This Restorative Justice Life

"Mutual Protection at the End of the World?" (The Last of Us Episode 3) [Restorative Justice Reflections]

February 03, 2023 David Ryan Castro-Harris
This Restorative Justice Life
"Mutual Protection at the End of the World?" (The Last of Us Episode 3) [Restorative Justice Reflections]
Show Notes Transcript
Kalaya'an & David "restoratively" respond to the beauty, heartbreak and restorative themes found in  HBO's "The Last of Us" Episode 3.

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David: Hi friends, David here. This is something new that I've been wanting to try out for a long time. I'm here with Kalaya'an Mendoza and we had a conversation on this Restorative Justice Life podcast that hasn't quite aired yet, but like in our after conversation we got talking about the last of us, the H B O show episode three and how it was beautiful, heart-wrenching and in some ways like very selfish af And so like I've been thinking about doing.

Some kind of show, some kind of response to things that are happening in the media, the World Sports News and, you know, doing this thing, doing things like this in collaboration is so important and for many reasons you're the perfect person to have this conversation with, like, you know, welcome to the Amplify RJ community and all of our, our things.

No people have heard you on these airwaves a handful of times at this point, but you. You being a person who has been in the activism world forever. Being a low-key prepper, , and just a nerd about like things that are going on in pop culture make me so excited to wanna have this conversation.

So welcome to this temporarily titled project called The Restorative Response of How You Feeling Today? 

Kalaya'an: That's fantastic. I'm excited. This is I'm really glad that you are building this space because I think a lot of folks are looking towards, you know they're looking at media right now with a lens around how do we, you know shift paradigms.

How do we keep our communities safe? How do I protect myself, right? How can we care for each other? So yeah, really excited to jump into this. 

David: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, for those that have been longtime listeners of the Amplify RJ podcast, this restorative justice life, we had a conversation with FelinaRodriguez at the end of last year talking about Indigenous representation and things that came up in, you know, black Panther, Wakanda forever.

And, you know, disclaimer here, like this conversation is not a critique of the story or production choices of the creators. Because art is reflection of people's lived experiences, people are limited by what they know. Art reflects some ideal like, and then art that reflects some idyllic world where everything is sunshine and roses isn't often compelling.

And so, Advocating for projects like that. But we're hoping that this conversation helps make connections between the themes that are present in these stories and the things that we see, and how we can co-create a world where people and communities have what they need to survive and thrive. If you wanna get more plugged into these frameworks, the Amplify RJ community has lots of ways for you to do that.

Those things are in the show notes. But let's get into it. I guess we should say, spoiler alert, . We are talking about a TV show the Glass of us on H B O. We, at the time of recording, we are through episode three, both Colleen and I have played the video games. And so we know what's happening broadly in the story.

But the first part of our conversation we're just going to be talking about Episode three are, and some things that have come up in episodes one and two at the end of the show. We'll let you know, but like everything will be on the table. So with that, let's get into it. Thank you to Wikipedia for this short summary that will get people caught up.

For those that don't know the Last of us is a post apocalyptic television drama series created by Craig Mazen and Neil Druckman, V H B O. It's based. 2013 video game developed by Naughty Dog. It's, the series is set in 20 23, 20 years after a mass fungal infection caused by a mutation in the genus cor decept sparked a global pandemic.

The infection caused its host to transform into rabbid hostile creatures resembling zombies. And so this series follows Joel, played by Pedro Pascal. A smuggler task with ex escorting the teenage Ellie played by Bella Ramsey across a. Postapocalyptic United States. So you know, we're in episode three of the series.

We've gotten through some of you know how. Some of Joel's backstory, some of Ellie's backstory how Joel and Ellie met and they've made their way out of Boston and now are making their way across the country in search of Joel's brother. But this episode titled a long, long time is focusing on Bill and Frank Bill is a survivor.

A, a prepper who survived in his town, created this space for himself, and it follows his story with Frank, a man who he encountered a couple of years into the apocalypse. So, so back in 2003 in Lincoln, a town just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Bill Had been monitoring the ex the evacuation of his town from an underground bunker beneath his house.

Then builds his, builds up his fortress, ransacking abandoned businesses for supplies and materials to build a generator, electric fence, and traps. Four years into that, while checking in on one of his traps, he finds a man. Named Frank who bargains for a hot meal, a shower, and fresh clothes before he leaves.

Moves on to Boston where he intended to go. Frank talks Bill into playing the piano and Frank Deduces from Bill's passionate singing that he has never been with anyone in his life, kisses him and the two men have sex. Three years later, Frank convinces Bill to help him clean up the neighborhood so they can start making friends.

The Misanthropic Bill is skeptical, especially when Frank invites Tess. Joel's former partner Joel to lunch to establish a smuggling operation. Joel speaks with Bill and convinces them to accept Frank's plan by pointing out deficiencies on the town's offenses that he and Tess can help fix later.

Raiders attempt to infiltrate the town severely injuring bill before being repelled by his defenses. 10 years later. Both Bill and Frank are elderly with degenerative diseases leaving Frank wheelchair bound, and he asks Bill to help him die. On his final day, bill takes Frank to dress in new suits and the two quietly perform a marriage ceremony in their living room.

After dinner, bill takes a lethal dose of sleeping tablets in Frank's wine at his request. And then Bill reveals that he also spiked his drink as well, admitting that he has no desire to live without Frank in his life and they retire to their room to die in peace. For those of you that watched the episode I'm sure that there were tears flowing, big feelings coming up.

You know, I just summarized that in brief, but what were your reactions as you were watching this ? 

Kalaya'an: Whew. 

David: As a. Middle-aged, single queer, 

Kalaya'an: Prepper who, I mean, like, this was for me, this was a, a love letter to an entire generation of queer folks who survived through a pandemic that ravaged our community.

Sorry, I'm getting like, emotional thinking about it. It's it is a, a hopeful glimpse into how we build community. In the face of such horrible violence. It's also, I think, a critique on individualism within the United States and especially within kind of the proper community.

But in short, this was about love, and I think that's what the entire. Both the game and I think the show the last of us is going to be about love. 

David: Yeah, absolutely. You know, on the official Last of us podcast, they've talked about, like, this whole season is about that love and like what love can drive you to do or what the lack of love or what the overabundance of love can be.

And you know, when we think about the character of the bill, which I should say played by Nick Offerman beautifully and Frank played by Marie Bartlett both of. Parks and Rec and other, and then like White Lotus and other things, fame respectively. What they brought to the screen was like this beautiful representation of a love story that we don't often see.

And I know like not only having conversations with you, but a handful of people across, you know, my life that like, I think, I think one of the things that resonated with people is like, you know, that we found love in a hopeless place. Shout out Rihanna, right? Like in, in the midst of the world falling apart, everything crashing down.

For two people to find each other, to display vulnerability. In that way, in ways that definitely Bill's character had never experienced before was like a beautiful touching thing in the life they built together. You know, with the ups and downs of you know, a 20 year relationship arguing about furniture, arguing about paint surprising each other with strawberries.

You know, and, and good food like, and everything in between that goes on in a, in a long-term relationship was, was a really beautiful thing for people to witness. And I know a lot of people were touched by it at the same time. Like you said, , I isolationist. Horribly, horribly selfish at the end of the day, you know, part of what happens in the story.

What, like when they're attacked by Raiders. Right. Ruth bill has set up things that like ruthlessly kill. Scores of people. Right. And those are the ones that we saw on screen not counting the things that we imagined happen over the 20 years when we're thinking about a post-apocalyptic world. It is rather every man for himself and, you know, we make.

They do because of Frank's willingness to make connections like do end up crossing paths with Joel and Tess to Bill's great resistance. And even that relationship I is really limited, but it's made out of necessity. And I'm curious, like in your prepper, but also like community community being such a community driven person how was that sitting with you?

What, like what were the ideas that like you were trying to like simultaneously reconcile. 

Kalaya'an: Yeah. So at the start when the, we, we kind of like saw the, of the prelude to the horror of the community getting mass murdered, right? Yeah. By the state. And I remember bill was watching through his CCTV and like not doing anything and being really angry,

Mm-hmm. Like, you know, like these are your neighbors. These are people that you can build with. I think that, is in a lot of pepper communities, there is this like lone wolf mentality. Like if I have enough guns, if I have enough, you know stored up food. But the reality is if you look at any community or any group that has survived through genocide through occupation, through colonization, it's only because they've built relationships with one another.

They've built right relationships with one another based on reciprocity, based on care. And I think that's I was a bit afraid that it was gonna you know, for those of you that have played the game or, you know, know the know how it rolls out, I was I was really glad that they brought Frank in to to be that community builder.

But yeah, it's, I I'm curious to know what you're. Take was, 

David: yeah, well just to like, speak to that like part about Frank, right. I guess like we've gotten to this point of the game and so like we should acknowledge that like this is different from the game where when Joel and Ellie come across Bill in the game, Frank has left and left on bad terms was bitten by infected and then killed himself so he wouldn't turn in like, Was left with like resentment and we didn't really explore the relationship between Bill and Frank.

So we didn't know all those things. And so like this is a beautiful, beautiful take on like expanding the universe, expanding on their relationship. But yeah, I think about a lot of things like you, you spoke to right relationship. And for those of you who are just listening to me talk on this podcast for the first time or on this show for the first time, I'm not quite sure where this is being posted yet, are we.

Kind of just like are throwing this together as we go. But you know, restorative justice is a philosophy instead of practices rooted in indigenous values of interconnection, right? Where we are, yes, of course, restorative justice, repairing relationships when harm occurs. Asking questions like what happened, who was impacted?

And how and how do we make things as right or as right as possible in order to heal? And. Prevent the harm from happening again. But it's also that building and sustaining strengthening of relationships so we can be preventing future harm. And it's so helpful if those relationships are rooted in I, when I define the term, like I talk about it as like equity and trust, but like you sharing like reciprocity That, that's so important.

Right. You know, when I, when I think about Bill, the character and where he was in 2003, right? One of the things that, you know, stood out to me on like a second watch and a, or like the watching of like the YouTube breakdowns of, of the show is like, you know, the don't tread on me flag that was in his house, right?

And so, like you already know like who this person is politically, and I think like partially this is a. Like a, a deep belief that I have and a helpful belief that folks who often are practicing in a restorative way have, is like, you know, at their core, humans are good wise and powerful and want to be in good relationship.

And, you know, bill is a white man in 2003 America with a very strong libertarian streak, I imagine. Right. And even as, , even though he and I might not be the best of friends if I have encountered him in the world, right. In 2003, I was a 12 year old, but like if I had encountered him in, in these times, like there's probably a, not a lot that we could connect on, but like in the apocalypse, knowing somebody with those skills and trying to find ways to connect with people like that to break down those barriers, break down those walls so we can survive.

Would be so important. Right. I think I was gonna say Murray, the actor's name, but a Frank's character is probably not someone who's very philosophically aligned or politically aligned with the character of Bill going into that space. When he falls into his chat, he may have just been looking for like, Hey, my group that left from Baltimore is all.

I need help here and I'm just trying to survive right now. And so like, that's how he might've originally been thinking about their relationship and interaction, like being like rather exploitative for, for lack of a better word, but you know, very quickly understanding, like seeing Bill for who he is, seeing their commonality, seeing their interconnection, and seeing how they could help each other.

Right. There's the scene where. Bill is serving dinner and Marie like understands that like, oh, this place hasn't really been cleaned. There's a layer of dust. It's like, I can, I can play a role here. I can, I can fit in here. I can help soften this place. I can bring beauty into this place. Like that's something that we should be thinking about when we are trying to.

Align or like being coalition with folks to achieve like mutual goals. It doesn't necessarily have to end in a end up in a 20 year romantic relationship, but like there are ways that we can be in community with folks meeting each other's needs when they're when we might not be like 100% aligned on like all the things we agree about in the world.

Kalaya'an: Yeah. I mean, yeah. Cosigned to that. And I think it's interesting if you kind of like note the difference, if you compare the two scenes, the two dinner scenes right at the beginning and at the end. Mm-hmm. There it was, you know, Bill's house was very drab. And after being with Murray for 20 years there was there was color, there was artwork, there was like plants.

And I think the, the balance between bills. Very pessimistic, practicality, 

Balance with Frank's kind of like visionary artistry and care and just like love was like a really beautiful foil and I think it just calls us. , at least for me, that everyone has a place in, whether it's movement work, whether it is you know, community building.

Not everyone has to be, you know, this like a, a hardcore activist. We need artists. Mm-hmm. As human beings, we need art. Mm-hmm. , that is that was one of the things that I stepped away stepped away with in this episode. We need beauty and we need reminders of our humanity through pain and through through suffering.

And if we don't have that, Then what is the world that we're actually trying to build? Because I would not wanna live in the world that Bill was only living in. Right. Where it's just like, I'm solo. I'm just gonna, you know, go through that. How much less beautiful would his life have been? If not for Frank, if not for reaching out to Tess and Joel if not for having these moments and I think.

to me that was just once again, a reminder that community is really the only thing that keeps us safe. 

David: Yeah. I'm thinking a lot about how, even within the context, right, like you and I are having this conversation on Friday, February 3rd, 2023. You know, next Thursday we're gonna air the episode that we recorded earlier this week talking about, you know, what is the one thing that people can do in response to like, continued anti-Asian violence or violence in Asian intercomm communal violence in Asian communities, right?

And like, while they're problems of like white supremacy, capitalism, domination, like oppression of all types are still present. We don't have to take on all of those things at once. Like what is the one thing that you can do? Like there are no capital A activists un, unless like you're thinking about like maybe the fireflies, like leaders of the fireflies, like in the, in the broad scheme of like this universe that they're living in.

But everybody has a role to play, right? People need food. People need gasoline and power. People need water, right? People need like those things that like bill is really, really good at finding a way to make that happen. People need protect. What that protection looks like. , you know, maybe is a whole different conversation for another time.

Doesn't necessarily look like guns or somebody with a badge and a gun to carry it out. State sanctioned violence conversation for another day, another time, . But we also need people who are like, as you were saying, providing beauty, providing care, right? And like care looks like a lot of different things.

And so as you're thinking about. We do not quite live in a postapocalyptic disaster written world. But there are things that are happening in our communities on the daily that leave people in situations or like maybe leave you yourself in situations where you do need care in some way, shape or form.

You might not be the person who can solve all the problems for everybody, but you can be a person who does one thing. And I think one of the things that. One of the problems with Bill's attitude towards the world is like, you have to be willing to ask people for help, right? In the, in the lunch scene where Joel and Bill, people who are both lone wolves and, and of themselves like are very much about, I'm gonna protect myself, I'm gonna protect those who I care about Frank in Bill's case, Tess, in Joel's case in that, in that time, right?

They're not really interested in building relationships, but. Joel's character points out the flaws in the setup. Right? This wire is gonna rust and gonna break down. I can get you something better, right? You need us, we can get you medicine. Right? And Bill would never have asked for that, right? And would've had to figure out some other way to address those problems or not, and then get like taken down by Raiders or infected or some way, shape, or form.

So it's like both be the person who is willing to do the one. Whatever your gifts are, but like, also don't be afraid to ask and like, that's really hard. I know, like you and I had a conversation about that earlier, right? Like you offered care to me last week in the form of like food meals, like taking things off of taking a burden away from me.

Like not wor having to worry about how, like, how to feed me and my family. But like you were saying at the same time, like, I don't know what I need. I don't know what support looks like. I don't know what to ask for. I, I think that's something that a lot of people are struggling with. as we're navigating these times, you know, pandemic all and all the things that are coming along with living in 2023

Kalaya'an: I think I'm hoping what folks kind of like move from this way. This we can do things we can really think locally about the change that we wanna make, but without collective action, things aren't gonna change. Like if the fire flies, I don't want, I'm not gonna spoil anything, but if the fireflies are only operating out of Boston, and the entirety of Turtle Island is still affected by the fascism of Fedra.

Things aren't gonna change. Mm-hmm. , but it's because of these smaller groups. Once they start building their collectives, once they start building this network and e this ecosystem of care and support sorry, I'm not calling the fire. Well, I mean, you know, you know what I'm talking about. Yeah. If different communities start building those that care and support, that's one step towards ensuring the safety of all communities. Cuz like if one community's under attack, you know, all communities are are vulnerable. I think that the, yeah, going back to bill being kind of like the lone wolf, there's no such thing as a lone wolf in nature that survives, right?

Mm-hmm. wolves run in packs. And I think. The more we can see our, a sense of mutual responsibility for carrying one for one another, it makes it more likely for us to survive through whatever living nightmare we're subjected to in this world. To what you were sharing earlier around like, how do we, you know, how do we support one another?

And I think it's one, understanding what our own capacities. To be able to provide support and offering those. The thing that I've learned from indigenous organizers in Standing Rock back in 2016 in Maori organizers in 2019 in Ter Terro, New Zealand, was that in the face of Colonial state violence, they were still able to create an entire ecosystem of care of, you know, there was healthcare, there was food.

And it's because there was like a sense of mutual responsibility. Like when folks show up and they need support, they also provide support. Like, I remember in Sandy Rock we sh, you know, we were there and one of the aunties was like, go start chopping wood. Mm-hmm. . And I think that's That's a clear way.

Like if folks are thinking like, okay, what do I do and how do I start assessing your capacity first? Knowing what the needs of your community are and really starting building locally help us to, you know, really reimagine and work towards a, a safer world. , 

David: you know, you and I are putting this together as we go, and I'm thinking about, you know, the possibilities of our conversations, right?

I don't think the fireflies are a perfect organization that we should, like, aspire to recreate in times of the apocalypse. And you know, for those of you who know the video game lore, you'll know why. And, you know, no spoilers. But I, I'm curious, like, and I think this might be a conversation that like we carry on through our time talking about the show.

Like what does. A community of care look like in like this last of us world, right? Where we have like oppressive forces of fedra where we have, you know, autonomous you know, this is a community of two. There are other non-ed communities out there in the world. What does a community of care really look like?

Kalaya'an: I think it looks like centering. and following the leadership of those who are most affected by violence. Mm-hmm. , right? Those who are most marginalized by, , either the state or whatever. System of oppression folks are experiencing a community of care is one where all of us are seen as contributing and valuable members of the community, not just because of what we can provide, but for the mere fact that we're human beings.

Community care is based in solidarity, not charity. It's one that is power with not power over. It recognizes. I cannot survive without you surviving. And I think that's, that was one of the key things within episode three when Bill was saying, you know, I found my purpose I wasn't scared before I met you.

And it was, yeah, yeah. Sorry, I'm all going all over. Yeah. 

David: Well, and I think like, this is like a much longer conversation, but I think about in, you know, post apocalyptic times, you know, and post apocalyptic storytelling. Right. Enemy is not really like the virus or you know, the zombies or the infected, it ends up being each other, right?

In our attempts to like survive and protect our own communities. You know, you often think about the phrase like the strongest survive, and we actually know it's like those that are able to adapt , the ones that survive. But like in this like, Dog eat dog survival of the fittest as it's often framed world, right?

Like, like this, this world focuses on like primarily white or at least white passing characters, right? Whose identities aren't on the marks. At the beginning of this episode, we see a black woman in her newborn child like having been gunned down because there was no room in the quarantine zone, right?

And so like these ideas of like white supremacy ableism, You know, within, like, even like within this story, right? Homophobia, like those dynamics still exist in like posts apocalyptic times. And when you talk about like, you know, centering the needs of the people who are most impacted, you know, who's most impacted when there's a po when there's a zombie apocalypse, right?

Kind of everybody, right? And then like, what are the ways that we make the choices about, you know, how to allocate resources, who to protect, how to protect them how to care, right? As beautiful and lovely as like we get to see like two gay men grow old and die together, right? What did their lives do other than at the end of this episode, like, provide a car battery to Joel and Ellie who are, you know, in some way, shape or form on the search for like a cure for this, this virus.

What did their lives really do to like, contribute to the the collective struggle of people who are facing violence and trying. navigate this time of apocalypse, not a whole ton. Right. And Bill had lots of skills to offer. Frank had lots of skills to offer. Yeah. Where they would offer those things. Might not have been like the Fedra quarantine zone, but there are lots of other places that they could have been impactful.

And again, this is not about judging storytelling choices, right. Because. These are reflective of things that happen in the world and things that like characters do and like, you know, we wouldn't be having this conversation without that. But, you know, is there anything that like you would reimagine for a bill and Frank's story that like could have been more community care centric?

Kalaya'an: Yeah, in my, in my writing of it will would've actually been, you know, very good friends with his neighbors and would have even though they would've been like, this is a quirky, you know, weirdo prepper guy, they would've all had, you know, bunkers in their homes. They would, because like, I think they all have like similar.

Similar layouts, right? I think that 2003 was during the bush years, and I think, you know, if we're, if we're taking it from like there's parallel timelines. The US at the time was extremely Islamophobic. Mm-hmm. was very turning extremely in insular. I think that a lot of community, I remember my community, like a lot of folks started becoming preppers, and this was also after the Y2K scare and everything.

So I think recognizing that the political reality that was happening in this in this country perpetuated by the state. A be a, a, a better kind of storyline for me. And once again, yeah. Not throwing shade. Absolutely love everything that's being done right now, but for me in my head would be bill, actually, you know we see like that that op, that opening shot of bill looking at the Feder trucks, but they're all empty because everyone's in their homes.

Yeah. And after you. After federal leaves, everyone comes out and that's when they start building. So for me, that's where I would kind of diver. 

David: How about you? Yeah, I mean, like as much like you are , you work for an organization called Non-Violent Peace Force. So, and I work for an organization, I run an organization called Amplify Restorative Justice, which like generally tend to be like non-violent approaches, but like there are times for violence, right?

And like what would it have looked like for that community? Say, Fedra, get the F out of here. We're gonna take care of ourselves. Like, we don't need your support. We're gonna like, do this on our own. I think that's another way that like, we could have gotten to this space of like, hey, like let's take care of each other.

And I know like, that sounds like, like the, the, the dichotomy of like being somebody who cares about like a social safety net, like having resources provided by the government to take care of people with like, oh no, autonomous communities. Like, like those are like two things that you have to hold in your hand at once, but you.

What, what could that have looked like? I don't think that we see that anywhere in the last of us universe. Yeah, go ahead. 

Kalaya'an: Yeah. We, yeah, we definitely don't. And it's kind of like with my nonviolent hat on, I think that, you know, we saw Fedra, they had all the guns, they had all the tanks, they had all of the weapons in the world.

And we're, you know, if we're looking at the fireflies as the as kind of like a counterpoint. This is not, this is by no means a critique on Armed Re. . Folks need to protect themselves how they need to protect themselves, but also protection can also look like getting out of the the scope of of the state.

There are many communities that kind of like fly under the radar of of state surveillance intentional communities and whatnot. But I mean, the, the reality is the United States loves, its. Right. Mm-hmm. , I think that folks would've been armed if, if Bill went kind of like the, the community route, but the, the use in the force of arms alone won't ensure the safety of any individual or any community.

Without you know without that social net safety net, right, and how do we build that on a smaller scale? How do we take the lessons learned from mutual aid groups that have been, you know, operating since the Black Panther started, the the free breakfast and free lunch programs, right. Yeah.

Yeah. This is, sorry, all my neurons are like going and it's, it's, I'm, I'm hoping it's also, this is eliciting like questions for folks, like what do we do in the face of disaster? Yeah. And how do we keep ourselves safe? 

David: Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I want to wrap us up letting folks know that this, hopefully this episode, this conversation is being released today, if not tomorrow.

We're gonna be back early next week. summarizing, you know, the first half of the season. So episodes one, two, we've pretty extensively talked about three and four. But then hopefully after that going weekly, drawing out these themes, having these conversations about justice. Right now, I know for sure if you're listening to this, if you have questions, you can get in contact with us

I'll link that in the show. Or the description of wherever this is, you can get in touch with either of us on Instagram. Amplify RJ or yours is app, k a l a, Mendoza, m e n d o z a. Beautiful. And so we're gonna sign off for those of you who don't want any spoilers right now, this is your warning.

Bye. And like now, there are some things that are paralleled in, like both Bill and Joel. Storylines like that we know moving forward that like, I think would be really helpful to tease out. So if, like, if you watched, if you've played or watched the video games all the way through you know, in the end that you know as much as like Bill and Joel are protectors who like go to any length to protect, like what's, theres like, That's super toxic.

right? Like the way that Bill was like isolationist and protected you know, ended up with him like, Hey, I've lived my life with with Frank, and like, there's nothing worth living. You know, when Joel comes to the hospital, when Ellie's on the surgeon's table and is about to be killed in, in the name of research for the, the Cure he's like, no, this is my purpose.

Like I am, I've, I've gotta protect, right? Bill leaves that suicide note with Tess's name. But I think in that moment, Joel. Substitutes like Ellie's name in there, like both. Like, Hey, I failed Sarah, my daughter who's died. I failed Tess, my partner who just died, like, Ellie's it for me now. And you know, I don't know that that person can shift out of that that pattern of protection, even if it is for the benefit of, of everyone, right?

Bill built his life to protect him and Frank Joel has built his life to protect him and Ellie. . Could that like, is that just like endemic to who those people are or is there another way , 

Kalaya'an: I think it is. I mean, it's like the savior mentality. It's not based in solidarity. It's like I have power over you. So I'm gonna tell you what you're 

David: gonna do.

At the end of, 

Kalaya'an: The first game, 

David: like, bill 

Kalaya'an: not giving Ellie, or not even informing Ellie, like, do you want to do this 

David: right, Joel? Because like, I'm sorry, Joel. Yeah, sorry. Do you, do you, you know, do you want, give your life and like, depriving 

Kalaya'an: them of what they felt their purpose was like how Geary and it.

It. I, yeah, it's so selfish and it doesn't take into Ellie's into account Ellie's autonomy. And for the entire world, we could have had a a cure. So we also saw that in the, in the goodbye letter to to Bill from Frank. So I think it's it's another kind of like calling in to folks that want to be that protector or that savior that's, we don't need savior.

Right. We need solidarity and we need people that actually listen and to the show 

David: love me. Like, I want you to love me. Right. Right. And I think, you know, now spoilers for the video game, like the last of us too, right? Like Bill, I'm sorry. Now you got me. Joel lies to Ellie. About, you know, the decision that he made to like, prevent her from dying, preventing her from like having the chance to be a, a contributor to like a cure for all of this.

And she resents him for that, right? She goes and finds out the truth. And like that severely damages the relationship to, like, again, spoiler, if you really do not want to know what happens at the end of this, or like in future seasons like Joel, At the hands of the people who he killed in order to keep Ellie keep Ellie alive, keep Ellie safe, and you know, that whole game is about like now Ellie's revenge tour against those people.

Right. And, you know, the cycle of violence continues and continues because of like saviors and because of protectionism. I think about you know, everyone was so excited about the original Black Panther movie, right? But like the p the policy of Wakanda was. Wakanda first, right? America first. Like at the expense of like everybody else who's being harmed in, right?

As beautiful as a space or a life you can create for yourself and however you define your people. Can be, it's causing harm to a lot of others. And, you know, each of us have to reconcile what those boundaries are for ourselves. Like, I think I was having a conversation with Christine Jung who is gonna be on this restorative justice life next Thursday about, you know, what I've experienced as a parent over the last couple years and like, I have a deeper understanding and like more grace for people who like, I will do anything to protect my family at all costs.

Like I even told you, like, Like, for like kids on the playground who like threatened my, or like, not even like maliciously threatened, but like maybe like mischievously or like curious, curiously threatened like the safety of my 10 month old kid. Like, I will f you up to like stay away. Right? Like, and that's not healthy , right?

How do we, how do we navigate those things? Is a conversation that I think, you know, we might be continuing to have like at the end of these episodes, knowing that. protection is gonna continue to be a theme that comes across all of this. And like you. What are the limits of when that's healthy and not?

Kalaya'an: Yeah, it's and kind of like with my organizational hat on, like what we do is called unarmed civilian protection. Mm-hmm. . And we practice mutual protection in communities. So it's, once again, it's really about not having that savior mentality. It's about solidarity and what does that look like in our lives for those who we most, you know, love and want to protect, but at what expense does that protection come if we don't actually listen to those most directly affected.

By the, by violence, by the issue. 

David: So I really, really appreciate having conversations like this about like that, that connect the things that we're seeing in media, like, and stories to, to our real world because, you know, yes, they are entertainment, they're distraction. It's fun to get swept up. And I know that's like where some people leave it and like no judgment.

But as somebody who like really deeply thinks about building a better, safer world where people can thrive, not just survive, where we can have the skills practices to be in right relationship with each other having these conversations is really great. And so I'm so thankful for you for being a part of this.

Again, if you stuck around with us through the spoiler filled part, we'll be back at some point early to mid next week in whatever feed or wherever you're viewing or watching this though, subscribe. Follow, like. All the things. And like if you're old school tell a friend you know, if you've appreciated this kind of conversation.

Anything to leave the people with. 

Kalaya'an: No. Just be safe, y'all. And we keep us safe. Take care. Peace. Peace. Thank you.