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Let's discuss The Last of Us episode six

You know the drill.

The Last of Us episode six, known as "Kin", reunites us with Joel and Ellie as they continue their search for Tommy and the Fireflies.

After a definite pick up in action and episode five's emotional finale, episode six reverts back to a slightly slower pace of storytelling with a heavier focus on character development and world building.

The bulk of the episode once again uses Naughty Dog's source material as a flexible framework - it remains true to the game's core narrative, but adjusts and embellishes certain aspects of its story.

As always, it leaves plenty of things for us to pick apart and discuss, so let's get into it.


A little preview for episode six.Watch on YouTube

As I said, this episode sticks to the core ideas of The Last of Us the game, but expands beyond the original story. This is done in several ways, but I will start with discussing two new characters.

After a flashback to Henry's suicide in episode five, the show skips forward three months. Unlike this point in the game, we are now clearly in Winter, with the camera showing us a snow covered landscape. A lone character with a brace of dead rabbits then approaches a remote cabin. At first I assumed this was Joel, but it actually turns out to be Graham Greene's new character Marlon.

Ahead of the show's release we were told that Greene, along with actor Elaine Miles, would guest star in the show as "a married couple surviving alone in the wilderness of post-apocalyptic Wyoming". Their inclusion here tells us we are getting closer to Tommy (who we know to be somewhere in the same state).

When Marlon enters the cabin, his wife Florence can be seen making eyes towards the back. It then transpires that Joel is in there, keeping a gun at the ready on Florence. However, she is unconcerned and has even made him soup.

When Marlon puts down his bow and gun, Florence, clearly amused, also lets her husband know Joel has "a girl with him". Enter Ellie. Despite being asked to stay put upstairs by Joel she heads down to the room with her own gun. Ellie's clear defiance of Joel once more makes Florence titter.

After some of the air has cleared between the two parties, Marlon warns Joel and Ellie against going west, saying not to go past the river as there's only "death" beyond. "If your brother's west of the river, he's gone," Marlon tells Joel.

I have to say, I was a touch disappointed with this scene. I am not sure what it added other than anxiety for Joel (who can be seen clutching his chest as though on the cusp of a panic attack soon after leaving the cabin). Otherwise, our moments with Marlon and Florence are largely just what we had seen in trailers for the show, and I had hoped there would have been more with them.

Marlon arrives back at his cabin. Image HBO.
Marlon is cautious about going beyond the river. Image HBO.
Florence is amused by Ellie and Joel, despite them both having guns. Image HBO.

Regardless, despite this scene not being in the game, there was one similarity I thought was worth noting.

When Joel wants to know "exactly" where he and Ellie are on a map he has, he tells Marlon his "answer better be the same as [his] wife's", having clearly asked her the same question when Marlon was out. This is a similar tactic to one Joel uses later in the game - albeit in a much more aggressive way.

This has made me wonder if this scene from later in the game will be omitted, and what that could mean for Joel's character progression in the show.

Another small change from the game in this episode is Joel's attitude towards Ellie when she brings up Sam.

In the show, Ellie admits she knew about Sam's bite, and wanted to save him so she rubbed her blood onto his wound. Joel, rather than shutting her down like he does in the game whenever she wants to talk about what happened, listens and tells her calmly that Marlene will surely know what needs to be done to help others.

Ellie and Joel talk about Sam. Image HBO.
In the game, Joel refuses to engage in conversation about Sam. Image Naughty Dog.

Perhaps the biggest change from the game in this episode, however, is Jackson.

In the game, we see Jackson from its outskirts but never actually enter through the community's gates. In fact, when we remeet with Tommy and his now wife Maria in the game, it all happens at a hydroelectric power station.

In the show, Ellie and Joel do come across a dam (and, of course, Ellie quips "damn!" when she sees it) but they then move on from this game set piece fairly swiftly.

They are then met by an unknown group on horseback. When a sniffer dog determines neither Joel or Ellie are infected (giving us a little call back to the show's first episode), the group scoops them up and brings them to Jackson.

Here, inside the community's walls, Joel is finally reunited with his brother Tommy. It is worth noting Ellie does not look entirely happy for Joel at this moment. Rather, she looks concerned that now Joel has found his brother he will leave her. Is blood thicker than water?

It is unclear at first if those on horseback are friend or foe. Image HBO.
In the game, Joel and Ellie meet Tommy at the hyrdo power plant and fight raiders. Image Naughty Dog.
I may have had a small tear in my eye here. Image HBO.
The same moment from the game. Image Naughty Dog.

A further spoiler warning here, as discussion of The Last of Us Part 2 follows. If you are yet to play through Naughty Dog's sequel and want to go in blind, please refrain from reading further.

The show's version of Jackson is very much the Jackson from The Last of Us Part 2. While in Part 1, it is implied Jackson is still getting off the ground in a lot of ways, in the show it is already a very established community, and borrows a lot of the locales from Part 2.

There is the Tipsy Bison bar, there are the greenhouses, the fairy lights, the families building snowmen and the horses. Touchingly, there is a new foal called Shimmer and those who have played Part 2 will know this foal will eventually become Ellie's horse.

Gabriel Luna as Tommy in Jackson's bar, the Tipsy Bison. Image HBO.
The show's Jackson borrows a lot from Part 2. Image Naughty Dog.
While Joel and Tommy reunite in the Fall chapter in the game, the show has this reunion during the winter making the scenes in Jackson even more similar to Part 2. Image Naughty Dog
Inside Jackson's tavern in Part 2. Image Naughty Dog.

Along with giving Jackson a much bigger role in the show, this adaptation also continues to flesh out The Last of Us' supporting cast.

As in the game, Tommy has married Maria since leaving the Fireflies and settled down in Jackson. Unlike in the game, the couple are expecting a baby. It is revealed that before the outbreak Maria worked as a district attorney and had a son called Kevin who passed away. Another difference from the game is Maria does not "run" Jackson, but is on the council.

Maria is wary of Joel, and tells Ellie this. Ellie defends Joel in his absense. Image HBO.

As in the game, Joel tries to convince Tommy to take Ellie to the Fireflies. At first, in the show, Joel tries to hide Ellie's immunity from his brother, initially claiming she is simply the daughter of a Firefly and he is helping reunite Ellie with her family. He also lies about Tess when Tommy asks after her.

However, Joel eventually tells his brother he feels weak and he is failing Ellie. He recalls Ellie having to shoot the revolutionary in Kansas City to save him, Henry having to shoot Sam to save Ellie. Joel is not in a good place and needs his brother to help him - something Tommy ultimately agrees to.

Ellie overhears the conversation and returns to the house she is staying in (in the game she runs away to a nearby farmhouse). When Joel rejoins Ellie, the two have the same argument they have in the game.

Ellie is angry Joel is handing her over to Tommy. She reveals Maria told her about Sarah (this happens off camera in the game, but we see it happen in the show). Ellie shouts at Joel: "Everybody I have cared for has either died or left me. Everybody - fucking except for you!" She does not want to be alone.

"You're not my daughter, and I sure as hell ain't your dad," Joel retorts. This moment cuts deep.

Unlike the show, Ellie runs away from Joel in the game. Image Naughty Dog.
"I'm not her, you know." Image Naughty Dog.
Maria told Ellie about Sarah. Image Naughty Dog.
Joel tells Ellie she is stepping on thin ice when she talks about Sarah. Image Naughty Dog.
Ellie says this moment word for word in the show. Image Naughty Dog.
She also shoves him in the show. Image Naughty Dog.
This moment in the show hurt as much as it did in the game. Image Naughty Dog.

Ellie and Joel eventually make up - something I felt perhaps happened a little bit too quickly in the show - and they continue on with their journey together, while Tommy stays behind in Jackson having told them of a Firefly base in the University of Eastern Colorado.

As in the game, the two make their way to the university on horseback. Here, it is abandoned save for a roaming troop of monkeys (unlike in the game, where there are infected to contend with).

Joel and Ellie deduce the Fireflies have packed up and relocated to Salt Lake City, so decide to head on there.

Arriving at the university. Image HBO.
Monkeying around. Image Naughty Dog.
In the game, Joel and Ellie find out where the Fireflies went thanks to a recording. Image HBO.

As always, things aren't going to be that easy. Before Joel and Ellie leave the university, a group of marauders attack the twosome, leaving Joel severely injured. In the show, he is stabbed by one of the raiders. In the game, Joel is impaled by a spike after falling during a fight.

Ellie helps Joel back to their horse and they flee. When they are finally free from danger, Joel succumbs to his wound and falls from the horse leaving a panicked Ellie begging for him to be ok. "I can't do this without you," Ellie cries.

The episode ends with a cover of Depeche Mode's "Never Let Me Down Again". This is the same song that played out the series' first episode, although it took on a different energy. The version playing out episode six is laced with sadness, and once again I cried.

Joel is left wounded after fighting a marauder. Image HBO.
Joel is impaled after a fall. Image Naughty Dog.
Tissues at the ready! Image HBO.

Before closing off the article, a few quick honourable mentions.

I loved when Joel and Ellie discussed their hopes and dreams with each other. Early in the episode, Joel tells Ellie he wants to run a sheep ranch from an old farmhouse. This is what Ellie does with Dina towards the end of Part 2.

Ellie, meanwhile, shared her fascination with space, just as she does in the game during the university section. Later in the episode, Joel shares he used to want to be a singer, like he does in the game.

In the show, Ellie mentions Sally Ride. Image Naughty Dog.
Joel Sinatra? Image Naughty Dog.

The second thing I appreciated was Ellie's attempt to whistle. She does this in the game as well.

Lastly, the wardrobe department did another great job of replicating the in-game outfits in this episode. Tommy's denim jacket, Ellie's striped jacket and her backpack are all great call backs to the game, and I love how much attention to detail is included in each episode.

I do like this jacket. Image HBO.
This jacket always reminds me of an ice lolly, like a FAB. Image Naughty Dog.

What did you think of the sixth episode of The Last of Us?

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