The Last of Us: ‘Kin’ Spoiler Review – ScreenHub Entertainment

By Sean Gallagher

After the emotional trauma of last week’s episode, The Last of Us takes a much more deliberate and story-heavy approach with the sixth episode in the season, Kin. Three months have passed since the passing of Sam and Henry and Joel and Ellie have had plenty of time to bond over their journey from Kansas City to Jackson, Wyoming. The episode didn’t have any of the action found in last week’s episode but that’s not a criticism against the episode. Quite the opposite in fact, as I would say this week’s episode is one of the best of the season.

Over the course of the last three months off camera, Joel has warmed up to Ellie quite a bit, relative to his demeanor on the show to date. While he hasn’t gotten into his personal life, chiefly Sarah, Joel also doesn’t ignore or deflect Ellie anymore and is much chattier in this episode, happy to regale Ellie with answers about the moon and sheep.

This episode feels both very in line with the original video game while also offering numerous deviations or additions. Thankfully, all of these work and are in service of both the story and the pacing. We start the episode with one such change, with the original characters played by Graham Greene and Elaine Miles. While minor roles, the scene is quite funny, despite the grim revelation that anything west of the river is basically a death sentence, which is of course, where Tommy likely is.

[Credit: HBO Max]

After being set upon by hunters, Joel and Ellie are brought to Jackson, where Joel finally reunites with Tommy. Jackson, seen only from the distance in the game, is the spitting image of how it’s depicted in The Last of Us Part II, down to the main road and the greenhouses. The attention to detail is wonderful, as it makes this commune feel lived in and alive. Huge kudos to the production team for this one. Ditto for the cinematography, which invoked older western films. Tommy and his wife, Maria, are respected members of this community and help keep the wheels spinning, making sure it has electricity, running water, etc. The community also makes sure it has a reputation of fear to deter outsiders from seeking out this private utopia in the wasteland, which is the danger Graham Greene spoke of.

While Joel and Tommy catch up on their own, with Tommy revealing he’s a dad-to-be, Ellie cleans up at Maria’s and learns about Sarah. This is huge news for Ellie, whose been traveling with Joel for months now but has never once brought up his daughter. His defenses are still raised around Ellie, someone who not only relies on Joel but has grown to care for him. But Joel thinks he’s something of a failure and that death follows him everywhere he goes, so Ellie’s journey to the fireflies would likely be more successful with Tommy, who knows they are and the Fireflies better than Joel does; at least that’s what he tells himself. Joel is in complete survival mode here, trying anything to rid himself of the possibility of future pain. In short, he’s being incredibly selfish, unable to admit that he’s come to care for Ellie and is terrified of losing her. He’s even having panic attacks worrying about losing her. While allowing Tommy to bring Ellie to Colorado makes sense on paper, it doesn’t make sense emotionally. Ellie reveals she’s learned about Sarah from Maria but that Joel can’t use the loss of family as an excuse to ditch her, as she’s lost people too, that everyone she’s known who cared for her has died or left her except for Joel, so pawning her off onto someone she doesn’t know isn’t right or fair after everything they’ve done together. Right in the feels.

[Credit: HBO Max]

Both Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsay were exceptional in this episode. Pedro in particular as Joel was great. His moment of vulnerability when talking with Tommy about his fears and his failures was particularly engrossing, while Bella’s portrayal of Ellie continued to be wildly amusing but also exhibited that beneath all her snark and sarcasm, she’s deeply emotionally compromised and has stated to form a bond with Joel, who reiterates that she’s not his daughter and he’s not her father in an attempt to create some distance between them. Joel realizes he’s starting to care for Ellie as well, which brings up painful memories of Sarah and Joel knows that with death following him around, he can’t bear to live through a repeat of that again, so it’s best to ditch her to save himself future pain. This episode was proof that both Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsay should be considered for Emmy nominations.

[Credit: HBO Max]

Also, was that Dina from The Last of Us Part II spying on Ellie during her meal? Speaking of Part II, I caught quite a few setups or easter eggs for that, which are likely being planted for the second season. The conversation about astronauts, a baby Shimmer (the horse) and the sheep farm all foreshadow stuff to come later down the line in the second season of the show.

Joel naturally doesn’t abandon Ellie and agreed to take her to Colorado to see the Fireflies. I’d say that this segment does feel a wee bit rushed, as we spend most of the episode in Wyoming but under ten minutes in Colorado and unlike the game, don’t get any context about the development of the vaccine in the notes that were left behind. I think it could have probably served as the opening of the next episode and given a bit more time to allow the characters to spend time together after their fight. The Fireflies aren’t at the campus, likely having moved to Salt Lake City and Joel does end up critically wounded at the university (the manner of his injury being slightly altered compared to the game). While it wasn’t a bad exit, I do think it just needed a few more minutes in the oven. If Frank and Bill could get an hour and a half, I think this episode could have been at least an hour and ten minutes.

[Credit: HBO Max]

In the end, this was still a stellar episode, complete with some great character beats, growth and wonderful set design and cinematography. I think the rush ending held it back a bit, but strong writing and great acting allow this episode to stand tall.


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