'The Last of Us' Episode 6 recap: Reunited brothers spark family drama for survival

The preview for the new episode of the HBO hit teases Joel and Tommy's reunion, but it's not necessarily Happily Ever After

Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey continue to take us on the emotional rollercoaster that is HBO's The Last of Us (on Crave in Canada) as we hit Episode 6 of the show.

We may still be reeling from the deaths of Henry (Lamar Johnson) and Sam (Keivonn Woodard) at the end of Episode 5, but much like Joel and Ellie have to pull themselves together and keep going, so do we as we follow along this harrowing journey.

Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey in HBO's The Last of Us Episode 6 (Liane Hentscher/HBO)
Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey in HBO's The Last of Us Episode 6 (Liane Hentscher/HBO)

Here's everything you need to know from Episode 6 of HBO's The Last of Us (spoilers ahead):

Episode 5 concludes with Henry shooting Sam, who was infected, and subsequently killing himself, and now the timeline jumps forward by three months.

Joel (Pascal) and Ellie (Ramsey) are sitting in a couple's cabin. Gun in hand, Joel is asking for the best way to head west in Wyoming, to avoid infected, and wants to know if they've heard of someone named Tommy.

"If your brother’s west of the river, he’s gone," the woman says, warning Joel and Ellie about the "river of death."

Given that the pre-release preview for the episode clearly shows Tommy (Gabriel Luna) and Joel are reunited, this initial element of the episode, which is supposed to make us think Tommy didn't make it, isn't particularly effective. But we'll roll with it.

As Joel and Ellie keep travelling, Ellie tells Joel about trying to heal Sam with her blood. Joel convinces her that if Marlene believes a cure will work, it can happen.

Amid a lot of walking and entertaining banter between Ellie and Joel, they're met by a group on horseback, armed with guns. These people have a dog with them that can identify infected people. Joel and Ellie are concerned that the dog will be able to sense that Ellie has been bitten and will attack her, but they're in luck, the dog doesn't identify her bite.

A woman asks Joel what his name is, when he responds she guides him and Ellie to a commune in Jackson, which started being built about seven years ago by a group of people looking to keep raiders and infected away.

Gabriel Luna, Pedro Pascal in HBO's The Last of Us Episode 6 (Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO)
Gabriel Luna, Pedro Pascal in HBO's The Last of Us Episode 6 (Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO)

Brotherly love

That's where brothers Joel and Tommy are happily reunited. The woman that led Joel to his brother is Maria (Rutina Wesley), who is now married to Tommy.

In this community, there isn't a leader or a single person in charge. Instead, there's a council: This commune operates through shared, collective ownership.

When Joel and Tommy have a moment alone to reconnect at a bar, Tommy asks how Tess is doing. Joel lies and says she's fine. He tells another lie when Tommy asks what's going on with Ellie. Joel says Ellie is a daughter of a "Firefly mucky-muck" and he's getting paid to reunite her with her family.

Tommy explains that the Fireflies have a base at the University of Eastern Colorado. It's about a week-long horseback ride away, but it's "severely f-cked up between here and there" with both raiders and infected.

While Joel assumed his brother would finish this trip with him, Tommy says he can't go. Joel probes, asking if Maria is the reason Tommy stopped responding to his communication, and Tommy explains what happened.

"After I ditched the Fireflies, Maria and her crew found me. They’re good people," Tommy said. "All they ask is that I follow their rules."

"They’re very protective of this place. They have a good f-cking reason."

Joel interrupts his brother to say that he heard the commune's concerns that "wrong people" might show up.

"So is that what I am?" Joel asks Tommy. "Those things you judge me for. I did those things to keep us alive.”

“They weren’t things, we murdered people and I don’t judge you for it," Tommy says in response. "We survived the only way we knew how. There were other ways, we just weren’t very good at them.”

That's when Tommy tells Joel that he's about to be a father, Maria is pregnant. Joel, clearly thinking back to his own heartbreaking experience with his daughter Sarah, instantly gets a tense look on his face. When Tommy says he thinks he'll be a good father, Joel responds by saying, "I guess we'll find out," which upsets Tommy.

“Just because life stopped for you, doesn’t mean it has to stop for me," Tommy says, which results in Joel abruptly leaving, saying he plans to leave with Ellie in the morning.

Hit by the trauma of his daughter's death, Joel stops outside, grabbing his chest trying to catch his breath. He sees a woman with a vague resemblance to Sarah's and, for a moment, thinks he sees his daughter.

Rutina Wesley in HBO's The Last of Us Episode 6 (Liane Hentscher/HBO)
Rutina Wesley in HBO's The Last of Us Episode 6 (Liane Hentscher/HBO)

'Everybody I have cared for has either died or left me'

While all this is happening, Ellie is not really a kid who enjoys other children around. But she's seeing and learning about new things, like the menstrual cup Maria left for her.

Maria gives Ellie a new coat, shoes and offers to trim Ellie's hair, which she agrees to. Maria ends up revealing to Ellie that Joel had a daughter, Sarah, who died. When Maria goes on to try to tell Ellie it's not safe to be travelling with Joel, Ellie pushes back.

That evening, Tommy and Joel have another, more honest, conversation. Tommy apologizes for what he said to his brother, but Joel decides to tell Tommy why he's really travelling with Ellie. He explains that she was bitten but isn't infected, and he's taking her to a group of Fireflies working on a cure. Joel reveals to Tommy that it's a promise he made to Tess when she got infected, but Joel doesn't think that he's actually strong enough to go on.

"We made it as far as [Kansas City] and then ... she saved my life there," Joel says, starting to cry "She had to shoot him to save me, 14 years old, because I was too slow and too f-cking deaf to hear him coming."

"You think I can still handle things but I’m not who I was. I’m weak. ... I have dreams every night ... I can’t remember. I just know when I wake up, I’ve lost something. I’m failing in my sleep. It’s all I do. It's all I've ever done, is fail."

Joel tells Tommy he has to take Ellie to the Fireflies, because he's stronger and will make it back. Tommy agrees.

"Here's your chance to bring your kid into a better world," Joel says. "You have to take her."

What Joel didn't know at the time is that Ellie was listening to part of this conversation. When he goes to tell her what's going to happen, she feels like he's abandoning her.

“Why are you still here? If you’re going to ditch me, ditch me,” Ellie says to Joel. "Do you give a sh-t about me or not?"

"I’m not her you know. Maria told me about Sarah."

Joel cuts her off, telling her to not say another word, but she keeps talking.

“I’ve lost people too. … Everybody I have cared for has either died or left me," Ellie says. "Everybody f-cking except for you. So don't tell me that I'd be safer with someone else because the truth is, I'll just be more scared."

Joel says that Ellie's not his daughter, and he's not her dad, and they're going their separate ways.

Pedro Pascal in HBO's The Last of Us Episode 6 (Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO)
Pedro Pascal in HBO's The Last of Us Episode 6 (Photograph by Liane Hentscher/HBO)

Emotional cliffhanger

The next morning, when Tommy and Ellie head to the horses, Joel is waiting for them. Joel says he believes Ellie should choose who she leaves with. Of course, she picks Joel.

Ellie and Joel make it to the university, but in typical Last of Us form, it's completely abandoned. No Fireflies, just monkeys that were used in the labs. They see a map with pins around Salt Lake City, which leads Ellie and Joel to believe that's where all the Fireflies went.

Looking out the window of the building, they see a group of raiders wandering outside. Joel and Ellie try to make their way back to the horses to get out of there.

Joel fights someone who approaches them, breaks his neck to kill him, but Joel’s been stabbed. Ellie helps him get on the horse to ride away, as she shoots more people running towards them.

They get away but Joel can't last long and falls off the horse, and stops moving.

Ellie cries, hoping that he'll start talking and moving again, saying that she doesn't know what to do without him.

As the episode ends, we just hear Ellie sobbing and repeating "Joel, please."

Now we wait another week to find out what happens.