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‘The Final of Us’ Episode 6 Recap: Does Joel Die?

‘The Final of Us’ Episode 6 Recap: Does Joel Die?

'The Last of Us' Episode 6 Recap: Does Joel Die?

Spoilers forward for episode 6 of The Final of Us.

Joel Miller wanted to be indestructible; he additionally wanted to die, usually. There are greater than 50 animations that may play when Joel, the protagonist of the 2013 PlayStation recreation The Final Of Us, passes from our earthly aircraft: His jaw is torn from his temples; his pores and skin is singed to ash; blood spurts from the tap of his throat as an contaminated zombie digs in for dinner. Seconds later, he seems once more—alive, entire, healed, and able to endure nevertheless many bullets it takes to safe the security of his cost, the precocious (and immune) Ellie Williams.

This was all the time the central paradox of the Final of Us hero, serving to to form the sport into not solely top-of-the-line PlayStation releases of all time, however—relying on whom you ask—top-of-the-line tales ever informed. It’s a degree the critic Andrea Lengthy Chu artfully made in a latest essay for Vulture: Gamers of the sport watched Joel die so usually that these deaths got here to “outline [players’] relationship to each Joel and the sport as an entire.” And but, in The Final of Us Half I, Joel canonically doesn’t die. He lives lengthy sufficient to complete his mission and safe Ellie’s survival. Chu argues, subsequently, that Joel is bifurcated. There will not be one however two Joels as skilled by gamers: one which’s “propelled to heroic heights” via his safety of Ellie, and one other, weaker model with a “perilously excessive mortality charge.”


The now-hit HBO adaptation of The Final of Us, by necessity, wanted to reconcile these variations. By means of the avatar of Pedro Pascal, the regenerative Joel and the fallible Joel needed to turn into one. The Joel of the TV present couldn’t ever die—he has what some followers and critics discuss with as “plot armor”—but neither might he lose the desperation that drives him to make what’s, in the end, the story’s most controversial selection. The participant’s desperation, and their repeated failures, wanted to turn into his and his alone. An invincible man isn’t a determined one. So Pascal’s Joel might by no means appear invincible, and even totally able to therapeutic.

Episode 6, the newest of the present’s nine-episode run, gives the best instance so far of why eradicating Joel’s invulnerability was not solely a vital selection however a smart one. Up up to now, audiences had obtained a smattering of small examples of Joel’s declining state. He struggles to sleep and, when he can, mumbles via nightmares; he’s 56, with ailing knees; he’s onerous of listening to in a single ear due to years of firing off unmuffled gunshots. (Within the recreation, we don’t get almost as many causes to suspect Joel’s previous his prime.) However these inconveniences come to a head in episode 6, when Joel begins displaying the indicators of panic assaults.

“Only a reminder, for those who’re lifeless, I’m fucked,” a nervous Ellie (Bella Ramsey) informs him because the body charge slows and Joel’s coronary heart thumps to the rhythm of her voice. Immobilized, he leans in opposition to a fence submit to proper himself, blaming his non permanent paralysis on the “chilly air.” He’s simply realized his brother, Tommy (Gabriel Luna), is likely to be unattainable to find within the inhospitable Wyoming wilderness, and that’s provided that the youthful Miller has managed to maintain himself alive. Joel doesn’t want Ellie’s pestering to recollect what occurs if he falls aside. Even his sneakers are giving out on him.

His monitor document solely worsens because the episode continues. At evening, he sleeps via his watch and awakens, alarmed, to find that his 14-year-old companion is the one guarding their camp with a rifle. Later, when Tommy’s crew surrounds them on horseback, a canine is tasked with sniffing out if the vacationers are plagued. (Which, as we all know, Ellie most actually is.) The world blurs; the audio whines; Joel can’t a lot as flex his fingers towards his gun. Fortuitously for him, the pup can’t inform the distinction between uninfected and infected-but-immune. Even so, Joel should dwell with the data that, had the animal revealed Ellie’s situation, he would have been powerless to halt the ensuing carnage.

Quickly sufficient, Joel’s bodily weaknesses make room for emotional ones. As he and Ellie are welcomed into the Jackson commune, he catches the primary sight of his long-lost little brother. Within the recreation, their reunion is affectionate however charged, the show of affection between them muted by the burden of traumas previous. As an alternative, within the present, they barrel into one another’s arms, their chuckles as astonished because the tears of their eyes. “I got here right here to save lots of you,” Joel tells Tommy. The irony of his phrases is misplaced on neither of them, nor on Ellie, watching warily from a distance.

gabriel luna and pedro pascal in the last of us

Liane Hentscher/HBO

The remainder of the brothers’ scenes are weighed by this transparency. Joel’s distrustful of Maria (Rutina Wesley), Tommy’s new spouse, and of the Jackson group’s political make-up, which Tommy appears ashamed to name “communism.” (Keep in mind, he’s a Bush-era navy vet.) Joel disputes Ellie’s declare that they’ve been struggling on the highway, apparently feeling insecure within the shadow of Tommy’s twinkling (actually, peep the string lights) new dwelling.

When he and Tommy lastly snag a second alone, the episode throws one other fighter into the ring with Joel. Tommy reveals Maria is pregnant, and when Joel reacts with lower than the perfect quantity of brotherly enthusiasm, Tommy whirls on him: “Simply because life stopped for you doesn’t imply it has to cease for me.” Joel storms out, solely to identify somebody within the crowd of Jackson vacation revelers who seems like a grown-up model of his deceased daughter, Sarah. As soon as once more, the digicam tilts on its axis. Joel’s weathered traces crack open with hope, proper till the second the girl’s face is revealed, and he can not maintain the likelihood that he might need truly saved Sarah. When the stranger strolls away, hand-in-hand together with her personal daughter, he’s pressured to attract his coat tighter and keep it up.

Tommy confronts him, a number of scenes later, in the neighborhood workshop. There, he apologizes—“I do know you’re joyful for me; it’s simply difficult for you. I’m sorry.”—and it’s as if such a show of humility tears away Joel’s remaining defenses. He reveals Ellie’s immunity, however extra importantly, he confesses the extent of his personal ineptitude.

Within the recreation, Joel’s explanations for forcing Ellie on Tommy had been all the time couched in deflection. “Tommy is aware of this space higher.” “I belief him higher than I belief myself.” None of them felt actual, and Ellie tagged them, rightfully, as “bullshit.” However within the present, Joel’s not solely so forthright it’s nearly tough to abdomen, however Ellie overhears his total soul-bearing monologue as effectively. First, he shares the story of the child he and Ellie killed in Kansas Metropolis, and the way Ellie saved his life within the course of. “5 years in the past, I’d have destroyed him,” Joel tells Tommy. “However she needed to shoot him to save lots of me. Fourteen years outdated. As a result of I used to be too sluggish and too fucking deaf to listen to him come.”

Nonetheless, maybe probably the most jarring second of the scene comes when Joel mentions his goals. He can’t keep in mind precisely what these goals include, solely that “once I get up, I’ve misplaced one thing. I’m failing in my sleep. It’s all I do. It’s all I’ve ever carried out—is fail her, time and again.” We needn’t query to which “her” he’s referring.

Joel pleads with Tommy to ship Ellie to the College of Japanese Colorado, the place the Fireflies had been final noticed, as a result of he “is aware of” he’ll get Ellie killed. Tommy is youthful and stronger, and Tommy feels beholden to a “higher future” for his personal unborn baby. Joel makes use of these (authentic, if unfair) causes to persuade the long run father to depart his household in Jackson.

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Lastly, we attain some of the extremely anticipated moments of the complete collection. It’s the scene broadly considered one of many finest in online game historical past. Present co-creators Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann replicate it with reverent constancy, departing simply sufficient to ascertain how the present’s Joel is completely different from the sport’s.

At this level within the story, the sport’s Joel justifies abandoning Ellie as a result of he can’t even acknowledge his concern: that he may lose her as he misplaced Sarah. The present’s Joel justifies abandoning her as a result of the concern is all he can acknowledge. The distinction is delicate, however within the context of efficiency, it alerts a major shift. Joel, as acted by Troy Baker within the recreation, is gruffer, fiercer, and extra demonstrably violent. Even his argument with Ellie is loaded with barely restrained frustration. Pascal’s Joel is gentler, quieter, extra clearly conflicted. Neither are incorrect depictions of Joel, and every work higher of their respective mediums. One makes extra sense for the Joel of the sport—the Joel who, by necessity of gameplay, is de facto two Joels, one weak and the opposite indestructible. The opposite makes extra sense for the Joel of the present—the Joel who’s pressured to try to be each.

pedro pascal in the last of us

Liane Hentscher/HBO

It will be depressingly short-slighted to dismiss Pascal’s Joel as too delicate. True, we don’t see Baker’s Joel weep, and even confess the extent to which he’s frightened. However doing such doesn’t make the Joel of the present weak. It makes him extra clear in his shortcomings, in a means that can turn into all of the extra important as his journey with Ellie reaches its apex.

Close to the top of the episode, after Pascal’s Joel has agreed to proceed touring with Ellie (and has softened to her even additional), a bandit on the College of Japanese Colorado stabs him within the abdomen. (Within the recreation, Joel is as an alternative impaled on a metallic bar.) We all know from trailers—and from the unique PlayStation story—that he is not going to, in truth, perish. However the cliffhanger ending of episode 6 permits the viewers the time to query what may occur if he did. What wouldn’t it be prefer to witness the hero die, and never get better mere seconds later? Who may Ellie turn into with out him? Some followers will already know the reply. However for these new to The Final of Us, the understanding begins to crystallize: Joel’s vulnerability may simply be his most vital attribute.

Headshot of Lauren Puckett-Pope

Tradition Author

Lauren Puckett-Pope is a workers tradition author at ELLE, the place she primarily covers movie, tv and books. She was beforehand an affiliate editor at ELLE. 

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