The Last of Us Part II trailer reveals the game’s release date, but something equally important: Joel’s status.
Throughout the buildup for The Last of Us Part II, we’ve seen lots of Ellie. Joel, on the other hand? He’s been nowhere to be seen. There have been… theories.
Ellie has – when she’s not been doing nice, civilised things, like barn dancing and kissing girls – been on a bit of a vengeance rampage in the trailers, hammer in hand. It has been incredibly violent. Violent even for The Last of Us, a video game that makes Cormac McCarthy’s The Road look like a gentle, cross country stroll.
In interviews, the game’s director, Neil Druckmann, has confirmed that The Last of Us Part II will be a tale of revenge. As a result of Joel’s conspicuous absence, the theories have centred around his being dead as the catalyst for Ellie’s vengeful rampage. He also confirmed that Ellie would be the only playable character in the game. That was another bad sign for Joel fans.
The only trace of him? At the end of the game’s reveal trailer, where Ellie plays guitar in a blood-soaked murder house, Joel appears and asks, “What are you doing, kiddo? Are you really going to go through with this?”
“I’m gonna find,” Ellie begins, “And I’m gonna kill every last one of them.”
The prevailing theory for The Last of Us Part II went that Joel had been killed, by whichever group of wasteland villains Ellie had in her sights, and that his brief appearance there? That was Ellie imagining Joel, as something of an Obi-Wan figure, advising her from beyond the grave.
Then in today’s trailer – which also reveals the release date for The Last of Us Part II – we get an inkling of what causes Ellie’s rampage.
It looks like her girlfiend, Dina, gets fridged (because heaven forfend a female video game character exist as anything more than morbid motivation) but when Joel’s brother, Tommy, arrives to try and talk her down, it still looks like Ellie’s father figure from the first game might no longer be around.
But late on in the trailer, Joel’s status is confirmed: he’s alive! (Well, we presume he’s alive. Deceased Obi-Wan figures can’t usually touch the world around them, and Joel keeps Ellie quiet by holding his hand over her mouth.)
“You think I’d let you do this on your own?” Asks a visibly older, greyer Joel.
No, we didn’t, Joel. Not if you were still breathing, anyway. It’s good to have you back, apocalypse dad.
Oh, and The Last of Us Part II launches on February 21, 2020. Yes, that was the main focus of the news, but arguably confirming Joel’s status as alive was the thing more people were waiting for.