This review contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 6 of The Last of Us, which you can stream on HBO Max before reading if you haven’t watched the episode.
The latest episode from HBO Max’s The Last of Us (Season 1, Episode 6) places Pedro Pascal’s Joel and Bella Ramsey’s Ellie into an almost opposite situation compared to the previous episode, giving both the viewer and the show some breathing time amongst all the chaos. Despite the fact that Ellie almost gets chewed up by a sniffer dog, the first 10 to 20 minutes or so take us into a much more relaxed environment that allows for some dedicated character development time, which is perfectly executed. Season 1, Episode 6 dives deeper into how Joel really feels about himself, the whole situation, and even Ellie who he recently referred to as just “cargo”. However, the time spent during this episode focuses more directly on building the relationship between Joel and Ellie, with performances that will captivate both the original fans of the game and those who are diving into this world for the first time.
Something that seems to be the main element of this episode is Joel’s background, both before the apocalypse and during the earlier years that fans don’t get to see due to the time jump. Gabriel Luna returns as Tommy after a good handful of episodes spent searching for him, and Luna proves that the casting for this show remains perfect for each character, with performances from Luna that just sucks you in from the get-go. Everything seems safe for a little while during the second act, however, just like any other apocalypse story, things do of course take a turn for the worst. Even though Joel and Ellie are placed in a warm, loving, and safe environment, Joel’s anxiety increases knowing what lies ahead for Ellie due to her immunity. One scene in particular shows Joel finally admitting how he truly feels about everything to his brother Tommy, even confessing that he’s scared, with major signs that his past traumas have become far too overwhelming. The main theme in episode 6 is definitely mental health, with maybe one of Pascal’s best performances on screen yet.
Although this episode has a lot more dramatic, intense, and serious tones to it, it surprises you with hints of comedic elements too, with plenty of moments from various cast members that make you laugh out loud. What’s surprising about this is the fact that the 50-60 minutes manage to both make you laugh and make you cry, multiple times, in no particular order, sending your brain into a HBO Max subscription-priced emotional rollercoaster. However, all tones during the episode are executed perfectly with yet again more amazing performances from the cast, brilliant editing, beautiful scenery and set design, plus all the amazing hard work that goes into each frame of making this show.
Another point that this episode makes very clear is the fact that by the end of the episode, both Joel and Ellie have technically achieved what they set out to do during the first couple of episodes. Joel has found his brother Tommy and technically delivered Ellie to the destination he was told to take her to by Marlene, and despite the fact that everything goes wrong, this makes everything even more interesting.
Cliffhangers can be tough to achieve, some TV shows have been known to completely opt out of using cliffhangers, but a well-done cliffhanger can make wonders for building suspense. The Last of Us’ sixth episode does just that, putting Joel and Ellie into what seems to be the potential main villain’s group of the show, just when you think everything is going well. Joel and Ellie have to take on quite a few raiders, humans, not monsters – well, monsters but humans, which ends up with Joel being stabbed by quite a thick sharp object, leaving Joel passed out due to blood loss during the final seconds of the episode. This cliffhanger is the type of ending that makes you jump out of your seat as soon as you see the credits, craving to know what happens next, so yes, a perfect cliffhanger by all means.
Season 1, Episode 6 of The Last of Us perfectly pivoted the story of the first season and even felt like a worthy candidate for a season finale. The narrative that explores the dangers of mental health was executed extremely well, with performances that make you truly believe what you’re hearing. Just like in the previous episodes, it is impossible not to feel immersed when viewing such beautiful scenery and extraordinary set designs. This episode seems to be the perfect point of the season to spend some focused time building on character development, with an ending that just leaves you wanting more – 5 Stars!
The Last of Us: Season 1, Episode 6 is now streaming on HBO Max.