The sixth episode of “The Last of Us” proved cathartic for both Joel and Ellie, and for the first time in a long time, they opened the floodgates of emotions and let it all out. They accepted their flaws and embraced the fact that they not only needed each other but felt extremely attached to each other too. Joel, from the very beginning of the series, had told himself that Ellie was just cargo and nothing else for him. He didn’t even want to take her with him because he felt that it was a waste of his time and resources. Joel would never have gone to such lengths to search for the Fireflies’ basecamp if it hadn’t been for Tess. Joel wasn’t at all the expressive type, and having a chatterbox with him around the clock was a struggle. But Joel stuck with Ellie, and there came a time when he started feeling responsible for her. Joel was scared of this very moment, and no matter how aloof he showed himself to be, he knew that inevitably he would start feeling close and protective towards his little companion.
After Joel had lost his daughter Sarah, he had become a hollow man who looked solid from the exterior but had nothing left inside. He just didn’t want to go through the same ordeal of loving someone and then dealing with the heartbreak after losing them. Joel had closed all doors and decided that becoming emotionally attached to anyone was a mistake he would not make again in his life. But then somebody faintly knocked on those doors, and no matter how unconventional his gestures and ways of expressing things might have been, it became evident that he had started caring for the person.
Why Did Joel Want To Leave Ellie Behind? What Made Joel Change His Mind?
While on their way to Jackson City, Ellie and Joel halted their journey somewhere in the middle as it had already gotten dark, and they decided to stay the night there. Joel and Ellie usually took turns keeping watch at night, but that day Joel told Ellie that he would be awake all night. Joel dozed off in the night, and as Ellie had woken up early, she took on the responsibility of taking the second watch. Joel told her that she should have woken him up, but Ellie, being Ellie, assured him very confidently that she was very cautious, and she did the job the way it needed to be done. Joel had started feeling protective towards her, like a parent who, even if they knew that their children were capable enough to manage themselves, didn’t stop looking out for them.
When they reached the gates of the Jackson City settlement, Maria and her men came out on horses to check who they were and if they were infected. Maria had dogs that would sniff out the infected, and for a moment, Joel felt that because Ellie had been bitten earlier, she would be torn apart by those dogs. Joel felt petrified, and in that moment, the man who was known to possess great survival skills had no clue what to do. It was love that made him feel that way. He had never felt so off balance, not even when the infected attacked him or when he had a near-death experience. But the thought of losing Ellie terrified him.
When Joel met Tommy in the bar, he asked him to accompany them to eastern Colorado, which, according to the information, was the Fireflies basecamp. But Tommy was quite rigid, and he told Joel upfront that he couldn’t put his life at risk as his wife, Maria, was pregnant, and he was looking forward to starting a new life. Joel felt shattered at being abandoned after coming across the country just to make sure that his brother was fine. Tommy made it clear that he never needed anyone’s protection, and Joel realized that it had become his habit to feel responsible for people even when they were capable of leading independent lives. For Joel, his family meant everything, and when he saw a change in Tommy’s priorities and sensibilities, he couldn’t take it.
After the bar, Tommy and Joel met once again, and that’s where the latter broke down, explaining why he had started feeling so vulnerable of late. Joel revealed to Tommy that Ellie was immune and made him promise that he was not going to divulge this secret to even his wife. Joel was scared that if the others came to know about Ellie’s condition, they would shoot her. Joel told Tommy from the beginning how he had met Ellie and what had happened on their journey up until then. He told his younger brother that he had started feeling afraid that he would fail Ellie, just like Sarah, and wouldn’t be able to protect her. He told him that he had failed in carrying out his responsibilities, and it had come to the point where Ellie had saved his life while they were in Kansas City.
Joel had a lot of guilt, just like any other parent, about the fact that, because of his incapabilities, a little girl had to shoot another man. Joel considered himself the co-accused, together with the circumstances that had led to a loss of innocence in the young girl. Joel told Tommy that, more often than not, he got these dreams at night, and when he woke up, he felt like he had lost something. He was failing not only in his reality but also in his dreams. His life had become an accumulation of losses, and he had reached a saturation point where he was done coping with them.
Joel told Tommy that he wasn’t the man he knew once and that he was not capable of taking Ellie alone to Eastern Colorado. Joel just wanted Ellie to be safe, and he knew that she would be better off with Tommy. Tommy finally agreed, but Ellie overheard the conversation that they were having, and it really hurt her. While Joel was scared of failing, Ellie was scared of abandonment. Whenever the girl had gotten attached to anybody, they had either died or abandoned her. Joel was the only one who had stuck with her, and she was scared that once he decided to leave, there would be nowhere left for her to go. Ellie confronted Joel and told him that if that was the decision he had made, she would do it, but she made it clear that she was not okay with it. Ellie had taken a stand for Joel earlier when Maria spoke about him. Ellie knew the man with whom she was putting her trust, and she wanted him to be with her.
Whatever Ellie said impacted Joel so much that at the end of the sixth episode of the series, “The Last of Us,” he changed his mind and accompanied Ellie. Joel realized that just because he was scared of losing another loved one, he couldn’t abandon them because that would be a greater crime. Joel owned up to his losses and his feelings and decided that his fears would no longer bog him down. In the upcoming episodes of the series “The Last of Us,” we will get to know the kinds of obstacles Joel and Ellie will have to face henceforth and if they are able to find the Fireflies’ doctors or not.