Last of Us Episode 6 Sneakily Makes the Game’s Most Incredible Level Even Better
Sheep ranches on the Moon.
Joel and Ellie’s relationship has slowly but surely grown and evolved over the course of The Last of Us’ first five episodes. But in Episode 6, the two misfit survivors grow closer than ever. Not only does the episode, titled “Kin,” see Pedro Pascal’s Joel make the commitment to take Bella Ramsey’s Ellie as far as she needs to go, but it also gives the two characters the chance to bond and open up to each other. The Last of Us Episode 6 even features a campfire chat that is among the most laidback that the series has delivered up to this point.
However, the conversation in question doesn’t just serve to bring Joel and Ellie closer together. It also sets up two iconic moments from 2020’s The Last of Us Part II (and presumably from Season 2 of the show). Here’s how.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for The Last of Us Episode 6 and also the entire video game franchise.
Early on in The Last of Us Episode 6, Joel and Ellie talk to each other about their ideal lives once they make it to the Fireflies, develop a vaccine, and save the world.
“I’ve been thinking,” Ellie says. “Let’s say we find the Fireflies, it all works, they draw my blood and put it through some of their fancy machines and make a cure — then what? What do we do?”
Joel, for his part, says that he’d like to live a fairly modest life.
“An old farmhouse. Some land. A ranch,” he says. “I’ll raise sheep. They’re quiet and do what they’re told.”
Ellie, unsurprisingly, has far more ambitious ideas for her future. When Joel asks her where she’ll go after the world is finally put back together, she looks to the Moon and talks about all the famous NASA astronauts she read about once.
Later, when they’re getting ready to go to sleep for the night, Joel tells Ellie to dream about “sheep ranches on the Moon.”
Last of Us 2 and Ellie’s space dreams
Ellie’s love of astronauts won’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who played Naughty Dog’s Last of Us games. Not only is her fascination with space exploration repeatedly discussed in those games, but The Last of Us Part II also features a scene in which Joel helps Ellie live out her fantasies by taking her to an abandoned Wyoming museum. Once there, Ellie puts on an astronaut helmet, climbs into an antique space capsule with Joel, and listens to a tape of a rocket launch he brought along.
The scene is one of the most moving and memorable that the game has to offer, which only makes the manner in which The Last of Us Episode 6 sets it up all the more exciting. The same goes for Joel’s mention of one day moving into an old farmhouse and raising sheep on the land around it. As those who have played The Last of Us Part II will already know, that’s exactly what Ellie and her girlfriend, Dina, do near the end of that game.
Of course, in The Last of Us Part II, Ellie and Dina move onto their sheep ranch in order to find some semblance of peace in the wake of all the traumatic experiences they suffer throughout the first two-thirds of the game. Their decision to do so is largely disconnected from Joel, and it is, in fact, Ellie’s relationship with Joel that ends up pulling her away from her and Dina’s peaceful ranch life. But still, the HBO show seems to be planting the seeds for a powerful callback down the line in Season 2 or beyond.
The Inverse Analysis — Ellie and Joel’s conversation in The Last of Us Episode 6 is largely an original creation of the show. There isn’t any scene like it in either of the games that inspired the HBO series. However, much like the creation of Melanie Lynskey’s Kathleen, it does a lot to set up the events of The Last of Us Part II in ways that, frankly, the original Last of Us never did.
Whether or not these new instances of foreshadowing actually make some of the more controversial moments from Part II feel less abrupt or easier to accept remains to be seen. Either way, it’s hard not to, at the very least, appreciate the effort that writers Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann are putting in to help set up The Last of Us’ future.