The Last of Us Episode 6 Recap: Kin

As if the ending of episode 5 wasn’t hard enough the first time, we get to experience it again at the opening of this episode. The Kansas City incident was three months ago, and Ellie and Joel have made it across the country. They used their guns to break into a sweet older native couple’s house to try to get traveling information from them, but the residents were just amused at their ferocity. I know the Twilight fans were excited considering they got to see Graham Greene (Harry Clearwater) in a major show. The charming couple warns them of the River of Death, where bodies of Infected and non-Infected alike appear. The woman points out how scared Joel is, and she’s correct because he has a panic attack immediately after.

Their walk to Tommy gifts us with beautiful scenery of the river, the snow, and polar lights. They make camp, and they have a heartfelt conversation about the future. Most stories end once the goal is accomplished without a second thought for actual consequences, so this thought experiment is both interesting in a meta way and character-wise. Joel’s dream is a peaceful existence in a farmhouse raising sheep, the opposite of his chaotic life. Ellie’s dream is to be an astronaut and head to the stars since that’s all she had to admire growing up in a QZ. Though this journey has been hard, it’s given her family and freedom, two things she’s been lacking. Their conversations as they’re walking are so entertaining. Ellie wants to whistle, asks to learn to hunt, and teases Joel about not knowing how a dam converts water to electricity. When they are found by members of the town of Jackson Joel is terrified for Ellie, especially once the Infected smelling dog comes out. They are allowed into Jackson once Maria, one of the leaders of the town and Tommy’s wife, recognizes who he is.

The moment when Tommy and Joel finally reconnect is beautiful as they embrace with such desperation. Later, when Ellie and Joel are eating, Tommy watches Joel parent her, which I’m sure he finds interesting considering their past with Sarah. This is also where Joel learns that his brother has found a wife in Maria and has been able to move on with his life. When they’re walking around the compound and Joel asks how they’ve stayed quiet about their little paradise, she admits that they stay off the radio. Joel side-eyes Tommy, and we can sense a small betrayal on his face. It was also funny to see Tommy’s hesitance to be called a communist despite fully participating in living at a commune. Despite being an apocalyptic situation where everything that did matter shouldn’t anymore, anti-communist bias is still entrenched in their minds.

Finally, Joel and Tommy get a moment to themselves in the bar. Joel doesn’t admit that Tess is dead to Tommy, and Tommy refuses to join him on his journey to the nearest Firefly camp, which offends Joel. Family is of the utmost priority to him, and he feels completely disregarded by Tommy because he refused to talk to him on the radio, he’s not willing to come with Joel when he needs him, and he admits that he’s about to become a father. This moment is also where it’s confirmed that they had a dark past where the two of them killed others to survive before Joel started smuggling and Tommy joined the Fireflies. Joel runs out of the bar and has another panic attack. He thinks he sees his daughter Sarah in the crowd, picking up her child because she’d be at the age by now where that was possible.

Ellie showers and comes out to find clothes and a Diva Cup left to her by Maria. Once again, we are reminded that just because an apocalypse happens doesn’t mean the world stops. This also seems to be the most efficient method considering how reusable it is over the tampons Ellie found well over three months ago. When Maria starts cutting Ellie’s hair, she lets it slip that Joel had a daughter many years ago. She also admits that she blames Joel for Tommy following him and killing people, which is interesting because she’s not wanting him to accept responsibility for his actions.

In their second heart-to-heart within the episode, Tommy apologizes, and Joel finally admits to Tommy that he’s been hiding her immunity. In Pedro Pascal’s future Emmy clip, we watch him confess how horrible he’s been feeling about his fear and failing Ellie. When his voice breaks, we break. Joel is terrified of losing Ellie like he lost Sarah to the point where he’s having panic attacks and nightmares about it. He realizes that Tommy resents him because of their past, so Joel appeals to his desire for a better future by begging him to save Ellie so his child can live a better life. It should also be pointed out that Gabriel Luna is a great scene partner. He does an excellent job reacting to Pascal breaking down.

In a traumatic one-two punch of emotion, we get the scene where Joel and Ellie argue when he tells her she’ll be leaving with Tommy. There were a lot of nerves and anticipation before this scene, as later described in the behind-the-scenes section. This is a huge emotional beat in the video game, so Pedro and Bella had to try to match it, if not surpass it. Ellie overheard some of his confession to Tommy, and she’s upset, begging him not to leave her. When she name-drops Sarah, he immediately goes cold. Though he has the right to be upset, telling an orphan that she “has no idea what loss is” is completely out of line. Now it’s her turn to confess that it terrifies her to have him leave her.

There is surprisingly not that much time between this argument and their reconnection. While I understand that logically the longer they take a break the longer that people are without a cure, it slightly undercuts the narrative intensity of that scene. Also, we only get one moment of Maria reacting to Tommy’s decision to take over for his brother. If we could’ve sat with this a day or two, it would’ve been more emotionally resonant. Joel rightfully lets Ellie decide which brother she’d rather go with, instantly choosing him. I can’t help but think that Joel felt good about that, as well as hopefully having some peace that his brother will stay safe and thriving. They have these precious moments together as they travel on horse toward the Firefly camp at the University of Eastern Colorado. He teaches her how to shoot a gun, and how football works, and explains why people went to college.

I was terrified that the monkeys they see at the college were going to be Infected monkeys since they are genetically close to humans, but what we ended up dealing with were raiders. Joel and Ellie first search the abandoned Firefly base at the Biomedical section of the college, but when they try to escape, one of the raiders attack, and Joel kills him. Unfortunately, Joel is stabbed by the broken-off end of a baseball bat, but they escape, adrenaline helping him ride the horse out of there. The episode ends with Joel falling off the horse and Ellie crying over him, begging him to open his eyes and survive this because she’s lost without him.


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