Warning: Massive spoilers herein, for everything in The Last of Us Part 2. Turn back now.
One of the weirder things about The Last of Us Part 2 is the structure of its story. The game repeatedly breaks up Ellie’s revenge-fueled rampage through Seattle with flashbacks revealing details about her relationship with Joel. As Ellie searches for Abby and the rest of her friends in the aftermath of Joel’s murder, we learn more and more about Ellie’s state of mind–and often have the whole story recontextualized in the middle of playing it.
The Last of Us Part 2 messes with your understanding quite a bit, and not just by shifting perspectives in the middle of the game to expand on the character of Abby, the focus of Ellie’s revenge obsession. The developers also hold back critical information that informs Ellie’s motivations. Those flashbacks repeatedly change our perception of Ellie by introducing new information, and the game treats them as plot twists that upend our beliefs about her and her quest.