The Last Of Us Showrunner Talks Joel's Fear Of Failing In Episode 6
Craig Mazin talks about Joel's trauma of losing his loved ones and the effects it's slowly taking on him.
In the latest episode of HBO's The Last of Us, Joel (Pedro Pascal) is finally reunited with his brother, Tommy (Gabriel Luna) after years apart. Tommy is the last person from Joel's life before the cordyceps outbreak. We didn't see their falling out but what we're told is that Tommy joined up with the Fireflies and things got heated as Joel disagreed with their beliefs.
The show sped things up a bit from the game as the small establishment of Jackson in the show is far more along and mirrors more of its progress from The Last of Us Part II. It also showed Joel dealing with the fact that he feels that he's failing Ellie (Bella Ramsey) more and more each day. Joel has multiple panic attacks as he thinks about losing Ellie and contemplates leaving her there with Tommy.
"Trying to save somebody, and failing is a terrible feeling. If anything it is the feeling that Joel finds himself soaking in now every day because he's panicked that it's going to happen to him again," showrunner Craig Mazin said during the Inside The Episode's featurette. "He can handle being shot at, he can handle being punched, kicked, but what e cannot possibly fathom is going through the experience of losing his child again and that's what Ellie is becoming to him."
Game co-creator Neill Druckmann added that that feeling has physically taken Joel over. "With the show, there's this addition of, like, he's having a physical reaction to that. He can't breathe. His chest hurts. It's a combination of his age, but also all the events that just happened, and his connection to Ellie. He's just so scared and Ellie doesn't quite understand what's happening with him. Joel just feels that he needs to save everybody around him."
Ramsey adds to how she sees Joel and Ellie's relationship evolving at this point and how the trauma of mutual loss that they share brings them closer.
"Ellie doesn't make relationships easy. Mainly because the relationships she's had have cruelly been taken away from her," said. "That's where her and Joel are the same."
This episode also brought to life one of the game's most pivotal scenes where Ellie confronts Joel on why she feels abandoned and he's the closest thing she has to family right now because everybody she has ever trusted is dead or left her.
"That scene is perhaps the most famous scene from the game. We did it almost exactly--changed a few things here and there--the general execution of it was something that I thought was important we stick to exactly," said Mazin. "Ellie admits she's afraid and that he makes her less afraid. What Joel doesn't know how to tell her is that she makes him more afraid. When you care about someone...that's when the fear happens."
HBO's The Last of Us airs new episodes Sundays at 9 EST.
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