That ending, huh? It was certainly an...interesting one. To the point that it left one of the louder-known YouTube personalities in the gaming community—PewDiePie—speechless. Just for a moment, of course.
Skip to 10:05 for the good parts.
Regardless of your feelings towards PewDiePie, he's well-known and well-liked by many on the Internet, and it's interesting to see someone who is usually shouting and cussing his way through his Let's Play videos all of a sudden sit there, mouth agape, unsure of what to say.
That's the power of The Last of Us. I had a similar reaction when I finished the game this weekend.
Basically, there are two key moments to this ending. The first is when Joel shoots Marlene. Though he does have reasonable grounds for doing so, it's not just that he shoots her. It's the absolutely cool and collected way in which he does so. It's the way he doesn't even hesitate for a moment. He's already decided. He has no remorse. He will have no regrets.
In that moment, I felt shock. For an instant. And immediately afterwards I thought, "Good." Because while it may still be morally reprehensible to gun down an innocent woman, I admired his dedication to Ellie above all other things. I admired that he's capable of knowing, one way or another, what is right and wrong to him. And he's steadfast.
The other moment is, of course, where he lies to Ellie. And immediately I felt a reversal of emotions. Where killing Marlene still felt like it was motivated by his loyalty to Ellie, this felt like betrayal. The exact opposite of what Joel had been proving was at his core almost the entire length of the game. And at that point I wanted to hate Joel for it. But like Ellie, I just couldn't. We'd been through too much.