‘The Last of Us’ Season 1 Episode 6 Recap: What Happened at the end?

The noticeable change gradually occurring over the past few weeks is made explicit in episode 6 of HBO’s The Last of Us, titled “Kin.” Joel (Pedro Pascal), who has been closed off to others for the past 20 years since the murder of his daughter, even had a chilly air to their deep and intimate connection with Tess (Anna Torv).

But, as a result of Joel’s friendship with Tess, he felt compelled to take Ellie (Bella Ramsey) with him on his westward adventure as he sought his brother Tommy (Gabriel Luna) in Wyoming.

But something changed along the road, and Joel allowed Ellie inside. Her inquiries, concern for others, and foul language gradually crept into his heart. Though he hadn’t intended to, he now cares for her.

He feels closer to and more at home with Ellie than with his long-lost relative when he finally finds Tommy in Wyoming in “Kin”—and living in a commune with a new wife and a child on the way, Tommy is doing wonderfully.

Most “Kin” is devoted to mending the rift between Joel and Tommy that has grown over time. Joel recognizes that the care he can provide is unsafe for him at his age and that he cannot trust himself to care for Ellie adequately. He also does not want to deal with the emotional fallout from failing to provide for Ellie.

This week’s episode is perhaps more about meeting our characters where they are than the plot’s development. Since we first met, three key characters—Joel, Ellie, and even Tommy—have undergone significant transformations.

The fact that all three of these people are aware of the changes and are considering how they will aaffect their futures also has a significant influence.

The three most significant events from Episode 6 of “Kin” are shown below.

After three months

'The Last of Us' Season 1 Episode 6 Recap
‘The Last of Us’ Season 1 Episode 6 Recap

Three months have passed since the traumatic event that resulted in the deaths of Henry and Sam, two new acquaintances of Joel and Ellie. (If you didn’t watch, it’s interesting reading how Lamar Johnson and Keivonn Woodard, who played those characters, handled that difficult episode.)

Joel and Ellie spent that three months moving west and are now close to Tommy in Wyoming, although they are unsure exactly where. In their home, they hold up an elderly, amiable Native American couple—funny because the guy exclaims, “Holy!” at Ellie’s foul language, and the wife genuinely has no idea who or what the fireflies even are.

They cannot provide Joel with much information about where to look for his brother, but they caution him from going towards the river because there is a reasonable risk they won’t return.

The infected aren’t the most deadly things out there, according to everything we’ve heard during the entire program (and almost every zombie and post-apocalyptic media). We assume that this might be another instance.

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 New lives and a brotherly reunion

Yet it isn’t! As Tommy’s name is uttered, Joel and Ellie are brought into what appears to be an almost Deadwood-esque settlement town built from the ground up. At the same time, they find themselves in the sights of a gang of menacing outlaw-like individuals on horseback along the river.

Tommy, now significantly older and sporting a mustache, notices Joel as Joel and Ellie are brought in. The two embrace an incredibly impressive hug and reunion. This was perhaps Pascal and Luna’s first moment together since their initial contact in 2003’s Episode 1.

Although Joel has related tales about Joel and Tommy’s past following the breakout, it genuinely feels like a couple of guys who have been longing for and missing each other’s company.

Most of the episode occurs at the commune, where Joel and Tommy eventually compare how their lives have turned out. While Joel has mostly refused to let anyone in or move on, Tommy is looking ahead.

They immediately learn that Maria, the rider who recognized Joel while Joel was on horseback, is now Tommy’s wife. Maria is also shown to be expecting a kid; they are happy enough with this fresh iteration of a damaged world to give it life.

‘The Last of Us’ Season 1 Episode 6 Recap

Tommy is reluctant to use the word “communism,” but Maria embraces it when Joel asks if their all-hands-on-deck way of life is essentially that. Indeed, it is communist because it is a commune.

The undercurrent around Joel and Ellie’s relationship and how it ultimately comes to a head during the episode is interesting. Ellie doesn’t have a sincere expression when Joel gives Tommy his first hug; Ramsey does a superb job of conveying with just a look the fleeting feeling that Ellie has that the only person she now has in this world may soon fill the same emptiness with someone else.

Joel, who is always reluctant to display any emotion, also makes up stories to Tommy about Tess and Ellie, whom he initially fails to mention have passed away (about whom he makes up an entirely different motivation).

The two groups eventually separate as Ellie and Maria get to know one another. Maria is a former assistant district attorney who recently lost a son, and it is at this point Ellie first learns about Joel’s loss of Sarah.

In the end, Joel also confesses following a disagreement with Tommy on whether or not to move on with life and their divergent perspectives of their pasts. He tells Tommy everything about Ellie, including how she is immune to the sickness, how she has saved his life, how he has grown to love her, and how he worries that his advanced age and deteriorating health exclude him from being of any use to her.

At one point, he acknowledges being “terrified” for Ellie, which makes me think of Bill’s statement to Frank in Episode 3: “I was never afraid until I met you.” It can be frightening to care about things, and The Last of Us’ narrative heavily emphasizes this theme. It would be surprising if this episode weren’t Pascal’s Emmy submission the following year because he is terrific in these scenes.

Joel intends to leave Tommy and Ellie alone. Joel determines that Tommy would be the better choice to transport her to the Fireflies science facility, where they can, perhaps, use her blood to produce a vaccine because he is healthier.

Joel and Ellie have lost everyone else in their lives, and while neither seems to want it to happen again, Joel’s stubbornness and lack of confidence seem to be continuously pushing toward it. As a result, the two have their first significant argument and both admit that they care for the other.

Joel predicts that the two will part ways in the morning.

The sole option

Joel hasn’t left after another night of prolonged brooding, and when Ellie spots him by the horse, she immediately slams him. Joel informs Ellie that she should be able to choose who she wants to stay with, and while he means no harm to Tommy, Ellie has already made up her mind before Joel has even finished speaking.

Tommy assures the pair that they will always have a place to call home in his commune, and they set out once more in search of the Fireflies’ research facility.

The Joel and Ellie bond is clearly showing through now that they are traveling again. “We don’t ask about each other’s pasts” is a thing of the past. Joel is explaining the rules of football while also informing Ellie about his background as a contractor (“Everyone loved contractors!” he exclaims). He even admits that he aspired to be a singer when he was younger, so we will eventually have to address it.

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Yet we wouldn’t be able to escape this situation so quickly. Joel and Ellie cannot locate the scientists, inferring from their open lab that they have relocated; nonetheless, some scumbags from the outside manage to enter the building as they leave. Before Joel and Ellie can flee, some guy stabs Joel in the stomach.

Despite Ellie’s best efforts to assist him, Joel passes out shortly after mounting the horse, and the episode ends. Video game players already know what will happen, but it will be a long week for those approaching the story with new eyes.

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