‘The Last of Us’ Episode 6: Recap And Ending, Explained – What Happens At The Firefly Camp In Eastern Colorado?


After the difficult end of last week’s episode, “The Last of Us” Episode 6 picks up three months later as Joel and Ellie are still looking for Tommy. Having left Joel’s side and then the Fireflies too, Tommy had gone off by himself and had not contacted Joel in many weeks, which was unusual for the brothers. The two now finally have a reunion as Joel plans forward his next steps about Ellie, and “The Last of Us” Episode 6 ends with a horrifying possibility as a group of raiders attack our protagonists.

Spoilers Ahead

How Do Joel And Ellie Find Tommy?

It has been three months since the devastating events of “The Last of Us” Episode 5, in which little Sam had turned infected, and his elder brother Henry had to shoot him dead before killing himself in grief and agony. Joel seemingly still has hauntings from those events, as he mumbles in his sleep and has nightmares about them. There is also a more personal effect of it as he reveals much later on. Joel is scared that he will let Ellie down, that he will get her killed without being able to save her in time, the same way he failed with Sarah twenty years ago. While this fear does have other reasons behind it, the deaths of Sam and Henry do have a large effect on it, as that event is still fresh in both Joel’s and Ellie’s minds. This is revealed all the more sometime later when they stop to rest out the night and build a campfire.

The conversation begins with what Joel would want to do when all this is over, and he replies that he would like to own a sheep ranch and settle for a calm, quiet life. Ellie’s wishes are more dreamy and perhaps age-appropriate, too, as she feels being an astronaut would be a great profession. And then the realization, or the question that had been in her mind always, comes up—whether the Fireflies would actually be able to develop a vaccine or cure for the fungal infection from Ellie’s blood. The girl now tells Joel about her attempt to save Sam, and Joel’s reply is that it is simply too late to think about such possibilities now. But it is clear that Joel, too, has had this doubt in his mind, and yet he does not want to think about it, both for Ellie’s sake as well as his own. His serious reply now tries to assure Ellie that the procedure to get her blood to cure the infection would be much more complicated than rubbing blood on a bite wound.

The two keep moving forward on their journey and eventually reach Wyoming, but they lose their way. They make a quick stop to question a local couple about where their exact spot on the map is, and such is the situation in the present world that Joel has to hold the couple at gunpoint just to be safe. The elderly couple is not too affected, though, as they have a carefree approach to all questions, and they casually tell Joel not to go any further west as that is too dangerous. They warn of a river beyond which there have been many dead bodies, some of them infected and others not, meaning that a vicious group of killers is on the loose there.

Joel and Ellie come across them too as soon as they cross the river, when a group of armed men and women on horseback stop them in their tracks and get them sniffed by a dog to check whether they are infected. Joel is terrified that the dog will smell the infection on Ellie, but it actually does not and starts to play with the girl. This is possible because the dog can only identify infected from their movements or the smell of growing infection on their body. But none of that is there on Ellie’s body, and therefore the dog finds nothing suspicious about her. Now when the leader of the group asks Joel about his intention at this place, and he says that he is looking for his brother, a masked woman from among the group approaches and asks for his identity. This woman turns out to be Tommy’s wife, Maria, and the group soon rides our protagonists toward their camp in Jackson.

How Does Joel’s Reunion With Tommy Go?

The camp in Jackson is almost like a small city in itself, with facilities like schools, prayer halls, and even a cinema theater. Having moved into an already gated community and then expanding it more, the people here have also refused to side with either the FEDRA or the Fireflies and therefore exist as a community of their own. But in the effort to keep such a settlement safe from any danger and from the prying eyes of raiders, the people here have to ensure that not many would find out about the place and therefore are vicious in dealing with outsiders. This is why the elderly couple had earlier warned Joel, for the settlers at Jackson would simply kill anyone they were suspicious of and not let them get close to the town.

Interestingly, Jackson also runs a democratic governance setup in which people elect their leaders, who head the different sides of welfare and protection at the place. But these leaders are ones who are genuinely interested in working for the community, and Maria is one such leader. It is perhaps because of her role as a protector that Maria is extremely cautious of Joel, and it is clear that she does not have the highest regard for him based on the stories she has heard from her husband, Tommy. Maria believes that the murderous group of survivors that Tommy was part of in his past, after the events of 2003, was led by Joel himself. She feels that Tommy had only acted on his brother’s will and that he was not one to kill innocent people. She is wary of Ellie, too, initially, but Maria then helps her with clothes and essentials. She warns Ellie of the dangers of accompanying Joel and suggests that she stay back or make some other smart decision. The fact that Maria and Joel do not get along is clear, as they are seen together only during the initial hours when introductions are still being made.

Joel’s relationship with his brother Tommy, on the other hand, is different. Joel still felt as close to his brother as he did before the pandemic struck, and for him nothing had changed. The two are delighted to see each other once again, but there are undercurrents of doubt as well. Joel understands that his brother had not contacted him in these many weeks because Maria had told him not to. Tommy claims that it was only due to the strict safety and protection protocols in place in the town of Jackson that kept him from contacting anyone over the radio. But Joel knows that his brother’s wife perceives him as an avoidable danger that she should keep away from. There is a sense of disappointment in Joel, too, for having been left out of his brother’s life, especially when he gets to know that Maria and Tommy are pregnant. Nonetheless, the brother is the only close relationship that Joel has with someone he can truly and blindly trust.

Although Ellie has been established as someone close enough by now, the girl is not an adult and, therefore, not fit to share everything with. It is with Tommy that Joel expresses the deepest fears of his heart—that he will get Ellie killed in the same way he had been unable to protect Sarah. This expression is of genuine concern and fear, as we see Joel shed tears too, and the man wants his brother to help him out. Perhaps the only respite in this cruel sickly world is to move on from one’s past and accept new beginnings and relations. But unlike others, Joel has still not been able to fall into place with this idea of moving on. In fact, he even seems moved, perhaps even shocked, when Tommy reveals that he has done exactly that—moved on from his past and accepted his new life with Maria at the safe settlement in Jackson. Therefore, when Joel learns from him that the nearest Firefly camp is at the University of Eastern Colorado and asks him to take Ellie there, Tommy refuses to do so. Joel, however, has little faith in his protective instincts, as the man even seems to mistake a young woman for Sarah and tells Tommy the real truth. He explains Ellie’s rare and remarkable condition of being immune to the fungus and also tells him how he has been having panic attacks recently in which he has to gasp for breath as his heart seems to stop. With everything now laid bare, all Joel can do is beg his brother to help him with this last favor he is asking for.

Tommy is finally moved by it all, and thus in order to ease his brother’s grief, he agrees to take Ellie to the university camp. But Ellie overhears this or gets to know about it from someone and is greatly disturbed by it. To her, Joel was like the guardian, almost the father, who would not only protect her but, much more importantly, never leave her side. Ellie didn’t take Joel’s recent decision very nicely, and when he goes to tell her about it, she confronts him and speaks her heart out. Earlier during their first meeting, Ellie realized that Maria was looking down upon Joel, and she vehemently stood up for Joel. She did not care about the amenities and luxuries of life inside a gated community like Jackson as long as Joel was not with her. Just like Joel’s deep-rooted grief over having lost his daughter, Ellie too has such grief and fear of her own. She now comes clean to Joel and tells him that everyone she had cared for in her life had either died or left her. Joel was about to be the next one. She had earlier heard about Sarah in passing from Maria, and in order to assure Joel that she can fend for herself and that he does not need to fear her death, Ellie mentions Sarah. Joel is clearly not ready to have this conversation yet, no matter how close he is to the girl, and his emotions make a last effort to put up a barrier by raging against Ellie. Telling her that she knew nothing about losing someone, Joel states that he is, after all, not her father and therefore does not need to care about what the girl thinks.

Jackson provides scenes of major emotional outbursts, both in the case of Joel as well as Ellie, in their own different ways. Joel had been growing wary of his own failing senses—from his inability to properly hear in one ear to his more recent panic attacks—and he knows that he cannot experience another loss like Sarah’s. Deep down, he, too, had started to perceive Ellie as a daughter figure, and now the danger ahead was too overwhelming for him to go on. To Ellie, Joel was the only one who had cared and stuck with her for so long, and she did not want to lose that more than anything else. She states that she would just be more scared than anyone else, and with her ability to survive the fungal infection, she still fears abandonment and loneliness the most. There also seems to be an interesting hint, or nod, to Joel and Ellie’s relationship, or rather the developments of “The Last of Us” Episode 6 perhaps, through the film that is seen playing at the makeshift theater in Jackson.

In “The Goodbye Girl,” which can be seen and heard in some of the scenes, there is also a father, Elliott, who is thinking of going away from a daughter figure, fearing his own failures, until he ultimately has a different realization and unites with the girl. Joel, too, has a major change of heart the next morning, as he perhaps realizes his mistake in telling Ellie whatever he said the previous night. He has started to care dearly about the girl and would go to any limit to ensure her protection, but that care also includes letting her have a choice and say in things directly concerning her. Joel gives Ellie a choice between himself and Tommy, and he does not even need to finish his sentence for Ellie to pick him. Tommy bids farewell to the two, also telling them that they would always be welcome to return and settle at Jackson. This eventual return is also perhaps hinted at through a young girl who steals a glance at Ellie during the first few scenes and who looks absolutely like her lover Dina from “The Last of Us Part II.” Interestingly, the barn/hall seen in “The Last of Us” Episode 6 is lit exactly in the same manner as one of the earliest trailers for “The Last of Us Part II,” in which Ellie and Dina danced and shared their first kiss.

‘The Last of Us’ Episode 6: Ending Explained – What Does The Last Song Suggest About Ellie And Joel’s Relationship?

After leaving Jackson, Joel finally teaches Ellie to shoot a rifle and presumably hunt as well. Excited by these lessons, which she had been begging for since the very beginning of their journey, Ellie looks at ease. Joel, too, feels light on the inside and he is a relieved man, for the emotional outbursts have finally worked, and he has perhaps made the first crucial step towards moving on from his past and accepting his present. As they travel towards the University of Eastern Colorado, Joel tells Ellie about his profession as a building contractor before the apocalypse hit and explains to her society, politics and the rules of football. He even goes as far as to change his earlier stated dream of becoming a sheep rancher. Instead, Joel says that he has always wanted to become a singer and would therefore like to pursue a career in singing when all of this is over. Ellie is excited to learn of this hidden talent in her companion, and Joel agrees to sing something for her later on. But things are as bleak as one would imagine at the abandoned university campus, with no sign of the Firefly outpost. There are of course markings of the group left behind, and also a packing note which suggests that the Fireflies had disbanded the camp and moved on.

The only living beings here are a group of monkeys, possibly escaping from what had once been experiment labs. However, more signs of life soon show up when a group of raiders lurks into the place after possibly seeing Joel and Ellie’s horse, wanting to loot them. The duo sneaks their way out of the building, but one of the raiders attacks Joel. Although Joel manages to take the man down with his bare arms, the raider has already stabbed him with a sharp wooden piece from a broken bat, and the wound starts to bleed profusely. The protagonists escape the place on their horse, but Joel’s condition worsens by the minute. The man soon turns white and pale and then falls off the horse, losing consciousness and seemingly dying. All Ellie can do is hope and pray, as she admits she would be lost without Joel, and “The Last of Us” episode 6 draws to an end here. Interestingly, the episode ends with a slower rendition of Depeche Mode’s “Never Let Me Down Again,” which had also played at the end of “The Last of Us” Episode 1 when Bill tried to warn Joel of forthcoming danger through their secretive code over the radio. Incidentally, “The Last of Us” Episode 6 ends with Ellie hoping that her only true friend, Joel, does not let her down.

What To Expect Next From ‘The Last Of Us’ Episode 7?

With Joel’s health deteriorating rapidly, the first and foremost matter would be to see how Ellie helps him out. The young girl is also determined not to let her friend down, which means she would have to traverse the snowy winter landscapes by herself. This, thankfully, comes after Ellie has received at least primary training with regard to using a gun, and this training will surely come in handy. Despite having a post-apocalyptic wasteland as the world in focus, “The Last of Us” has always had the protagonist duo meet people of differing kinds, be they allies or foes. It can be guessed that more such people are also about to appear in the next episodes, and whether they help Joel and Ellie or work against them, that would be something to look forward to.

- Advertisement -
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya Sur Roy
Sourya keeps an avid interest in all sorts of films, history, sports, videogames and everything related to New Media. Holding a Master of Arts degree in Film Studies, he is currently working as a teacher of Film Studies at a private school and also remotely as a Research Assistant and Translator on a postdoctoral project at UdK Berlin.

Must Read

DMT Guide

More Like This