Please note: there are FULL spoilers for the entire sixth episode of this first season, as well as all preceding episodes. Also worth noting is that I have never played the video game this is based on, and have no idea of any specific plot points, so any speculation of upcoming events is truly just that.
Three months have passed since Ellie and Joel encountered, and lost, Henry and Sam in Kansas City. Now in Wyoming in the winter time, the elderly Marlon (Graham Greene) returns to his secluded log cabin to find his wife, Florence (Elaine Miles) being held at gunpoint by Joel and Ellie. After a tense introduction, the four come to an understanding, and Marlon tells Joel that the man he is looking for, Joel’s brother Tommy, might be out west, past the River of Death. Marlon warns the pair not to go that direction, but Joel and Ellie leave intending to do so anyway. Outside, Joel has difficulty breathing, but swears to Ellie he is fine.
Heading westward, Joel and Ellie set up camp for the night, and Ellie wonders aloud what happens after the Fireflies make a cure from her blood. She asks Joel what he wants to do, and Joel says he would get a farm and raise some sheep. Conversely, Ellie talks about her love of astronauts, and how she would like to go to the moon. Ellie reveals that she attempted to save Sam, knowing that she had immune blood. Joel says he trusts Marlene, and if she believes the fireflies can help, they can. he will keep watch overnight, and Ellie heads to sleep.
The next morning, Joel awakens to find Ellie already up, having kept watch after Joel fell asleep, doing all the things he taught her to do. The two move on. After firing a warning shot from the treeline to see if anything reacts, Joel and Ellie cross the river, on a large bridge. After complaining about a lack of food, Ellie asks to be taught how to hunt. The pair come across a large dam, and on the other side, find another river. Ellie wonders if maybe they had the wrong river, and Marlon was warning about this one.
Suddenly, the two are suddenly surrounded by strangers on horseback. The leader separates Joel and Ellie, and sets their dog on them to check for infection. Joel passes, and after a tense moment, Ellie is deemed clear too. One of the strangers, Maria (Rutina Wesley), asks Joel his name, and when Joel replies, they are both taken back the strangers’ hideout, a walled off western town called Jackson. Inside, children play freely and the townsfolk build snowmen. There, Joel sees Tommy (a returning Gabriel Luna) and they emotionally reunite.
With Tommy and Maria, Joel and Ellie get a meal, and Tommy reveals he has married Maria. They take a tour of the town, where Maria reveals that the town was built from an already gated community, and they keep it safe by staying off the radio and not advertising themselves. Joel notices they draw power from the nearby dam. Maria reveals there is no one leader, and everything is shared. Tommy suggests an empty house nearby for Joel and Ellie to stay in, which Maria takes Ellie to as Joel and Tommy catch up, despite Ellie’s objection.
At a nearby bar, Tommy asks how Tess is, and Joel lies, saying she’s fine. Joel also lies about who Ellie really is. Tommy says he knows the Fireflies might be at the University of Eastern Colorado, about a week’s ride south, but the ride would be dangerous. Joel questions why Tommy won’t join him, and things get tense between the brothers, before Tommy reveals that Maria is pregnant. The two continue trading barbs, and Joel tells Tommy he’ll be gone by the morning. Outside, Joel has another health attack, and sees a girl who looks like Sarah from behind.
In her new home, Ellie exits the shower and finds new supplies, such as new clothing and a menstrual cup. Ellie heads across the road to Maria’s house, but Maria isn’t home. Inside, Ellie finds a shrine to people named Kevin and Sarah, apparently two children who died. While trimming Ellie’s hair, Maria reveals that she was an assistant district-attorney before the outbreak. Maria mentions that Kevin was her son, but that Sarah was Joel’s daughter, which Ellie was not aware of. Maria and Ellie have a short but tense conversation as Maria finishes cutting Ellie’s hair, before they go to the cinemas where Ellie looks uncomfortable.
Nearby, Joel is attempting to repair his boots when Tommy arrives and bring shim new shoes. Tommy apologises for their earlier confrontation, and Joel asks if the ride to the university is a suicide mission. Tommy says that is dangerous, but Joel should be able to handle it. Joel reveals to Tommy that Ellie is immune, and tells Tommy everything that happened from the beginning: about Marlene, Tess, Kansas City and everything happened there. Joel reveals that he believes he has gone soft, and is afraid of what he is becoming, and the health issues he has been suffering from. Joel emotionally begs Tommy to take Ellie to the university and the Fireflies, which Tommy agrees to. Meanwhile, Ellie has left the cinema.
Heading to his new home, Joel finds Ellie reading the prior inhabitant’s diary, where Ellie reveals she heard lots of what Joel told Tommy. Ellie mentions Sarah, saying they are not the same, but Joel angrily tells her to stop. Ellie breaks down, and tells Joel that she has lost everyone she has ever known, except for Joel. Joel agrees that Ellie is not Sarah, and that come dawn, the two are going their seperate ways. Alone in his bedroom, Joel remembers decorating the Christmas tree with Sarah, before going to sleep.
The next morning, Tommy arrives to take Ellie. They head to the stables, where Ellie finds Joel waiting, saying he was going to steal a horse and join them. Joel offers Ellie the choice of going with him or Tommy, and Ellie immediately chooses Joel. Joel and Tommy say their goodbyes, and Tommy says there will always be a place for Joel and Ellie when they come back. Tommy lends Joel his rifle, and Joel and Ellie depart. On the road, Joel teaches Ellie to use a rifle (though she’s not very good), and Joel talks about life before the outbreak. Ellie also learns the rules of American Football. The two continue towards Colorado.
Five days later, at the University of Eastern Colorado, the pair don’t see any Fireflies. Joel reveals he always wanted to be a singer. The two see a pack of monkeys, which must have come from the science laboratories. When they find guard booths with no guards, the two continue on foot with their weapons drawn. Inside, Joel believes all the Fireflies have left, but the two are alerted to a noise from upstairs. There, they find more monkeys in the laboratory building, confirming that the Fireflies have moved on to Salt Lake City. Outside, Joel sees raiders approaching.
The two quickly and quietly flee back to their horse, but are attacked by a raider with a baseball bat. Joel snaps the Raider’s neck, but Ellie sees Joel has been impaled by the broken bat handle. The two escape, but Joel’s injuries prove severe and he falls off the horse. Ellie begs for Joel to open his eyes.
+ obviously things went surprisingly well, all things considered, but it was refreshing to see Joel and Ellie as the bad guys in someone else’s story; Marlon just returned home from hunting to find his wife held hostage by some strange man. From his perspective, this is the beginning of a horror movie
+ damn those snowy vistas were gorgeous. I watched this on a scorching Australian evening, so they looked twice and nice
+ I would like a bit more information of what Joel and Tommy did in the past, because “they killed people” is not really such a bad thing considering the state of the world right now. If this gets revealed later than I’ll eat my hat, but for now I’m just not convinced Joel (and Tommy) should be maligned as they are. There is also some meta issues in that the characters know more, and have opinions on, things we don’t know about, so it’s hard to gauge if they are reacting fairly or not
+ the song at the end was a cover of Depeche Mode’s “Never Let Me Down Again”, the same song from the end of the opening episode. We all know that songs fromt he 80s can only mean one thing: trouble
– a three month time skip is a bit much, considering all that happened in these first few weeks that we’ve seen in the first five episodes.
– I immediately disliked Maria, and I thought her lecturing Ellie about trusting someone you don’t know about was hypocritical and annoying, as Ellie knows Joel far better than she knows Maria.
– Tommy said that the path from Jackson to Colorado was dangerous (but mentioned his people all come back, as well), but the two passed through it in like 10 seconds of screen time. Was he deliberately lying to Joel so he wouldn’t go there?
– something I absolute hate in screen media is how the heroes get snuck up on by one random goon, in this case the raider with the bat. How did they not hear him coming? How did they not see him coming?
– no infected all episode? Boo. I want more gross mushroom men
– I think six episode is long enough for me to say this fairly: I don’t like Bella Ramsay. I just cannot get it in my head that she is Ellie while I can easily do so for Pedro Pascal as Joel
> What the heck was up with the horse in that final shot? It looked really weird
Final thoughts: A lot of this episode felt incredibly rushed and not just the three month time skip, which I have some real issues with. Joe’s reuniting with Tommy, learning about the town of Jackson, and then spending five days getting to Colorado all in the span of some ~56 minutes? I’m losing interest in this show more and more every episode.