Reunited brothers spark a family drama about survival
Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey continue to take us on HBO’s emotional roller coaster ride The last of us (on Crave in Canada) when we hit Episode 6 of the show.
We may still be devastated by the deaths of Henry (Lamar Johnson) and Sam (Keivonn Woodard) at the end of Episode 5, but much like Joel and Ellie we need to pull ourselves together and move on, so we need to do that too as we follow along harrowing journey.
Here’s everything you need to know about Episode 6 of HBO’s The Last of Us (spoilers ahead):
Episode 5 ends with Henry shooting the infected Sam and then killing himself, and now the timeline jumps forward three months.
Joel (Pascal) and Ellie (Ramsey) are in a couple’s cabin. Gun in hand, Joel asks about the best way to head west in Wyoming to avoid infection and wants to know if they’ve heard of someone named Tommy.
“If your brother is west of the river, he’s gone,” says the woman, warning Joel and Ellie about the “river of death.”
Given that the pre-release preview for the episode clearly shows that Tommy (Gabriel Luna) and Joel are reunited, that opening element of the episode to make us think Tommy didn’t make it isn’t particularly effective. But we’ll roll with it.
As Joel and Ellie travel further, Ellie tells Joel about trying to heal Sam with her blood. Joel convinces her that if Marlene believes a cure will work, it can happen.
In the midst of many walks and entertaining banter between Ellie and Joel, they are met by a group on horseback armed with guns. These people have a dog with them that can identify infected people. Joel and Ellie are worried that the dog will sense that Ellie has been bitten and will attack her, but they are lucky the dog doesn’t recognize her bite.
A woman asks Joel his name, when he answers, she leads him and Ellie to a commune in Jackson that was built about seven years ago by a group of people trying to keep looters and infected out.
There the brothers Joel and Tommy are happily reunited. The woman who led Joel to his brother is Maria (Rutina Wesley), who is now married to Tommy.
In this community there is no leader or single person in charge. Instead, there is one piece of advice: This commune functions through common, collective ownership.
When Joel and Tommy have a moment to reunite at a bar, Tommy asks how Tess is. Joel lies and says she’s fine. He tells another lie when Tommy asks what’s wrong with Ellie. Joel says Ellie is the daughter of a “Firefly Mucky-Muck” and he’s being paid to reunite her with her family.
Tommy explains that the Fireflies have a base at the University of Eastern Colorado. It’s about a week’s ride away, but it’s “heavyly muddled between here and there,” with both attackers and infected.
While Joel assumed his brother would finish this journey with him, Tommy says he can’t go. Joel investigates and asks if Maria is the reason Tommy has stopped responding to his communications and Tommy explains what happened.
“After I dropped the Fireflies, Maria and her crew found me. They’re good people,” Tommy said. “All they ask is that I play by their rules.”
“They are very protective of this place. You have a damn good reason.”
Joel interrupts his brother to say he’s heard the community’s concerns that “wrong people” might show up.
“So that’s me?” Joel asks Tommy. “These things you judge me for. I did these things to keep us alive.”
“These weren’t things, we murdered people and I don’t judge you for that,” says Tommy. “We survived in the only way we knew how. There were other options, we just weren’t very good at them.”
Then Tommy Joel says that he will soon be a father, Maria is pregnant. Joel, clearly thinking back to his own heartbreaking experience with his daughter Sarah, immediately gets a tight look on his face. When Tommy says he thinks he’ll be a good father, Joel replies by saying, “I guess we’ll find out,” which upsets Tommy.
“Just because life stopped for you doesn’t mean it has to stop for me,” Tommy says, causing Joel to leave abruptly and saying that he plans to go with Ellie tomorrow morning.
Struck by the trauma of his daughter’s death, Joel stands outside, clutching his chest and trying to catch his breath. He sees a woman who bears a vague resemblance to Sarah, and for a moment he thinks he sees his daughter.
“Everyone I cared for either died or left me”
While all of this is happening, Ellie isn’t really a kid who enjoys other kids around her. But she sees and learns new things, like the menstrual cup that Maria left her.
Maria gives Ellie a new coat, shoes, and offers to cut Ellie’s hair, to which she agrees. Maria finally reveals to Ellie that Joel had a daughter, Sarah, who died. As Maria keeps trying to tell Ellie that it’s not safe to travel with Joel, Ellie backs down.
That evening, Tommy and Joel have another, more honest conversation. Tommy apologizes for what he said to his brother, but Joel decides to tell Tommy why he’s really traveling with Ellie. He explains that she was bitten but is not infected, and he takes her to a group of fireflies who are working on a cure. Joel reveals to Tommy that it’s a promise he made to Tess when she contracted it, but Joel doesn’t think he’s really strong enough to move on.
“We’ve made it this far [Kansas City] and then … she saved my life there,” says Joel, beginning to cry. “She had to shoot him to save me, 14 years old, because I was too slow and too damn deaf to hear him coming.”
“You think I can still handle things, but I’m not who I used to be. I am weak. … I have dreams every night … I can’t remember. I just know when I wake up I’ve lost something. I fail in my sleep. It’s all I do It’s all I’ve ever done is fail.”
Joel tells Tommy he needs to get Ellie to the Fireflies because he is stronger and will make it back. Tommy agrees.
“Here’s your chance to bring your child into a better world,” says Joel. “You have to take her with you.”
What Joel didn’t know at the time is that Ellie overheard part of that conversation. When he tells her what’s going to happen, she feels like he’s leaving her.
“Why are you still here? If you’re going to abandon me, abandon me,” Ellie says to Joel. “Fuck me, don’t you?”
“I’m not her, you know. Maria told me about Sarah.”
Joel interrupts her and tells her not to say another word, but she keeps talking.
“I lost people too. … Everyone I looked after either died or left me,” says Ellie. “Everybody damn it but you. So don’t tell me I’d be safer with anyone else because the truth is I’m just more scared.”
Joel says that Ellie is not his daughter and he is not her father and that they are going their separate ways.
When Tommy and Ellie go to the horses the next morning, Joel is waiting for them. Joel says he believes Ellie should choose who she goes with. Of course she chooses Joel.
Ellie and Joel make it to college, but in typical fashion last of us form, it is completely abandoned. No fireflies, only monkeys used in the labs. They see a map with pins all around Salt Lake City, which leads Ellie and Joel to believe that all the fireflies went there.
Looking out the building’s window, they see a group of attackers wandering around outside. Joel and Ellie try to get back to the horses to get out.
Joel fights someone approaching them, breaking his neck to kill him, but Joel was stabbed. Ellie helps him mount the horse to ride away while shooting more people running at her.
They escape, but Joel can’t last long and falls off his horse and doesn’t move.
Ellie cries and hopes he will start talking and moving again, saying she doesn’t know what to do without him.
As the episode ends, all we hear is Ellie sobbing and repeating “Joel, please.”
Now we wait another week to find out what happens.