Joel and Ellie are almost at Jackson, where Joel believes they'll find Tommy who can point them in the direction of the Fireflies research lab. And indeed they find him, working with a crew repairing a hydroelectric power plant just outside the self sustaining town of Jackson, home of Tommy and his wife Maria (Played by Ashley Scott). They catch up a little and Tommy tells Joel that he wnt back to Texas and found their homes. He didn't find much, but did find a picture of Joel and Sarah, offers it to Joel, be Joel doesn't aspect it. Those barriers, again.
A little bit on Tommy. Remember how I said I felt bill was a forward into Joels future if he never learned to trust or love again? Well I see Tommy as a reflection of what Joel could have been if he hadn't entered that dark place he did after Sarah's death. Tommy has hope and purpose in his life. He's proud of what he's accomplished and always tried to place value in himslef though what he could do for others as well as himself. Maybe that's why the two fell out in the end. Joel being to self centred and Tommy being too idealistic. Still. I think Tommy is a hugly undervalued chacter in this game just because is purpose is more subtle.
Joel tells Tommy about Ellie's immunity and asked take Tommy to take Ellie to the Fireflies,but Tommy has a life here is doesn't want to give that up, but after a bandit attract and seeing Ellie's sprit, he changes his mind and decides to take Ellie to the Fireflies for Joel, much to the rage of Maria. Maria isn't the only one that's angry. Ellie has sensed that something is wrong and runs away with of the Jackson crew's horses. After fighting their way though more bandits, they rack Ellie down to a house and Joel confronts her. Now, so much goes on this this scene, it would be cumbersome to explain without letting you see it for yourself. So, here we go.
This is a powerful and important moment. Ellie is obviously upset with Joel as he's “trying to get rid of her” and his excuses just aggravate her even more. So she open up to Joel is hope that she can bring down his walls too, but Joel's stubborn will appears to win out. However, this has hit Joel a lot harder than he lets on and is now in a position where he simply can't deny his emotional and practical obligation to Ellie any-more, so changes his mind and, following Tommy's direction, takes Ellie to the Fireflies himself. He even accepts this responsibility and the truth of the connection he has with Ellie with a kind of light-hearted attitude, like a weight has been lifted. The very next scene is Joel and Ellie approaching the location Tommy described, The University of Eastern Colorado, teaching he the rules of (American) Football. This is the forging of the bond between the two because this is where Joel finally admits to himself that he cares for this girl. Ellie didn't keep it a close of a secret that she looked up to Joel and was seeing him as a potential father figure, but only really opened up to herself about how badly she wanted that when it was about to be taken away. It's subtle, but it's critical.
They banter along and bond more as they explore the University. They find infected and sighs of the Fireflies presence, but no Fireflies or people at all. A long dead body of a scientist holds a recording telling, well, whoever is listening, that the Fireflies moves to another base of operation at St Mary's Hospital in Salt Lake City. Just as there're contemplating their next move, they come under attack from more apparent bandits (turn this group has more in this story, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.) Trying to fight their way out past them, Joel get thrown off a walkway and is impaled on a what looks like a piece of thick steel wire, the kind they'd use in re-enforced concrete. Ellie desperately tries to help Joel but he's clearly badly hurt, fading, losing blood and in a lot of pain. Thanks to Ellie and the badass she's become, they escape the university only for Joel to fall off the horse unresponsive then... CUT.
Next thing we see, its Winter and Ellie hunting alone and your playing as her now.
Off all the cliffhanging, merciless teases that you may have seen in other stories, this one of the most most “AAARRRRGGGGGGG” ones I've seen. You genuinely have no idea if Joel is alive, but world has moved on with a massive gap unplugged. For the developers to do this, it's arrogant, it's cruel, it's fucking brilliant! Yeah, don't deny it, it worked to really push you forward and find out what happened.
Yes, They Went There (Winter)
So, now you're Ellie. And you're alone. Now the circumstances and mystery surrounding how this came to be will be swirling though your head obviously, but to play as Elie is a lot of fun. She doesn't have all the same crafting toys and weapons as Joel does, it's a more lean load-out, but she does have he pocket knife (no more broken shivs) and game does let up a little with the understanding that you have a more limited load out..., LOL, no of course it doesn't.
She manages to bring down a deer, but the kill also attracts the attention of two men named David (Played by Nolan “Of course I had to be in this, like I'm in every game, somewhere with my pal Troy” North) and a younger guy named James. They plead for a share of the dear to feed their community and offer trade. Ellie never looks at them from any view other the the sight of a weapon and really takes charge. Good girl. She offers the dear in exchange for antibiotics... wait, antibiotics? For who? Can it be...
...eh, yeah. Em. James goes to fetch the medicine whilst Ellie takes David's gun off him and holds him up while he drags the deer inside a nearby building. Man, he learned quicker than most not to fuck with Ellie. Ellie waits with David with him trying to be friendly whilst Ellie still looks ready to shoot him at a moments notice when The Last of Us dose what The Last of Us dose. Sends a hoard of mushroom people at them.
After surviving the hoard, that included a bloater (told you the game wouldn't let up), Ellie and David sit down to continue the wait for the medicine and Ellie appears to relax somewhat in the presence of this kind, helpful stranger who has not seemed to warrant the mistrust Ellie has show so far. Then they drop a bomb. David reveals that weeks prior he sent men into a town to look for supplies, and only a few came back, David knows this group was slaughtered by Joel and Ellie, most likely the ones at the university. James comes back and wants to kill Ellie, but David insists he give the the medicine and let her go.
She finds her horse and rides back to a nearby abandoned town and into a house and it's revlealed. YES!!! Joel is alive, but an infection in his crudely stitched up wound has taken hold and is not out of the woods yet. The next morning, Ellie wakes up to find she was tracked by David's men and has to lead them away or risk find they find the defenceless Joel. Ths next gampley section is of my favoites in the game and turns Ellie into a total badass. She rides through the town until the horce is shot (R.I.P. Callous) then fights through a lakeside resort killing what feels like half the Belgian army of David's thugs until David himself catches up with her and captures her to “keep her alive”.
We talked a lot about humanising Joel and Ellie in story, making them relatable and how that helps us, as the audience/player, connect with them. So, how do you humanise a villain and why should you? It's simple, really. Make them admirible. Make them diabolical. Make their evil action a factor of choice rather than instinct. Make their actions understandable, even if unreasonable. Explainable, but not excusable. Given them qualities that anyone would want within themselves, but with the right motive and desires could be a force for good. A villian with no possitive qualities, that can't be admires, can't really be a threat either. That's the key the key to great villain. How could you help the universe with Darth Vader's Power? Imagine what you could make of yourself with Hannibal Lecter's intelligence?
The Last of Us says fuck all that and makes David not only the head of a cannibal society, but a paedophile who kept Ellie alive so she could become, as one of his men put it, “his latest pet”. That's right, this is what is happening in the story. Ellie going to be eaten, or molested, maybe even both. Not exactly subtle, Naughty Dog.
Still, David is a great villain. We saw earlier that ability to put on a trustworthy face, only to use it open his opportunity to track Ellie down and capture her. He's one smart son of a bitch. Despite the obvious and even overwhelming hatred the player has for him at this point, he does have a very human vulnerability to him. He feels pressured by his men to just end Ellie, a pressure he resists because, and I know I'll get flack for this, I can't help but think, in some way, he actually does care about her. David even has enough self belief and intelligence to even attempt to justify the actions of his people in this world it does even even make some sense. But fuck all that, he needs to die.
During an exchange of words between David and Ellie where all this is being explained, she coaxes him in, breaks his thumb and tries to steal his keys. One more scornful insult at David later an it appears he's reluctantly decided to just butcher her instead.
We come back to Joel, who is now waking up. He gatherers his stuff and heads out wondering where Ellie is when he come under attack. The attackers are the remnants of David's men and give away that they know about Ellie,. Now Joel is in pursuit.
He succeeds in capturing two of them alive and pits them against each other during an “interrogation” and he finds out where Ellie is. Joel really shows just how nasty he can be here. I won't say more except, damn! Anyway, he heads to the location, but encounters the, let's call it the “abattoir” along the way with Ellie's backpack in it. Yes, to say a sense of urgency has engulfed him would be putting it mildly.
Meanwhile, James and David have dragged Ellie out of her cell, Ellie biting David in the process, and are about to make Ellie Fillet, when Ellie pulls the ace out her sleeve and yells, I'M INFECTED!”. Genius. Wait for them to get you out of the cell before dropping that bomb. Of course they don't believe her but after she insists they look at her arm, they don't know what to do but argue. David doesn't want to believe this because it means he's infected as well now, but James is more insistent it can't be anything else. She takes this chance to grab the butcher knife, kill James, roll of the table and escape.
She fights her way through the town looking for a way out until ends up at a restaurant where David catches up with her and one of the games most unique gameplay moments, the only boss battle with a human, is now on. He took away your gun, he's armed with a machete while the exit has be set alight and the restaurant is burning down. You have to sneak up on him and stab him with the knife. After three successful strikes, both Ellie and David go down. Back to Joel After leaving the abattoir, makes his way through the town trying to find Ellie. He finds the aforementioned restaurant on fire and has to assume that where she is... because it's a BBQ joint? In a town full of cannibals? I dunno. Doesn't change the fact he's right.
We cut back to Ellie again who's regained continuousness and seen David's machete and starts creeping toward it. She's interrupted in the last way anyone would want in this situation with a kick to the stomach. Fighting the pain and the temptation to through up because David's evil “It's OK to give up” monologue would make anyone ill, she still tries to reach for the machete. David gets on top of her in a way that difficult to call it creepy or violent when she finally gets to the machete and hacks David to pieces with it. She's still hacking at at David when Joel comes in and calms her down. They talk for a moment (underad by the player, it's mostly drownd by music) like the father and daughter they are now and then leave. I like that because without knowing they actually said, the music communictes what they ment perfectly. Never underestimate the importance of good sound design and music.
After going through all that, who wouldn't be traumatised? It's not just what David did and tried to do to her, it's what she did to him as well I believe. There was a moment there that she was totally lost to the violence. If Joel hadn't stopped her brought her back, it could have been even worse. The first thing she said when Joel pulled her off was, DON'T YOU FUCKING TOUCH ME!” completely consumed by the fear and rage of what she was going through. Joel calmed her down. Ellie may have saved herself from David, but I think Joel saved Ellie from herself. He also called her “baby-girl” in that moment, the same pet-name he had for Sarah. That's it. Ellie is his Daughter now.
The Ending (Spring)
Our hero's have finally made it to Salt Lake City after spending most of the last year travelling with Ellie in search of the Fireflies. A unusually up-beat Joel is trying is best to be positive for somewhat downtrodden Ellie, probably still traumatised by the events of “Winter”, and who could blame her. Joel is to chat to her, make he engage and even promises promises her to teach he guitar, but Ellie just seams distant and distracted. The best example of this is when Joel needs to boot Ellie up to fetch a ladder, but Elie is just sad down on a bench, head hanging low, not paying attention to Joel. I think I know why. Now that they're so close to the end, what will happen to her once they reach the Fireflies is weighing heavy on her mind, but more on that later. Things do brighen up in a very iconic, but not fully relvant scene whar Ellie pesters Joel to follow her as she chases what turns out to be a head of giraffes. They even get a chance to pet one. This scene holds no real relvance to the story, it's just a touching monet and a visual treat, but like I said it's icomic so I thought I'd include it;
They're forced into the tunnels to reach St' Mary's Hospital serving as a research base for the Fireflies on the Cordyceps pandemic. An Accident occurs where Ellie appears to drown and while Joel tries to revive her, Firefly Soldiers show up and one of them knocks him out...
It's OK though, Ellie is safe (but given what happens next, we have assume she did not regain consciousness), Joel is brought to Marlene in the Hospital and is informed that in order to obtain the samples needed to reverse engineer a vaccine, Ellie has to die. Joel is, of course, furious and is unwilling to accept this. This is understandable from Joel given how close he has got to Ellie throughout this journey. Joel has but one choice in his head, rescue Ellie and escape the Fireflies.
At first, Ellie was just a task, even a burden to Joel but the eye opening experiences of “Fall” when he learned just how much Ellie now cared forhim and looked up to him as quite likely her first real father figure along with the intense and dangerous experiences of “Winter” brought Joel face to face with the possibility of loosing another person he loved and cared for. Both of these things he has avoided sine the start of the Cordyceps outbreak and loosing Sarah 20 years previously.
Allot of people look at Joel's behaviour when Marlene told him as very “of the moment” and spurred by a rush of desperate emotion, but I think that's incorrect. I find it hard to believe that either Joel nor Ellie are that ignorant. In the 9 months or so they were travelling together the possibility that Ellie would have to suffer or even die to get the cure would have crossed there minds. In the scene just after the Giraffes, that same fear that awoke him to how he feels about Ellie in Winter and engaged him to talk and deal with Ellie as the father they both now felt he was hit him again. He turned to her and said, “We don't have to do this... let's just go back to Tommy’s, forget this ever happened...”. Now, next is what could be one of the most important, yet under-discussed lines in the entire game. Ellie responds, “After everything we've been through. Everything that I've done. It can't be for nothing.”. It's only for moment and it's subtle, but Joel hangs his head and sighs just after she says that. That's the moment he realised that if it came to that, she would to willing to sacrifice herself. Ellie was also very distant and distracted throughout large parts of this section which tells me that this was on her mind to. I'm not saying she wasn't scared of dying and she certainly didn't want to, but would be willing to die to better others if that's what it took.
This is the biggest difference between Joel and Ellie as Characters for me. Even from the start when Joel told Tommy to drive past the family on the side of the road, it's clear he is something of a Darwinist, survival of the fittest, do what it takes to survive kind of man. Putting himself and those he cares about more than others. His past in that 20 year gap is also, let's say, controversial, but undetailed. While doing what it takes to survive, he's not only seen some of the worst of humanity, but been some of the worst of humanity, so probably has had his value for humanity compared to Ellie devalued even more, which makes it less likely for him to let that surgery go ahead as well. Ellie is the kind of person who, whilst not necessarily willing to make a sacrifice needlessly, is for more willing to look at the bigger picture. She finds the loss of someone close just as painful as Joel oes and fears it the same, but is more warded to it in her young life than Joel, and it was never the loss of a child. So by growing up this world, that’s life in this world and thus she’s grown up to more used to this than Joel.
That is why Joel lied to her about the Firelies not being able to use Elie to find a cure. And it was a selfish lie. He didn't do it to protect her, he was protecting himself from the consequences of letting her choose that fate and taking that choice away from her. I've seen a let's play where the YouTuber in question was pissed off the Fireflies were robbing her of the choice, and I completely agree, but the moment that Joel lied to Ellie, he became guilty of the same thing. That's also why he killed Marlene because she was a loose end and link to the truth that he couldn't afford to leave alive. It also destroyed the possibility of the Fireflies coming after her as Joel said, yes, but with the damage done he didn't need to lie to her just to protect her from them. With both the surgeon and Marlene dead, it would be almost impossible for the Fireflies to set this back up and track them down, meaning they're not much of a threat unless they're hell bent on revenge, and I don't think they would be, they have bigger problems. They're most likely finished.
I'm not in support of the Fireflies though, despite what I just said. From a practical level, I think them curing humanity just like that is way to simple, that's not how it would have worked. In the news reports heard in the opening credits, we heard the Fireflies “public charter called for the return of all branches of government”, so when you consider how difficult logistics, manufacture and communication in this new world be, not to mention the hostile political situation the Fireflies are in, this cure would be used as a political tool. Even if the Fireflies have the best intentions, I just don't see how this would work. The game doesn't ponder on these details because Joel couldn't care less about them, so I'm not going to dwell on the to long, but I think it's still worth a thought.
Right at the end, a couple of important things happened. Ellie lists the people she has lost and says “I'm still waiting for my turn” confirming to Joel she accepts her mortality. Joel attempts to comfort her by telling her that survival, whilst a struggle, is one that can be endured by keeping finding to fight for, worth living for. At this point, Ellie interrupts him and makes him swear he was telling the truth about the Fireflies. He swears it's true. Then there's this contemplating look on her face then sge finally says “OK”. I don't think this was her believing the lie, more accepting the lie. I think that on some level she knew he was lying, but by asking him to swear the that he wasn't she could see how much wanted this new life for them and how he really cared for her. She's not willing to give that up, not now, so she doesn't bite the feeding hand, lets any anger she felt about it go and is now prepared for a new life.
Whilst I do see the wrong in what Joel did, I can also understand it and sympathise, but that's not really the point. The game doesn't spell out whether he's right or wrong, it's just expressing how he feels. This isn't an RPG or a choice based narrative like a Telltale game or Life is Strange. I’ve seen al lot if people complain that Joel's actions at the end should have been a player choice, but they'd be wrong because it's not that kind of game and I believe it wouldn't have had the same impact. It’s fine to not agree or sympathise with Joel or Ellie at points as your observing the story, but progressing through it as an observer it’s much eaiert to provoke emotional conflict within the player compared to when they have too much control over the actions, and that’s why this works.
Ellie: The NPC Redefined
The amount of praise, appreciation and love this character has received is mind blowing, and for good reasons. Much of I’m going to dig into has been said before, but I’m just using my own views as to why this character works, the impact she’s had and why I love this character.
The first impression that, quite frankly, anyone would have of Ellie wouldn’t be that warm. She’s foul mouthed, bratty and aggressive, but she’s definitely a product of not only the world she was forced to grow up in, but her own circumstances as well. Her mother died not long after she was born and with the father nowhere to be seen, this harsh world was her parent. That is where her quick to defend by attack attitude I feel is born from.
She’s also smart, strong, compassionate, funny, independent and has the needs of others at the forefront of her logic, something that’s rare for people who grow up in our society, never mind the world in this game. She is made up of a mixture of things we’d want to be and things we wish to never have to be so is a very admirable and relatable character overall.
It would take a kind of strength beyond most of us to have that level of care and compassion for others growing up in this world, a fact kind of proven by Joel who is more of a self centred survivor. What I find interesting and important about that is what do these two people learn from each other? How do they grow and change? Well, this time there is no long analysis because it it’s very simple. Ellie learns how to survive and Joel re-learns how to feel and love again.
Ellie knew combat and survival at least to some extent already, she was in a military school. So, whilst I don’t doubt she learned allot about those things from Joel, what she learned from the journey and Joel himself was more about those things as a purpose rather than a necessity. That’s the big difference between Joel, along with the Fireflies, and the military/government in this world.
I love Ellie. You can’t help but care about her. Joel too. You want to be proud of him and what he accomplishes and becomes by the end of the game. The story as a whole is actually allot like Sarah’s death in the chaotic “Hope? Nope!” kind of way. Just as our heroes are about make real progress or have something to be happy about, it all blows up their face and things end up, if anything, worse than before. This does give real purpose to Joel's more cold, closed of mentality and this is something, like it or not, you need to survive in this easier to connect with then perhaps it should be.
What these two characters taught you as the player is yours and yours alone and it’s your right to hold it precious. For me, it taught me the virtue in selfishness. It is right to be that little bit stubborn and self centred when you truly believe that it’s better for all or to protect what you care about. Allot of that is covered buy my thoughts on the ending, but we’re getting there.
Before moving on, there is one last thing about Ellie to address. Now, I want to make it perfectly clear that the only reason I bring this up is to discuss how well this was handled. For me, this is not worthwhile of analysis at all and has no bearing on how I feel about the character. This will not to be true of everyone, especially those in the LGBTQ+ community, who showered this with praise. You may have guessed that I’m talking about Ellie’s sexuality. The LGBTQ+ related controvesy I'm discussing here is related to this game, not the TLOU2, so if you discuss this, please stick to the subject at hand. I'll likely adress what thinks has been a much bigger set of LGBTQ+ related controvesies for TLOU2 in the topics related that game whn I get to it.
Believe it or not, there were still people who would testify Ellie wasn't gay before the announcement of TLOU2 and/or have a problem with that, even now. Whilst I doubt anyone reading this in this community feels that way (well I hope not), this whole analysis wouldn’t feel complete without looking into it. However, people who doubt or protest Ellie’s sexuality I don’t feel are worth my time. There’s another problem in that I’m a straight male, so why would you take my opinion seriously anyway? So instead of trashing the idea the Ellie is straight with my words, I’ll just post a vid form a YouTuber named Kathleenmms, who demolishes that delusion far better that I could, not just because she is a gay woman but because she is as smart as anyone gets as well.
SIDE NOTE: A fun fact. At momocon 2014, Ashley Johnson described how watching a certain let’s play of TLOU Left Behind DLC, to quote, “broke” her after watching this let player’s reaction to this lesbian romance, and it was Kathleenmms and her let’s play that prompted it. If you wanna see, check this vid. The vid should play from the appropriate point of the panel/interview)
Another really weird coincidence goes to this game’s "link" with actress Ellen Paige. When the game first launched allot of people mistakenly thought Ellen was the actress playing Ellie (the similar name or the similar looks, whatever) , which of course she wasn’t. This, so I’m told, pissed Ellen off as she was starring in and promoting another PlayStation exclusive game, Beyond Two Souls, to come out later that same year. Then, on February 14th 2014 (yes, Valentine’s Day, feel free to make you own joke), during a speech at Time to Thrive, a conference to promote the welfare of LGBTQ+ youth held at Bally's Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Ellen Paige publicly came out as gay for the first time, the same day The Last of Us: Left Behind DLC launched. That means Ellen Paige came out on effectively the day as Ellie did. I mean wow, I’m saddened that I lack the talent to make this up!
Back to it. I love the way this is handled because it’s not really treated like anything important. Back in the 90’s and into the 2000’s, gay people were being written in more commonly that ever before in films and TV, but not very well. They were proud, don’t get me wrong, but that was PC enough at the time to Just include them. The thing is they we’re to proud. They weren’t shy or ashamed, in fact the exact opposite of that. They were so proud of it that every relationship (romantic or otherwise), action, feeling, emotion and even dress sense had to revolve around that and they that had to announce all of their obnoxiously gay everywhere they went. This was not only wrong in terms of reinforcing gay stereotypes, but also turned gay into a character rather than an aspect of a character.
Being gay doesn’t define a gay character, the character defines a character regardless of sexual orientation, and that’s something that I feel the creators of The Last of Us understand. You could ask the most irrational, raging homophobe how being gay changed Ellie’s character from the one they adored in the main game and they would not come up with an honest answer that makes any sense at all. That’s why Ellie’s sexuality wasn’t addressed in the main game because it wasn’t necessary to do so. That was about the relationship between her and Joel, so it’ wasn't relevant.
I will admit Ellie (and Riley, for that matter) being gay didn’t feel strictly necessary, but it didn’t feel forced nor take anything away either. This was not pandering to SJW’s demanding inclusion just because. The whole thing was written and handled too well for it to be that. I was as surprised as anyone, but it didn’t hurt me nor anyone else whilst at the same time meaning allot to the LGBTQ+ community, so I’m glad they did it. Now, I'm well aware of Game Director Niel Druckmann's reputation, so I'm not gonna say a so-called “Social Justice Agenda” played no part in his decision to build Ellie's character and other area's of the game (nd TLOU2) the way he did, but like I said it was handled with genuine effort and he's well within his right to take that creative liberty.
This was supposed to be a story and character analysis for the most part, but it wouldn’t be right to not talk about this at least a little. A good thing as well because honestly, there isn’t a whole lot to say. It’s not a particularly unique or complicated game in terms of gameplay mechanic, it just does what it does well with high production value.
At it’s core, The Last of Us is a linear third person shooter with a strong emphasis on stealth and some light survival and exploration elements. All these elements are we balanced with each other buy giving the player enough choice in each section to reach their goal in number of ways depending of circumstance and play style.
The shooting mechanics are easy to use, weighty and with a unique, indigenous feel for each weapon. Melee combat is simplistic, but satisfying and includes a breakable weapons that aren’t annoying because they’re an enhancement to the hand to hand rather that something you rely on for the whole game (Yeah, looking at YOU Zelda: Breath of the Wild!).
Stealth feels dynamic because of the various ways the enemies in the game react, especially the infected runners and clickers. Runners can see and the can move fast, but take less damage than clickers and can be taken out with your fists. Clickers “see” using sound and if alerted, it’s a one hit kill if they get to you, so use stealth tactics whenever possible. Allot the boaters you engage as bosses. They take a beating, attack at range and deadly up close. Avoid them if you can, but big weapons, Molotov cocktails and nail bombs will get the job done.
The human enemies are OK to fight with, but are only varied by the weapons they carry and certain very enjoyable set prices the game has to offer and, at times, armour, but the level layout helps make engagements enjoyable enough. The AI is not that sophisticated, but it’s adequate and does offer enough sentient behaviour, opposing tactics and challenge to suit in this game. These sections I’d say weren’t quite as much fun as battling infected, but still very good.
Resource management and exploration are critical as you use supply’s, scrap and what I think is medicine you find in the world for crafting items and upgrading weapons and skills. Again, it’s pretty light mechanics, but smart as crafting items use common ingredients and you only find so much medicine and scrap, so your choices really matter in the crafting. There’s also a limit to the ammo capacity, so you need to use your weapons wisely as well.
Allot of these games that focus mostly on single player have tacked on multiplayer modes that feel half assed and just not worth it (Dragonage Inquisition multiplayer anyone? What, wanna do something more fun like carve yourself a new, wider path for your bladder to empty? Can’t say I blame you.). The Last of Us actually had a fun and fresh idea that involved linking your Facebook account to import “survivors” from your real life friends list if you wanted the allying yourself to either bandits or the Fireflies to then go out and compete against other players for your clans survival. The crafting, focused hearing mechanics and of course combat were taken from the main game and implemented well in a very tactically focused team death-match. Of course it wasn’t as extensive as other more multiplayer-centric games, but for a side dish it was a very tasty and surprisingly substantial part of the meal.
As gamers, or even just as people, we love to root for the underdog. We want our David’s to succeed over our Goliath. Whilst The Last of Us is undeniably a Goliath rather than a David being published by Sony and developed by the already very much accomplished Naughty Dog, it still managed to gather allot of that same sort of support from people as if it were a David. I believe this is because the creative vision, the writing, the story and characters are always the more humble elements of even the biggest, blockbusting projects in entertainment media and it’s these elements that The Last of Us does particularly well. That’s why the game has got the acclaim that it has, the heart of a David in the body of a Goliath. Being in the body of a Goliath didn’t exactly hurt the game either. Having the big budget resources with some best talent money can buy to make this game was critical to bring this vision to life. To make this happen, every role from the most humble and basic to the most complex and innovative had to work together.
To me, this was an engrossing, memorable event in the history of gaming and important one to show the world that this type of entertainment needs to be taken seriously and respected. There are still to many people that see gaming as a low brow waste of time, not something suitable for respectable society. Whether that was ever true is open to debate, but it certainly isn’t the case now and The Last of Us dealt a bigger blow to that delusion than any game I recall. Naughty Dog didn’t make the game to be that to us, they just wanted to make a great game, but they did embrace that responsibility and handled it so.
This has meant so much to so many and I for one, learned how important it is to embrace hope even when life is at it’s worst and life is only worth who you choose to share it with. We live in vain, materialistic world and ironically it’s a video game, a impractical indulgence that can only find a home in that world is what helped me see more clearly what is truly valuable. The Last of Us may have impacted you in a different way or even not at all, but whatever the case that experience belongs to you, so treasure it.
If you made it all the way through this then you have my thanks. Other than that, there isn’t much left to say apart from bring on I hope you enjoyed and game hope you enjoy The Last of Us Part 2 if you get the chance. Please share your own thoughts, feelings and experience of The Last of Us. As I mentioned a review and spoiler analysis of the The Last of Us Part 2 from me will come.
Until then, with humble sincerity