[Recap] The Last of Us E5&6: tackling family dynamics


Cody Flores

As “The Last of Us” progresses, so too does the dynamics that are explored through the show, particularly those relating to familial ties and what exactly a true family looks like.

Cody Flores and Angelique Taylor

Episode 5

Released on February 10, 2023 , characters Joel and Ellie find themselves taking the long road in order to find the fireflies. Almost halfway across the journey for Joel and Ellie, the two witness violence and fear in its pure form. The episode “Endure and Survive” takes place in a QZ (Quarantine Zone) occupied by raiders and survivors. Here, there is a  flashback a few days before where we meet two men  hiding from Kathleen in refuge and fighting to survive. As well as attempting to escape the QZ, leading up to where they meet Joel and Ellie. Anticipating that Sam was going to remain same in the game, a twist was discovered, Sam was deaf.  This made it much more challenging for the pair to survive, and Henry had to use sign language. 

Held by gunpoint, Joel and Ellie are forced to cooperate with them and help them get out, especially since Henry is a wanted man. Eventually the pairs trust each other and come up with a plan to escape the QZ. Meanwhile, Kathleen, the leader of the raiders, was searching for Henry and had her forces at full disperse. She was questioning ex-FEDRA people where Henry would be and after getting information, she killed them. Joel and Henry found a hidden system of tunnels underground in which they could escape through. According to Henry, the tunnels should be cleared of infected and allow safe passage. Sam and Ellie took this moment to be their age after discovering it was an abandoned camp. Both kids bonding and playing together as their worries faded away. 

Soon after, the group found the way out into a neighborhood and thought they got out scott-free. Until the echo of a sniper and bullet almost shot Joel, which came from a house not too far off. Joel goes solo to take out the sniper which he is successful at and kills the man, however, this attracts Kathleen and her people. Henry, Sam, and Ellie all hide behind a car and Ellie prepares to run off with Sam. Henry gives himself to Kathleen but Joel takes this chance to open fire at her and her army. The trio dashes to the house in the gunfight, however is not prepared for what happens next. The floor near the houses had collapsed and a tsunami of infected; runners, clickers, and stalkers overtake the army. What made it more terrifying was the display of the bloater, the final stage of being infected with the fungus acting as armor. One rip from this horrible creature rips you in half. 

Though they were overwhelmed, the group manages to escape with Kathleen and her army being torn to shreds. Safe now the group rests and Ellie shares a room with Sam in which she discovers Sam had gotten infected. She attempts to save him but it doesn’t work and in the morning Sam transforms into a runner. This caused Henry to shoot his own brother before he killed Ellie. Before Henry could think clearly, horrified at his brother’s corpse, he aimed the gun to his head. The ring of a bullet echoing through the deserted world as he collapses to the ground. Leaving the duo traumatized and horrified at what had just happened and Joel buries them. Ellie, heartbroken and depressed, leaves a note reading “I’m sorry” on Sam’s memorial. Leaving a truly emotional scar on both the character and the audience as she walks away.

Episode 6

As the story progresses in The Last of Us, the emotional rollercoaster as Joel and Ellie become closer. Episode six begins with a man returning to what looks like a cabin in the middle of a winterized forest. The man goes inside only to find his wife being held hostage by Joel and Ellie, she treats them as guests. Looking for his brother Tommy, he asks the man to point exactly where the radio tower is like his wife did and he complies. According to the man however, if they pass over the river where the dam is, they’ll get killed as no one has ever returned. Both shrug this off as a bluff and take some supplies and food from the couple and leave. 

The duo arrives at the river with the dam to find that it is a hydraulic power plant. As they venture deeper into the unknown territory, they soon find themselves held at gunpoint. The sounds of horse’s hooves pounding through the snow could be heard as they are surrounded by people with bandanas on. Joel is questioned why he is there and what their buisness was and forced to lay his weapons down. He explains that they’re just passing through and mean now harm as he is looking for his brother. To make sure that neither of them was infected, a dog was released to sniff them out, this made Joel have a panic attack. As we can see in this scene is the bond between the two strengthen. He worries that the dog will attack Ellie, however, it doesn’t and she pets it. 

After, Joel explains to the people that he is Tommy’s brother, they take them to Jackson, a city rebuilt as a safe haven for surviors. As he enters the town Joel takes in his surroundings and later sees a man who looks like Tommy. He gets of the horse and calls out to him, which actually was Tommy. The two brothers tear up and embrace in a tight hug as it has been years since they last saw each other. He is later introduced to Maria, who is Tommy’s wife, and the two catch up more as Ellie is taken to a house to clean up. Things were going swell until Tommy and Joel hit a rough patch making them argue and fight. Then Tommy reveals that Maria is pregnant and that’s why he cannot leave Jackson. Due to the fact that Joel has realized that he is attached to Ellie and sees her as his daughter. 

Ellie and Maria talk in the house after she showers and is given a haircut since her hair was getting long. Maria reveals that the names Ellie saw on the chalkboard were the names of children they lost. One being Sarah, Joel’s daughter, in which Ellie asks about but is cut off as they go to a house for Joel and Ellie. Joel has another panic attack as he fears his growing feelings of fatherhood towards Ellie and later goes to find her alone in a room sulking. She had heard what Joel said to Tommy and the two broke out in an argument; resulting in Ellie yelling that he wasn’t her father. Which then makes Joel retort back that he wasn’t agreeing with her and leaves. Leaving Ellie in the room alone crying and thinking that she can’t lose him too as she care for him. 

In the morning Ellie was ready to go and was about to go with Tommy to the fireflies, however, Joel comes out. He gives her the choice whether to go with Tommy or him and she chooses Joel. Tommy tells Joel that he and Ellie are always welcomed back to Jackson and  the duo departs. Soon they arrive at the base of the fireflies at a college and search for them. Only to discover that they had left and raiders occupied the place now. Attempting to escape they end up fighting the raiders which results in Joel getting severly injured by the end of a bat. Ellie helps him escape and they are seen following a railroad track. Joel seems fine until he collapses off the horse and Ellie rushes to him telling him to stay awake and not to leave her.