*TLOU 2 Spoilers Ahead*
Abby loses everything in The Last of Us Part 2. The most heartbreaking part is that, before we even step into her shoes, we know almost all that she’s about to go through. Ellie has left a path of bloodshed in her wake as we take control of Abby, realising within moments that we must relive these harrowing events through the eyes of whom they mattered to most.
It’s a masterclass in humanisation, painting the original antagonist as a heroine of greater measure than Ellie ever was, surpassing her as the she succumbs to her own vices in a bitter and bloody tale of revenge. The violence isn’t what stands out the most to me though, it’s the more human happenings that bleed through onto the parchment. Abby finds a new family after losing everything, and becomes a better person for it.
When Abby first encounters Lev and Yara, she eyes them with obvious suspicion. These are members of a cult who have tried to kill her for years, so why would she ever trust a couple of stragglers who might just be using her as a means of escape. We share in her trepidation, but also in her insistence to help when Yara is left beaten within an inch of her life with no means of survival.
Abby offers to help, throwing herself into harm’s way to save a stranger’s life. She’s silent regarding her reasoning, offering Lev little more than a series of blunt remarks and ignorant huffs as they navigate their way towards the hospital. It’s only when Abby is forced to confront one of her greatest fears – heights – that she slowly emerges from her confrontational shell.
The skybridges that linger amidst the skyline are far more than passages into the corpses of skyscrapers – they are a metaphoric glimpse into the psyche of our central characters. Lev navigates the vertiginous path with ease, darting across precarious obstacles without a care in the world. He’s come to terms with his demons, ready to face them head-on without the slightest hint of hesitation. Abby is a different story, clinging desperately onto decaying metal as it grows more and more insecure beneath her feet. She could sink into the foggy oblivion at any moment, a fate we aren’t willing to resign her to.
With a mindset like this, it’s no wonder she falls, plummeting into the rotting waters of a swimming pool below and bringing Lev down with her. She hasn’t accepted her own situation yet despite her good intentions, willing to help a couple of strangers but still keeping them at arm’s length in fear of betrayal. Once all of her friends are killed at the hands of Ellie, Abby learns to accept Lev as one of her own, and her character changes forever.
Family isn’t really a thing once the world has met its end. Relationships become harder to maintain, and familial ties are immediately split apart as the realities of survival result in separation or even death. Both games in this series focus on slowly warming to people we’d otherwise distrust. Joel warms to Ellie much like Abby warms to Lev, learning to believe in those you’d otherwise never even associate with.
Once they have reached Colorado, Abby and Lev feel like a cohesive unit. They joke, converse, and operate like a pair of siblings, and it’s genuinely heartwarming to see. When Lev is pulled away from her at the hands of degenerate bandits, her violent side speaks out, threatening to tear them to pieces if they dare touch a hair on his head. It shows how far these two characters have come, even if the circumstances are anything but jovial.
It’s doubly ironic that once Abby and Lev are left to die on the beach during the game’s climax, Ellie waltzes along to do all the saving. Her found family is lost, torn apart by Abby’s initial act of revenge. She fails to understand the reasoning behind Abby’s actions, or is fully aware of them and just blatantly ignorant of the truth. The final confrontation is abhorrent, an exercise in brutality I didn’t want a part in. I even stopped fighting once, letting myself be killed just so it would all end.
Yet I had to keep fighting to pursue any semblance of survival when all seemed lost. In the end, it is Lev who causes Ellie to see the error of her ways. She sees herself in the young boy, and she can see Joel in Abby. A guardian watching over a young soul who would be powerless without her, and her without him. The cycle refuses to be broken as Ellie throws her knife away, letting the found family find salvation as she wallows in the destruction of her own.
The eventual fate of Abby and Lev is left ambiguous, and rightfully so. If Naughty Dog ever decides to pick up the mantle again and make a third game, I want it to focus on this duo. I want it to be a story of growth, hope, and finding purpose in a world that has put us through hell for two entire games. This is a found family that deserves happiness, even if it means fighting through another battle to find it.
As Joel once said, “no matter what, you keep finding something to fight for.” Ellie took that lesson the wrong way, while Abby carved it into something she will hold dear forever.
Next: How Ghost Of Tsushima Is The Culmination Of Tired Open-World Design
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Jade King is one of the Features Editors for TheGamer. Previously head of gaming content over at Trusted Reviews, she can be found talking about games, anime and retweeting Catradora fanart @KonaYMA6.
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