‘The Last Of Us’ Episode 6: Video Game Differences And Similarities, Explained

With “Kin,” the sixth episode in HBO’s frontrunner show “The Last of Us,” having dropped today, Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey have proven beyond a doubt why they were the perfect choice for these castings. Pedro emotes Joel’s vulnerability, fears, and pain with such passion that he may as well already be nominated for an Emmy or two. This episode features Joel finally finding his brother Tommy after separating from him way back in Episode 1. This episode heavily deviates from the 2013 “The Last of Us” game by Naughty Dog, which serves as the source material of the show that director Craig Mazin adapts. With so many differences from the game, let’s take a look at the several ways the show made a departure but still managed to awe every viewer of this masterpiece of a series.


“The Last of Us” Episode 6 begins with a recounting of Henry’s bewildered face, where his mind races moments after shooting his infected brother Sam, after which he kills himself. The next shot is of a man in a winter coat heading towards a hut in the middle of a bleak snowy landscape with a bow in his left hand and dead rabbits in his right. Marlon and Florence—an indigenous couple—lived so far away from civilization that they weren’t even aware of what had been happening in the world of late. We find Joel and Ellie had come up to the couple’s home, and when Marlon arrives, Joel asks him to confirm the location his wife had pointed out on a map. After learning about their location and the “River of Death,” the couple warns them not to cross. The two leave, and Ellie takes a rabbit for herself on their way out. Joel has a sort of panic attack—something that we’ll see a few more times in the episode. This section has been completely created for the game, including the couple. In the game, right after the brothers’ deaths, as in Episode 5, we find Ellie and Joel making their way to Wyoming, the last known location of Tommy. Joel never has any panic attacks in the game, and he does not mumble in his sleep.

Three months have passed since the deaths of Henry and Sam, and it’s winter now, whereas, it was the season of fall, when these events transpired. Under the northern lights out in the open, Ellie shares how she tried saving Sam with her blood before mentioning her doubts about the immunity she’s supposed to bring. She continues that she has always been a fan of space, and that of all the astronauts she has read about, her favorite of all time is Sally Ride, the first American woman in space. When asked about his dreams if normalcy returns, Joel says he wants to find a secluded spot of land, build a ranch, and raise sheep. He promises to keep watch and yet sleeps through the night, waking up to find Ellie standing guard. Once again, the episode deviated heavily from the source material because we didn’t get to learn about Joel’s hopes or see these brief moments of respite in the game until much later.


Upon arriving at the dam, Joel says he has no idea how it can generate electricity, much like in the game where he admits about his lack of technical knowledge. Joel and Ellie are about to cross the “River of Death” when they’re surrounded by a group on horseback, who have their guns aimed at the two. One of them sends a dog, specially trained to sniff out the cordyceps virus, to Joel and Ellie, and he freezes out of fear. Joel’s PTSD is triggered again, and he can’t move an inch as the thought of the dog sniffing the virus and ripping Ellie to shreds makes his ears ring. However, the dog can’t detect anything, and upon identifying himself as Joel, a man looking for his brother, the two are escorted inside the gated community of Jackson, a small area that houses 300 people and is somewhat of a paradise in these apocalyptic ruins of a planet. The game had reserved Jackson for “The Last of Us 2,” where Ellie is the protagonist, and Joel and Ellie stumbled upon a power plant in the game that was being used by Tommy and his men at the time.

The game informed us that Joel and Tommy had parted ways on particularly sour terms, with the younger brother wishing never to have to stare at Joel’s countenance again. Mazin shows how the brothers—despite having lived far apart—still care about one another, although Joel would soon start disliking Tommy. Once inside the gated community, Joel and Ellie wolf down food as Tommy and his wife, Maria, watch curiously, and the canteen has similar lights to the ones that we’d later see in the second game, where Jackson plays a big part. We also find a girl peeking at Ellie before she scares her off, and if you’re familiar with the game, there’s a high chance you recognized her as Dina, Ellie’s romantic partner in the second game.


The show goes into depth to establish the characters of Tommy and Maria and the location of Jackson by pairing off the younger brother with the older and the 14-year-old with the pregnant Maria. While Tommy announces that he’s about to become a dad—news that leaves Joel reticent— Maria introduces Ellie to feminine hygiene products and trims her hair while explaining the job she held as a district attorney in Nebraska. She also gives her a jacket that’s the same as the one she wears in the game. Joel lays into Tommy for abandoning him for the sanctuary at Jackson and Maria while he has spent months searching for him, and Tommy is relentless in reminding him that his life doesn’t have to come to a standstill just because Joel’s did. The game chooses to make the confrontation a lot more physical, with Joel shoving Tommy after the younger brother reminds him how Joel’s attempts to keep them alive gave Tommy only nightmares before their power plant is attacked by raiders. Jackson is a peaceful community with children throwing snowballs and going to school, things the first game didn’t have.

In a heartbreaking moment where Pedro’s acting chops leave not a single eye without tears, Joel confesses to his brother how much of a broken husk of a man he is now and how he no longer trusts himself to keep Ellie safe, which is why he needs Tommy to take her to the Fireflies. This conversation is somewhat similar to the one he has with Tommy in the game, although he doesn’t mention his nightmares, panic attacks, or the enormous guilt he carries around. The scene of Ellie confronting her protector Joel for abandoning her with a man she doesn’t know is almost exactly the same as the one in the game, with the exception of Joel’s warning her to tread carefully. The show skips the part where Ellie escapes on horseback at the crack of dawn, and the two brothers have to chase her and fight off a bunch of raiders to bring her back. Instead, Ellie and Tommy head to the stables in the morning to find Joel preparing a horse, and moments after he offers her a choice, she goes with him.


The surrogate father-daughter duo, with Joel having finally accepted Ellie as his “kin,” after a vision of Sarah before going to sleep, rides through the countryside, portrayed by some beautiful cinematography. This part has been created for the show to establish the bond, but the ones that follow are pretty accurate. He teaches her how to hunt and talks about his job before the world went to hell and how football is played before telling her of his childhood dream to become a singer. The two reach the University of Eastern Colorado five days after starting from Jackson, and inside, they find signs that the scientists have abandoned the place. Joel finds a list of inventory, the same as in the game, and the two walk into a room and find a bunch of monkeys, although these aren’t infected, unlike in the game.

Joel spots a group of raiders coming in, and while silently escaping, one of them attacks the duo, and although Joel snaps the attackers’ necks as he did in the game, he’s stabbed in the gut with a piece of a large wooden splinter. In the game, however, Joel had toppled off the railings of the first floor and gotten himself impaled on a piece of rebar sticking out of the ground, but HBO probably realized that nobody would survive that outside a video game. Ellie helps him up on the horse and steers the animal away while shooting at the attackers, but after putting some distance between them, Joel falls off the horse and seems to be unconscious. Ellie has tears in her eyes, and she states how utterly helpless she is without him. This is exactly like the video game, and thus starts the new part where Ellie will have to get behind the wheel while Joel recovers.


Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh has a master's degree in English literature from Calcutta University and a passion for all things in cinema. He loves writing about the finer aspects of cinema, although he is also an equally big fan of webseries and anime. In his free time, Indrayudh loves playing video games and reading classic novels.

Latest articles