Episode 6 of The Last of Us needs to be highlighted for the best acting Pedro Pascal has demonstrated in his career. Sure, he’s been in some of the biggest franchises of all time, but his account of Joel’s pain in this hour of television is his defining moment. But episode 6 does more than just showcase the lead, re-introducing us to Joel’s brother (Tommy, played by Gabriel Luna) in the safest location depicted since the infection destroyed the world. Jackson is a snow-covered delight that has movie nights, giant walls and decent folk – what could go wrong?
Following the disaster of episode 5 and the events with brothers Henry and Sam, we are transported forward three months into the midst of winter. Joel and Ellie, with no fresh wounds, are attempting to find Tommy despite the warnings about the region. After tense scenes with dogs that can sniff out the infected and guns held to foreheads, we meet a woman who is very familiar with the name ‘Joel’. Our heroes are transported to safety, but safety never lasts long around here.
Joel’s care for Ellie (and vice versa) has clearly expanded over the three months missing from the series. You can see it in his eyes, his actions and more importantly his decisions. Ellie is no longer cargo, and Joel’s struggle is just about enough to make a grown man/woman/clicker cry. His moments with his brother are touching, but not without complication. Joel is all too ready to pass on the cargo to someone else – not because he doesn’t want to deliver, but because he doesn’t think he is capable anymore. Age catches up to all of us, and it is a deep exploration into the human psyche.
There are some foreshadowing moments and Easter eggs for those with a keen eye. These connect to the second game and will no doubt be explored in season two. The creators continue to impress with these additions, rewarding gamers for their decade-long love of the original game. But even those who haven’t played the game will start to connect some dots. For when they watch it back again, it will be like viewing the series for the first time. This is the magic of adaptation.
Top tier writing, acting, audio and setting combine to create the sleeper hit of the series. Spoiler-free, the end of the episode is powerful, provocative and fear-inducing (especially for those unfamiliar with the source material). Locations such as the university pop up, signalling some new dangers on the horizon. There is still action in episode 6, but this is where we begin to truly explore the dangers of humanity rather than the threat of the infected.
There are some true horrors coming up.
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