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The sixth episode of The Last of Us (THE SPECIAL), aired in the original subtitled version on Monday 20 February at 3 in the morning, exclusively on Sky and streaming only on NOW; simultaneously with the United States, it is chock full of easter eggs and references to the two Naughty Dog video games that HBO has adapted and will adapt for television. In some cases, the references are direct, in other cases they are transversal references that often draw liberally from the plot of the second video game, The Last of Us Part II. Here they are.
The episode opens with a man returning home with hunting loot, in a wintry setting. The scene recalls a segment of the video game in which Ellie goes hunting (for deer, not rabbits), at a point in the story slightly later than where we are with the series.
Ellie can’t whistle
During Joel and Ellie’s journey across the endless prairies of Wyoming, Bella Ramsey’s character tries unsuccessfully to whistle. The same thing happens in video games.
Ellie and Joel’s dreams
During an overnight stop, Ellie and Joel talk about what they would like to do in a perfect world where the pandemic never broke out. Joel talks about his desire to have a sheep farm, Ellie to become an astronaut. Both statements are quotes from segments of the video game The Last of Us Part II: Ellie lives her astronaut dream during a flashback in which we see her visiting the Natural History Museum of Wyoming with Joel on her fifteenth birthday; in the same The Last of Us Part II, Ellie gets to run a farm with a sheep farm. In the same episode 6, later, Joel actually reveals that he always dreamed of being a singer. And who played a The Last of Us Part II knows of Joel’s passion for music.
ELLIE AND THE DOGS
When they first encounter a reconnaissance patrol led by Maria, Joel and Ellie are subjected to a seemingly treacherous ordeal. In fact, they must let themselves be smelled by a dog which should be able to find traces of Cordyceps in an infected human organism. The scene, full of tension due to Ellie’s healthy carrier condition, resolves in a very tender way, with her dog which, after growling at her little girl, approaches her to be petted by her. Much less friendly are the dogs Ellie runs into in Seattle in the video game The Last of Us Part II.
The community of Tommy and Maria is established in Jackson, the main gateway to Yellowstone Park in Wyoming (although the set was rebuilt in Alberta, Canada). The sets are quite faithful to what we see in the 2019 video game The Last of Us Part II. Particularly striking is the rendering of the streets and the restaurant where Ellie and Joel have a discussion with Tommy and Maria for the first time.
THE WINTER SETTING
Even the winter or, to be more precise, Christmas setting, brings us back to the prologue of the second video game in the saga. If in the series we see Christmas Trees, in the video game Ellie is engaged in a snowball fight with two children of the community.
During his first conversation with Joel, Tommy explains how easy it is to defend the community from the infected, who are identified in open spaces and killed from afar with a sniper rifle capable of firing from 800 meters away. Ellie asks if she can prove it, Joel tells her to forget it. In The Last of Us Part II a flashback is contained in which Ellie goes out on a reconnaissance with Tommy who allows her to shoot the infected with the sniper rifle.
During Jackson’s welcome visit, Joel and Ellie stop by the stables. Here they are shown a young colt named Shimmer and Ellie seems to take an immediate liking to him. Shimmer is Ellie’s horse in the video game The Last of Us Part II.
THE GIRL STARING
While Joel, Ellie, Tommy and Maria are sitting at the table in the restaurant having refreshments and discussing, a girl observes them curiously from afar, attracting Ellie’s attention and annoyance. The character, credited simply as “girl staring”, is played by Paolina van Kleef. Many are convinced that she is Dina, a central character in the second video game of the saga and that therefore she should return in the second season of the TV series. The fact that you are credited even without a single line and with a role essentially as an extra only corroborates this thesis.
In the change of clean clothes that Maria gives to Ellie upon her arrival in Jackson there is also a two-tone white and pink zip-up jacket that the same character wears in the first of the two Naughty Dog video games.
“YOU ARE NOT MY CHILD”
The dialogue with which Joel and Ellie collide when the girl discovers the man’s intention to leave her to Tommy is faithfully reported by the videogame dialogue: “You’re right, you’re not my daughter, and I’m certainly not your father”.
Arriving at the University of Eastern Colorado, Ellie and Joel come across some monkeys escaped from the cages in which they were kept as guinea pigs. The exact same thing happens in video games.
The serious wound inflicted on Joel in the finale of the sixth episode of the HBO series closely resembles the one that the man gets in the video game. In both cases, Joel is pierced by a stake, even if the dynamics are different. In the series the stake is held in the hand and used as a weapon by the raider who attacks it and ends up impaling it in the scuffle in which Joel kills it; in the video game Joel and the marauder fall from a balcony and the protagonist ends up impaling himself.