It’s the confrontation fans were waiting with bated breath for.
The Last of Us episode 6 took us to the settlement of Jackson, a key location in the Naughty Dog games (really, The Last of Us Part II) and now, the HBO adaptation. Here, Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey served up their finest performances yet, taking on an anticipated scene that recreated one of the game’s most famous (and painfully honest) moments: Joel and Ellie’s big argument.(Opens in a new tab)
The episode speaks to the fear of loss and grief in a variety of ways. Being reunited with his brother, Tommy (Gabriel Luna), Joel (Pascal) is able to confess his fears over being inadequate to protect Ellie (Ramsey), reminded of losing Sarah (Nico Parker) to violence during the outbreak — a loss also deeply felt by Tommy. Until this point, Joel hasn’t allowed himself to even use his daughter’s name, and a moment in which Joel sees a person who resembles his daughter in Jackson reminds us how deep he has concealed his memories.
In an emotionally charged scene (the one we’ve been waiting for), Joel and Ellie have an argument over loss. Joel tries to explain his decision to have Tommy take her to the Fireflies in Colorado instead, having previously confessed to his brother his fears of failing Ellie. This deep anxiety speaks to the kind of love reminiscent of Bill’s line to Frank in episode 3, when Nick Offerman delivers the sentimental statement: “I was never afraid until you showed up.” Not having a bar of Joel’s reasoning, Ellie angrily admits she’s afraid of being without him.
The confrontation is also the first time Ellie brings up Joel’s daughter, Sarah. Coldly, Joel dismisses Ellie’s own experiences of loss as minimal compared to his. However, Ellie has experienced a colossal amount of grief in her 15 years, and throws it right back. Joel drops the immensely hurtful “you’re not my daughter, and I sure as hell ain’t your dad” line, declares they’ll go their separate ways, and Ellie is left extremely hurt.
Credit: Liane Hentscher/HBO
Spectacularly well performed by Ashley Johnson and Troy Baker in Naughty Dog’s game, the scene is a turning point for Ellie and Joel’s relationship — and one of the biggest moments for fans of the game. The confrontation cuts deep, and speaks loud of the unspeakable. And in the series, Pascal and Ramsey make it their own.
“Me and Pedro, both of us really felt the pressure of that.”
“Me and Pedro, both of us really felt the pressure of that,” says Ramsey in a behind-the-scenes clip released by HBO. “When you feel too pressured in something, when you’ve created that for yourself, it can be hard to perform how you want to. I had sleepless nights over that scene.”
‘I didn’t envy them,” said The Last of Us creator Neil Druckmann in the clip. “Trying to do a scene that exists in the game and was seared into people’s minds. They made it their own and it’s just as beautiful.”
“That scene is perhaps the most famous scene from the game. We did it almost exactly; we changed a few things here and there. The general execution of it was something that I thought was important we stick to exactly,” said director Craig Mazin in the clip.
The episode sees several changes from the game, the main of which is that we don’t actually see the Jackson settlement until The Last of Us Part II — we just see it way off in the distance. Instead, in the game, Joel and Ellie find Tommy and Maria at the hydroelectric plant that’s powering it nearby — and they’re ambushed soon after reuniting. When the fighting stops, Ellie overhears Joel’s plan to send her with Tommy instead, and she steals one of Tommy’s horses and runs away(Opens in a new tab). Mazin and Druckmann left this chase out, but gave a subtle nod to it in the episode when Ellie and Tommy find Joel in the stables — he confesses to wanting to steal a horse and run, but decides to give Ellie the choice of who she rides with.
In the game, Joel finally tracks Ellie down to a teen bedroom in an abandoned house, where they have the confrontation depicted in the series within Ellie’s temporary bedroom in Jackson. The setting is a painful reminder of the teens lost in the last two decades. Within this room, Joel’s connection to his daughter could not be stronger, which brings his confrontation with Ellie quite literally closer to home.
The Last of Us is now streaming on HBO Max.(opens in a new tab) New episodes air every Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.