Joel Miller has shut his heart off to the world because of pain and loss. He was unable to love Tess. He won’t admit that he’s getting more and more fond of Ellie.
But in episode 6 of “The Last of Us” on HBO, Joel shows a different side. He is in danger. He feels immense guilt. He doesn’t think he can protect the people he cares about. And he says right out that he is afraid of what these feelings might lead to. This is the most real we’ve ever seen Joel Miller in the 10 years he’s been around. We never got to see this side in the games. Only his brother Tommy sees this side of him.
Joel and Ellie finally get to Wyoming, but we don’t see the brothers again until then. They hold a Native American couple as hostages and demand to know what’s going on. Here, Ellie is more like Joel than ever. A 14-year-old girl holding up an older couple with a gun is shocking, but that’s exactly what Ellie does with gusto. The couple tells our heroes that people who pass through the area are killed by an unknown group west of the river, where Tommy is.
Even though they don’t have names, these two characters are funny and charming in their short performances. People can say that HBO’s “The Last of Us” doesn’t spend much time on each character, especially since so many of them die in the same episode in which they are introduced. However, every performance still goes for the fences.
Joel and Ellie keep going, and we get to see them bond for a few more minutes. One of the most important differences between the game and the show is this: Compared to the game, we don’t spend nearly as much time in the show with just Joel and Ellie. Almost all of the 12 hours of the game were the two talking to each other. As we played, we saw how they got to know each other. On the other hand, the show has to make up scenes for just the two of them so that viewers feel the same way about these characters.
After that, Joel stops to use duct tape to fix his broken boots. In the show, we also get to see Joel and Ellie relax and go camping, which we never did in the game. In the game, the player is always moving around. We get to see how the world really works on the show. The holes in Joel’s boots were a given. He has already walked across more than half of the country.
Ellie tells Joel that she tried to save Sam but couldn’t. The tragedy that Henry and Sam went through has changed them both. Ellie has been hurt and wants her immunity to mean something. As for Joel, we’ll find out later how these things changed him.
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After they cross the river, a group of people on horseback comes up to them and points guns at them. A dog is sent to find out if Joel and Ellie have been infected. Of course, Joel is clean. Ellie is the wild card, and Joel has no control over her. Ellie is lucky that the dog likes her, because we can hear her laugh. A woman recognizes Joel and takes him and Ellie to Jackson.
Tommy and Joel get back together. We find out that the woman who saw Joel is Maria, who is married to Tommy. Here, we see that the world of “The Last of Us” has peace and order. If the story up to this point has made it seem like no matter what a community does, it will fail, this Wyoming town is the opposite. You can have a life with order. Tommy says that everyone works together to do it. Joel says, “This is communism.” Tommy’s old-fashioned American values make him angry at the idea, but Maria quickly sets him straight: “This is a commune,” she says. “We’re communists.”
Tommy hates seeing Joel like this, and he agrees to take Ellie to the University of Eastern Colorado, where the Fireflies might have a base. Ellie hears what’s going on and asks Joel, “Does he care about her?” Joel says that he is sure he does. Joel tells Ellie to stop talking about Sarah. Ellie doesn’t listen, though, and says, “Joel is the only person in her life who hasn’t left her.” Joel gets angry again and tells her that she is not his daughter and that he is not her father. This is a line from the game.
The next morning, Joel decides to give Ellie a choice: she can either stay with him or go with Tommy. Ellie doesn’t see any other choice. They leave Tommy and the peaceful Jackson commune. The relationship between our two heroes is fixed, and they quietly recommit to each other. We finally get a fun scene where Joel shows Ellie how to use a rifle.
When they finally get to college, they find that the Fireflies have left. But right away, two strangers attack the two. Joel kills one of them, but not before his stomach was badly hurt. The two run away, but Joel gets sick. He looks like he’s about to die. Ellie is embarrassed and whispers, “I can’t do this without you. Please, Joel.”
This week’s journey ends with a cover of “Never Let Me Down Again” by Depeche Mode, the same song that ended the first episode. The lyrics talk about a trip you take with your “best friend” that might not be in your best interest, but you do it anyway because you want to feel whole.
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