In the finale of The Last of Us, Joel is forced to fight and kill the Fireflies when Marlene reveals what they are planning to do with Ellie. Merle Dandridge plays Marlene.
Marlene first appears in the first episode of The Last of Us. She had captured Ellie and, for days, had kept her in captivity in order to figure out if she would turn into an infected or not. At that time, Ellie already had a bite on her arm, and still, she had not turned, which suggests that she is immune to cordyceps.
The Fireflies saw Ellie as the cure for cordyceps that could save humanity and restore the world to the way it was. From that point on, protecting Ellie became a priority.
Unfortunately, the base where they were hiding gets attacked. Marlene and her associate thought they might die fighting, and therefore, Marlene asked Joel and Tess, who had come looking for their car battery, to escort Ellie to the west to a Fireflies camp.
Marlene promised that the Fireflies will give them more than just a car battery if they manage to get Ellie there safe and sound. After that, Ellie never saw Marlene until they got to Salt Lake City, where the Fireflies had moved.
Why does Joel turn on Marlene and the Fireflies?
The Fireflies attack Joel and Ellie out of nowhere. They bring them to their base. Joel wakes up to see Marlene by his side. Marlene is surprised that Joel brought Ellie across the country without a scratch.
She, on the other hand, almost got killed despite having five people protecting her. Joel gives all the credit to Ellie, as she is indeed brave and smart. Marlene continues to say that she should have died on day one.
Marlene states that she owes Joel, and when Joel asks for Ellie, Marlene tells him about the surgery she is going through. Joel learns that the surgery may kill Ellie.
Joel attempts to change Marlene’s mind, but he fails to do so. He is escorted outside by the Fireflies. On their way, Joel, filled with emotions, sees a chance and fights the Fireflies. Joel kills every Firefly that comes his way and rescues Ellie.
Why does Joel kill Marlene?
In the parking lot, Marlene confronts Joel before he can leave with Ellie. She explains to him that he can’t keep her safe forever. She will one day grow up, and Joel will die. Once he is not there, she may get torn apart by the infected or murdered by the raiders.
Marlene tells Joel that Ellie will live in a broken world, which he could have saved. Marlene asks Joel to consider what Ellie would’ve chosen to do. At least Marlene thinks she would have done what is right.
Joel thinks about this. Ellie healed him when no one could. It’s like he got the second chance at life that he wanted with Sarah.
Joel chooses to run far away with Ellie. He shoots Marlene down, puts Ellie in the car, and turns back to kill Marlene, who begs to be let go. Joel believes she will never stop hunting them down. Therefore, he kills Marlene right away.
Also Read: The Last of Us season 1 finale recap, review & ending explained