In The Last of Us, Joel Had It Right

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In The Last of Us, Joel Had It Right

Shamus looks back at the brilliant The Last of Us to dissect the motives of Joel vs. the Fireflies to see if the result was indeed the proper response. Spoilers, so be prepared.

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I tried so hard to break that scripted sequence, expecting that this would be a game with a Big Moral Choice at the end. When told to kill a Firefly by the quest log, I shot him in the calf with an arrow, hoping I could scare him off like this was Spec Ops: The Line. Unfortunately, the plot is on rails and it was not to be. :(

Most of this stuff was going through my head when I first played the game, and I rather enjoyed the results. Sure, Joel wasn't stopping the fireflies because their idea to dissect Ellie right out of the gate was stupid, he was doing it because he cared for her, but as the silent partner in the whole endeavour, I was on board because their science was stupid and incompetent. Is that what the writers intended? Probably not, but it didn't lessen the story for me, it became less of a story about the continuation of a tragic hero and more about a tortured man finding peace, and I enjoyed it.

I think the one recurrence in the characters of TLoU is not so much that they're evil and/or ruthless, but that they're lost. Everyone seems to be lying to themselves to make some sense of what's left of the world and humanity in it. Bill is lying to himself regarding how he left things with Frank, Ish is lying to himself when he says he still has faith in humanity, and Marlene and the Fireflies lie to themselves in thinking they can synthesize a cure with what little manpower and expertise they have.

The only person in the game that actually has his head on straight is Joel. He knows that humanity is screwed, there's nothing left to save, and he only survives for the sake of surviving. That is untill the end when he starts lying to himself, since he found a bit of humanity again with Ellie. Ellie in all likelihood would have wanted to die for the sake of a possible cure, because she's just that kind of person, but more importantly, she suffers from a major case of survivors guilt. Joel however takes that choice away from her, because he doesn't want to loose her at any cost. And he does it under the guise of a protective father figure, when really he is just hopelessly depended on Ellie now. It's remarkable how much The Last of Us has in common with the original King Kong.

Obviously he was, Naughty Dog went out of their way to paint everyone who wasn't the mian characters as sociopathic, stupid, evil dipshits who wasn't relatable in the slightest for the dimwits who prefer their stories to be in black and white.

To be honest, since there wasn't an audience proxy, we know fucking nothing whatsoever about the world looks like, which makes reasoning around it completly pointless, since everything relies on infromation you either interpret or make up.

Wow, this is a really weird coincidence but I just got The Last of Us for Christmas and completed it just a few days ago as well.

Anyway, this article is a fantastic read, helping to bring a bit more context to the ending as well to the characters of the Fireflies. To me, most of the Fireflies weren't that much better than the bandits you fight throughout the rest of the game. Just another bunch of dicks that have long since stopped truly caring about anyone other than them. I'm not entirely convinced that they wouldn't have held the cure ransom from the government, and by extension the people under them, until any number of demands were met.

I'm of mixed thoughts on the ending, on the one hand I can totally sympathize with Joel and how he felt wanting to protect the one person he became close to in over 20 years. But at the same time both sides of the argument, Joel's and Marelene's, both rob Ellie of her choice. She's a child that has been forced to mature very quickly, and she deserves the right to make that choice herself. I guess that's what makes this such a great game though, great, flawed, and compelling characters all trying to survive.

Robyrt:
I tried so hard to break that scripted sequence, expecting that this would be a game with a Big Moral Choice at the end. When told to kill a Firefly by the quest log, I shot him in the calf with an arrow, hoping I could scare him off like this was Spec Ops: The Line. Unfortunately, the plot is on rails and it was not to be. :(

I'm not sure Spec Ops: The Line is a good example of a plot that's NOT on rails. Seriously, try to avoid that game's major plot "choice", I dare you.

In the case of the 'drowning' scene, I interpreted that more as a sensible 'take no chances' approach than truly 'evil' (after all, we see the 'help me' ambush tactic used elsewhere in the story).

That said, I can agree that the Fireflies are otherwise deluded if they think killing their only viable test-subject could do anything beyond 'jack' and 'shit'. That really bothered me with regard to the end of TLoU, it was such a shmuck play that you felt like you had to kill them for their own good.

For all that, however, Joel did some pretty dumb stuff too. I really don't get why he was so slow to give Ellie a weapon; particularly with all the furballs they'd barely survived up to that point.

If they can kill Ellie because the life of one innocent girl is less valuable than the lives of all of humanity, then someone in Joel's position would be justified in wiping them all out for trying to stupidly waste the one immune test subject on bad science. After all, the lives of a bunch of belligerent asshole hack scientists are also worth less than all of humanity.

Bad logical flow.

The Fireflies logic is One life lost to save all of humanity it worth it. They're using the basic Needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

Joel isn't justified in killing them because the logic does not invert. Killing a few scientists that could save all of humanity so that he can save one little girl is not equivalent morally. Joel is effectively saying to hell with the potential of saving everyone.

Joel, objectively, does an immoral act. While the others are doing a morally dubious act by some standards they are doing a moral right act by their own morality "The needs of the many out weight the needs of the few."

All that is presented as to why the Fireflies are "bad" is little more than and ad hom, ad hitlerium, Godwin's Law fallacy. Unless you're willing to demonize Utilitarianism as well as a slew of other objective moral codes the argument is poor.

A great read Shamus. I've not played the game but I like when story tellers try something different.

Personally I just blame people. I won't go into nazis but I thought about the war on terror and the torture of detainees by America and their proxys.

How come when ever people claim that "the end justifies the means" then the means always means being a dick? I just feel people can justify any behaviour they need to, no matter how vile.

JarinArenos:

Robyrt:
I tried so hard to break that scripted sequence, expecting that this would be a game with a Big Moral Choice at the end. When told to kill a Firefly by the quest log, I shot him in the calf with an arrow, hoping I could scare him off like this was Spec Ops: The Line. Unfortunately, the plot is on rails and it was not to be. :(

I'm not sure Spec Ops: The Line is a good example of a plot that's NOT on rails. Seriously, try to avoid that game's major plot "choice", I dare you.

Well, it's easy. You stop playing. That's the whole point of the game. The only way to stop the killing is for you, the player, to stop indulging in it's violence.

Very good read, very well reasoned. Still, I can't help but feel like the climax doesn't really make sense. Like, regardless of the stressful post-apocalyptic situation, I don't think humans would react that irrationally. There seems to be no reason Marlene wouldn't sit down with Joel and Ellie and discuss the status and potential options. Now after that point, if they disagree, then you could have a show down. But there was never a clear reason why everything had to be pushed so far with so little provocation.

Shamus Young:
In The Last of Us, Joel Had It Right

Shamus looks back at the brilliant The Last of Us to dissect the motives of Joel vs. the Fireflies to see if the result was indeed the proper response. Spoilers, so be prepared.

Read Full Article

Thank you for the spoiler warning, I have the game (from release day) and still haven't played it fully yet so will have to come back to this once I've finished.

senordesol:
In the case of the 'drowning' scene, I interpreted that more as a sensible 'take no chances' approach than truly 'evil' (after all, we see the 'help me' ambush tactic used elsewhere in the story).

I agree with you there. The world is dangerous and they certainly don't want to take any chances. And as you said, there is a part earlier where we see that people aren't above calling for help to spring a trap.

However, the Fireflies lost all points in my book once I got to meet them and read/listen to messages. They wanted to kill Joel on sight. Marlene says that they wanted to put a bullet in his head and be done with him once they had the girl. Joel did all that for them, and that's how they wanted to thank him.
Then there's the way the guy escorting Joel acts. He's a thug, just like everyone else that Joel has met in the game. And let's not forget that Marlene orders her follower to shoot Joel if he tries anything. She says this without batting an eye.
Finally, and this is the one that really bothered me, they didn't let Joel say goodbye. I'm betting that if he had been given the chance to talk to Ellie--the girl he had just spent a year caring for--before everything, things might have turned out different.

So yeah, I had no problem with what Joel did at the end. Okay, maybe not no problems. I did feel a little uncomfortable at first, but once it sank in that these guys weren't exactly shining paragons, it got easier. Didn't like having to kill the defenseless doctor though. Wish I could have just punched him and knocked him out.

All in all, I enjoyed this article. I agree with pretty much everything that was said here, and it's nice to see that I wasn't the only one who went, "Wait, I just did all this for you, and you want to kill me?"

Marlene (leader of the Fireflies) claims it's okay to kill Ellie for science because "Ellie would have said yes"[...] Moreover, if Marlene is so sure that Ellie would say "yes", then she should have just asked her

Marlene is not the leader of the fireflies: she called the shots in Boston, but in Salt Lake City she clearly defers to others: more likely, she was willing to ask Ellie but was overruled by her superiors and did not dare challenging them, which would be thematically relevant: to fight the post-apocalyptic junta, the fireflies became increasingly military in their organization, to the point of mimicking their enemies' worst vice: gaze at the abyss for too long...

***

And here is where the Fireflies excuse of "ends justify the means" comes back to bite them. If they can kill Ellie because the life of one innocent girl is less valuable than the lives of all of humanity, then someone in Joel's position would be justified in wiping them all out for trying to stupidly waste the one immune test subject on bad science.

There's another aspect to take into account: the reunion between Joel and Tommy serves to show that contrary to the Boston and Pittsburgh chapters hinted, it's the quarantine system which is on its last leg, not civilization nor humanity as a whole: the choice is most definitely not between sacrificing Ellie to get a cure and mankind's extinction: it's between the unhinged self-righteous survivors of a failed revolution taking a long shot and choosing the longer, harder, but much more likely to be successful path of not treating the cordyceps' eradication as the obligatory first steps toward rebuilding society.

My pet theory is that the surviving fireflies' goals got perverted along the way, from wanting to restore he rule of law to wanting to be hailed as civilization's saviors: this change drove away the more level-headed members like Tommy, leaving only the more radicals members who kept reinforcing their self-righteousness by retreating in their own insular epistemic bubble.

***

At best, he did the right thing for the wrong reason.

I think that's were the real ambiguity of the story lies: it's not whether rescuing Ellie was the right thing to do, but whether Joel's motive were honorable or selfish. In a way, it boils down to how one perceive Joel.

Personally I see him as a man who's furious at the universe his life was destroyed despite the fact that he'd done all he could to be an upright citizen and good father, so he's going to make sure he causes to others more pain than he, himself, suffered... but he's not self-conscious enough to admit it to himself and looking for an excuse, any excuse to let his rage lose and inflict his wrath upon other people.
Ellie is thus the perfect rationalization: Joel can kill, maim, torture people left and right while pretending that he still is a decent man because he's doing it all for her.

JarinArenos:

Robyrt:
I tried so hard to break that scripted sequence, expecting that this would be a game with a Big Moral Choice at the end. When told to kill a Firefly by the quest log, I shot him in the calf with an arrow, hoping I could scare him off like this was Spec Ops: The Line. Unfortunately, the plot is on rails and it was not to be. :(

I'm not sure Spec Ops: The Line is a good example of a plot that's NOT on rails. Seriously, try to avoid that game's major plot "choice", I dare you.

You're right, Spec Ops is on rails a lot of the time. I'm thinking of the scene where civilians rush you and you can either gun them down, shoot over their heads, or punch them non-lethally. Basically, I was expecting to be able to scare people into doing things my way, considering that Joel is by now a famous crazed killer.

SandroTheMaster:

JarinArenos:

Robyrt:
I tried so hard to break that scripted sequence, expecting that this would be a game with a Big Moral Choice at the end. When told to kill a Firefly by the quest log, I shot him in the calf with an arrow, hoping I could scare him off like this was Spec Ops: The Line. Unfortunately, the plot is on rails and it was not to be. :(

I'm not sure Spec Ops: The Line is a good example of a plot that's NOT on rails. Seriously, try to avoid that game's major plot "choice", I dare you.

Well, it's easy. You stop playing. That's the whole point of the game. The only way to stop the killing is for you, the player, to stop indulging in it's violence.

Which is what I did. Hell, the only reason I played it in the first place was everyone telling me it was so damn good.

It's been a while since I played, but was it not hinted that Ellie isn't the first case of immunity the fireflies have encountered - I think there's a tape where a scientist says that the other patients deaths will not be in vain.

I guess this may suggest test subjects for other potential cures but perhaps not.

I have always had a problem with the Fireflys. The leader comes of as someone who is honestly just trying to save the world and is willing to make difficult choices in order to do it. However I have never understood why people had sympathy for the others because the only time other Fireflys ever talked, they were either telling Joel to stop performing cpr to save a young girls life or saying how much they would like to put a bullet in his head despite the fact he saved their only hope of a cure and they say/do all of this before he tries to get Ellie back.

The fireflies were greedy. If all they wanted was a means of using Ellie's body to inoculate the rest of humanity, it could have been done without killing her. blood or tissue samples are all that have ever been needed to create vaccines. They didn't want to stop at just that. they wanted the unprecedented scientific discovery of a human brain that had functionally created a symbiosis with the parasite, something that was certainly significant, but far from urgently pressing.

It may well have been rationalization on my part, but I felt little guilt in attacking the fireflies to save Ellie. Gloryhounds who lost their sense of perspective, man.

Joel is irredeemable, not because he killed the firefly but because he then took the only immune person that we know off and does nothing with her. Talking about Joel vs firefly ignore another faction, the government, they are still around, they have far more resource than the firefly and are most certainly trying to find a cure. He could bring her back to a quarantine area and maybe they'd find a cure without killing her, but instead he chose to take her to a small town where she'll probably die in 10-20 years.

On spec ops, the argument that you're suppose to stop playing has to be the worse interpretation of anything I've ever heard of, since it defeat itself. Either you only consider the game world, in which case stopping playing literally means the end of the world (the main character choose to end the world rather than using the white phosphorus). Or you accept the fact that its a game that you can just quite, which means you accept that the character are not real and there lives have no worth.

"I think it's worth noting that the Fireflies came off as so dumb, useless, and evil that I had trouble feeling the outrage and sadness the writer probably intended."

I read the story differently. The possibility of finding a cure and "save humanity" seamed like a good cause. But through our jurney we had met very litle humanity and also lost alot of our own. I would say that the only thing left of humanity at that point was lying right there on the operating table. So in a sence, by saving Ellie we where saving humanity - atleast that would be how to justify it.
Not to mention she has become like a second daughter - heck if we are going to loose another one - no matter the cost.

I don't think the writers brands the Fireflies as good guys or bad guys. In the end they are just like everyone else, including ourself: willing to walk over dead bodies to complete their agenda. And in a world like that, the one who walks over the most bodies wins - and that would be us. But we can't tell Ellie about that, so we lie and hope she never grows up to find out the truht.

I loved the game right up to the point we finally caught up to the fireflies. Then i understood Joel's actions. It really bothered me they went with kill her without getting her opinion on it, or seeing some evidence beyond a bunch of people who don't understand how to not to get bit by the monkeys with the virus.

my ideal end to the game would not have been a combat scene, we have just played a game that was mostly combat. what we would need is a quiet conversation with Ellie, some kind of evidence that the fireflies can actually get the cure THIS TIME, and you have to make a decision to either go for the cure or run for it
The evidence could be vague enough to lead you to question it, but not so bad it makes it look like Dr Fantastic escaped from fall out.

The fireflies actions at the end just really bugged me, but still really enjoyed the game and Joel's character...and Ellie's puns

I disagree with Shamus's view on the ending. I feel it was clearly intended to be morally grey and ambiguous, at least in part, and I think it succeed. So while I agree with Shamus that Joel is by no means clearly in the wrong, I also think he portrays the Fireflies as more cartoonish and, well, evil then they really are.

Granted, this is a fuzzy area that can only really be explored though speculation, since the fireflies aren't in the story that much and we only ever really see them from a (neutral/hostile) outsider's perspective, but as I recall that the game clearly shows that defeat has made the fireflies are desperate and angry. Over the last year or so they've watched their comrades die by the hundreds as the military has stated stamping them out (culminating with Marlene's defeated march from Boston), and the cure research has flatlined. Remember that the Fireflies think they're salvation of the human race--(since they seem to be the only organized group still searching for a cure, at least in the US, this conviction is not without basis.) With their defeat looming increasingly large, humanity seems doomed by extension. This fatalistic mindset is heavily implied, and while I think it could have been made more explicit I still feel that it amply explains and justifies, from a storytelling and character perspective, the anger and general lack of respect for Joel's wishes among the fireflies.

Now Shamus interprets the above-mentioned defeats as a sign of general incompetence, but I think it's more a sign of impotence. Being defeated through incompetence implies that the fireflies could have succeeded if they hadn't made bad decisions, but it seemed to me that the game presented them as being more outmatched from the start, and increasingly driven to acts of desperate cruelty as a result. Remember, they've been operating for years and in the early days won several victories; it's mentioned that they successfully liberated multiple cities from the military in years past, and were conducting promising vaccine trials at one point. I got the impression that it was only over the last few years or so that it became clear that the Fireflies couldn't win, that the challenges facing them were greater then their early victories implied. So I don't think it's fair to portray them as pure failures.

As for the CPR scene, the fireflies do have reason to view Joel as a threat. As someone else mentioned, they possibly behaved so callously to Joel because they were suspicious it was a trap (he is a trespasser on their secret base, after all). Also keep in mind that even when they realize who Joel is, they still see him as a low-life mercenary in it for the money--and indeed he was, when the Fireflies saw him last. And besides that, the simple fact that he's not a firefly makes him a threat--as far as they know, he might alert the military if they let him escape. So that might explain why they treat him as a threat even when he makes no hostile move.

Concerning the hasty decision to extract the brain, even if the previous cure research has failed, we know the fireflies have conducted many tests in the past, and these experiments have convinced them that they know exactly what they're doing when they decide to cut open Ellie. Even if this isn't true, I think the Firefles actions are again at least explicable.

In short, I think the Firefly's ruthlessness is a mirror of Joel's own, rather then just a symptom of sloppy writing that has no basis in character. Joel is convinced that Ellie is his last chance to save his own humanity, while the Fireflies think she's their last chance to have humanity, period. I feel that to argue that the fireflies are acting irrationally is to miss the point; their actions make sense from an emotional perspective, as does Joels, and I feel that that's what counts the most.

My main problem with the ending is this: It wants to remain ambiguous but that same ambiguousness becomes part of the 'rules' of the universe. I think different people get different questions for the game. Let's assume this part: The fireflies apparently will successfully create and distribute a cure by sacrificing Ellie. Then most people would form the answer: Joel is selfish by choosing Ellie over humanity. People will then start bringing up arguments about sacrificing her without consent, ruthlessness in wanting to kill Joel, etc. It becomes a question of whether the ends justifies the means right?
Now let's take a look at another interesting factor. The tape about test subjects. Does this imply Ellie could die for nothing? Does the ending then become a question about whether it's alright to sacrifice Ellie to save humanity with a 30/50/70/whatever percent chance of her dying and nothing being accomplished? But then again,

balladbird:
The fireflies were greedy. If all they wanted was a means of using Ellie's body to inoculate the rest of humanity, it could have been done without killing her. blood or tissue samples are all that have ever been needed to create vaccines. They didn't want to stop at just that. they wanted the unprecedented scientific discovery of a human brain that had functionally created a symbiosis with the parasite, something that was certainly significant, but far from urgently pressing.

Why couldn't the fireflies run safer tests on Ellie? Is the implication meant to be that the fireflies are making a stupid decision or that the fireflies have no other choice to create a cure than to kill Ellie? Is the game trying to be ambiguous in a lot of these things or not? Is it deliberately trying to ask questions that are inherently flawed or not?

I've seen many debates on this and it seems rare to have multiple people in discussion with the same set of facts.
I don't just mean whether they found the tape or not but what they interpreted the tape to mean and it's not just limited to this one factor. I can barely keep track of what I'm saying anymore, (not that that's unusual for me) but do any of you see what I'm getting at? I apologise if my mannerisms seemed aggressive or confusing. I'm not even completely satisfied with the end result of this post but I hope some of it is understood.

Another good read, Shamus. Thanks for that. Even though it is not about a game I am every going to play. If it hits $5 on Steam then maybe. But I would have to pause playing real games and I might not do that. The main problem with the game for me is the entire interactive movie business. I see no reason for it. Yeah, fine they made money and in this country there isn't a finer reason for anything, except punishing terrorists. Gotta have your priorities, even if they are screwed up. Then to have the final result be you MUST KILL EVERYBODY it puzzles me that they can make any claim for interactive at all. Okay, you pushed the button, pulled the trigger but you have no option to let the unarmed doctor survive. At least mutter, "No witnesses" while doing the foul deed.

The goof ball David Cage miserable games and now TLoU are interesting but mostly boring. I read your takes on them and very few others. They are expensive, short and offer very few outcomes, mostly one. Even Heavy Rain has only the one actual ending. At least they didn't shoot the final with different filters for Red Button, Green Button, Blue Button endings.

Now, if you could mix in the AI from MOAR DUMB ORCS with a more open world with flexible endings then you might actually have something worthwhile. Until then, no not really for me.

Also, I wish they would drop the freaking over-priced motion capture. But that's just me and I solved it by not buying those games. The only noticeable difference is in my wallet.

Later Shamus, you keep writing and I'll keep reading.

Well, the whole point was that the fireflies were evil, and that they had become the thing they hated. Maybe they had noble goals at one point, but by the end of the game everyone is just so broken that it doesn't fucking matter. I don't think you were ever supposed to sympathize with them.

If they got the cure, then it's clear that they would use it as a propaganda weapon against the various surviving city states and raiders, not as a boon for all mankind. Like real governments, they would probably try to justify their actions, but in the end it would all be about power. Ellie would become a martyr for their cause, even though she had never been allowed to make an actual choice (though she probably would sacrifice herself if asked, it was heavily implied that she knew she would die). The real question asked, at this point, wasn't whether humanity could be saved, it was whether it DESERVED to be saved. Joel's decision wasn't noble, but it was honest.

As a father, I had no qualms mowing down any and all who stood between the two. If the game had let me I'd have burnt the building down too.

One of the biggest reasons I think even letting the fireflies access Ellie was stupid is because of the reasoning of just how shit they are at everything, and how they are basically ruthless terrorists.

Put it this way - the Fireflies are basically done and dead, their power is nil and their science and engineers are almost non-existent. They take Ellie, and they want to kill her almost instantly to get at some fungus. Which means that not only will they have killed the only immune person known to exist at the time, but there's the chance that they won't get anything close to a cure out of it, and even if they do, they then have to mass produce it and somehow get it around the country. And that's all considering if they DON'T restrict access in order to give a big middle finger to the government.

Whatever way you look at it, they are incompentant and cornered. It would honestly be better to give Ellie to the government, at least they have a chance to form a cure.

I honestly don't think that Ellie being the cure would have made a difference anyways. Humanity lost twenty years ago, all that's left are, well, The Last of Us. Those left behind. Say they do get a cure from Ellie. Hell, lets say she even survives their tests and they get a cure. Congratulations, now what? Is that just going to make the zombies go away? Is that going to stop twenty years of raider violence and government crackdowns? No, Humanity is dead, and those left are just limping towards a grave years down the road.

It fits with Joel's philosophy of doing what you need to survive, even if its at the expense of others. You don't try to save the world, you just try to make life a little less shitty for yourself before you die.

I never bought that Joel was THAT bad

yeah he's a little grumpy but he doesn't go out of his way to do questionable things ESPECIALLY when most others are marauding raiders

its sort of faux "complicated" morality.....that is until you get to the last part obviously

Soviet Heavy:
Congratulations, now what? Is that just going to make the zombies go away? Is that going to stop twenty years of raider violence and government crackdowns? No, Humanity is dead, and those left are just limping towards a grave years down the road.
.

by minimizing the risk of zombies you makes things safer for people in general, so they can get on with surviving

Fox12:
Well, the whole point was that the fireflies were evil, and that they had become the thing they hated. Maybe they had noble goals at one point, but by the end of the game everyone is just so broken that it doesn't fucking matter.

that sounds familiar...

...like every other friggen cliché

The real question asked, at this point, wasn't whether humanity could be saved, it was whether it DESERVED to be saved.

of coarse it fucking does....there is no morality in the universe except survival

even if they Fireflies created a dystopia...it would have been better than utter chaos (not saying they were in the right...again lots of factors here)

Darkness665:
The goof ball David Cage miserable games and now TLoU are interesting but mostly boring.

TLoU and Quantic Dream games are not similar at all. Having well-produced cutscenes doesn't make a game a treacherous "interactive movie". Check out the E3 gameplay trailer from 2013: pure, unscripted gameplay.

OT: Somebody please correct me if I'm mistaken, but I was under the impression that it'd been clear from the beginning that Ellie wouldn't survive the operation. It's the reason why she's all slow and pensive right before the two actually reach the fireflies, so at least she herself seemed to know what was about to happen.

medv4380:

Joel, objectively, does an immoral act.

Only if you abide by a moral code in which the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. That it is 2015 and people still believe in objective morality flabbergasts me.

OT: I responded directly to the article, but I'll repeat it here for potential discussion purposes.

"I don't understand this "right thing for the wrong reasons" mentality. Who are you to decide what the "right" reasons are? Who are any of us?"

Thanks Shamus, for that excellent read, and the many other arguments and counter-points brought up here. As I was playing the game, the first thing I thought was "is there a way I can opt out of killing all these people?" After the final scene I wondered how is he going to live with this, risking everything to protect her and obviously caring more for her than anything else in his world, yet at the same time knowing he lied to her about the one thing she really wanted to do with her life, having the guilt of being the only survivor of her friends and all. But it seemed he didn't believe much in the Fireflies anyway. The audio logs are a way of balancing out the guilt I guess, but one can still argue that nobility of "sacrifice one for many" principle.

There was a theoretical questions my friends and I had discussed since the 9/11 incident, which was:
If you're in an airplane, a hijacker grabs someone and has a gun to their head/knife to their throat, but you were in a position to save the entire plane by tackling this guy, but risking pretty certain death to that person, would you act? If that person died, would you be able to look at her family and loved ones in the eye and say "I did it for the rest of us?" In principle it should be easy, but then again it isn't, otherwise it wouldn't be easy to hold up a plane/bank/school/restaurant.

"Right thing" refers to saving the life of the young girl whom he cared for, more than anything else in the world at that point. There's no arguing that. But the "right reasons" I would say are definitely the opinion of the writer, stated as such or not, that's a given. In this day and age you have to understand that in literary and other media analysis and interpretation, everything is going to be opinion.

In the general scheme of things, there's a legal system for that, as everyone's morals are different and judgement and justice are very malleable things.

Now if you refer to "right thing" as being the massacre of everyone in that facility in order to save that girl, how do you think that would go down in court...the point to argue is whether the Fireflies deserved it for their actions or not. It's a fragile point because they are trying to save humanity after all, but unless you know their ulterior motives (or if they even have any), it's impossible to judge.

Kaulen Fuhs:

medv4380:

Joel, objectively, does an immoral act.

Only if you abide by a moral code in which the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. That it is 2015 and people still believe in objective morality flabbergasts me.

OT: I responded directly to the article, but I'll repeat it here for potential discussion purposes.

"I don't understand this "right thing for the wrong reasons" mentality. Who are you to decide what the "right" reasons are? Who are any of us?"

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