'The Last Of Us Part 2' Trailer Breakdown: Everything We Noticed
Even if you're not particularly excited by the prospect of The Last Of Us Part 2, the odds are strong that you have at least one friend who's spent the last 24 hours losing their mind over the most recent trailer for the game. Our first proper look at the impending Naughty Dog sequel was packed with information, returning characters, new faces, threats, violence, and even a release date of February 21, 2020. Despite only clocking in at around three minutes, there's an awful lot to unpack from what we saw.
Join me then, dear reader, as I attempt to break down some of the trailer's key moments and attempt to divine some extra nuggets of information that might not be immediately forthcoming to the average viewer. Of course, I should point out before we dive in that most of this article will be speculation based on what's currently in front of me, and that Naughty Dog has almost definitely purposefully edited certain moments in an attempt to wrong-foot people. With that in mind, check out the trailer below (or watch again to refresh your memory), and let's dive in.
The trailer kicks off with a sweeping shot of a familiar, if slightly different-looking, location. If you've played the original game, then you may remember towards the end of the adventure, Joel and Ellie paid a visit to Joel's brother Tommy, who was leading a small settlement of survivors based in a hydroelectric plant in Jackson County, Wyoming. Judging by the new trailer, it would seem Tommy's plans for building a safe haven have proven a success, as the settlement looks a hell of a lot bigger than when we last saw it, and even has working electricity.
We cut to Ellie and new character Dina, who we first saw dancing together in the E3 2018 trailer. In what I assume is a reference to that previous trailer, Dina is asking Ellie to rate the kiss they shared. It's cute, slightly awkward, and playful, but it's clear that Ellie cares a lot about this girl. Dina also seems to be smoking a spliff, so it's good to know that you can still get your hands on the kush after society has collapsed.
It quickly becomes clear that Ellie is living within Tommy's makeshift community, which seems to be thriving. Kids laugh and play, there are shops, fairy lights everywhere, and lumber being carried through the town, implying that construction and expansion continues. Ellie, it seems, has an important role in this community. It appears to be her job to patrol the surrounding areas with a number of others, including Dina, and report back on any threats to the town.
"You all know the drill. Run your routes. Clock your logbooks. You run into anything you can't handle, you come back." This brief snippet from newcomer Jessie implies that life has been fairly mundane for the survivors in the years since the last game, and that bar the occasional issue, nobody has really run into anything too taxing. Obviously, that changes.
We see Ellie and Dina exploring an old house that's clearly been infested by Clickers. The fungus on the walls suggests the creatures have been here for a while, and Ellie soon falls through the floor and gets separated from Dina. The next shot is of a particularly nasty-looking Clicker (the first we've seen in the sequel) who's far too close to Ellie for comfort.
At this point I should also point out the fact that Ellie is wearing a mask, when it was established in the first game that she's immune to cordyceps and so shouldn't need one. I can't imagine Naughty Dog forgot about this, so the most likely scenario is that she's decided (or has been persuaded by Joel) to keep her immunity a secret so that nobody else comes after her hoping to slice her open in search of a cure.
Ellie finds herself riding through the snow desperately searching for Dina, before coming across a house. Judging by the apparent lack of electricity, this place isn't part of Tommy's haven. Also, you know, going off the fact that Ellie descends into a basement that has a trail of blood leading through a door, this definitely isn't a haven of any kind.
Going through the door, Ellie is ambushed and pinned down by two men. The desperation in her eyes, coupled with the fact that she's begging them to stop, implies that they're doing something pretty unspeakable to someone she cares about - presumably Dina. Previous trailers for the game have shown some kind of group (or cult?) do some truly awful things to a number of characters we'd never seen before, including hanging a man up, cutting his stomach open and letting his guts fall out, and pinning a woman to the floor before breaking her arms with a hammer.
My bet is that whatever Ellie is being forced to watch is just as nasty, and I imagine it's being done to Dina. The screen cuts to black, we hear a gunshot, and Ellie screams. Something has happened to someone she cares about. The obvious answer is that Dina has just been killed, but I can't help but feel that's what Naughty Dog wants us to think. Whatever went down, it clearly had an effect on Ellie, as we're about to see.
The next shot is of Ellie sat on her bed, looking down. Without her shirt on, we can see a number of nasty looking bruises, cuts, and gashes all over her body. We can safely assume that the people that ambushed her beat her pretty savagely - possibly even tortured her. Ellie is visited by Tommy, who brings her... something in a box. She tells him she "has to finish it", as we see her gearing up with a gun and a bow and arrow.
Note that Tommy also seems to have a few cuts and scrapes. Was the community attacked by whoever ambushed Ellie? Did Ellie possibly lead these people straight back to her home? The way Ellie greets Tommy also sounds... almost apologetic? It's unclear why this might be, but it's Ellie's use of the phrase "finish it" that intrigues me here.
My best guess here is that Ellie's initial quest for revenge for whatever might have happened to Dina went wrong and led to the gunshot we heard earlier - and that gunshot kills none other than Joel. I'm thinking that whatever Tommy has in the box he hands over to Ellie is something Joel wanted her to have - maybe the watch his daughter Sarah gave him all those years ago?
I should also note that as Ellie puts her gun into her backpack, she's wearing Joel's jacket. Not a great sign. This is pure speculation though, and I hope I'm wrong. Oh God, do I hope I'm wrong.
"You have no idea what you're walking into," Tommy warns as we see footage of Ellie riding on horseback towards a ruined city. Ellie's genuine surprise at Tommy attempting to talk her out of whatever she has planned once again implies to me that Joel is dead, and she's shocked that his own brother isn't as hungry for revenge as she is.
In the next few shots we see a subway being patrolled by what looks to a well-organised unity with gas masks and torches, Ellie on a boat riding through some ruins, and a shady character in a bathroom who looks like they're about to torture the poor sod strapped to a chair. Next up, Ellie is shot in the shoulder with an arrow and pulls it out, gasping in pain as she does so. Her bloodied-hands start to shake, which is something we also saw in the very first trailer for the game.
Now, while we might have previously assumed that the shaking hand was from rage or adrenaline, what if that's not the case at all? What if it's uncontrollable? Previous analysis of the first trailer implied that maybe Ellie has some kind of degenerative brain disease, perhaps as a result of all the time she walked through clouds of cordyceps as a kid assuming she was unnaffected. While it clearly never turned her into a Clicker, there's every chance that pockets of fungus could have taken root in her brain, slowly spreading over the years.Could this even possibly lead to her seeing Joel as a hallucination and not in the flesh as was previously theorised?
Whatever the case, what follows is a montage of bloody, violent, and altogether awesome flashes of combat. We see Bloaters, Clickers, Runners, human enemies, and even (sadly) dogs. Ellie blasts, hacks, stabs, and slashes her way through these opponents, and it looks like melee combat is going to be more involved, and a lot grimmer, this time around.
The trailer ends as a pair of hands suddenly grabs Ellie from behind, covering her mouth so she can't make a sound. Given the way she reacts, it seems pretty obvious that she knows who it is, so complies and calms down. Turning around, she asks, "what the hell are you doing here?" She doesn't seem thrilled to see whoever it is.
We cut to an older, much sadder-looking Joel, who asks, "you think I'd let you do this on your own?" There's really not a lot I can tell from the brief moment he's on screen, but, I'm not convinced that Ellie's question and Joel's response are from the same scene at all, as it looks like they're in completely different locations. I'm not entirely sure what this could mean, but for now I'm sticking with my theory that Joel attempts to help Ellie initially and is killed, which is what inspires Ellie to head off on her murder-filled road trip of revenge.
I might be wrong. I hope I'm wrong. There are probably details I've missed. All will be revealed when The Last Of Us Part 2 finally releases early next year, but until then do feel free to chime in in the comments and let me know how you think it's all gonna go down for Joel and Ellie this time around.
Featured Image Credit: Naughty Dog