Editor’s Note: The following article contains spoilers for Episode 6 The last of us.
It ended with two tragic deaths after an action-packed episode this week The last of us takes a step to explore the inner universe of its two main characters. While traveling to Wyoming to find Tommy (Gabriel Luna), Joel (Peter Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) are forced to reflect on their relationship and how far they are willing to go to find a cure for Cordyceps infection. While Joel has been a mean, lean Infected killing machine for most of the show’s run, episode 6, “Kin,” takes time to explore the man’s fears and insecurities. Joel has never been more vulnerable than in episode 6, so it’s only fitting that the episode ends with his possible death. The fact that Joel decided to face his fears before he was injured only makes the moment more poignant.
Since HBO is continuing the main storyline of the original The last of us in the game, it is unlikely that Joel will be killed in episode 6. However, her near-death experience is the perfect opportunity for her to realize that Ellie is not a fragile creature in constant need of protection. He’s a survivor, just like her, and she should trust him more to take care of things.
Joel finally admits his worst fear
During episode 6, The last of us It highlights how Joel suffers from severe anxiety. Faced with the idea that his brother, Tommy, might be dead, Joel feels his heart racing and ready to turn around. Fear paralyzes her once again when a dog sniffs Ellie for signs of infection, fearing the animal might tear the girl to pieces. Although Joel’s anxiety has probably been with him for a very long time, his mental health seems to have worsened after Henry’s death (Lamar Johnson) and Sam (Kevin Woodard). As Joel confesses to his brother, he is tormented by the fact that one brother killed the other while he was there to protect Ellie and watched it all unfold before his eyes.
As Joel tells Tommy, old age has caught up with him. He’s partially deaf, his body doesn’t react as quickly as it used to, and he simply doesn’t have the stamina that made him a raging warrior nearly two decades after the apocalypse. And while it’s normal to get older and feel like your body is getting lighter, in Joel’s case, his physical limitations only fueled his anxiety. Joel pretends to only escort Ellie to the Fireflies out of respect for Tess (Anna Torv) dying wish. But the truth is that he really cares for the girl. So when he feels time robbing him of his strength, Joel convinces himself that he is responsible for Ellie’s death. He won’t be fast enough to protect Ellie, so he’ll ultimately be responsible for her death. Joel is not afraid of death, but he is paralyzed by the thought of losing another daughter. Because that’s what Ellie has become for him, a daughter, as fragile as Sarah (Nico Parker) was when he died. However, Ellie is not Sarah, and Episode 6 forces Joel to accept this fact.
Ellie will have to prove herself
Joel is so consumed by his fears that he will convince Tommy to take Ellie to a college in Colorado where the Fireflies are being used as a medical base. Tommy is younger and knows the region well enough to avoid danger, and is better suited to escort Ellie. But while Joel makes this unilateral decision out of concern for Ellie’s safety, he is selfish enough not to enter the conversation. And when Ellie finds out what Joel and Tommy agreed to in secret, she won’t hesitate to tell Joel that she’s not Sarah. What Ellie needs from Joel is trust and support, more than protection.
Sometimes Joel is so focused on his pain that he forgets that Ellie has also lost everyone she cares about. And aside from Ellie, Joel only shows the girl that he is alone in the world. Ellie is more than the key to finding a cure, she’s a person with her own thoughts and feelings, and by taking away the option, Joel erases her humanity. Joel and Ellie’s fight the night before college forces Joel to come to terms with all of this, as well as seeing Ellie as different from Sarah. As someone born and raised in the apocalyptic, Ellie is more than capable of standing up for herself. So instead of protecting Ellie from everything, it’s up to Joel to teach her how to survive on her own. It’s no wonder that after Ellie decided to take her to college, Joel eventually agreed to give her shooting lessons. The emotional road is long, but in episode 6, Joel finally accepts Ellie for who she really is.
It’s terrible that Joel is injured by looters right after changing his relationship with Ellie. When the two are attacked at the abandoned college, where the Fireflies are trying to figure out where they might be going next, Joel is stabbed before escaping on horseback with Ellie. However, he falls from his horse a few kilometers later, his intestines spilling out of the hole in the wound. Joel’s worst fears have come true as he was unable to avoid a fatal wound, and now Ellie must survive alone. As for Ellie, Joel’s dire situation admits that she is no match for him and that she needs him to survive.
Based on the game’s script, we know that Joel survives this injury, and while HBO can always change the course of the story to surprise fans, they haven’t deviated from the main path so far. However, Joel’s injury presents him with the perfect opportunity to let Ellie take care of him, forcing the two protagonists to relocate, HBO’s The last of us Joel can give her the tools she needs to face her paralyzing fear. As for Ellie, placed in an impossible situation on her own, she must use everything Joel taught her as she discovers that she can survive on her own. In the end, while Joel’s injury is heartbreaking, it’s likely to be important growth for the show’s two main characters.
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