Sarah’s Death Haunts Joel Through One Particular Musical Cue In The Last Of Us

During the weekly companion podcast with co-creators Neil Druckmann and Craig Mazin, host Troy Baker highlighted this scene by calling attention to Santaolalla’s work: “There is a particular cue from the score by our composer Gustavo Santaolalla called ‘All Gone’ that’s repeated quite often throughout both the game and the series. And whenever it comes on, I think about loss. And it all starts with Sarah.”

Those familiar with the games will recognize “All Gone” in a heartbeat — and six episodes in, the same can be said for anyone watching the show. It’s the melancholic music cue that starts up when Joel and Ellie hit an emotional low, often harkening back to everything they’ve already lost. Including it in the show, and deciding precisely when to use it, was very purposeful according to Druckmann:

“I think beautiful scores and scores that are used well, it’s a way into the subconscious. So, it’s a way to trigger certain memories or feelings without being explicit about it. So that’s where, in the game and similar in the show, we use that theme again to hark back to that moment when he lost his daughter. And it’s a way to tap into that.”

With three plucks of a guitar string, viewers are reminded of where Joel’s story tragically began. Though we only spent half an hour with Nico Parker’s Sarah Miller, her presence looms over every single episode of the series — especially the sixth. After months of being in denial, this is the point where Joel can no longer remain detached from his mission to protect Ellie. The more danger they encounter, the more he is plagued by his desire to keep her safe, and his fear of failing. Protecting Ellie just reminds him that he failed to protect Sarah.

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