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Don't expect to be attaching laser-sights or grenade launchers to your arsenal of weapons — this is about steadily improving recoil and rate of fire, not turning Ellie into a super-soldier. If the first game is anything to go by, you'll have to make tough decisions about what to upgrade, as scrap is in short supply. Finally, our intrepid duo find Eugene's secret stash, a weed farm, complete with a gas mask fashioned into a bong. The women take a break to smoke, chat, flirt, and make out, and Naughty Dog's penchant for writing realistic characters ensures that all of the dialogue feels natural and real, and for a moment like there might just be a bit of hope left even in the ruined world.

Don't believe everything you see in The Last of Us 2 trailer : Naughty Dog's stories are never that simple. But forget all that, friends, because The Last of Us 2's game director Neil Druckmann has warned us on more than one occasion that while the first game was all about love, this one is about hate.

The second section of the demo was distinctly Dina free, and it left me with far too many questions about just who Ellie is so dead-set on avenging. This slice of my demo took place in a lush, overgrown section of the Seattle suburbs, and it saw our hero taking on the WLF directly. This group is different from the Seraphites, the religious fanatics we saw in earlier trailers, and have a military feel to their outfits and actions. They hunt Ellie with scent dogs, who can find you even when you're well hidden from the human enemy's line of sight, and whose bite is much, much worse than their bark.

By the time you've faced the WLF and their tracking dogs, the clickers feels like murder for beginners; they don't shout commands out to one another, track your scent, and scream out the name of the dead in horror as you take them down. While the increased intelligence of this new enemy means a few gnarly deaths for Ellie, it also makes for a more satisfying type of stealth. You're forced to really outsmart them if you want to avoid any conflict, and to be fast and efficient if you want to kill them. If The Last of Us 2 is all about choices, this small slice of action proves that the concept is built into its core.

Ellie isn't a helpless ingenue that's all "oh my goodness, what do I do with this machete" but neither is she quite a John Wick with freckles. Ellie is smart and deadly, but she also drops fast and hard when a big German Shepherd has her by the throat, or when someone has her pinned at point blank rifle range. For all her weapons, shotguns, rifles, knives, mine traps, smoke bombs, a stupid mistake is still likely to get you killed.


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  • Suburban Monsters?

While I won't pretend a few deaths in the backyard of a Seattle home weren't frustrating, they were also a nice reminder that Ellie isn't some all powerful hero, just a woman trying to survive in a very dangerous world. She may have grown up since The Last of Us, but she hasn't spent the whole time bench pressing tractors and growing kevlar skin.

This is still a human story, no matter how many hatchets Ellie buries into skulls.

This time around the world that is your battleground feels bigger, offering more routes and ways to avoid detection and sneak up on your foe. These bigger, more varied levels are something Naughty Dog used to great effect in Uncharted 4, and they work just as well in the suburban Seattle as they do in jungle temples.

The suburbs have changed the way I see—and listen. Eschew the people living next door, and no one will hear you scream. A neighborhood BBQ almost turns to tragedy when a little girl nearly drowns in a fountain while the adults drinks and chat—and the only one to notice is a grumpy next door neighbor.

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The book grapples with these twin horrors: belong, and enter into a neighborly bond of guilt and horror. And that location acts as its own beast, its own specter. We had spent the first week after moving to New Jersey agog at all the things the suburbs had on offer Costco! Big grocery stores! What my husband said cut deep, even if he was voicing his own concerns, too.

She has forgotten 10 years of her life, during which she has become horrifyingly suburbanized. Of course, the book goes deeper than that, and she comes to understand the hows and whys of who she is now—and even to accept and like that person—but the book pretty much encapsulated what I was afraid of. That the suburbs would change me. That they would suck away my life-force and replace it with a Costco card. I like my yard and my basement and my sunroom. I have my own office where I can write my essays and my thrillers.

The Last of Us 2 makes you feel like the monster

Where many authors offer their antagonists depth, dimension, and redemption, King often pivots in another direction […] vivid, well-drawn characters, but […] also broken, flesh-and-blood manifestations of whatever supernatural evil simmers beneath the surface […] when King brings us into their minds, we see not a flawed, vulnerable creature, but a cruel, corrupted soul. They want nothing more than to hurt us, and as such, they are exactly what we imagined our bullies to be when we were children.

Suburban Monsters

We were right to be afraid. It also makes sense insofar as Billy is precisely the kind of complex figure that does not easily fit into suburban conceptions of the world and is therefore a threat to middle class enclaves. Season 2 spent most of its episodes making Billy the exact kind of Stephen King-style monster that Colburn describes. Billy is presented, in many ways, as hyper-masculine. But he is also made incredibly feminine. He has a personal style that veers towards hair metal and glam rock, accentuated with stereotypically effeminate touches such as his pierced ears, his eye makeup, and his long, young-Rob Lowe eyelashes.

His scenes of violence and menace are often paired, in Season 3, with a single tear running down his cheek—a crack in the armor of stereotypical masculinity.

Even the way he is shot and presented as an object for female lust puts him in the position of being the feminine gazed-upon rather than the masculine gazer. Both she and Montgomery are transmuted in those scenes into aesthetic objects that exist for the viewing pleasure of both the poolside audience within the show and the viewing audience at home. One can almost hear the Tex Avery wolf howls coming from Karen Wheeler and her hungry circle of lusty moms. Beyond the rampant homophobia of early-AIDS crisis and the pernicious, persistent lie that queer people are more likely to be pedophiles, suburbia has traditionally found particular reason to distrust queer and queer-coded figures.

For queer men, especially, the disinterest in heterosexual sex sets them outside the bounds of the limited vision of family that the suburban, nuclear model provides.

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The fact that the Mindflayer imposes on Billy a violent fantasy of beating up Karen Wheeler feeds into this as well. The Mindflayer is also a sexual predator insofar as it mixes sexual desire and violent impulse in its victims. But Stranger Things reaffirms the unknowability of the child molester in the mind of the suburbanite by spreading outward from Billy to filter into various members of the community.

Driscoll, are among the flayed, it also absorbs the entire Holloway clan, finding the ultimate inroad to the upper-middle class, suburban, white American family. In celebration of suburban values and conformity, the Mindflayer thrives while violating the autonomy and sanctity of adult and child bodies alike.

At the end of the season, Stranger Things ultimately puts the suburban fear of molestation on full display through both implicit ideas about family and explicit imagery. This is accomplished when Eleven reminds him of an idyllic memory of his childhood, glimpsed in a psychic vision. The vision is of a return to the safety and stable ties that the nuclear family offers: family outings where mother and child can bond.

It is only in remembering that he is not, in fact, a quintessential outsider that Billy can become heroic. This moment is followed almost immediately by his being violently, physically penetrated by his abuser.