The Last of Us episode 4 continues a subtle alteration HBO has made to Ellie’s character, a change for the better. The Hunters of Kansas City confront Joel and Ellie in The Last of Us episode 4, bringing them into battle with the human perils of The Last of Us’ universe. As a result, HBO’s version fleshes out both Joel and Ellie, as well as their relationship.
In addition, The Last of Us episode 4 continues a fascinating Ellie alteration from the first game. These modifications are linked to co-creator Craig Mazin’s comments following The Last of Us episode 1’s finale regarding how HBO’s version of Ellie may be little more ruthless after falling in love with Joel’s violent-yet-protective attitude, which can be seen below. This only continues in The Last of Us episode 4, once Ellie becomes engaged in the Hunter-forced struggle.
Ellie’s gun scene makes her more ruthless than the game.
The sequences in HBO’s adaptation in which Ellie’s possibly more brutal personality comes into play entail the resolution of her snatching Frank’s pistol at the conclusion of The Last of Us episode 3. Ellie is shown in the episode’s opening scene playing with her pistol in the mirror of an abandoned gas station, which hints at her relatively cold-blooded attitude owing to her treating the rifle like a toy. This scenario is then repaid when Ellie is forced to shoot a Hunter who is attacking Joel, after which she admits that it is not her first time.
While The Last of Us episode 4 still takes measures to indicate Ellie is damaged by these acts at several times – and even has Joel kill the Hunter she shoots rather than Ellie being the killer like in the first game – the episode also takes steps to distinguish her from Sarah in episode 1. Because of the environment she was born into, Ellie has become considerably more hardened and less susceptible to acts of violence. Despite this, her character retains the endearing traits required to make her character relatable and less black and white, a shift for the better in HBO’s video game version.
Why Is Ellie’s Ruthlessness in The Last of Us a Good Thing?
One of the positive aspects of Ellie being more aggressive in The Last of Us is that it contributes to Mazin’s statements by strengthening Joel and Ellie’s connection. While the game has these themes, it portrays Joel and Ellie’s relationship in The Last of Us Part I as a healthy found-family dynamic until the events of The Last of Us Part II. However, in HBO’s The Last of Us, Mazin and Druckmann choose to show the hazardous side of their connection in a way that might presage the events of season 2.
Despite predicting the darker aspects of Joel and Ellie’s relationship, witnessing the two characters bond as in The Last of Us episode 4’s finale is nonetheless uplifting. It is likely because of Ellie’s (and Joel’s) darker aspects that the more wholesome, connecting moments between the two feel more satisfying. This simply goes to show how effectively HBO is adapting and building on the plot of the original game, as seen by The Last of Us episode 4 and its heartwarming-yet-uneasy finale.