In the midst of a devastating season one finale filled with deaths and impossible choices, The last of us grants us a blissful moment of peace. Right: It’s the giraffe scene.
On The last of usWhen was released in 2013, everyone agreed that “the giraffe scene” was a brilliant addition to the game. IGN even called it “the most important moment in The last of us.(Opens in a new tab)“Now the TV show is translating this famous sequence into live action.
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So what happens in the giraffe scene? Is there a giraffe clicker attack? Are Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) getting important information about the fireflies? Not exactly. The pair have just reached Salt Lake City and are exploring the area when Ellie discovers something adorable: a happy, healthy giraffe eating leaves that grew in a bombed-out building. She and Joel approach, feed and pet the giraffe, and later watch a herd of giraffes roaming the town.
That’s it – just a beautiful moment between Joel, Ellie and a giraffe. No earth-shattering revelations, no adrenaline-pumping action set piece. But the calm and stillness of the scene is a necessary part of its beauty, along with its placement in the larger setting The last of us.
When we first see her in the season finale, Ellie is withdrawn and quiet, traumatized after her horrifying encounter with David (Scott Shepherd). But when she sees the giraffe, all that sadness falls away and is replaced by a sense of wonder. Feeding and whispering to the giraffe, Ellie becomes a carefree child again, if only for a moment. Joel is watching her and you can tell from the look on his face how much he cares for her and how important it is to him to see her happy.
The simple stillness of the giraffe scene is also a welcome respite from the doom and gloom of the rest of the show. In Episode 8 alone, we were subjected to cannibals, fires, and child muggers — and that’s just the tip of the heartbreak iceberg. A quick break with the giraffes is a great opportunity to reset and share some joy with our characters (who, to be honest, could use a lot of it).
In addition to cheering up Ellie, the herd of giraffes also signals a greater kind of hope for the world. Just like the released lab monkeys we saw in Episode 6, these giraffes appear to be thriving in this post-Cordyceps era. The World Didn’t End Completely: As we saw with Bill (Nick Offerman) and Frank (Murray Bartlett) in Episode 3, it’s entirely possible to live a full life in the apocalypse. The same, of course, applies to the animal packs that have managed to survive for 20 years without being wiped out by hordes of infected. If there’s hope for them, maybe there’s hope for Joel and Ellie and humanity… Oh great, I’m getting tears in my eyes again because of a giraffe.
Season 1 of The last of us now streaming on HBO Max.(Opens in a new tab)