Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Last Of Us episode 6 and minor spoilers for The Last Of Us game.
The Last Of Us episode 6 Joel ending was changed to be different from the original game – and in doing so, actually improved the overall story. HBO’s video game adaptation has received rightful praise for its careful treatment of the beloved zombie series’ storyline, especially as adaptations by and large often receive criticism for poor handling of their respective franchise’s lore. The Last Of Us has remained faithful to its source material throughout, however, and even its alterations from the games have clear explanations behind them.
This was especially true in The Last Of Us episode 6, which adapted the section of the storyline that ends with Joel injured and collapsing. In the show, this takes place after Joel is stabbed – but notably not immediately after he receives this injury. Instead, Joel gets on his horse with Ellie, flees, and then only later falls off as he is unconscious – which is all a departure from the original source material, albeit with good reason.
The Last Of Us Episode 6’s Joel Ending Change Makes It More Brutal
In The Last Of Us video game, this scene takes place very differently, with Joel instead taking a big injury after falling onto metal rebar in a fight, and then falling unconscious very shortly after attempting to walk off his wound. The Last Of Us episode 6 has received attention for changing this into a more drawn out extended sequence, but as episode director Jasmila Žbanić stated in interview, this “was more subtle. Ellie thinks they made it, and then it’s a shock. Otherwise it would be immediately over. I really liked how Craig wrote it. They travel, she’s hopeful, they go on together — and then it’s a shock.” Given the differing nature of the show and video game formats, it’s also a move that translates better in the show.
In The Last Of Us game, a quick blackout is the smartest move to keep the player tense, as it means they lose control over playing Joel and thus have to instead worry about what has happened in the time they couldn’t save him from harm’s way. In The Last Of Us episode 6, the viewer has no control over Joel anyway, and thus seeing him visibly impaled and desperately fleeing is far more suspenseful. This also works to effectively trick the audience, as Ellie and Joel getting away may have initially suggested to viewers that things would be okay, only for Joel to fully pass out instead.
Last Of Us’ Joel Ending Change Makes Ellie’s Incoming Plot More Intense
The Last Of Us episode 6 is set to lead into the section of the game storyline wherein Ellie takes care of the injured Joel, trying to find him medical supplies and keep the pair of them alive by using the skills she’s gathered surviving in the post-apocalyptic world. With so much of the game having the player protect Ellie and ensure her safety, this proves to be an especially suspenseful section of the series, as Ellie instead becomes the duo’s first line of defense. As such, The Last Of Us episode 6 Joel ending changes to set up an even more intense Ellie story.
This is namely because where the game makes it very clear to the viewer and Ellie that Joel’s problem is at least initially solely the physical impact of falling directly onto a piece of rebar, The Last Of Us episode 6 makes things less clear, and thus more troublesome. It’s clear Joel passes out because he has been stabbed, but the fact he doesn’t immediately fall unconscious suggests other factors may be at play, like blood loss over time. As such, Ellie is left in a position where she is even less sure of what medical supplies Joel will need, and potentially even more desperate to heal him.
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