The Last of Us “Kin” Photo-Recap: River of Communism

Hello and welcome back to The Last of Us, a show that can have you riveted by just two people walking. A show that can make you cry over the idea of a sheep ranch. A show that’s so interesting it takes you until the episode is almost over to go, “Hey, that’s Tara from True Blood!”

Since the show began, there has only been one episode where someone we loved didn’t die (wait, I don’t want to assume, did you guys love Brian?). And now ‘Kin’ comes along and doesn’t kill anyone! Well… except Joel, but I’m sure he’s only mostly dead

Reunions! Buns in ovens! Snowmen! This episode had it all. 

Other episodes have been like, “Hey, you want to dive into some psychologically horrifying scenarios that will haunt your every waking hour?” Then ‘Kin’ steps up to the plate and is all, “Okay, but what if the first five minutes is an absolute delight? Just the most charming interaction one could have in an apocalypse?” And then they DID IT. 

Elaine Miles (Marilyn from Northern Exposure!) and Canadian legend Graham Greene knocked this scene out of the park so hard we can’t even find the ball. Her shrug after her husband incredulously asked her if she made the intruder soup… “It’s cold out.” 

I’m in love. 

Anyway, this beautiful, hilarious couple told them they might as well just build a hut and stay awhile, because to go west beyond the “river of death” was not a great idea. Joel and Ellie were naturally all, “Sounds like a Tuesday” and went on their merry way with a furry snack.

Uh ohhhhhh, Joel is having lil’ episodes of shortness of breath and possibly heart problems (panic attacks?). I’m sure it’s fine.

This episode gifted us with a beautiful travelling montage (Oh Canada, baby!) wherein these two walked and talked and walked and joked and walked and bonded and walked (being a blood-saviour during the apocalypse is the best workout regime ever). We also got an amazing scene where they comfortably talked about their dream futures after everything works out. Ellie wants to be an astronaut, and Joel wants to run a sheep farm. 

This scene, especially after the 3-month time jump, is so meaningful. Ellie has worn down this crotchety old man to the point that he doesn’t hesitate to tell her his end-of-the-end-of-the-world fantasy. Remember in episode one when he just grunted and stared any time she asked a question? They’ve grown to love each other, and I’M SURE IT’S FINE, EVERYTHING IS TOTALLY FINE.

After crossing the River of Death without cause for alarm, Ellie was like, “hold up, we haven’t been attacked, so THIS is probably where the plot will ramp up.” And she was right! They were set upon by a posse on horseback and given a dog-person test. Both of them passed because Ellie’s blood is magic. 

Then Joel name-dropped to get them an invite into an exclusive club. 

Tommyyyyyyyy!!!! I feel like I’ve been the one waiting years and years to see this dreamboat again. Turns out he wasn’t in any trouble at all, he was in fact living in a commune (him realizing he was a communist was my favourite moment this episode). 

After a lovely meal where Ellie was a downright brat and we found out Tommy and Maria are married, the group split up into boys vs. girls. 

After reuniting, these hurt lil’ boys immediately dove into their brotherly baggage, what with Tommy believing Joel encouraged him to do bad things, and Joel believing Tommy was ungrateful for him keeping him alive for years. Not only did Joel bullshit about the mission and the not-alive-status of Tess, but he also didn’t react well to the news of Tommy’s impending fatherhood. 

Maria was pretty great, you guys. She went into protector-mode for this young woman she just met, giving her a diva cup, fresh clothes, a warm jacket, a haircut, and some good old fashioned lady advice. She has gotten to know Joel through Tommy, who as we saw, carries some baggage with him about his older bro. So, she was naturally sceptical that his motives and methods were the best thing for Ellie. 

Oh, and the beans were spilled about our very first The Last of Us trauma. 

Joel opened up to Tommy about the stakes of the show, about Tess dying, about his hearing loss and sudden desire to tell kids to get off his lawn. He’s older and less capable, and he’s scared he’ll get Ellie killed. So Tommy agreed to take the torch, though he couldn’t promise he’d get the grunt down perfectly.

(I need to take a quick seventeen hours to talk about how amazing this scene was and how talented Pedro Pascal is)

This scene hurt me. His reasons for ‘abandoning’ her are because of how much he cares, but she couldn’t see that. All she knew was that the one person who had stuck with her was now leaving. She even intuited that he may be scared to lose her like he did Sarah, and the sound of her name sent Joel into defence mode. This scene was two hurt people lashing out, refusing to say how much they cared, and it was beautiful and heartbreaking, and OHMYGOD I’M SUPPOSED TO MAKE JOKES. Um, imagine one of them farted? Like, during a tense pause, all you heard was a lil’ squeaker and then they refuse to acknowledge it, except for Ellie slowly creeping towards the window? Heh. Farts. 

Nevermind! Joel noodled on it and decided it should be Ellie’s choice (I LOVE ME SOME AUTONOMY FOR WOMEN AND KIDS), and she instantly chose her grumpy bodyguard dad. Tommy was not even a little bit insulted, and let them take a horse and a gun. 

I cannot express enough how much I love these travel montages where we see them bonding. Okay I’ll try: I love them almost as much as I love mint chocolate ice cream, and that is a BIG DEAL. Joel told her about his life, revealed his super secret dream, and taught her the rules of football (which are HARD, my nephew tried and failed and probably now thinks less of me).

T’was not a devastating note, but instead a moving list of things like extra Tums and airplane pillows. The Fireflies probably moved because of plummeting property values, and now Joel and Ellie were given another destination to bond their way to. 

These ruffians likely saw an opportunity for a housing upgrade after the Fireflies vacated the premises, and they were NOT very welcoming. One fellow attacked Joel with a baseball bat (to steal the horse and their worldly belongings, presumably), and it did not go well for him. He did make his POINT, though (I am who I am, love me for me). 

After Joel un-staked himself, they hopped on the horse to make their daring escape. 

The End.

IMAGINE??? Imagine this was the very last episode. He died peacefully on his horse with his sassy blood-saviour daughter by his side. A fitting end. 

I mean, we have to assume he’ll be relatively fine. Right? What with him being the star of the show and all. They’re not going to Ned Stark this, right?

So, your thoughts?? I think this episode is going to end of being one my favourites, which, if you’ve been on this recap journey with me before, you know why. I am an absolute sucker for those small moments of relationship development. I simply do not care about a story if I don’t care about the characters and their relationships. This episode not only built the Ellie-Joel relationship through those small moments, but also dove into the brotherly relationship, AND introduced a new character I already love. The way Maria understood the situation without a single word was magic to me. I truly hope we see those two and this town again. 


  • “Dream of sheep ranches on the moon.”  Notice how he put them together. He took her idea of happy ever after and meshed it with his. I SEE YOU, JOEL. 
  • The reverence shown to Will Livingston: Pun King is the only thing that makes sense in this crazy world. 
  • I went to a horse camp for one week when I was twelve, and it took me the entire week to be able to break into a gallop. Riding a horse is HARD, you guys, and not something you just naturally know how to do. What I’m saying is, RIP to Ellie and Joel’s tailbones. 
  • “Why didn’t you shoot him?” “The gun’s all the way over there.” I demand a Marlon and Florence spinoff IMMEDIATELY. 
  • It is truly my goal to get at least one song stuck in your head per recap. 
  • Be honest, how many of you caught the jokes in the song, or did you assume they were the regular lyrics and skim ahead?
  • I may get backlash for this, but I honestly believe Joel to be a cat person. It pains me to say it, as I myself am deeply a dog person, but I mean… the signs are there, no? I think he’d respect an animal that ignores him and knocks things off tables. 
  • “You’re singing for me later. I’m gonna save the fucking world, man, it’s the least you can do for me.” You guys… there was no later. 😭
  • I love that Ellie is constantly coaching Joel on how to be a human being. Nudging him to introduce himself to Henry and Sam, ordering him to say congrats to his brother. And then he LISTENS TO HER. It’s outstanding. 
  • The grown-up Sarah look-a-like was a very nasty trick, The Last of Us, we shall be in a fight for at least the next five days. 
  • I LOVE how cognizant this show is of the menstrual challenges of a 14-year-old girl. Good luck with that diva cup, Ellie! Your reaction was exactly correct!
  • For real, though, should we start a campaign for The Two Of Us: The Marlon and Florence Chronicles



One thought on “The Last of Us “Kin” Photo-Recap: River of Communism

  1. Congrats – The Proclaimers are definitely stuck in my head now! Nice work with the lyrics, I appreciated them as I read through the recap. Da Da Da Da


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