‘The Last Of Us’ Episode 6: All Hidden Details And Easter Eggs, Explained

HBO has outdone itself yet again with one of the best video game adaptations ever, and it’s partly because of director Craig Mazin’s vision complemented by the efforts of brilliant actors like Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey, Nick Offerman, and a host of others that has made “The Last of Us” into such a masterpiece. The sixth episode was loaded with Easter eggs, some of which are so minute that you might’ve missed them unless you’re one of the eagle-eyed viewers. However, worry not, as we’re back to breakdown and explain all the major and some of the minor Easter eggs that the sixth episode featured, some of which are related to the two “The Last of Us” games by Naughty Dog – the show’s source material. With so much ground to cover, let’s get right into it.

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“The Last of Us” Episode 6 opens with a shot of a man walking up to a hut carrying dead rabbits in his hand, which is a nod to how the chapter after escaping from Pittsburgh opens in the game. We meet the characters Marlon and Florence, a couple who had stayed alive by staying away from humanity even before the cordyceps virus was ever heard of. The two might come off as an old duo who are unaware of anything that’s happening around them, but the bond of love and trust they share was something so strikingly missing back in Kansas City. The reason Marlon and Florence have flourished, much like the settlement at Jackson, as Ellie and Joel will find out later, is because these sanctuaries were built on love and trust. They differ from the brutal rules and corporal laws that FEDRA employed in Boston and also in Kansas City, before Kathleen, and her men took over. We saw a similar sanctuary-like existence back in “The Last of Us” Episode 3, where Bill and Frank created their own paradise in the middle of a dead earth. The river that Marlon points out as the “River of Death” is the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park.

After gathering all the information they need from the sweet couple, Joel and Ellie step out of the hut, and he has a panic attack. Interestingly, he has these attacks a few times in “The Last of Us” Episode 6, especially after experiencing proper peace and quiet. After a lifetime of hardships and harsh actions, Joel prefers burying his emotions deep and uses killing zombies and raiders as a way of letting off steam, only to have nightmares in his sleep. Committing terrible crimes to stay alive and living inside an autocratic military world, he can’t handle people being nice to one another or the fact that trust and love can exist in a world as rotten as this. Whenever he finds good people, it reminds him of the time before all this, and with that, Sarah’s face comes to mind, rendering him catatonic in fear. Moreover, the fear of failing those who are dependent on him terrifies Joel on a daily basis, with the roots of this fear in Sarah’s death, though Tess’s passing hasn’t helped either. The closer he gets to Ellie, the more intense his fear of losing her gets, which comes to a head again when the Jacksonians surround the two, and he’s frozen in fear that the dog will detect the virus in Ellie.

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Joel and Ellie’s journey has been packed with hardships, and after three months of walking the wilderness on foot, Joel’s boots are too tattered to wear without wrapping them up in duct tape—one of the key items Joel can scavenge for in the game. At night, Ellie shares her fascination with space and that her idol is Sally Ride, the first American woman to travel to outer space. Ellie’s fascination with space has been hinted at many times through the game and the show—with Ellie’s favorite comic book being named “Savage Starlight” and an astronaut figurine in her room in the second game. Joel, on the other hand, keeps pushing Ellie away, especially when she asks about their plans after saving the world. He knows that if he brings Ellie close to him and she gets hurt, he’ll probably die of heartbreak. Joel then shares his wish to build a farm and raise sheep, but at that moment, all he can think of is his daughter’s death, and the moment the life left Sarah’s body while he held her frail, bloody body. Despite Joel’s attempts to keep Ellie at arm’s length and not rely on her because that’ll lead to him loving her as the daughter he lost, his failing health leads him to fall asleep when he was meant to be on guard duty, and he jolts awake to find Ellie protecting him. He’s constantly reminded how much of a useless baggage he’s becoming with each passing day and how Ellie might not be safe with him after all. 

When the two arrive at a dam that was used as a hydroelectric power plant, Ellie says, “Dam,” making a humorous pun, and Joel says she’s not the author of the joke book by Will Livingston she was reading puns from. When the two are surrounded by a group of masked people on horseback, they send a specially-trained dog to sniff out the cordyceps virus on Joel and Ellie, but the dog fails to find anything on her. This shows how the Jacksonians depended on the natural order over the technological gizmos that FEDRA used. A creature of nature didn’t find Ellie to be a threat, while the FEDRA testing kit declared her to be contaminated. With one of the major themes of “The Last of Us” being nature reclaiming everything for herself, it’s only fitting that the ones who use technological gadgets will still perish, like the FEDRA.

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Once inside the walls of Jackson, Joel and Ellie are amazed by the things a group of 300 people has achieved, with everything from hot water to schools for children, inter-faith temples, and agriculture. Maria informs the two newcomers that Jacksonians can be called communists because they live in a commune, which upsets Tommy. Being an American growing up during the Cold War, it isn’t pleasant for him to be called a communist—a term that was almost treated as a slur in the ’80s. Whenever there’s a sense of community and mutually beneficial efforts at play, and people use tools over guns, that community is bound to flourish. Maria, Tommy’s wife, introduces Ellie to a 2-month-old horse named Shimmer, which is the same horse she rides in the second game. We’re also introduced to a character, although credited as a “staring girl,” who was looking at Ellie, and in all probability, this is Dina, Ellie’s love interest in the second game. When Joel and Tommy finally have time to speak, the elder brother starts resenting the younger one for all that he has in life, and Tommy delivers a brutal gut punch by basically saying that no law dictates that Tommy can’t have a wife and kid of his own just because Joel’s daughter, Sarah, died. This metaphorical spear through the chest, coupled with Joel spotting a girl who looks exactly like Sarah from behind, triggers another panic attack in him.

Elsewhere, Ellie is experiencing the proper way of living for the first time, and after a hot bath, she walks over to Maria’s house, where the stained glass windows have images of peaceful lilies, flowers that symbolize womanhood, growth, and a feeling of togetherness—all that Maria symbolizes. She’s the ideal mother in the way she dotes on Ellie; she has a child growing inside her, and she was one of the first people to help grow Jackson into what it is today. Maria gives Ellie a large purple coat, a color that’s symbolic of royalty and luxury, something living at Jackson might feel like. The movie that Ellie and the other kids watch that night is a 1977 film called “The Goodbye Girl,” in which a man, played by Richard Dreyfuss, becomes a sublet in a house with a single mother and her daughter, and they form a family, much like how Joel and Ellie become one. Moreover, the movie has yet another significance because Joel will supposedly say ‘goodbye’ to his surrogate daughter Ellie, by sending her away with Tommy. 

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The request Joel makes of Tommy by asking him to take Ellie off of his hands has a Biblical allusion, where Christ asks God to relieve him of the suffering that humanity is destined for. This is further proven towards the end, where Joel gets stabbed in the side, much like Christ, who took a spear to his stomach while he was on the Cross. In the room where Ellie is staying, there is a small stuffed giraffe, a toy that has been present through several episodes and that quietly points towards the heart-warming moment before the game’s climax, where Ellie and Joel meet giraffes feeding on tree leaves in the open. After having an emotional catharsis, where he finally is able to lighten his burden by sharing his deepest traumas and fears with his brother, Joel can live a little, and he’s finally able to let go of the wall of gloom that he maintained between himself and Ellie. Now lighter in the heart, Joel starts sharing things about his life before the apocalypse and who he used to be.

While heading to the University of Eastern Colorado with Ellie, Joel shares his childhood dream of becoming a singer, and this is later explored further in the second game, where he plays guitar and sings for her towards the opening. Music has yet another significance in the episode because after Joel collapses from his injuries in the end, Depeche Mode’s “Never Let Me Down Again”—the song we heard at the end of “The Last of Us” Episode 1—plays again, but this time with a female cover. While the first time signaled bad news from Frank and Bill’s place, and Joel was officially put in charge of leading this team to safety, the female cover hints that now it’s Ellie’s time to take the reins in her hand and nurse Joel back to health. 

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See more: ‘The Last Of Us’ Episode 6: Recap And Ending, Explained: Why Did Joel Want Tommy To Protect Ellie? Is Joel Alive?


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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.

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