The Ending of The Last of Us Episode 1 Explained: Why Sarah Dies Early On

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The Ending of The Last of Us Episode 1 Explained: Why Sarah Dies Early On
Credit: HBO

The premiere of the series has been a huge success for HBO as the TV show adaptation of the game makes its way to the small screens and as the story furthers, The Last of Us Episode 1 broke everyone's hearts in one particular scene but why does that have to happen early on? Here's the ending, explained.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Last of Us. Read at your own risk!

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The Ending of The Last of Us Episode 1 Explained

The Ending of The Last of Us Episode 1 Explained
Credit: HBO
The Ending of The Last of Us Episode 1 Explained

The Last of Us Episode 1 broke expectations and proved that game adaptations into TV series can remain faithful to its source material. While not everything is the same, the show is currently on a similar path as the game and that is just Episode 1, everyone! There are still more to go.

In The Last of Us Episode 1, When You're Lost in the Darkness, it jumps into 20 years after the day of the outbreak and everyone is struggling to continue to live under the rules of the FEDRA, even having an insurrection going on led by the Fireflies.

In the end of the episode, Joel, Tess, and Ellie are on their way out of the Boston quarantine zone to deliver Ellie to another state, in one of the posts of the Fireflies. Marlene asks Joel and Tess to do it since the Fireflies in Boston are in no shape to do the task. In exchange, Joel and Tess gets whatever they ask for.

The Ending of The Last of Us Episode 1 Explained
Credit: HBO
The Ending of The Last of Us Episode 1 Explained

While that seems to be quite a task, there's an added difficulty with the fact that there is an ongoing apocalypse just outside the walls of the quarantine zone and there are those infected by the Cordyceps fungi which transforms humans into cannibalistic hosts.

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As they sneak out of the quarantine zone, a soldiers sees them, the same soldier that Joel dealt with early in the episode. They are tested but Ellie knows better -- she wouldn't pass the test and she would be detected as an infected which may spell her death.

Ellie stabs the soldier and flashbacks come through Joel's mind. Joel gets out of control and he punches the soldier to death. Meanwhile, Tess sees the test of Ellie and finds out that the child they are transporting is infected but Ellie tries to clear that up. The three ran through the barren wasteland.

The Ending of The Last of Us Episode 1 Explained
Credit: HBO
The Ending of The Last of Us Episode 1 Explained

Meanwhile, at Joel's home, a song plays, Never Let Me Down Again, from the 80s which means trouble, and it goes on until the screen cuts to black.

The song Never Let Me Down Again has so much relevance in all aspects. First, it's a hidden message for Joel as something customary while under the oppressive rule of FEDRA. People had to communicate through songs and a song from a certain decade means something.

Being from the 80s, it's trouble, but the showrunners of The Last of Us revealed a deeper reason on why they chose the song to close out Episode 1. In an interview with The Last of Us Podcast, showrunner Craig Mazin explained that the song Never Let Me Down reflects the situation between Ellie and Joel.

The Ending of The Last of Us Episode 1 Explained
Credit: HBO
The Ending of The Last of Us Episode 1 Explained
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Similar to Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill in Stranger Things, this song may be that one for The Last of Us and Mazin said, "A lot of 80s music is chipper and fun but with this, I was looking an up-tempo 80s song that had a darkness to it lyrically."

Mazin added, "Ellie's about to take a ride with her best friend and Joel is a dangerous man. Joel's about to take a ride with his best friend, he doesn't know she's his best friend yet. She's a dangerous little girl."

Mazin further explained, "Now, the point is, you're 'never gonna let me down'? They are gonna let each other down, and then they're not, and then they are, and then they're not. That thought was a really interesting way in."

The Ending of The Last of Us Episode 1 Explained
Credit: HBO
The Ending of The Last of Us Episode 1 Explained

The ending of The Last of Us Episode 1 is a huge turn in the demeanor and perspective of Joel because he is not known to do such an act, that's much more on Tommy's turf, but with the circumstances, Joel's past gets the better of him. He lost his light on the day of the outbreak -- Sarah's death.

READ MORE: Does The Dog Die in The Last of Us TV Series?

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The Last of Us Ending Explained: Why Sarah Dies Early On

The Last of Us Ending Explained: Why Sarah Dies Early On
Credit: HBO
The Last of Us Ending Explained: Why Sarah Dies Early On

The first half of the premiere episode could already stand as one episode, to be honest, and it tells what happened on the first day of the apocalypse, the outbreak day when the darkest moment in the life of Joel happened.

As the infected are starting to get to the living, The Last of Us Episode 1 showed how the apocalypse started in the cities and even the neighbors of Sarah and Joel, the Adlers, are immediately affected by it. Sarah had a close call then had it not been for the timely arrival of Joel and Tommy.

Still, Sarah was not so fortunate. As they try to escape the fiasco in the place, everyone is either running mad or turning mad, and when a plane crashes from a distance, a part of it flies through the truck that Joel, Tommy, and Sarah were in, resulting to its crash.

The Last of Us Ending Explained: Why Sarah Dies Early On
Credit: HBO
The Last of Us Ending Explained: Why Sarah Dies Early On
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Sarah got her ankle hurt there. They made it out alive but Tommy got separated from them. Meanwhile, Joel carried Sarah who couldn't walk. When an officer saw them, shots were fired and while Joel was just grazed, the bullet went straight to Sarah, killing her in the arms of her father.

That scene is one from the game, while it is not exactly the same, it has the same feeling of being heartbreaking. That scene had to happen, not only because it happened in the game, but also, because it is pivotal to the character of Joel and how he would deal with Ellie.

The actions of Joel killing the solider is triggered by his memory of the soldier who killed Sarah and that changes the whole demeanor and personal of Joel, it unleashes some kind of monster within him, one full of hatred, pain, sorrow, and even guilt.

The Last of Us Ending Explained: Why Sarah Dies Early On
Credit: HBO
The Last of Us Ending Explained: Why Sarah Dies Early On

Joel's relationship with his daughter is something to ponder on, too. See, Joel still wears the watch that Sarah gave him even when it is already busted up and its glass broken. That signifies how much Joel holds on to his past and that would likely be something recurring throughout the series.

See The Last of Us Episode 1, now streaming on HBO Max.