HBO’s sixth episode of The Last of Us skips ahead three months as we find Joel (Pedro Pascal) and Ellie (Bella Ramsey) traveling to Tommy (Gabriel Luna), Joel’s younger brother. All season, the writers have been subtly building this brotherly reunion, with Joel’s goal of wanting to reunite with his brother since before Ellie came crashing into his life. On their way, Joel and Ellie bond over what they will do once the vaccine has been created, showing the tender moments between the pair but not missing out on the humor these two naturally have.
The theme of this episode is most certainly family, but more so what happens when years and tragedy, with a new world order, have warped the relationships. Now that he has been reunited with the last remaining member of his family, Joel can not hide away from his devastating loss of Sarah (Nico Parker) and how that has shaped his life. On the other side of this brother duo, Tommy has a new and stable life within a thriving and peaceful community. Everything is peaceful and then Joel comes in. While Joel’s arrival certainly causes some issues, the brotherly bond still shines through because of the brilliant writing of their scenes and Pascal and Luna’s fantastic acting.
As with any adaptation, there are a number of changes that work brilliantly in HBO’s The Last of Us, and one major change is the brothers' confrontation. Fans of the game will know that Joel asks for a big favor from Tommy, but in the series, it has more emotional depth to it. As Joel opens up to Tommy about his failures and how they can determine the success of escorting Ellie to the Fireflies. It’s not as angry as the game, which is positive, as both of these characters still have years’ worth of pain to push aside, to see the bigger picture of the world.
Week after week, Bella Ramsey knocks it out of the park as Ellie, and if there were any doubters left, I suspect there won’t be any remaining after this episode. All throughout this episode, Ellie has defended Joel and protected him even at some points, and it all comes to a head in a highly anticipated scene from the game. The episode solidifies the relationship between Joel and Ellie in a perfect balance of humor and emotional payoff. Ramsey expertly manages to emulate the emotional element of the game while bringing something of her own to Ellie that proves she was the perfect casting.
One of the only things I thought could have been improved, this episode involved a university. Without going into spoilers, this whole arc felt very rushed and anti-climactic, especially given what the future implications hold for Joel and Ellie. Yes, changes from the game needed to be made to make certain things a bit more realistic, but I feel the writers could have done something a little more to add to the severity of the situation.
Overall, episode six was still strong. It wasn’t as action-packed as the previous one, but it was needed to move things along. Jackson is explored more, with Maria (Rutina Wesley) running it so it is harmonious and inclusive. The bond between Joel and Ellie is clearer than before, but as the impacts of loss are so severe, it alters your life completely. The pacing was excellent throughout the episode, but the only thing preventing episode six from receiving a perfect score was the last few minutes. The ending of the episode felt rushed, but also like something else was missing; otherwise, it was an almost perfect episode again.
Final Score- [8.5/10]
Reviewed by - Leigh Doyle
Publisher at Midgard Times
Premiere Date: February 19, 2023, on HBO
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