Bella Ramsey’s ‘The Last of Us’ Performance in the Season 1 Finale

THE PERFORMER | Bella Ramsey

THE SHOW | HBO’s The Last of Us

THE EPISODE | “Look for the Light” (March 12)

THE PERFORMANCE | After the HBO drama’s penultimate episode, a lot of you were very angry that we hadn’t singled out Ramsey’s performance as Ellie got revenge on predatory pastor David. And we get it! Ramsey, who uses “they” pronouns, was amazing in both David’s death and Ellie’s shellshocked aftermath. But we’d been lucky enough to see the series finale, as well, so we chose to save our accolades for their stunning work in the season-ending hour.

And now you can see why. Though Ramsey was excellent throughout the episode, we’d like to focus on two key scenes. First, Ellie’s conversation with Joel after their giraffe encounter. After letting Bella’s long-buried childlike delight peek through while feeding the animals, Ramsey met Joel’s suggestion of giving up on their journey with a patient resolve. “It can’t all be for nothing,” Bella said, memories of the pair’s shared travails — as well as the people they’d killed — very clearly behind Ramsey’s facial expressions. We’re still not quite sure how they made Bella seem both achingly, youthfully earnest and wise beyond her years, but we felt lucky to have witnessed it.

Then later, as Joel fought tears while admitting that he’d tried to kill himself, Ramsey’s reactions felt so genuine and spot-on for a) a teenager and b) that teenager. Ramsey had Ellie make only the briefest of eye contact as her surrogate dad came as close to saying “I love you” as he was capable. They filled the most nondescript of lines (“I’m glad that… that didn’t work out”) with all of the “I love you, too” that Ellie couldn’t voice. And then they looked palpably relieved when Joel ended the moving, yet emotionally awkward, exchange by asking to hear some “sh–ty puns” — what a perfect cap on a season of excellence from one of the most dynamic young presences on TV.

Scroll down to see who scored Honorable Mention shout-outs this week…

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