The Last of Us Episode 6 Dares to Offer Us a Bit of Hope
A beautiful moment where we see what a normal life could look like for our Joel and Ellie.
Warning: Spoilers for Episode 6 of The Last of Us Ahead
We have reached beyond the midpoint of this nine-segment series, and it’s been a fairly successful journey thus far. If you’re finding it as enjoyable as I am, you may want to continue watching. However, I do have some reservations, especially given the way the episode concluded and the considerable distance between Ellie and the new location of the Fireflies’ medical facility. With three more episodes remaining, there is a significant amount of material left to cover.
The Last of Us Episode 6
‘There are firefly people?’
Following a brief summary of events in Kansas City – with the deaths of Henry and Sam still causing shock upon rewatching – the story jumps ahead three months to snowy Wyoming. Here, Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) seek refuge with an elderly couple, Marlon (Graham Greene) and Florence (Elaine Miles). Initially, there is tension between the group, as Marlon refers to Ellie as a “little psycho.” However, after things calm down, Marlon and Florence explain just how isolated they are from the dangers of the world, including the Fireflies, infected, hunters, and Joel and Ellie’s own mission. Florence asks, innocently enough, “There are Firefly people?”
Nonetheless, the elderly couple warns our protagonists against traveling west of the river, as they have witnessed enough deceased bodies, whether infected or not, to understand the dangers. This raises the question of whether the killings are the doing of Tommy and his group or if some other entity is responsible.
Ellie takes a sip from Joel’s hip flask, which could possibly be her first experience with alcohol, finding it “gross.” She then shares her vision for the future – what happens after the Firefly doctors receive a sample of her blood? Where will they go, and what will they do? Joel dreams of a quiet life, raising sheep on a farm, whereas Ellie playfully expresses her desire to go to the moon, which highlights the great distance both characters have travelled.
In the previous week, Joel and Ellie were focused on enduring and surviving their challenging circumstances, but now they are making plans for their potential lives after a cure is found. It’s a poignant moment, and you can’t help but feel the futility of their gesture. Both of their envisioned futures appear equally unlikely at this stage, but given their current situation, it’s difficult to imagine why they would continue with their mission if they didn’t hold onto the belief that something better lies on the other side.
Not only is Joel’s deteriorating hearing a cause for concern, but the way he nearly collapsed when leaving the hut is another clear indication that he is not in the best of health. Throughout the episode, there is a growing sense that he is no longer the protector he once was, becoming increasingly fearful each day and requiring more sleep, even missing his watch duty. Although he is initially uneasy with Ellie taking an extra shift as a lookout and looking out for him, he is impressed by her skills and explanation of how well she was scanning the surroundings. “I kept watch, like you taught me to. What can I say? I’m a natural,” she explains. As the episode ends, it becomes clear that Ellie may need to use her survival skills to nurse Joel back to health.
River of Death
As they journey towards the river, Ellie becomes increasingly concerned as they are confronted by people on horseback, and a menacing dog sniffs them to check for infection. However, they are relieved to discover that the word “Tommy” carries weight in this area, and they are allowed to enter the settlement they have been seeking all along, providing some measure of safety.
The last time Joel and Tommy were seen together was on the night of the outbreak and the death of Joel’s daughter, Sarah. As the series progresses, it becomes clear that a lot has happened between the two brothers since that time, and their reunion underscores just how much they have to work through. Tommy is now happily married to Maria, and they are expecting a child, living in a community that seems almost idyllic. The community has a stocked bar, fresh fruits and vegetables, delicious meals, readily available electricity, and beautiful horses to pet. Most importantly, there are no infected around, and for Joel, the presence of Christmas trees and bacon is a welcome relief.
During their reunion, Joel lied to Tommy about Tess’s fate, which Tommy saw through almost immediately. It’s unclear why Joel didn’t confess to Tess’s death right away. Perhaps it was still too painful for him to talk about the loss or he couldn’t bring himself to admit that he couldn’t protect her.
Joel eventually opened up to Tommy about Ellie’s immunity and Marlene’s mission, as well as Tess and everything else that had happened to them. The lack of communication between characters in TV and film often frustrates viewers, leading to unresolved misunderstandings and conflicts, so it was satisfying to see Joel and Tommy have an open and honest conversation. Tommy even demanded a full catch-up from Joel, wanting to know everything from the beginning, which was refreshing to see.
In another part of the community, Maria was distributing mooncups, haircuts, and wise advice. She cautioned Ellie to be cautious of whom she puts her trust in, emphasizing that the only people who can betray us are those we trust. Maria also shared information about Sarah with Ellie, which did not come as a surprise to Ellie. During their journey, Joel has been opening up more, becoming gentler and more receptive. However, Sarah was always going to be a sensitive topic, even though Ellie is beginning to fill the void left in Joel’s heart by his daughter. When Ellie brought up Sarah, Joel reacted as anticipated, telling Ellie not to say anything further. He emphasized that Ellie is not his daughter, he is not her father, and that they will be parting ways come dawn.
Upon witnessing Sarah’s image adorning a Christmas tree, it became clear that reality was far from that festive scene. Consequently, Joel replaced Tommy, and together with Ellie, they embarked on a serene horseback journey, engaging in conversation about a plethora of topics such as their personal histories and American football. The ease of their exchanges and shared experiences established a bond between them resembling that of a father and daughter, evident with each step of their journey.
At the University
After five days, Joel and Ellie finally arrived at the university, which was inhabited by monkeys. They hoped to find the Firefly doctors there, but were ambushed by hunters instead. Although Joel initially appeared to be handling the situation well, he was ultimately stabbed during the altercation, while Ellie looked on helplessly, despite having a pistol and knowing how to use it.
As Joel collapsed in the train yard, Ellie desperately urged him to get up because she couldn’t continue without him. The question remained whether she would be able to motivate him to get back on his feet and journey back to Tommy. Joel’s fate was uncertain as he lay there bleeding in the snow. Could his love for Ellie provide him with the strength to recover? It was his paternal instincts towards her that have caused his anxiety and increasing doubt. Since Sarah’s death, he had not cared enough about anyone to worry about losing them.
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