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I’ve Officially Found the Worst Take on ‘The Last of Us’ Season Finale

Joel looking at Ellie in the hospital in 'The Last of Us'

It’s not surprising that the conservative outlet the National Review found someway to spin a “pro-life” message in a show about the apocalypse, and yet I’m still frustrated. Written nearly two weeks after HBO’s The Last of Us season 1 finale, the piece in question talks about how Joel saving Ellie is pro-life messaging, and boy oh boy do men not know how to watch television, apparently. The article, written by Luther Ray Abel, fundamentally misunderstands the media that he reportedly consumed, because it’s not pro-life messaging. Joel saving Ellie quite literally has everything to do with the right to choose.

Part of the problem with the Fireflies and their motives, as they try to use Ellie to make an antidote to the Cordyceps infection that devastated the world, is that Ellie will have to die, but they don’t allow her to make that choice for herself—which, when you break down abortion rights, is what we want: the right to choose what happens. If we want to carry a pregnancy and give birth, whether it is threatening our own lives or just not the right time, that’s well within our rights, because it’s our choice.

In this case, Ellie is not given that choice! The choice was thrust upon her by the Fireflies. But you know, conservatives are always gonna conservative. And in this case, Abel put his own warped views on abortion into his media illiteracy and fully misunderstood what was actually happening in the show by likening Ellie to pre-brith stages of development. So let me explain it to him.

Ellie is a fully grown teenage girl, not a collection of cells

There is a common misconception about abortions—more that Republicans refuse to listen to science and just instantly think that a baby is formed the second a sperm touches an egg, frequently based on religious reasons that have no business in our laws. That’s not the actual case, but hey, that’d require them to care about reality more than their feelings—or feelings they pretend to have in order to fire up their voters.

But they believe that the embryo (or even zygote, not even necessarily a fetus yet, let alone a baby!) is a baby from the moment it is conceived, and science believes otherwise. They also have a lovely warped way of thinking about abortions and pretend like people get abortions on a whim up until the baby is about to be born. (Again, not how science works!)

So, projecting any sort of real logic onto this “pro-life” piece is … nonsense, but I’m going to try. Abel’s idea is that saving Ellie is a pro-life message, yes? Here’s my actual thinking. Ellie could die to save others. She could sacrifice herself if she were to choose to do so, and that choice was being taken away from her.

What the article goes on to connect to is the beginning of the episode, when Ellie’s mother, played by Ashley Johnson (who played Ellie in the original video game) is trying to give birth. In her battle to find somewhere safe, she gets bitten by an infected and begs to be shot by Marlene after passing Ellie off to her. Abel’s incorrect interoperation is that this is a show of what the pro-life crowd, essentially, thinks birthing people should do if it came down to themselves or the child.

The reality is that her mother, Anna, was pregnant in an apocalypse and then got bitten by an infected person and wanted to be shot because she didn’t want a mushroom to take over her brain. That’s all.

Sure, it’s an interpretation. But it’s wrong.

I suppose that right-leaning individuals can read their “ideals” into anything, and a post-apocalyptic show does tend to let them thrive in their fantasies of what they think is the truth about our world. (It’s not even the first time for this show!) For this case, though, thinking that the show is a pro-life argument or that it even accidentally falls into that theme is just categorically false, mainly because that is forcing your own ideas of what abortion rights look like onto a scene that’s not about that and could just as easily have the opposing argument projected onto it.

It is why I did not personally see it as “pro-choice” while watching it, but when Abel inserted his weird opinion on what I should be able to do with my body into The Last of Us, I felt the need to push back that a better interpretation would actually be pro abortion rights, if we want to go down this road. Do you see my point?

Anyway, less white men talking to me about abortion themes in media where they don’t exist, please! Actually, less white men trying to understand media that is clearly over their head. Because actually execute me if someone seriously believes that Pedro Pascal’s Joel Miller was a symbol for being the “savior of children” from abortion.

(featured image: Liane Hentscher/HBO)

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Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. A writer her whole life but professionally starting back in 2016 who loves all things movies, TV, and classic rock. Resident Spider-Man expert, official Leslie Knope, actually Yelena Belova. Wanda Maximoff has never done anything wrong in her life. Star Wars makes her very happy. New York writer with a passion for all things nerdy. Yes, she has a Pedro Pascal podcast. And also a Harrison Ford one.