The Last of Us – Hope meets doubt in the eventful sixth episode of Ars Technica

Can someone please bring an electric stove for this girl?
Expanding / Can someone please bring an electric stove for this girl?

new episodes of Last of Us premieres every Sunday night on HBO and stars Ars’ Kyle Orlando (who has played the game) and Andrew Cunningham (who has not yet played the game). talk about them here Shortly after the episode aired.These recaps don’t delve into every plot point in the episode, but they clearly heavy spoiler so watch the episode first if you want to go fresh.

Kyle: In addition to the obvious “plot-forward” bit of reuniting Joel and his brother Tommy, how deeply this episode engages with the mental and physical pain of aging surprised a clearly traumatized Joel. This sort of thing is alluded to in games, especially in sequels, but it’s kind of a vague undercurrent beneath Joel’s popular image of “unflappable survivor badass.”

Andrew: A three-month time jump following last week’s emotional event is just enough time for Joel and Ellie to get from Missouri to southern Wyoming. Their dynamic doesn’t seem to have changed much, but we see Joel suffering from something very similar to a panic attack, and Joel found his little brother. It turns out he doesn’t need that much savings after all.

The Jackson commune they end up in may be the only place that’s truly safe, perhaps even truly comfortable, other than in the flashbacks we’ve seen. no flags and no signs of infection. They are not doomsday preppers trying to go it alone. They have Christmas lights! They have a movie night.

Along with that setting, something about seeing his brother again — seeing a close friend or family member you haven’t seen in a while makes it easy to revert to an earlier version of yourself — completely breaks Joel’s defenses. Shattering, shattering all his emotional subtext…his relationship with Ellie just crumbles.

She's obviously very concerned about COVID
Expanding / She’s obviously very concerned about COVID

Kyle: It’s kind of tangent, but this episode and the episode 3 that preceded it are a keen reminder of how important stable electricity is to modern, peaceful societies. The only major difference from a commune is that people can be provided with running water, heating and movies to keep the children busy.

Andrew: There is real truth in it. I was living in New Jersey (and my wife was out of town) when Hurricane Sandy hit. I lived a nomadic life for a few days, going from place to place with electricity, waiting for our electricity to come back. New Jersey still has these giant shopping malls that are disappearing in most other places in the country. Go to one and you’ll see people gathering around the sockets recessed into the floor, waiting to charge their phones.

Having electricity and alcohol seems to really give people the upper hand in this episode. If it weren’t for the barricades (and the handwritten labels on every whiskey bottle in the bar, which is a nice touch), Jackson might be pretty much a normal town.

How about this for the slogan: Jackson, the city of brotherly love. is it taken?
Expanding / How about this for the slogan: Jackson, the city of brotherly love. is it taken?
Kyle: I wondered if Jackson’s example could be replicated in other communities far away in this world. Even being in a secluded area and unbeknownst to shortwave radio seems to be pretty important to protect yourself from infected and assailants. Being a relatively small community probably helps too. When the whole town knows you, it’s hard to waste your time.

That being said, it feels like a few dozen Kansas City guys with heavy artillery could overrun this idyllic hamlet and destroy it incredibly quickly.

Andrew: We quietly hope nobody does that!

It also doesn’t hurt that Jackson has a consistent source of hydro power. This is not possible in many other places.

Kyle: Well, if this fad had happened just 20 years later, there would be a lot of solar panels around to repurpose!

Andrew: A huge wind farm available! It’s not going to be political, but wouldn’t renewable energy be good?

Kyle: We need a Green New Deal to protect us from the zombie apocalypse!

Andrew: “I can’t believe these communist parties are trying to rob us right It’s about contracting a deadly mushroom virus,” says Tucker Carlson.

Just Ellie enjoying the best meal of her life...
Expanding / Just Ellie enjoying the best meal of her life…

Kyle: Speaking of politics, I liked Tommy’s reaction to the undeniable fact that he lived under communism for years and loved it. You can almost see his brain rewire itself in real time.

Andrew: “Of course we live in communeand everything belongs to everyone, but it is not Communism.”

The big emotional decisions in this episode feel a little rushed. . it works. It’s just a big pivot point in their relationship and everything happens very quickly.

Kyle: yeah it kind of felt like an episode Full house Danny experiences a trust crisis with parenting, Uncle Jesse convinces him to cool down about it, and everything works out in time for the all-new family problems.

Are my timely sitcom tropes working for you?

Andrew: Yes, this is a hip, modern reference and I’m glad I made it.

Like many action sequences in the show, the science lab action sequence is so straightforward that it’s a little difficult to comment on. A small roving band of generic jerks come across our heroes and a fight ensues. I resonate with

And a whole sequence with monkeys and college, and everything set my “this feels like a video game” sensor.

Joel at the respawn point.
Expanding / Joel at the respawn point.

Kyle: you’re not. For as long as I can remember, his last 15 minutes of the episode were pretty true to the game. We’ll have Joel and Ellie predict what will happen after this cliffhanger…

Andrew:Well, I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone, but if Joel dies, he will respawn at the last save point. It’s just how much of a Monkey College sequence you need to watch a second or third time while trying to figure out.

Survival-trained Ellie suddenly finds herself in an unlikely guardian role while Joel recovers, and enlists an unlikely friend or two for his help. I’m not sure about that, but I’m more certain than I am that the show lets the main character die so quickly.

Kyle: I’d like to cite the first season of Game of Thrones as a counter-example, but I’m pretty sure no one at HBO uses it as a guide document…

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